Boundaries. Most of us know we need to have healthy boundaries with friends, family, work, our energy and even strangers. We can feel when that imaginary line is being crossed and when things just don't feel right. We know when we're being taken advantage of and when we need space. But just because we know we need to have boundaries, doesn't mean we always do. Why, oh why can it be hard for some of us to just say no? Why do we allow people to cross our boundaries?
Personally, I think it has to do with feeling awkward, or bitchy, or rude. It has to do with putting people's feelings before ours. It has to do with the fear of discomfort. But if we are coming from a strong foundation of self-love and respect, it's easier to say no. Guess what I'm working on right now? Building a stronger foundation of self love and respect... and dropping the need to people please. And guess why?
Here's where the cottage cheese part comes in...
Months ago, I found myself following a "free sample guy" to the dairy aisle of Whole Foods because he had a coupon for this great cottage cheese. He was manipulative and had a "won't take no for an answer" vibe. He caught me off guard, commenting on my "Be kind, everyone is still healing from things they don't speak about" sweatshirt, and before I knew it I stopped what I was doing to stand in front of an open dairy case and get a lecture on cottage cheese. I HATE COTTAGE CHEESE. The texture, the smell, the taste... all of it. And if I'm going to eat real dairy, it's going to be soft serve ice cream, certainly not cottage cheese. But, I didn't want to be rude or cause any awkwardness, so I graciously took the cottage cheese. And for the rest of my shopping trip, I was filled with rage and resentment to the old guy who made me get this cottage cheese. So, why did I take it? Because I put a stranger's feelings in front of my own to avoid discomfort.
Fast forward to last week, I saw the same guy chatting it up with some woman at the dairy case. This time, I knew better. No way in hell I was walking out with cottage cheese! Damn this man who thinks he can charm his way into making people buy shit they don't want, and damn him for entering my space in the first place. I needed coconut milk and I was going to march right up to that dairy case, grab my milk and politely but firmly say "no thank you" to the man and his cheese. And then my people pleasing, fear of awkwardness side showed up and told me to forget the milk, I could get it another day. I left without the milk! Seriously?? To avoid making him feel uncomfortable! All this does in the end is increase resentment toward a situation that could have been completely avoidable. Resentment sticks with us, and can even impact the happiness of our liver and gallbladder.
For me, this isn't a one time occurrence. I have many cottage cheese stories. Times where due to the fear of making someone else feel uncomfortable, I put my needs aside.
So... how am I working on it and how can you work on it if this resonates with you?
Try these steps in this order:
Tune into your own needs and take care of them. Thirsty? Hungry? Tired? Overwhelmed? Need a break? Do what you need.
Turn down the inner critic voice and turn UP the inner guidance. Recognize the way you talk to yourself and foster self love.
Make self care a priority. ("But you already said that in #1, Kristen." Um NO, I did not- that's called survival, I'm talking about filling your cup and keeping it full).
Take a look at your ability to set boundaries. Are you clear on what feels ok or not? (And remember you can't set clear boundaries without a foundation of self-love and respect.)
Recognize when your boundaries are being crossed. Stay connected with how someone is making you feel. Be honest with yourself and others.
Use the mantra"discomfort over resentment." This is a tip from Brené Brown. Someone asks you if you want cottage cheese? "Hell no man, I don't because I'm practicing discomfort over resentment."
Then drop the mic and walk away with your shopping cart.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”- Brené Brown