I credit Wayne Dyer with the quote, “You get treated in life the way you teach others to treat you.” He was my first guru starting in the early 80’s. It was back then that I began to question my upbringing for the first time. I began to note how that upbringing impacted everything else in my life including my friendships, business relationships and practices.
Well into my self-development journey decades later, ninety percent of my connections now feel mutually respectful and loving. I attribute the less-loving and less-aware ten percent to MY not having set boundaries early and sufficiently. When someone shows up late for every date, misses scheduled appointments, or seems to value what I do more than who I am, my stomach starts to tighten, my palms get sweaty, and I begin to plan revenge scenarios or ‘never again’ retributions. I’ve rarely confessed to the other that I have a thing about punctuality, staying informed or feeling used which makes it all the worse for them and me.
Admitting my needs would be vulnerable, and it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable growing up. I know this is MY thing and I want to honor today’s friendships with that truth. It’s easier when starting with a clean slate, than pulling up an ages-old scorecard and changing the rules. Can you identify?
If you’re remembering a recent blog, yes, this hysteria is historic. It’s based on the fact that at some time in my childhood I felt powerless, and I never learned that it was okay to set a clear boundary, because it wasn’t.
In the past, when I’ve indulged a friendship by permeating my own borders, I got allegiance because of my seeming generosity. My college roommate was an hour late to her own 60th birthday party at a restaurant where the rest of us sat and waited for her arrival. How do you get angry at that?
“I was late myself.”
My worry then was that if I told my truth, she wouldn’t like me. Rather, I discovered that the connection got squishy, undefined and unmoored. I didn’t like who I was with her.
When I do tell my truth, others comply, and I like me, which is the foundation of self-esteem.
I bring this up now because the quarantine has changed our daily rhythms. While I do believe we can cut each other some slack, in the last week I’ve chosen to express clarity about a missed appointment and, in another case, what I offer gratis and what I need to be paid for. The responses were swift, sincere and humble.
When boundaries are reinforced with changed behaviors, respect and kindness, self-esteem grows. What boundaries have you had to set recently? I’d love to acknowledge you!