Setting boundaries is a fundamental step to having healthy relationships. I’ve noticed personally in my life, for the most of it, I wasn’t conscious of what boundaries I had in relation to others. Therefore it was extremely easy to walk all over me. It was like I had the mindset and operating from a place where other people were more important than myself. My boundary line was blurred and adjusted according to the other part.
This went on until I was about 25 years old. I slowly noticed I was exhausted. At the time I was working with people who had mental disabilities listening and trying to help as much as I could. And then on my spare time I had a list of people who called or wanting to meet to talk about their life problems. I felt like in every corner there was somebody who wanted something from me. Now this “something” was never materialistic in nature, it was emotional or mental. What I gave came in form of support, guiding or just listening to someone’s issues. After some time it was like the walls were closing up. I didn’t get the energetic reboot I needed in return to keep going. During this period I had one or two friends who actually would ask me back “and how are you?” (out of concern not politeness) not only vent and then once their “session” was over that was it. It’s one thing if being there for people is part of your work. But if this pattern is leaking in to your private life there needs to be a high level of caution.
I found myself in a place were I was exhausted, miserable and to be honest lonely. Something desperately needed to change. So I started to express to the people around me (in my private life) how I felt. Some took it well, were very understanding and we could have a dialogue about it. The majority though, disappeared completely. Harsh reality for me to face at the time since I thought these individuals were my friends, but oh how grateful I am today! See, these weren’t healthy friendships to begin with since they weren’t in line with my boundaries. They were only working one way, benefiting the other part while I went minus energetically. This set me off on a journey examining and dissecting why the majority of people around me sucked the life out of me and frankly were more interested in a therapist than having me as a friend.
The first realization I had, was that I was no victim. It’s so easy to blame others “you treated me this way or that way” when in truth, I had allowed it. Not listening to myself when a boundary was being crossed instead I kept picking up the phone from someone I knew only wanted to talk for hours about their life issues, I would met another knowing the meeting would leave me shattered for the rest of the day and so on. It was my doing, my choices. That doesn’t mean these people were angels but I had a bigger responsibility that I at first glance gave myself credit for. The second thing was to listen and be honest about the initial reaction I had about people. I highly recommend you try this. If the phone is ringing from a certain someone is your first reaction “yeay!” and you pick up with excitement or do you wait a second trying to come up with an excuse not to? Or maybe you pick up out of guilt? PAY ATTENTION! what is your body or emotions telling you 🙂 and trust that feeling (the hardest part haha). Communication plays an essential role if you find yourself in a similar situation. In my case I kept everything in. It’s so important to have at least one person we trust where we can be hundred percent honest about what’s taking place in our inner world. If not a friends than a therapist.
In relationships, in this case friendships, the basics are simple. It’s an energetic exchange of giving and taking. At times one part needs more “taking” and other times more “giving”. It goes in waves. The same principle goes for all relationships really. So if you feel yourself feeling tired of someone wanting your attention, ask yourself the question: is it one of the waves where I provide more giving or is this the dynamic of the relationship? Sometimes it takes time to figure out the answer but once you do, you’ll know how to move forward.
Take care of yourself 🙂