Draw A Line

boundaries-2I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, and been very vocal and communicative.  I am also a very open person.  However, I think to a fault.

There is something sacred and valuable to having some mystery and privacy.

Social media has really opened a lot of doors for us worldwide.  There are a lot of great things about it.  There are also a lot of dangerous things about it that we are just now learning.

There really is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”

More than ever before, we need to remember to set boundaries with others, and even ourselves.

First, you need to set boundaries within yourself.  It has to start with YOU.  Everything starts there!  Decide what your likes and dislikes are, your beliefs, values, morals, etc.  What is your priority list? Where do you draw the line?  Where is your limit?  And, what are the consequences if those limits are broken?  And, how will you follow through with those consequences?

Then, set those boundaries with the world.  That includes family and friends, and yes, even your most treasured BFF.  No one is an exception.  If you make an exception for someone, they will then further test your limits, and not because they are a bad person, but because they’re human, and we all test each others’ boundaries everyday.

There’s really no right or wrong answer to what your boundaries should and shouldn’t be.  This just has to be YOUR list.

Creating your own boundaries is a necessary tool for protection and self-care.  It is putting c8c015b123264d33b030e3fcc71d57dfyourself first.  It is NOT selfish or mean.  It’s healthy and functional, and allows you to live a quality of life that you want for yourself.  It also allows you to keep your priorities straight, your goals met, and your life moving forward.

If you don’t like flaky people and really can’t tolerate it, then make those boundaries clear that showing up late and/or a no-show is unacceptable to you, and if it continues, you will no longer plan outings with them.

If you don’t like dogs, make it clear at your house-warming party that dogs are unfortunately not welcomed to attend.  Let friends know that you’ll hike with them only when their dog is not there.  It doesn’t matter why you don’t like dogs, either.  People will certainly take offense to it, and others will think you are crazy, but let them think those things – That is THEIR ISSUE, not yours.

You can’t control how people react to your boundaries.  Let them react.  Their reactions are about THEM – NOT you!  

Boundaries-QuoteThe challenging part is to NOT react back to them!  When you react to their reactions, often times that is when you will crack and give in.  Reacting can also make the other person feel like they’ve found a weakness in your wall.  Even if you don’t actually give in that time, they will push that boundary again, and again, and again, and if you keep reacting, it gives them satisfaction and hope to eventually break your barrier.

Practice and prepare to RESPOND, not react.  When you react, they are in control of you.  When you respond, you are in control of yourself and your boundaries.

And, when in doubt, sometimes the best reaction is NONE!

You can’t argue with someone who won’t argue back.  You can’t continue a conversation that is one sided.  You can’t play the game with no returns.  So, if someone reacts in an unfavorable way to your boundaries, and you’re not quite sure the best way to respond in the moment, simply do nothing at all.

Their anger and frustrations have absolutely nothing personal to do with you, and everything to do with their own issues that they are dealing with.  That is much easier said than accepted, though.  And unfortunately, you will most likely be used as their reason for pain and dysfunction, and you need to still stick to your boundaries and let them go, if need be.  It is much easier to blame you for being a bad person with your “mean boundaries,” than it is for them to admit their faults and rise to the occasion.

Boundaries bring out the best in you.  It can also bring out the best in others when they respect your boundaries with you, and vice versa. 

Unfortunately, boundaries can also bring out the worst in others, and you have to okay with that.  You will be tested.  You will lose someone close to you.  You will be blamed for it, too.  But, remember, they are not walking away from you…They are walking away from personal responsibility.

Have the courage of your convictions.

Stand your ground.

Because the only person you really have to live with everyday is yourself!

assertiveness technique

You’re Not Important


5bf0d81f3a6ace7d256cea0af9c4e7bfSeems harsh, right?!

Let me explain, though…

The older I get, the more I understand the lessons my mother tried to teach me growing up.  One of the millions of lessons she tried to pound into my pompous little teenage ego was that I was indeed important and very special, BUT only to her, my family, and a few close friends.

The rest of the world really doesn’t care.

We live in a society that is constantly trying to tell us what to do, what to say, where to go, what to like, what to hate, what to believe, what not to believe, who to watch, who to follow, what to vote for, what to wear, where to eat, who to hang out with, what to be… Just a constant fire hose spewing in our faces.

And, what’s worse, we have social media to amplify it all.

We are increasingly growing a sense of false importance to the world.

Posts and comments made with reckless abandon all over the place.  Second by second.

6a8d5e2df29b383ce48e26cdb58c3fdbPersonally, I find sheer entertainment in it all, but it is also intriguing to my constant desire to understand human behavior.

Our inner drive for self-importance is what motivates many, if not all, of our actions.

All of us what to feel important.

The biggest mistake many of us make is trying to be important to the masses, though, rather than to the few who actually matter most in our lives.

If we put as much time and energy into ourselves and those who matter most as we did in pleasing others and playing in the popularity game, then not only would we be better people, but we would also be a lot happier!

It’s time to make a list.  Everyone will have a different list than mine.  However, there is one person you must have on your list that is on mine…

#1 is Me

I need to be the most important to myself.  And, I’m not talking about being selfish, narcissistic, and a one-man show.

I’m talking about self-love, self-care, and self-improvement.

You need to be the most important priority to yourself.  You need to love yourself, and strive for constant growth and improvement.

You need to take care of yourself – Body, mind, and soul.

When you are well taken care of, the rest of your life is easier to deal with, and you are a better person to society.  Period.

When you are not first on your list, you will fall prey to manipulation, distractions, negativity, dysfunction and confusion.

You have to stand for something, otherwise you will fall for anything.  So, stand for yourself, first and foremost!

