Chasing Inspiration

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Some days I wonder just how good I am at setting boundaries. I think I communicate my needs and wants and what the boarders of my personal time and space are. Or how far I'm willing to commit. I think I'm well versed on creating agreements and negotiating with the needs/wants of others. Most of the time, I do fairly well. Agreements are created. Needs are preserved, if stretched a bit. And life moves forward in partnership.

Then days like today occur. Days where I throw my hands in the air and question my communication skills or my ability to make my desires, wants and needs known. I can set some boundaries within the work place. I can negotiate boundaries at home and with friends. But at the end of the day, both parties need to agree to follow through on the agreement to work within those boundaries or it just won't work. Today was one of those days where a personal boundary was crossed. And it totally threw me.

Why are boundaries so hard to maintain? Is it because we're not clear on how we define them? Is it because we focus on our own boundaries without regard to what other people truly need? Is it because it's culturally unacceptable for me, a woman, to have boundaries? Is it because I don't hold up my own boundaries?

In this case, I think it's a combination of a few of these, and I want to focus on what I can control - being consistent with my own boundaries. I can say no, set parameters or make agreements all I want, but I don't follow through and hold up my own boundary, why should I expect anyone else to respect my boundaries either? I can't go around asking people to do as I say and not as I do. Life doesn't work that way. If we are inconsistent, people will follow our examples rather than our words.

Upon reflection, I realize I haven't been consistent with expressing this particular need/boundary or with sticking to it. I've caved a lot in the past. Sometimes to keep the peace. Sometimes out of guilt or a misconception that all boundaries equal a selfish spirit. Sometimes just because caving is easier than putting energy into maintaining the boundary. And I don't have anything left to negotiate with right now, so I'm out of luck. But, I can take this situation and build fresh agreements with myself and with others around this need/boundary and with consistency I can maintain balance with it moving forward.

How do you manage your boundaries? When your boundaries are shoved at, do you give in? Do you stand firm? Do you negotiate a compromise so all parties win something? Or do you pack up your toys and head home?

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