Seriously, I don't like being taken advantage of, and I'll bet my last piece of chocolate that neither do you.
Setting clear, consistent boundaries is a tough gig especially when there seem to be so many people willing to take advantage of you, seeing you only as a resource and your efforts a commodity. Personally, I find that I am constantly resetting and reevaluating my boundaries, always hoping that one day I'll be accepted and understood for what I feel that I am capable of giving in that moment.
Even tho' I've got reference books lined up wall to wall, offering substantial time honoured practices for setting boundaries, I still struggle to abide by their teachings. It's not that these ideas are invalid or outdated, the problem is that there are a few hurdles to overcome before laying down the rules of engagement.
HURDLE #1 Both participants need to prescribe to the same rulebook on boundaries -
Developing a shared understanding and language of boundaries helps to build a functional relationship. If you're not on the same page and using the same language, then you will never come to a solid understanding. It's like turning up to play football with each player having read a different codes rule book. After all, football isn't always football because sometimes football means soccer.
HURDLE #2 Get real & know your limits -
Boundary setting is an honest acknowledgement of your abilities and constraints. These are a set of realistic attributes that form the essence of who you are and your current capacity.
It's very hard to deliver a project when you feel pushed out of your comfort zone, short of time and learning on your feet as you go. "Abilities" may pertain to a physical capacity, personal energy output as well time constraints to self and family as well as your lone emotional reality, confidence, and internal competence. Naturally, If you are trying to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing nobody; including yourself.
HURDLE #3 Watch your mindset -
I know the feeling of signing up for a task only to wake up the next day feeling like it's a burden or responsibility? When the excitement of the initial offer or commitment wanes, the mind seems to take what started as an exciting adventure and turns it into drudgery; our reality is shaken with the false realisation; that this is all too hard or that you're not capable. Knowing your boundaries, limitations and commitments will give you a solid foundation to make decisions. If you have previously taken stock of "who" you are with regular self-reevaluation, you'll be better equipped to realise that the "buyers remorse" of making a commitment is merely nerves; the egoic mind in driver's seat. Self-evaluation brings you back to the factual reality that you are capable and not overburdened with your new role, nor are other people loading you with their responsibility or breaking down your boundaries.
Taking these three areas into deep examination gives me clarity when I feel like I have had my boundaries breached when I am in "victim mode." The self-restorative action of delving into the mindset of how and why I feel taken advantage of often regains inner strength as I know that “flipping” my thinking is all that is needed to regain complete composure and control. Once I've regained the upper hand in my mind, and heart feels warm again, it's then time to renegotiate and educate.
Guess Whose in Charge?
Some day's it's not me..
In my house it is usually the eight-year-old that's pushing my buttons, who thinks that he needs every ounce of my energy and attention in an attempt to have his needs met; and yes some days I feel like he only sees me as a resource.
I am not your resource; I am your mother, so may I ask, where’s the love, dear child?
The trick is to not feel angry or guilty, to lift your energy through breath, expand the heart - then reclaim your boundaries when you have a positive mindset...for this you may need chocolate