I read this fantastic blog post a few weeks ago called ‘Why I dislike Influencers’ – By V Millennial Life Crisis.
She talked about the lack of integrity with a lot of these so called social media ‘influencers’, and it really got me thinking about how narcissistic and manipulative these types of people can be.
After all, the term influence means to ‘affect and change the way someone else thinks or behaves’, which to me, has a very manipulative undertone to it.
Some may cry “But, I’m trying to influence people in a positive way”, and to that I say “But, who says your way is positive or the ‘right’ way?’. Just because you think it is, doesn’t make it factual or right for other people.
I really have to wonder about the true motives of those who make the conscious effort to ‘influence’ anyone. Do they really care for people, or is it more of a desire to fluff up their own sense of self – compensation for their personal inadequacies?
When I look to the genuine people who have truly made a positive impact on the world, it happened organically by simply being themselves and sharing the vulnerability of their own personal experiences. They weren’t intentionally setting out to ‘influence’ people.
As Mahatma Gandhi famously said “Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world but to change ourselves”.
Genuine people know they have no power in ‘changing’ another, nor do they have the desire to! The point of life is to learn, grow, and evolve within ourselves. When we do this, it has a ripple effect, that may or may not, inspire others to grow in their own way.
We should never place or try to force our expectations onto another, this is not the way to ‘influence’ people in a positive way; this is ego based manipulation that is nothing more than self-serving adoration.
When we learn or experience something that may be of value to somebody, it is our duty to share that growth, without trying to persuade or ‘influence’! If people find what you are sharing is useful to them, they will enact on it all by themselves – no manipulation necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, wanting to contribute to the world in a positive way is obviously a wonderful thing, BUT, you do this by leading with your example, not by intentionally trying to ‘influence’ people!
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In a few week’s time, I’ll be turning thirty-five. Society keeps telling me I should be married with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence by now. Although, following the herd has never been my style!
Like every girl, I’ve dreamed of having the fairytale wedding. Growing up, Cinderella was my favourite bedtime story. I think most girls have been planning their wedding day since the age of five. I certainly spent many hours playing out the fairytale in my mind.
I used to set age limits that I hoped to be married by, and I also set age limits for becoming a Mother. I think my original age limit was either twenty-three or five. When I hit that age with no prince charming in sight, I pushed the age limit out to twenty-seven, and from twenty-seven to thirty. After all, society tells us, if we’re not married and pregnant by thirty our biological clock is about to tick us over into never, never land.
I used to stress about this, the pressure made me feel worthless – like I had failed my role as a woman. Until one day, something magical happened… I grew up! I realised that relationships aren’t about fairytale weddings, they’re about the reality of sharing your life with someone – forever!
Unfortunately, too many women ignore the reality of this, too wrapped up in their childhood fantasy. Combine that with societal pressure and you end up with women settling for the butler instead of the prince.
When I look to the couples around me, I’m saddened to say that most of them are not right for each other, they are pretty unhappy, and probably shouldn’t be together. They settled for the wrong one because time was ‘running’ out. They convinced themselves that being with the wrong one, is somehow better than being alone (free to meet the right one).
It is often these types of women who ask us ‘sad single gals’ questions like “Are you married?” “No.” “Got a boyfriend?” “No.” “Oh, I’m so sorry” they reply with a look of pity, as if they are somehow ‘better’ women because they aren’t tragic enough to be single.
If only they realised they should be pitying themselves for choosing to live a life that is less than they deserve. It actually makes me sad to think of how many women are living in miserable relationships, because this societal pressure has demonised their worthiness of being a woman in their own right. A lady once said to my Mother “I think Stacey is being too picky, you can learn to love someone you know”. WOW (as I shake my head in disgust), is all I’ve really got to say about that!!
I’m often asked “Why are you single?”. A pretty stupid question with only one obvious answer: because I haven’t found the right one, and unlike those who are prepared to settle – I am not! Being alone doesn’t scare me as much as being with the wrong person.
I’m also asked a lot if I desire to have children, and to be honest I’m not so sure these days. I had always thought I wanted children, but lately I’ve been seriously questioning whether I truly do or whether it’s just societal pressure. I guess you could say that if I found the right guy, I probably would, but if I don’t then I think I’m quite happy not to have them.
I have several friends who have chosen not to have children (for various different reasons), and guess what? All of them are living very fulfilled lives despite being ‘childless’.
Some women want children so desperately, that they will stop at nothing to have them: a one-night stand, a sperm donor and IVF treatment, which of course, is perfectly fine, but why can’t it also be fine that some of us don’t have that burning desire? I’m a little old fashioned and believe that children should be created from two people who love each other, and if I can’t do it that way, then I’d rather not do it at all.
Surely, that is my right as a woman to decide whether children are right for me or not, without the judging eye from society? Surely, in this day and age, we as women have the right to make these choices without being made to feel that we are ‘less’ of a woman for going against the grain of societal norms?
