Sunday, July 2, 2006

Drawing a line in the sand

Boundary setting can be so hard. Especially with friends and family. It's easier to draw boundaries at work, for example, because while you care about your co-workers and your job, there is not the same level of emotional commitment as there is with your friends and family. At least, one would hope that's the case.

This past year has really been a lesson to me in boundary setting. Many things have happened within my family and with my friends that made me realize it was time to draw a line in the sand.

I truly am a student of Dr. Phil who says "You teach people how to treat you." Truer words were never spoken! You absolutely teach people how to treat you. If you tell them, either verbally or through your actions, that it's ok to walk all over you, never call when they say they will, be jerks, etc. then they will do it. You've got to draw that line in the sand.

It's easy to do it when someone is being a complete asshat. It's harder when the poor behavior is either subtle, unintentional, or both. That is when it can get difficult to have the "come to Jesus" meeting with your friends or family. But, it's still imperative to do it.

This blog was brought on by a conversation with a friend yesterday. Let's call this friend "B." B is completely self-centered and insecure. His self-centered behavior makes him a bad listener. He doesn't care about other people's issues or at least doesn't seem to. Everything is about B.

So I wondered...why have I been letting B get away with this for so long? What is the point of having a friendship with someone who acts like this? B doesn't live in my same geographic area so we don't see each other often, but when we used to, it was always about B.

I have to draw a line in the sand. Relationships like that aren't worth it to me anymore, life is too short to endure that when there are wonderful people out there who know how to give and take, and be supportive, and want to do so.

Now, drawing a line in the sand with family members is much more complicated, but I did that a few months back as well and it's been a very freeing decision. I finally had to realize that whatever mistakes or actions my family makes doesn't have to affect me and I can make it clear that I won't let it affect me. It's not about judgment of their choices, it's about realizing that I do not have to live with the consequences of those choices.

In some cases, I've had to cut off family members completely. This is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it's helpful for everyone to know something: Shared DNA doesn't have to equal shared misery.

Some people thrive on drama. I do not. I want peace, calm, and serenity in my life. I want good, solid, strong relationships with people who know what it means to be a friend or good family member. Often, lines in the sand are the only thing that will lead you to that life.

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