Dealing with difficult people is one of those wonderful parts of life. You can’t really avoid a run-in with jerks who just seem to want to ruin your day- get into your groove and royally f it up. If you’re one of the lucky ones, these difficult people have minimal impact on your life- they’re a friend of a friend you see at a party every now and again, or they’re that strange co-worker who works on a different floor who you only see while you’re waiting in line for your free hotdog at the company BBQ.
Unfortunately for a lot of us, difficult people are often found in our family. Immediate family. Say, your mother for instance. The issue of setting healthy boundaries gets a bit more murky- and there’s a lot to be said about setting boundaries with loved ones- stay tuned. There is a lot of information out there about releasing the guilt associated with creating boundaries.
But, this is not that post. Instead, this is the post-boundary guilt post. You’ve worked hard. You’ve set and re-set boundaries. You’re standing strong in your desire to manage your reactions to their actions. You stand firm in your power.
Then out of nowhere, it hits you– THE GUILT. Oh the guilt. You thought you got over this when you banished the guilt you felt for even considering boundaries to begin with! And now this? WHEN DOES IT END?
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Guilt and shame are our ego, and unless you’re Ekhart Tolle or of the enlightened, this little buddy is going to come up again and again. So what do you do? The point of boundaries is to take care of your needs, not carry around more ick.
1. Breathe, babe. Those big, mindful breathes. My favourite: breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 8, hold for 3. Repeat until desired calm has arrived.
2. Express gratitude. This uncomfortable feeling is you being conscious of your emotions and not letting them run your life! Thank yourself for this. Gratitude is the foundation for resilience. Be your best cheerleader. Or email me and let me cheer you on. You got this.
3. Remind yourself that taking care of you is taking care of others. Staying in the toxic relationship you had pre-boundaries wasn’t taking you anywhere positive, was it? Consider what it is that is making you feel uncomfortable. Write them down, journal them out. Maybe consider writing a letter to your boundary-partner outlining your feelings. Maybe you send it, maybe you don’t. Chances are, the thing that you feel guilty about is not the actual thing. Dig in here, this is the good stuff. Make adjustments to your boundaries (or your relationship to those boundaries) as you see fit.
4. Find support. You’ll be amazed how liberating it is to speak to someone. And it literally can be anyone- a coach, a stranger, even. Sometimes we come to our own conclusions when we talk it all out.
5. Express gratitude again. Not only to yourself for putting yourself first and for working hard at building a better relationship with yourself and others, but also for taking a chance on being vulnerable. This is huge. Go you!
6. Renew your commitment.This is tough stuff. And it’s going to take time. But it’s so so worth it.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is an art that requires practice. What are some of the boundaries you have set, and what do you do when you feel guilty?