Sadly, although we have progressed in many ways as a society, we have not progressed from imposing pressure on women to fulfil the outdated role of ‘womanhood’ – the expectation to be barefoot and pregnant, is still very much alive!
Some women have tried every available option to have children and still haven’t been able to. Do we seriously think it’s morally right to be placing societal pressure on them? Where has our compassion gone for these women? I’m sure it is upsetting enough for them without society making them feel that they are ‘less’ of a woman.
Why can’t society just mind their own business and let women live their lives in which ever way they (or the Universe) decide is right for them?
I’m thankful to finally be in a place where these societal pressures no longer bother me – I’ve removed these self-imposed timelines, and the pressure that goes along with it. I’m proud to be single, proud I haven’t had children with the wrong person, and proud to know I deserve more than just the butler. My prince will come along exactly when he is meant to!
To all the single and child-FREE women out there, that haven’t reached the freedom from societies bullshit pigeonhole, I say “RISE sister, RISE!”. You have always been and will always be more than enough, just the way you are. ‘Me, myself and I’, woman enough in your OWN right!
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I think we’ve all loved someone who isn’t right for us. After all, how could we recognise who is right, if we hadn’t first experienced who was wrong. But unfortunately, too many settle for the wrong one out of fear of being alone. I guess it ultimately comes down to how much we value our self-worth.
I spent years, sorry, most of my life not valuing my self-worth, hence a string of ‘wrong’ relationships. Thankfully, none of those relationships have lasted too long or gotten too serious, where it resulted in marriage or bringing children into the world. Although, one special ‘wrong’ man came close…
For the sake of this article, I’ll call him Sam (not his real name). Sam and I met when I was fourteen years old, and we became good mates rather quickly. He was a gentle soul, very caring, loyal and protective over me.
At around seventeen years old he found his long lost Father who had abandoned the family when he was eight years old. Sam went to live with his Father overseas. We used to call each other regularly and I could hear the change in his personality over the phone. He started to talk about money and womanising a lot, but there was a darkness in his voice too.
His Father was the head of armed forces in this foreign country (which I will not name), he was also an illegal gun runner.
When Sam returned home, we all recognised the change in him. His friends used to joke that this country stole his soul. To me, it wasn’t a joke, a part of his soul was missing. He wouldn’t talk about what happened over there, but I knew that he was deeply traumatised and it involved seeing, doing and experiencing things that no one should ever have to, let alone a seventeen-year old.
I hated his Dad from that point on. Sam put his Father on a pedestal which always caused us to fight about him – I couldn’t stand that the little boy in Sam still pined for his Fathers approval.
Around that same time, I began to go really deep into the world of drugs. Sam hated me taking drugs and so our friendship began to fall apart. It was easy to push him away, he’d become a different person and I was going down a rabbit hole that he didn’t approve of.
A few years later, I think I was about twenty-three or four, we ran into one another. We were both so excited to see each other again. He had a girlfriend who I got along really well with, and I began dating Sam’s best mate. We all got along well, and for Sam and I, it was as if no time had passed. After a few months I stopped dating Sam’s mate (he really wasn’t my type – at all!), and around the same time Sam and his girlfriend ended their relationship.
One night Sam and I got really drunk and one thing led to another as they say. Our friendship had crossed a line, and I’m afraid there was no turning back.
Because I had dated his best mate and being friendly with Sam’s ex-girlfriend, we decided to keep ‘us’ a secret – we did this for the next four or five years. It was an ‘open’ relationship, I was very aware of Sam’s womanising ways. Due to this, I always knew he was not right for me but I loved him, and no matter how many times I tried to end it and go back to being friends, his pull over me would draw me back in.
I guess a part of me always hoped that the Sam before he found his Dad would re-emerge, as I often saw glimpses of the ‘real’ him when we were alone.
Because of our ten-year previous friendship, we were always able to talk deeply and honestly. We would have a few drinks, play some tunes and talk the night away.
These nights often resulted in me pushing Sam’s buttons about his jerk of a Father, I could see the pain in his eyes and I would try to extract what in the hell happened overseas. He would reveal little titbits, and I knew without him actually saying what had occurred (of which, out of respect for him, I will not mention in this post). What I will say though, is that what happened, really did steal a part of his soul.
By this stage in our relationship, his family and most of our friends had cottoned on that we were together, but we still pretended no one knew. I didn’t want it to come out because I knew deep down I deserved someone who would treat me better. I just wasn’t ready to admit it out loud, that would mean I needed to cut him from my life.
We nearly had a child together towards the end of our relationship and really his behaviour over that scenario was the beginning of the end for me. We kept things going for awhile but I finally reached the point where I had enough. I cut all ties with him, and thought I had moved on with my life…
Five years later (October of last year), I was at a party where I ran into one of Sam’s family friends. She came up to me and said “You and Sam should be together”, my response was “Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you should be together”.
She encouraged me to talk to him and the flood gates opened – tears streamed down my face like a rushing waterfall. There was clearly a lot of unresolved emotion. I knew I had to see him again.
