What do these sentences all have in common?
Sorry, I can’t do that. I’m spread far too thin right now.
I will not allow anyone to speak to me that way.
I need some time to think about that.
These are all statements honoring personal power. Each shows various ways of saying, “No!” firmly and politely. Every one indicates a personal boundary, stated in clear, honest language.
It wasn’t so long ago that these types of statements were hard for me to use. I’d let people manipulate me. I was afraid of confrontation. I swallowed my true feelings.
On the surface I looked and acted like a happy camper. But inside…well, I felt depleted, angry and resentful because I willingly sacrificed my serenity for the sake of keeping everyone happy and everything on an even keel—for others but not for me. I let others intimidate and overwhelm me, often bullying me into submission.
I let others usurp my personal power.
I’m not like that now.
So, what changed?
I came to realize that it was my responsibility to take care of me. I couldn’t rely on anyone else to do this for me, and more importantly, I didn’t have to have anyone’s approval to do so. I came to believe this but it took longer for me to put it into action.
Slowly I came to understand that it was my job to protect my time and energy. I couldn’t be everything to everyone. It was my duty to determine how people treated me and stand up for myself when I felt someone had crossed the line.
Important phrase: crossed the line.
My power surged when I recognized that I could define the line in the sand. This line—my boundary—meant I would not go beyond this point and other people couldn’t come with me. And then I became very clear and totally committed to what I would do when that line was crossed.
Did I accomplish this all at once? Heavens, no. I had to take baby steps. After all, this was new to me. So, like a young child learning to ride a bike I’d try out a boundary, fall, and bruise my pride. But each time I’d get back up, more determined than ever to make it work.
Now—years later—I know what I want in life, and what I don’t. I know how people must treat me or I will leave the situation. I am certain in who I am.
And the gifts in all this personal work? Respect for myself, greater self-confidence, and certainty that I have freedom of choice.
Your Call to Action
When have you been tempted to cross your boundaries? How did fear play a part in that temptation? What areas of your life could use a boundary adjustment?