I’ve met a lot of people over the years who’ve asked me,
“Why don’t other people treat me as well as I treat them?”
I think it’s true to say that all of us have had the experience of being disregarded at some point. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a very unpleasant feeling. But the majority of us are basically kind and caring people — in most cases, the person doing the disregarding probably doesn’t even register what they’ve done. They haven’t intentionally set out to disrespect us; they just go by the signals we’re giving out.
The problem is that if we’re driven to please others, we put so much energy into earning their approval that we miss the point of our own worth! We forget to pay attention to ourselves and to value ourselves.
Like Amanda, who came to see me for sessions to help with her feelings of low self-esteem and her poor relationships. Amanda came to see that she’d spent a great deal of her emotional energy focusing on how other people treated her. As she’d declared in our first session,
“They’re treating me like dirt!”
Amanda began to let go of the mistaken belief that always trying to keep people happy was a good idea. As she began making room in her life to start focusing on her own worth and her own needs, she recognised that by not making those needs clear to others, she held some responsibility for her distressing experiences.
I had to admire Amanda for her courage and growing wisdom as she acknowledged the part she’d played. It’s not easy for us to do this—it’s often so much easier to blame other people
when they treat us poorly!
Setting clear boundaries is so important in cherishing our own worth and asking the same from others.
We already live in a world of boundaries and we manage these appropriately because we know that doing so will keep us safe and happy. Say, for example, someone wants to come into your home—you expect them to ring or knock at the door to announce their presence, so that you can decide if you wish to allow them in. You wouldn’t welcome someone into your personal space who is abusive or disrespectful to you.
Yet when it comes to our relationships, we often leave the door wide open! We make the mistake of thinking that people will automatically respect our boundaries when we ourselves aren’t even sure of what those boundaries are. It’s a bit like being so busy trying to fend off the people coming through the doorway that we haven’t the time to stop and consider putting an actual door in place!
This is what setting personal boundaries basically does: it reminds people, and ourselves, that we are of value.
One of the common concerns that people express to me is the worry that the people they’ve been ‘pleasing’ will become angry or reject them if they suddenly start putting their own needs first. It’s certainly true that when we first start putting ourselves first, some people may find it strange and even be a little put out. But it’s important to bear with it. For a short time, it may seem like people’s feathers are being ruffled, but these uncomfortable transitions often right themselves surprisingly quickly.
The reason the shift is rapid is because when we begin to focus on our self-worth, we create a wonderful field of ‘worthiness energy’ around us which attracts more and more worthiness into our life. The intelligent and magical power of love only ever has our best interests at heart; it will shift worlds, and people, to make us happy.
How To Set Boundaries
There are a number of ways we can set clear boundaries; here are two examples:
The Challenging Situation
Each evening, for a week, think of the most challenging situation you had that day. Write the following in your notebook, filling in the details:
Today when (the challenging situation) happened, I thought
___________ and I felt _____________.
Then write this question:
How could I have thought about and approached (the challenging situation) in ways that value my worth?
You may have an answer straight away, or you may have to ponder it for a while, but it will come to you, and when it does, be sure to write it down. Doing so will set it firmly in your mind and you’ll begin to feel stronger and more confident in yourself.
Time boundaries are a great way to focus on your own self worth whilst still remaining kind to others
The majority of us want to be good, kind, and caring. But in our bid to do so the word ‘Yes’ may tumble out of our mouths automatically when someone asks something of us. Later, we may well regret it and feel resentful because our own needs have been put aside, yet again.
Another great way to practice saying ‘No’ with kindness is to say ‘Yes,’ but from within your own time frame. This is helpful in letting go of a sense of constant obligation to others, whilst still being the kind and caring person you want to be.
‘I’d love to help, but I’m busy right now—I do have a couple of
hours on Thursday.’
“Let me figure out a good time – so that I can give you my full attention.
This post has been taken from the book: Out Of Fear Into Love: Life doesn’t have to be a struggle.
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