That night Sam came to pick me up from the party. We went back to his place and once again talked for hours. He seemed like he had really grown up and matured. He admitted and apologised for his terrible behaviour towards me, in fact, he said it’s the one thing he is most ashamed of. And, I know he truly meant that, he’s not the type to say it otherwise.
He asked if he would ever see me again and I said I didn’t know – I needed time to think. I agonised for days about what I would do. I decided he could not be in my life again, but I wanted us to go away together for a ‘goodbye’ weekend, and he agreed.
It was an amazing weekend, just like old times. We literally spent the whole weekend talking and reminiscing. We talked about how we are not right for each other, but we hoped that whoever we ended up with had the ability to talk as freely as we did and feel as comfortable as we made each other feel. Sam always felt like a comfortable old slipper – the only person I’ve ever truly been myself with.
The weekend ended and we said our goodbyes; only now I started to fantasise that maybe we could work. Maybe, we just hadn’t given ourselves the opportunity to give things a real go, after all, he seemed like he had really matured.
I contacted Sam and told him I wanted to give things a go. He was working interstate but would be back at Christmas time and said we’d talk things over then. We spent most of January together and I’m saddened to say I realised that in many ways he hadn’t grown up at all, in fact, in some ways he had regressed.
I discovered that he has a pretty bad cocaine habit (I’d say he is on the cusp of becoming an addict if he’s not careful), which of course, I cannot afford to be around – I’ve come way too far for that. He was also hanging around some really shady characters. I hung out with Sam and some of his ‘new’ mates on New Year’s Day – I sat there bored, thinking about how I had absolutely nothing in common with these people! I was also disgusted to find out one of these ‘mates’ had called a prostitute to Sam’s Mother’s house earlier that morning – the Sam I know would never disrespect his Mother by allowing that in her house. I kept thinking what in the hell has happened to him??
You see, in the last five years I have grown tremendously, especially in the area of learning to love myself and value my self-worth; unfortunately, Sam’s growth hasn’t been able to keep up with mine, and now I know it never will.
He has too much baggage that he is not ready to face (I have implored him to seek professional help), and I don’t know if he can ever overcome what he has been through. I hope and pray he does, but he has so much unprocessed emotional pain, that he is on a path of self-destruction. A path I know all too well, but one I’m not prepared to ever return to.
Do I still love Sam, absolutely, a part of me always will! We have over twenty years of history, filled with many ups and downs, but I now know I deserve so much better than he can offer me.
On the first of February this year for the final time, I severed my ties with Sam. Does it hurt, yes, absolutely! I still think of him from time-to-time, and occasionally have a little cry, but sometimes in order to do what is best for our highest-selves, we have to do what hurts. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.
We must remember in these times, that if we don’t love ourselves to the highest degree, then who else is going to in return?
One day when I do meet someone, I want to know that I have set the tone for what I truly deserve!
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This week we’ve had World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th September, and sadly on the 9th September, legendary AFL football star Danny Frawley has taken his own life, after years of battling mental health issues. I believe there were many contributing factors with his struggle, work, finances, marriage, etc.
It sounds all too familiar when it comes to men feeling an overwhelment of mounting pressure…
Today, in honour of these fallen men, I’d like to share an article I wrote earlier this year for a men’s magazine.
In today’s Western World, there is an ever-mounting pressure on men to be the best: in their chosen field of work, to provide for their family, to have a flash house, and the latest car. And don’t forget, the kids need the latest gadgets, and overseas holidays too.
The pressure from society, to have the best of everything – weighs heavily on men’s shoulders. This, combined with the ever-rising cost of living, it’s no wonder the suicide rate is at an all time high. It is well known; the suicide rate is significantly higher amongst men than women. I often wonder why this is so…
Obviously there are many varying factors that can contribute to such a fatal decision. However, I have to wonder if our obsession with being the best, and having the best, is a contributing factor? Or, as I’d rather suspect, is it more the failure to obtain such ‘glory’ that creates the sense of hopelessness? Striving to be, or have the best, can produce a wonderful sense of accomplishment and freedom, but, when one tries to accomplish this on the ‘back foot’, it is a recipe for disaster.
I see so many families getting in way ‘over their heads’ financially – living off credit to acquire possessions that are far beyond their means. It’s okay during the ‘honey moon’ phase of spending, but when the repayments start to mount up – so too does the pressure.
Although a lot of families have two salaries coming in, I still think that men carry the pressure more heavily. It’s societal normalisation that men are the primary bread winners, and I think men take on that role deep within their psyche – whether conscious of it, or not.
When the financial deck of cards start to fall, some men feel emasculated in their ability to provide for their family. It’s embarrassing to their self-proclaimed ‘manhood’.
When women have a similar issue, we tend to turn outwards: baring our soul to a trusted confidante. I feel that a lot of men do the opposite, and turn inwards – too embarrassed, and ashamed to share their emotional load. They say ‘a problem shared, is a problem half solved’. I truly believe this, and think this also contributes greatly to the high male suicide rate.
