This months article published in Sybil Magazine.
We talk about boundaries a lot, in respecting yourself enough and showing others how you would like to be treated. Talking about it is always so much easier to achieve and actually stepping into that space.
Treating myself, as I would like others to treat me is a huge lesson for me.
It pops back up in my life, evidently when I need the reminder most. Being someone who has avoided confrontation at all costs, this has presented as a challenge to me throughout my life. I have often been willingly do things as asked, simply to keep the peace. I have avoided the need to say no and the potential conversation that this often generates.
When I check in with myself to see how I am doing on this level, the one situation that always springs to my mind is a professional one.
(I had been doing this work for many years by this time too, so I cant even claim a rookie error! I have no choice but to take full responsibility.)
Attention seeking behaviours
It involved the behaviour of one of the participants. That (with hindsight) I can see had more needs than a group environment could provide. She demonstrated through her own actions that she needed more focus and attention to be on her and her needs and when this did not happen, her behaviour became disruptive and quite bizarre.
With much time behind me, I can see how naive my actions were as I would oblige by giving her more attention. There was never any remorse for this behaviour and this continued through multiple sessions.
To begin with, I would try and manage this by giving her the attention and endeavouring to understand. However the more attention given, the more was needed and I also noticed that when attention was given to others, her poorer behaviour would intensify. Unfortunately, I would respond to this by diverting my attention back to her and not only did this reinforce her behaviours, I was also beginning to resent this a little bit more and more each time.
It took me a while to gain the courage to challenge this, knowing that a conversation was required to highlight her behaviour, how this needed to change and or to stop attending. We had tears and tantrums and I felt absolutely awful! She chose to stop attending.
This course of action was totally out of my comfort zone; I like to please, I like to help others and I don’t like to let people down and I also like to tip toe around so that I avoid confrontation.
However in this process, I have also learnt that if you don’t communicate how someone’s behaviour makes you feel, or if you find that it is not appropriate and dis-respects you in some way and you don’t communicate this; then you are accepting their behaviour as is. It is you that has stopped respecting your own boundaries and values and not anyone else. The only person that can change this or is even responsible for changing this is you.
Learning and growing
I have learnt that it is not up to the other person to ask what we are happy with. It is our responsibility to respect our own values and taking the appropriate action when others who no longer flow within our acceptable zone. This starts and ends with us. How we treat ourselves indicates to others how to also treat us. If we don’t respect our own boundaries, if we live outside our own lines, then we cannot expect others to know where these boundaries lay.
Be Kind to yourself, always