When I worked with horses I learned to set clear and honest boundaries. If I didn’t the chances of being kicked or bucked off were significantly high. It never occurred to me my horses were lower than me, we were equals which set a fair and durable foundation for our relationship. In the recent months I have learned it is not so easy to set boundaries with humans…especially when personalities are revealed and opinions fly around like fireflies in the summer sky. Whilst practicing my practice each and every day I have learned a few things along the way, which is the purpose for this post.
When I was pregnant I felt like a target for other women to advise me on every aspect of pregnancy, birth and childcare. It was almost as if I was wearing a sign that rad “I am an idiot and I have no idea what I am doing so please help me and tell me exactly what to do”. I was at the grocery store one day and a lady walked up to me and asked when I was due. I replied to her and she then asked me if it was my first child. Her eyes lit up with excitement and I felt a lecture coming on. I was right. For 20 minutes this kind yet opinionated woman told me everything I should and shouldn’t be doing and what was going to happen when I gave birth. I know enough to realize that when people give advice they are really trying to help and this situation was no different. However, at over 8 months pregnant I was growing tired of hearing what other people “knew” would happen to me. How could they possibly know? I mean, I didn’t even know!
Wondering what I did in the bread aisle of the grocery store? Well, I glanced over at the Nutella (my deepest obsession) and thought about eating the entire jar right there-and then I took a deep breath and remembered who I was. I asked her if I could interrupt her for a moment. She kindly closed her mouth for a brief second and I shared with her my principles for finding my own answers in life. I didn’t apologize or explain my reason. I simply responded with, “I live by my principles and one of them is to always find my answers in silence and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions.” She was grateful and I hope she left feeling as though she made a difference. I believe her sharing was more for her, not necessarily just for me. I don’t want to sound like I didn’t need it because obviously I did or it wouldn’t of happened but at that point I was really tired of hearing it. Like I said, when you are pregnant it seems some people really think you are stupid and have no idea about what is about to happen. Not exactly empowering yet nevertheless kind.
As I walked to my car (without the Nutella) I vowed to myself to never advise anyone unless they ask for my thoughts or even better, my experience. Especially a pregnant woman.
Setting boundaries is not something that comes all too natural for me. I have a tendency to be codependent, I never want people to feel they are wrong or their words are unworthy so most of the time I allow people to tell me what to do and let it in one ear and out the other. At the same time I don’t prefer when people treat me in ways I don’t want to be treated. My codependency slips in sideways every now and then, but the good thing is I am aware of it and I work with it. If I set a boundary with someone in a kind and gentle way it isn’t harsh or controlling, it is simply allowing someone the opportunity to respect the wishes my wishes. This is where grace becomes a big factor, and conscious breathing is the key to unlock the flow of grace.
How do you set boundaries? Do you ever find it difficult? Please do share….I would love to hear from you!
Thank you for being here.