I used to work as an Undertaker for a Funeral company, and part of my role was to attend suicide scenes. I would collect the ‘deceased’ and transport them to the Coroner. I often had to explain the Coroner’s process to the family, moments after they discovered their loved one – lifeless. Many a time they would say to me “I knew he was stressed, but he wouldn’t discuss it with anyone”. The families often said “If only he talked to me about it, we could have got through it together”. This highlights to me, there is still a ‘macho’ stigma surrounding men sharing their emotions.
To these men I say ‘we as women do NOT think any less of your manhood with the admission that you have feelings and emotions’. In fact, we wish you would unburden this unnecessary pressure. A problem shared, really is a problem half solved – share your worries with us. In finding a solution, two heads are always better than one!
If you’re concerned about the judgement from other men – remember, those men have bottled up emotions as well. They are probably silently praying, to unburden their own share of problems. It’s time for men to realise: you are not alone! Everybody feels the weight of emotions at times. It’s a natural part of life.
Please surrender your pride; open your mind, and share what’s in your heart. If you cannot open up to someone that you know, then please reach out to a professional counsellor, or psychologist. If you are in a more urgent need for help, then please call your local mental health hotline. In Australia, organisations such as ‘Lifeline’ and ‘Beyond Blue” are wonderful organisations that can assist you with your mental health.
Gents, in closing I’d like you to remember ‘what seems bad today, won’t seem so bad in the future – our troubles, no matter how bad, always pass!’.
Our men need just as much love and care as we do as women. May we raise our next generation of men to be strong but with an open heart.
Thanks for reading.
Too much of anything is never a good thing! If we sit and do nothing, then expect things to fall into our lap, chances are we will be waiting a long time. However, doing too much, also has its downsides.
Universal law tells us that everything happens in its time and in its place, and no amount of pushing will ever hurry the Universe along!
When we try to force a door that is not ready to be opened, it means one of two things: the timing and circumstances haven’t yet aligned for us, or what we are trying to obtain is not right for us at all.
As a control freak (I’m working on that), I’ve had a lot of experience in trying to mess with Divine Timing, and I’m telling you, it never ends well – the Universe ALWAYS wins.
When something is not right for us at all and we push to get it – undesirable things tend to happen… It could be that we’re pushing for a relationship and our partner turns out to be a real jerk, or perhaps, we’re pushing for a business deal and we end up losing all of our invested money.
These undesirable things happen because we thought we knew better than the Universe and decided to force a door that did not want to be opened. This doesn’t mean that we don’t learn valuable lessons from these experiences, but it does mean that we’ve chosen a harder road to go down that has painful consequences.
You see, when something is right for us, Divine Timing has things lined up and absolutely everything falls into place – effortlessly!
This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to take action to achieve our desires, it just means that when we push and the Universe doesn’t respond, then we need to back off and assess the situation. Is it us that’s interfering in the situation or the Universe?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Am I taking so much action that nothing is consistent or getting completed at all? And, if I am managing to complete things, is it getting executed well and to a high standard?
- Am I wanting this desired outcome so badly that my desperation (fear based emotion, which translates into a lack of belief in myself) is actually pushing away the very thing I desire?
- Is what I desire truly right for me, and if it is, then is the timing of it right?
The common problem with all of these scenarios is a need to control the situation – a lack of trust in the Universe, and this is where too much action is not a good thing. There needs to be a level of trust in the Universal order of Divine Timing.
An example that comes to mind is my book that I’m writing. I easily smashed out 36,000 words in under a month but then hit a wall. I tried to force things for a while but then realised I was pushing a door that wasn’t ready to be opened, and I now know exactly why that door isn’t ready to be opened.
I could easily force myself to sit there and finish the book, but the book would not be to my highest standard. As I’m writing a non-fiction book that’s based on my experiences, I came to realise that the experiences I need to finish the book have not yet occurred. I need to wait for Divine Timing to provide those experiences, and I trust wholeheartedly that they will come when they are meant to.
You see, if I tried to force it, my book would be written from my head and not my heart – and that my friends, is the difference between a good book and an exceptional book, and I know which one I’d prefer!
Often our ego’s think we know better, which is why we try to push in the first place. But, how many times in hindsight have we been able to look back and see that we were actually quite ignorant to all the varying factors that thankfully hindered the situation.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a situation not go my way that devastated me at the time, only to get further down the track and realise it was actually a blessing in disguise. It’s only when something better occurs that we are able to see why the Universe was preventing us in the first place. What’s that old saying “hindsight is a wonderful thing”? Indeed, it is, which is why we must learn to have faith in Divine Timing.
For me, what helps keep this faith is turning to my spirituality, which is about slowing down – connecting to my ‘being’ through the stillness of the present moment. This connection to ‘being’ is what enables us to LET GO (of our egos need to control), and trust that the Universe has our back.
There is no need to rush, push, or force anything, because EVERYTHING does happen exactly when it is meant to!
Monks and Yogi’s understand this better than anyone, which is why they slow down and dedicate their lives to the ancient practices of yoga and meditation – their enlightenment teaches them to ‘just be’.
