Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Say No


I am notoriously bad at setting boundaries. Or keeping them, for that matter. This is especially true if it comes to time, money, or emotionally draining people. I could cite any number of examples, but suffice it to say in the last three months, I have twice given money to people who have not even been bothered to be nice to me in recent times, or even not so recent times. Last week I gave three months notice to a job for which I work only one hour a week, but managed to let them coax three unpaid hours of time out of me to train someone who they are not sure they will actually hire. Also, I have a client that is rude, monopolizes my time, and generally makes me feel badly that I continue to instruct because, well, I'm not sure. Mostly, I feel bullied, like a school kid that just wants people to like her. Contrary to what you might think, I did not get a sense of satisfaction, of holding the moral high ground, or of compassionate sainthood from these deeds. In fact, they made me feel worse for knowing that I had been taken advantage of, that I am unable to stand up for myself, and that I value the wrong peoples opinions of me. And you know what? People do like me, not all of them, but plenty enough for a happy life. So, what does one do? Stop being charitable? Stop giving to people in need? Stop helping out? No. Of course not. But I m determined to change to whom I gift my time and energy. I can give money and time to strangers, charitable organizations, or even just people who bother to say thank you and feel much better about the world and myself in it. As for the boundaries, one thing at a time.


  1. You are an intelligent, generous, well spoken woman. You are a valuable member of the community. You're a treasure. You are loved. You deserve to be protected, to set and enforce boundaries. It's a duty. You need to take care of yourself so that you can continue to be helpful to those in need, and so that you can enjoy your life. You deserve and are worthy of enjoying your life.
    You know how on airplanes the flight attendants tell you that if the oxygen masks come down, to put yours on before you put it on your kids? That goes against the grain of almost every loving mother, who want to protect their kids first. But what happens if you pass out trying to get it on your kid? Then you're both in trouble. Put your own mask on first. I call this the Oxygen Mask rule. You need to take care of yourself. So you can enjoy a long, happy, successful life, for your own sake, for that of your loved ones, and for the community.
    Be strong. There is no shame in setting boundaries, and choosing who to help instead of giving in. Give where it can do the most good. Sometimes you do more harm than good by enabling other people. It's your choice, not theirs. Love yourself. We do.

  2. :-) That made my whole day. A little high desert love goes a long way!

  3. I find that the irony here is it is much easier to set boundaries with the very people who do appreciate you -- and cave to those who care, but maybe not so much. No doubt it's because you know the first group will hear you and understand and not judge! and those other yahoos will do exactly that. The trick is to develop the ability to truly not care (too much) when setting the boundaries with the second group. Old habits die hard.