Here is my list:

  1. Me
  2. My children
  3. My husband

It’s short, and direct.  You don’t have to agree or disagree with it, either, because it’s not your life.  It’s mine.  You need to decide for yourself who is on your list, but as I said before, YOU need to be first on that list!

My husband and I have agreed that if in an extreme situation we had to decide whether to save the kids or each other, we would both choose to save the kids.  Certainly a full-toned and highly unlikely case, however still an important discussion to have.  Hence why they are #2 on my list.

My husband is my partner in life.  Our relationship is our first priority.  We come first.  Our family is first.  And, we both put in a daily effort to make it happen.

I repeat – A DAILY EFFORT!

Now, I am sure many of you are asking, “But, how come you don’t have any other family or close friends on your list?!”

If there is anything I have learned in my short life, it is that family and friends are not to be taken for granted, nor assumed.

Life has a funny way of bringing people in and out of our lives.

Nothing is guaranteed, and that’s scary to admit.  But, it also makes me appreciate the days I do have with the people I love a lot more.  And, if and when one of them leaves my life, I take the good memories and valuable lessons with me.

So, it is not that the rest of my family and close friends are not important to me and not a priority, because they most certainly are!  When push comes to shove, though, and again, in an extreme situation, I will always choose my kids and my husband first.  That’s just my M.O.

Of all the people in the world, my kids see me as their world, and I am the most important person in their eyes.  That’s a feeling and a rare gift you just can’t get anywhere else!

My husband is my biggest fan, cheerleader, friend, and supporter.  Next to myself, he knows me the best.

I am most important to my kids and my husband, and they are most important to me, therefore, I put my time and energy into them the most.

For a loooong time, I spent countless hours and energy on others.  I put everyone else first, before myself, and even before my own family.  I took my kids and husband for granted, because I knew they loved me and wouldn’t go anywhere.

So, I made them wait while I gave everything I had to other people.

I put work first.  I tried to help everyone, please everyone, and do everything for everyone at our gym.  I tried to be everything to everyone…except my kids and husband.  I was doing “just enough” for them.

How many times do we see this in society?!  Putting work before family.  Putting friends before family.  Putting social media before family.  Putting other things and other people before family.  It happens a lot more than we’d like to admit.

For some reason, we tell ourselves that it’s okay to make them wait for us.  We know they love us, flaws and all, and they want to be there, so we take that for granted.  We don’t have that same guarantee with others, so we pine and work overtime to “win” them over, all while the ones who love us most and actually deserve our time and attention are sitting on the sidelines, painfully waiting for us to give them the same effort we give to complete strangers.

And, this is the problem…We put everything and everyone else first, and take ourselves and our few loved ones for granted.  We care more about what others think of us on Facebook than we do our own spouses.  We care more about posting favorable Instagram photos of our lives than we do in actually living a fulfilling life.  We care more about what strangers are gossiping about us than we do in what we tell ourselves.

We care more about the opinion of sheep than we do of our own, and those who actually matter most in our lives.

So, guess what eventually happened in my personal life while I was putting the rest of the world in front of myself and my family?!

That’s right…Sh** hit the fan…I lost myself in the process, and was suddenly identified only by the things I could do for others.  I needed constant validation from others.  Exhausting!  And, I was also missing out on my kids growing up and yearning for my attention, and my husband wanting his partner back in action with him.

Eventually, things will break if you do not take care of them.

Once I started putting myself and my family first, the pieces came back together.

So, after all of my blundering, what I am trying to get at is:

12193698_10207768438991949_3819249186017108548_nOnly divide yourself up among the people who you are most important to, AND are most important to you.  I am most important to my kids and husband, and I adore them more than anyone else, so they get most of me.  The rest of my family and few close friends get the other portion.  Everyone else is when it doesn’t interfere with my list.

Still having a hard time deciding who to put on your list?!  Ask yourself these questions, then:

~ In an emergency, who would you call in an instant at 2:00am, and you know they would answer?  And in turn, who would you answer the phone for?!

~ Or, if you became a quadriplegic and needed someone to wipe your ass everyday, who would that be?!  And in turn, whose ass would you wipe?!

Yes, again, extreme and highly unlikely, however, your answers to these questions tell you who really love you unconditionally.  I have a lot of people who would visit me and bring me dinners and do other nice things if I became a quadriplegic, but there really are only a few people in my life who would actually wipe my ass day in and day out without hesitation, and vice versa.

Most people find us important as it serves their own needs.  And, we ourselves can even sometimes find others important who actually are not, and/or do not feel the same way about us.  Which is why I say choose people who find you important AND you find important – It has to be mutual.

When you give your best to the right people, it comes back to you tenfold.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much more satisfying and rewarding my life is now because I put me, my kids, and husband first.  I give them so much, and they give me so much more in return.  That’s how it should be.  I don’t have that need for validation anymore from others.  I don’t need Facebook or Instagram to validate me or represent my life.  I don’t need to bend over backwards for attention and approval.  I get everything I need from my list.

When you are most important to yourself, the rest of your life is easy to live.  I will never apologize for putting me, my kids and my husband first.  I will never allow someone to interfere with my list, either.  I have boundaries, and not everyone can understand or accept that, and I am okay with that.  My decisions are easy to make because I know who I am and what and who I value most.  I can move forward with ease, confidence, and clarity.

Be your own hero.  Be your own role model.  Be your own example.  Be your own leader.

As I said before, life has a funny way of working, so who knows what my list will look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  It could change.  I certainly hope not, but until life decides to throw a curveball at me, I will continue to live by my list.

And, if at some point in my life my list does have to change, the ONE thing that will NEVER change is me being first.

I am important.

Not to the world.  To the right people. 🙂