Obviously, we aren’t all at this level of enlightenment where we want to dedicate our entire lives to this way of living, but the point here is that too much action is just as bad as not enough.
When we are in harmony with the Universe, her flow becomes our flow, we move effortlessly as one – just the way we were designed to be!
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Last week I covered ‘Setting Boundaries With Family And Friends’, today is the third and final part in this Personal Boundaries series.
Part 3.) Setting Boundaries With Your Partner:
Like all relationships, how you set the tone in the beginning of the relationship, is generally how you will be treated as time goes by.
For Example: When you first start dating, if you jump every time your partner calls you, chances are, you will always be a doormat in the relationship. Or, if you cave in and let your partner get their own way all the time in the early stages of the relationship, you can bet they will always push, nag, or cause an argument until they get their own way.
Due to this, it is ideal to set boundaries in the beginning of the relationship:
- Don’t answer the phone every time they call. You don’t want them to expect you to always be available for them. Same goes with text messages – don’t reply straight away all the time. Life gets busy as time moves on and you can’t always have your phone by your side.
- Don’t always be available to go on a date. Being at their beck and call is a sure way to become a doormat. Let them know you already have plans with friends, but you’d be happy to catch up another time. This not only lets them know you are not a doormat, but also lets them know you value your friends.
- If they sulk after your first argument, don’t pander to them. Completely ignore this childish behaviour, it’s only an attempt to gain attention and make you accept the blame. Once they’ve stopped sulking, then have a mature conversation about the fight and apologise if you have something to apologise for.
- If your partner speaks to you in a disrespectful manner, call them out on it straight away. If they continue to do this, get up and leave (if they are at your house, ask them to leave). Tell them to only contact you once they are ready to treat you with respect. If they can’t do that, they probably aren’t worthy of you – you’d be best to find someone who is!
Now, some of you who are already in a relationship may be thinking “I recognise some of these behaviours from my partner, but the pattern is already formed – it’s too late”. That’s not necessarily true, you can implement boundaries into a well established relationship. But, I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot harder, and it takes strength and consistency.
It’s natural for your partner to become aggressive or defensive when you first start to introduce some boundaries. You will feel great resistance from them, they are
so used to things being their way. They may even accuse you of ‘becoming a different person’ of which you are.
You are finally starting to see that you are worthy of so much more – well done! It’s a beautiful place to get to after a lifetime of being mistreated.
When you feel this resistance from your partner, you will feel the urge to give in and drop your boundaries – DON’T! This is where you need to stand firm, it takes time to create a new pattern and this can only occur through repetition.
Let me give you an example of how I broke the pattern of my dog barking every time someone walked past my house: this barking had been going on for five years, telling her off stoped her barking at the time, but it didn’t break the recurring pattern.
Her barking was becoming increasingly worse, and was driving me bonkers! Something had to change, and that something had to be how I handled the situation. I decided to pick a new tactic and stick to it.
Every time she barked I would say no barking, then I would pick her up and lock her in the bathroom as I repeated the words ‘no barking’. Once she had calmed down I would open the door and tell her she was a good girl.
The first day I tried this it seemed to be working pretty quickly, the naughty room was having a positive affect on her. I thought “oh wow, how easy was that!”. The second day however, was disastrous. The resistance was kicking in, I think I put her in the bathroom fifteen to twenty times that day, and each time, she continued to bark for quite a while.
I decided to completely ignore her, and I only let her out once she stopped barking.
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give in. I truly felt like it was not working, but I decided to remain strong. On the third day she still had some resistance, but I was starting to see some improvement. I knew more than ever I had to stand firm. By the fourth day, she didn’t bark at all until the afternoon, and once again she was carried to the naughty room.
Now she hardly barks at all, and when she does I repeat the same process. Through repetition, I created a new pattern.
The same firmness needs to apply when setting new boundaries in an established relationship. You will go through ups and downs, and come up against strong resistance, but in order for the new pattern to take root, your partner needs to know you are serious. The only way for them to know just how serious you are, is to show unwavering repetition.
When you are having moments of weakness (and you will), it’s best to remind yourself that this is short-term pain for long-term gain.
All of this, of course, should only apply if your partner is worthy of you, they must ultimately be a good person that has just become accustomed to a bad pattern (that was created from you not implementing boundaries in the beginning of the relationship).
If your partner is treating you badly in multiple areas and will not respect your new found boundaries, then please, value yourself for the beautiful, worthy person that you are, and kick them to the curb! When we start to stand up for ourselves – the Universe listens!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series! Personal boundaries are the backbone of any successful relationship. Without them we not only dishonour ourselves but those around us.
Last week I covered setting boundaries with drugs and alcohol. Now let’s take a look at the second part in this three-part series.
Part 2.) SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
I think we’ve all experienced those friendships that aren’t particularly healthy for our emotional wellbeing.
There’s the friends who upset and belittle us, the ones who are jealous and bitter about our joyous moments/achievements; the one’s who use and abuse our kindness and generosity, and the ones who really don’t value and respect us.
