In my last post I talked about boundaries and how having weak boundaries can have a negative impact on your life. Christmas can be a very challenging time if you have weak boundaries.
You can feel put upon, taken for granted, resentful and overwhelmed – these feelings are all indicators that you are doing things you don’t want to do.
Don’t get me wrong sometimes, as an adult, you have to do things because they’re your responsibility – such as looking after your children when they are too young to take care of themselves, taking care of your home and other possessions, putting in 100% effort when you’re at work etc.
But, these feelings of resentment and overwhelm are usually because some outside force is putting pressure on you to do something that you don’t want to do. That’s a problem because you are not able to tell the truth about what you want.
In the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life, Henry Cloud and John Townsend tell story of a 30 something woman who wanted to go skiing with her friends during the Christmas break but couldn’t because her mother wouldn’t allow her to go. Her mother put pressure on her to spend Christmas with the family as they always had, and used guilt messages such as ‘How could you be so selfish’, to ensure this young woman would come to the family Christmas celebrations.
People use guilt and shame messages to manipulate you so they get what they want. They get you to do what they want, not what you want! And that’s why you feel resentful, overwhelmed, put upon and taken for granted. Did I say confused…..that’s how you can be left feeling when someone uses shame and guilt to manipulate you into doing what you don’t want.
How do you tell the truth? Especially when the consequence for you involves feeling guilty.
It takes a lot of courage to start standing up for what you want. But before that, you have to know what you want!
And, if you’ve been manipulated and controlled for a long time, you may not even know what it is that you want. Awareness is the key.
So here’s a little exercise for you to do over the Christmas break.
Awareness you have this year will impact on the type of Christmas you have next year.
Make two columns – A & B
in column A write down something you do, that you don’t want to do, that you feel you don’t have a choice about.
Then in column B write what you’d prefer instead.
|Column A||Column B|
|Uncle Fred makes me kiss him||I’d prefer to say to Uncle Fred ‘I won’t be kissing you today’|
|Mum gives me a 2nd helping||I’d prefer to say ‘thanks Mum but I’ve had enough already’|
Write as many things as you can think of, and see how restricted by other people you really are.
This exercise will help you to start seeing what it is you want rather than what’s being forced on you by others. To get the most out of this exercise make sure you don’t make column B all about the other person changing!
The reason you’re where you are is because you want the other people to change so you don’t have to do anything different.
That never works!
Write in the comments box below what you find out about yourself…..it benefits all of us to hear what others are struggling with……we don’t feel so alone or quite so peculiar.
Once you know what you want it will be easier for you to start setting your personal boundaries.
Change doesn’t happen overnight so allow yourself the time to become aware of yourself and your motivations.
To help you de-stress during the festive season I’ve included a short Breath meditation. Enjoy!
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Dr Avi specialises in insights and strategies to improve patient and customer experience.
Contact: +61 2 8091 0918