Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Setting Boundaries: Kind but Firm

I remember when someone suggested years ago that I didn't have healthy boundaries set up with a particular relationship.  I didn't even really know what that meant - and through my cultural studies over the years, I learned that it can mean very different things in different cultures!  Even to this day, I struggle with creating healthy boundaries within my family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues.  Theoretically, I think I have it all figured out.  In practice, that is a much different story!  I can remember thinking as a child that if I avoided all conflict and never made my own needs more important than those around me than all would be well.  That notion right there may give some insight to the environment that was my childhood home.  (**Disclaimer - I LOVE my parents, but as with all humans, they are not without their faults, as I am not either, and thus have given me many opportunities for reflection, growth and to see how I might try to do things differently)

Well, I have definitely realized that being the kind of "yes-woman" I thought I should be is NOT the way to go as it leads to passive aggressiveness, untruthfulness, unresolved feelings, etc.  And luckily, it never got me into too much trouble - though my husband would beg to differ on that as it relates to my high school days!

So, then, how do we set boundaries without pushing people away, being mean/rude, or without seeming like selfish, ego-mongering jerk?  Well, I don't have one nice, neat answer but here are some ideas worth sharing...

Something Rishi and I learned in our parenting class can be a GREAT guide in setting boundaries - Kindess with Firmness or Firmness with Kindness.  When interacting with my 2 year old, this sounds like, "I hear you that you want to play for one more minute, but it's nap time.  I love you but we are all done."  I can guarantee I do not always get kindness back in return but I actually do sometimes.  (I also get angry screams and loud "NOs" too, as she sometimes gets from me when I'm not on top of my game!)

We should also check in with ourselves and make sure we are taking care of ourselves and to make sure that our commitments, relationships, responsibilities, etc are nourishing us in some way for the better/in a positive way!  Now this is the tricky part, especially as it relates to our families.  I am known for not always being so kind with my words and tone when it comes to speaking with my own mother.  But I have also been known to toggle between giving and giving to her and having to back off big time to get some reprieve.  I have found that I feel the best when I can control my tone and keep it kind but be clear on my boundaries for what I can do and then offer some suggestions for how she can figure out the things that I either can't do or am not willing to do at that time.  Of course there is guilt involved for not wanting to do everything for my own mother, but I truly believe that if we do everything for another person - both people ultimately lose out because one is exhausted and the other hasn't learned his/her own lesson is self care and personal responsibility.  When I've told my mom that I can't do something - she often does it herself, hmmm and probably earned a rewarding feeling of accomplishment too!

I do think there comes a point when we can give so much to others that we have to be sure to take care of ourselves and it is up to each of us to figure out what that limit is and what it is we can do to feel taken care of.  I firmly believe that TRUE nourishment and self care comes from a non-commercial, natural source.  Buying a new pair of $200 boots, not the best nourishing self care, but definitely not the worst.  Getting into nature, getting a massage, spending time with a nourishing friend, these are some great, non-commercial, natural ways to take care of ourselves!

Breathe. Smile. Take care. Be Firm with Kindness. Love!

The image in this post if from prozac1's profile in Free Digital Photos.


Michelle Sollicito said...

I love this post Jyoti.. you are an enlightened one!

Jyoti Kaneria said...

Thanks Michelle! Glad you like the post! Not sure if I am enlightened, but thanks for the very kind words!! Just my way of keeping all this in my consciousness!