Sometimes our own behaviour may have unknowingly (or knowingly) contributed towards this treatment, and sometimes, their behaviour is completely unjustified – a reflection of our ‘friend’s’ own misery and self-hatred.
I believe that people come into our lives to teach us lessons: it helps us grow and evolve in the way we treat ourselves, and ultimately other people.
The hurtful way some friends treat us, can often be a reflection (mirror image) of how we have wrongfully and usually unknowingly treated others in the past – this helps us to treat others better in the future. Other time’s their hurtful behaviour is to teach us ‘how not to behave’, or it can be a reminder to value our self-worth more. This is where learning to either set healthy boundaries or remove the person from your life all together comes into play.
There are friends who aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ people, they just have annoying habits, or a different level of values and expectations than you do. These are the friends who are always late when you’re on time. The ones who ask questions that you don’t want to answer, or perhaps, they keep saying something that emotionally triggers you – but all that aside, you love them anyway.
These are the type of friends who are worthy of staying in our life, but just need some boundaries laid down as a guide in how you would like to be treated.
- If a friend is always late, pick a cut off point as to how long you will wait for. For me, if it’s more than fifteen minutes, I leave the venue. I’m not annoyed (ok, maybe a little but I’ll get over it pretty quickly), I’m simply setting what my boundary is for waiting around.
- If a friend asks you something you don’t want to answer, just say “I don’t feel comfortable answering that question”, or if that feels too hard, make a clear point of changing the conversation – they will soon get the message that the topic is not open for discussion.
- If a friend keeps saying something that emotionally triggers you, sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion with them – explain why it’s upsetting you, they probably aren’t aware and just need it pointed out. If this scares you, then write a letter or a text message. Just make sure you write it in a kind and loving manner, you don’t want to appear like you are attacking them. This is about helping them to understand your boundary, not their ‘wrong’ doing.
When people are true friends and worthy of being in our lives, they are open and responsive to us speaking honestly and setting boundaries to adhere to. If you have a friend who is constantly upsetting you, and you know that speaking honestly or setting boundaries would anger them or make them defensive, then perhaps this is a friendship that is no longer serving you.
If I get to this point in a friendship, I know that it has run its course. There are some people who aren’t ready to or will never acknowledge when their behaviour has been shitty. With these people, it’s just not worth getting into it with them. I used to let my ego get in the way “You’ve done this and you’ve treated me like that”, but you cannot make a blind man see! It’s best to just walk away – without reason, without argument, without pointing the finger, they will learn in their own time and in their own way.
A few suggestions on how to do this:
- Tell them outright “This friendship is no longer working for me”. When they ask why, respond with “Because it’s just not working for me anymore”. Giving them a reason will only inflame the situation and give them justification to avoid looking at themselves. You don’t owe anything to someone who is not serving your highest good.
- Ghost them, block them on all platforms: social media, your mobile, etc., completely wipe them without a trace. Out of sight is out of mind!
- Gently pull away and let the friendship run its course naturally.
There really is no right or wrong, you will do what feels right for you based on YOUR level of comfort, and what you feel best suits the personality of the other person involved. Just remember that friendships come and friendships go, depending on the level and direction of growth that we are at.
Don’t be mad, don’t be sad and don’t feel bad – just be thankful for the time you shared, the good memories made, and the lessons that the bad memories brought.
We often find it harder to set boundaries with family members than we do in friendships. Maybe it’s because we feel there is more at stake – we are told that blood is thicker than water, perhaps we are scared that setting boundaries may cause us to lose our loved one. Maybe we are scared of hurting their feelings, or it could even be from fear of upsetting the entire family dynamic. The other issue is that we often communicate in an aggressive manner with those closest to us. In these circumstances it’s hard to set positive and healthy boundaries without conflict arising.
I’ve experienced all of this on many different levels within my own family – who hasn’t?? Being related to someone doesn’t guarantee that we will like or respect them as people. I have quite a few family members who I love (because they are blood), but I certainly don’t like who they are as people.
Again, you must decide whether these family members are worthy of being in your life or not. For the ones who are, set boundaries!
- If a family member is upsetting you in person, change the topic of conversation – if they refuse, walk away or leave the venue. Only re-engage in the topic when they have agreed to do so in a calm and respectful manner. If you’re on the phone, simply hang up. It’s important that you set the tone on how you want to be spoken to.
- Call a family meeting, have an open discussion. Lovingly state what your concerns are and clearly lay out your personal boundaries. Again, if this feels too confronting for you, write them a letter.
- Limit the amount of time you spend with this family member and try to avoid being alone with them. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid them all together, but you can certainly monitor the amount of time being spent with them.
- Learn to use the word NO. Sometimes this word is the easiest and best way to set a boundary. You don’t even have to give a reason why, in fact, it’s best not to. “No” “Why?” “Because I said so” – end of story!
If all of this fails, then asses whether they are really worth having in your life. Just because they are family, doesn’t mean they have the right to disrespect and upset you repeatedly.
