Boundaries

I’ll never forget the time a friend of mine waltzed into my bedroom after dinner and pulled everything out of my closet. To my further shock and dismay, while our husbands continued to talk in the other room, she proceeded to sort my clothes into piles and tell me what I should and shouldn’t wear! To look more fashionable, I suppose.

I wasn’t a teenager or in college. I was married with two kids. Oh my! The experience was totally uncomfortable and embarrassing. It felt rude and invasive. Yet, because I didn’t know how to set healthy boundaries then, there I was being told which skirt and shirt I should pair and to “never, ever wear those pants”. Yikes.

I can only imagine how this person would have reacted if the situation was reversed! Thankfully, she has since ended our friendship. Even though it was super painful, I was going through a rough season, I now see it was for the best—providence at work.

Just today, I received a manipulative message. It was from someone trying to persuade me to join their team for some business (I won’t say which one). I only say manipulative because this person doesn’t know me in the least—we have one mutual friend on social media—yet they called me friendly and outgoing in the note. I am actually rather shy. They said I was “totally gorgeous” (uhm…) and immediately followed it with a “by-the-way” pitch for a great business opportunity. I am not against an online business approach, but I am against being manipulated.

Thankfully between the clothing incident and the pushy “business opportunity” I have learned to set boundaries. I have learned say “no thanks”—NO explanation and NO excuses necessary. And if my polite “no” isn’t accepted or respected, then a firmer, more blunt “no” is given. Sometimes, like with the manipulative message I received today, I simply hit delete.

(Although, I am the world’s worst when it comes to email. So forgive me, if I have failed to respond to a message!  Please feel free to send a reminder message or reach out in the comments.)

I have discovered that if you are not intentional about setting boundaries, these kinds of events become the norm. And we find ourselves over-committed and doing things we would rather not do.

Thankfully, most incidents are not as bizarre as my clothing incident. But, certain people will—well-meaning or not—inevitably pull you in directions you aren’t comfortable or meant to go. They will make decisions for you that you should make for yourself. They may even take you for granted. Or even worse, take advantage of or mistreat you.

Do you set healthy boundaries? Or, do you let others walk all over you, manipulate you, and pull you in directions you would rather not go? Perhaps you find yourself hiding from or lying to certain people? Let’s talk!!

P.S. I don’t claim to do this perfectly. I am learning too! In fact, I can think of a time or two where I set a boundary and later regretted it. And there certainly still are times where I feel a desire to unnecessarily explain myself or hide from certain people.

Having kids helped me to learn to set boundaries. I’ll have to share my scary airport story sometime, because it all started there!

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