For years I put up with certain family members being down right nasty, because I thought I should keep the peace for the sake of the entire family. Thankfully I woke up and realised that no one has the right to treat me in this way, and guess what? Culling them was the best decision I’ve ever made. I cannot believe how light and happy I feel without all that toxicity.
I’m not missing out on anything, as I once blindly believed I would. If anything my life and relationships with my worthy family members are more fruitful and joyous because of it.
“One rotten apple, spoils the whole bunch.”
Our relationships with others always brings some challenges, but the most important relationship that we need to take care of, is the one we have with ourselves. Thanks for reading!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article that was really an overview on the importance of setting personal boundaries. After a few requests, I have decided to delve a little deeper into what will be a three-part series over the next few weeks.
Part 1.) Setting Boundaries With Drugs And Alcohol
Part 2.) Setting Boundaries With Family and Friends
Part 3.) Setting Boundaries With Your Partner.
PART 1.) SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL.
This is an area where a lack of boundaries can be ever so destructive and potentially life threatening.
When I was a young teenager, I had the only boundary you need when illicit drugs are involved – DON’T TOUCH THEM! I was actually dead against drugs until the age of fifteen.
My parents had spent a lot of time talking with me about the dangers of drugs. My Mum even made me read the diary of a drug addict who tragically died from an overdose (Go Ask Alice – By Anonymous), as an educational deterrent. I was so against them that I lectured anyone I knew who took them. I remember being offered ecstasy when I was fourteen, I of course, said no with great conviction – I knew saying no was the best and only boundary to have.
Sadly, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, this all changed due to emotionally overwhelming life circumstances that led me to drop that boundary, and set me on a path of self-destruction.
I’ve had to work hard to put that boundary back up, and unfortunately just saying no isn’t enough for me anymore. In fact, as an addict, saying no to drugs is one of the hardest things to do. There is a compulsion to say yes that overrides all sense of reason. This is why I’ve had to put other boundaries in place.
My main boundary is to have friends that don’t take drugs, and for the most part I don’t. However, there are a couple of people in my outer circle that do, and with these people I have to set different boundaries.
- I have asked them to make sure they never offer me drugs.
- I ask that they don’t take drugs in front of me or let me know that they have drugs in their possession.
- I only see these people in a safe environment: work, a café, etc.
- I limit the amount of time I spend with these people.
If these people don’t adhere to my boundaries, I will not hesitate to immediately dismiss them from my life. I cannot afford to compromise on these boundaries, after all, that’s exactly what got me into this mess in the first place.
Again, this is such a destructive area for people, but one where boundaries are seldom thought of. Alcohol, particularly in Australia, is an encouraged part of our culture – getting sloshed is joked about and rewards you with a pat on the back from your mates.
I remember being quite responsible with alcohol in early adolescence. I’d have just a couple of quiet drinks at a party, but getting drunk wasn’t something I did. That was until my first true love broke my heart at the age of sixteen. That was when my natural drinking boundaries vanished into thin air.
I instantly became a dangerous binge drinker, I would go out of my way to drink as much as possible in one night. Mixing drinks and slamming down shots like lolly water. I was trying to drown out my broken heart.
I’m a fairly happy drunk – that is until I’ve had that one too many. After that, well ashamedly, I’m a foul mouthed, aggressive arsehole who totally and utterly embarrasses herself and everyone else around me.
I’ve done this more times than I care to count, each time hating and berating myself, but never acknowledging that I had the power to change this. I guess you could say I was a slow learner, I believed that binge drinking didn’t justify as a problem because I wasn’t an alcoholic. The notion of implementing boundaries took me a long time to discover, but when I did I actually wrote them down.
- Don’t do shots
- Don’t mix drinks
- Don’t drink wine in a party situation
- When I start to feel woozy – stop drinking alcohol and switch to water
When I stick to these boundaries, everything is fine and I’m perfectly behaved, but I’ll be honest, sometimes I have gone out (which is very rare these days) and completely forgotten these boundaries: caught up in ‘having a good time’, or an emotional issue is bothering me and I’ve sub-consciously slipped back into old coping mechanisms. Each time I’ve forgotten these boundaries, I can tell you, it’s been completely disastrous!
The last time I let these ever important boundaries slip, I actually got arrested for being drunk in a public place. I spent the night in jail, freezing my arse off with no water or toilet paper for that matter – GROSS!
When they let me out in the morning and handed me back my belongings the police officer said “ Ahh well, at least you didn’t lose any of your belongings”, no I replied “I’ve just lost my dignity instead”. I kept having vague flashbacks of me being handcuffed as I rolled around on the floor of the divvy van, trying to kick my way out.
I didn’t leave the house for nearly two weeks after that ‘slip up’ – I was covered in bruises and cuts that needed time to heal, and more importantly my bruised ego needed time to heal. Mentally and emotionally I just wanted to die, the self-loathing took quite a while to stop. But upon reflection, this incident was a good learning curve – an important reminder to always have my boundaries in place.
Some people are lucky and have strong inbuilt boundaries that come naturally and effortlessly, but for those of you who are a bit wild and reckless like me, you need to sit down and consciously write them out. Read them daily if you have to! Since my little hurrah in jail, I actually keep a copy of mine in my wallet; that way when I’m out, I can go to the toilet and read them if I need to reinforce these guidelines.
They are really like a best friend to me: they keep me safe, they keep me grounded, and most importantly, they keep me from hurting myself – physically, spiritually and emotionally!
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what your personal boundaries are with drugs and alcohol in the comment section.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had so many in-depth conversations with people: old friends, new friends and clients.
These conversations were so meaningful that I found myself reflecting on why. Each of us, although different, had one commonality that allowed the conversation to run so deep: we have all endured deep emotional pain.
It’s very easy to let such pain trap you in the clutches of victimhood, but each of us has risen above that in our own unique way. Lessons have been learned that has expanded our compassion to the world around us.
On one hand it makes me sad to think of how many people in this world are suffering immeasurable emotional pain, but on the other hand, I can’t help but feel we are better, more compassionate people because of it.
That doesn’t mean that the pain hasn’t scarred us deeply – it has, oh, it definitely has. But without the pain, would we be as understanding and compassionate towards others? I don’t think so. Would we ever grow and evolve within ourselves? No, I don’t think so. And without the pain, would we ever strive to help others? Would we be able to relate to someone else’s hardships, and use that as a driving force to create positive change? No, I really don’t think so!
You would think having deep conversations with people about their pain would make me feel depressed, but I believe the opposite to be true. Small talk and light conversation has its place in society, but quite frankly it bores me rather quickly.
Getting deep makes me feel alive and energised. The beauty of such vulnerability warms the cockles of my heart, and deeply nourishes my soul. Maybe it’s because these interactions remind me that I am not alone – we are not alone, or maybe, it’s because these deep and meaningful conversations bring out the purity of love and kindness.
I’m not quite sure, but whatever it is, I’m deeply thankful for it! Thankful that these people feel safe enough to share their pain with me, thankful that my pain may make them feel comforted in some small way, just as their pain makes me feel comforted.
You see, bad things happen to people everyday, a sad but factual reality of human existence; however, where great pain lies, great beauty resides. When we are able to open our hearts to another, that love, I believe, is what ultimately sets our pain free!
Thanks for reading
I saw a quote on Instagram this morning that reminded me of the importance of setting personal boundaries. The quote said “When you put a boundary down, be prepared to repeat it”.
The truth of this statement is far greater than most of us realise. I would even go so far as to say, that lacking boundaries has been the number one contributing factor in all of the misery and heartache I have suffered in my life.
I’ve lacked boundaries in all of my relationships at one point or another: in friendships, romantic relationships, with family, and most detrimentally, in the relationship I had with myself. I guess you could say I lacked self-worth.
It took me a long time to figure out why the same pattern kept repeating itself, over and over. I’d go out of my way for someone, give them my all, and then they would use and abuse me. I believed that if I gave them my all, they would in turn feel compelled to value me and give the same.
For years I felt like the victim who was repeatedly wronged. It never occurred to me until a few years ago: it was me who was the common denominator, and my lack of self-worth was the cause of me not implementing personal boundaries, for myself and others, to adhere to.
I was raised to always put others first and myself last, and when I started trying to put myself first, I felt a tremendous guilt. In fact, at times I do still feel this guilt, but I’m getting better at forcing myself to rise above it and put myself first regardless.
By putting myself first I don’t mean that I’ve become a selfish arsehole, but rather, I’ve made a promise to choose my personal boundaries over self-destructive behaviours.
I’ve been learning to speak my mind in an assertive way; in the past I’ve struggled with this a great deal. I was either really aggressive or completely silent (which turned into passive aggression), and neither way was a healthy approach to the situation.
I’ve now learnt to calmly and assertively say no, or, I don’t agree with you, or, stop, I’m not accepting this behaviour. I’ve also learnt that it’s perfectly okay to cut people from my life that are not having a positive influence on me emotionally.
This is an area I’ve found particularly challenging, but also the most rewarding. People come in to our lives for a reason, and sometimes they need to leave for an even better reason.
I’ve worked on cutting unhealthy ties a lot this year, and I’ve done so unapologetically. Some have been a depressive and emotionally draining influence, some have taken advantage of my (emotionally) giving nature, or didn’t respect my personal boundaries. Others just haven’t been on my wave length, which in turn, has made me fixate on the annoyance of polarity in differences.
In the past I would have agonisingly endured these unhealthy relationships – put myself last, because the guilt from upsetting them overpowered my self-respect.
I’m sure that some of these people are upset and don’t understand why they’ve been dismissed from my life, but their upset is not for me to concern myself with – not when it would be at the expense of my personal boundaries and self-respect.
At the end of the day, it’s ourselves that we have to live with. So, why wouldn’t we or shouldn’t we put number one first? If we don’t, who else is going to?