Tag Archives: limits

Do you know your value?

Tough question, right? Do you know your value? If you’re in a relationship of some sort (be it a relationship with a significant other, a parent, a colleague etc.) and you feel like you’re always chasing, trying to make the other person happy, calling, texting or otherwise desperately seeking attention, chances are you probably don’t. The thing is, in your relationship with others you are the only one responsible for how you are treated. That’s right; It’s your responsibility – no blaming others. You are the master of how others react to you. You set the rules. Your surroundings do as you ask them to regardless of whether you do so with words, actions, body language or simply with thoughts.

Bring on the excuses: ‘But she says she’s not hurting me on purpose’, ‘But he is in the middle of a depression – I have to be there’, ‘But she’s just confused’, ‘But he is just busy’, ‘But he is ending it with his partner – it’s only a matter of time till we can be together’, ‘But I’ll never find anyone else like her’, ‘But we’re married – I have to stick it out’, ‘But I don’t want my kids to grow up with divorced parents’. If you’re like most people, I’m sure you’re able to make up more..

I realise that special circumstances can arise, and if you have children, are married or have otherwise made a life long promise to someone, you’ll probably need to have a longer leash. However, even when you’ve made these commitments, there’s no point in giving up all your power to your significant other. There’s simply no excuse for not knowing your own value. It takes two to tango in any relationship. Where is the puzzle piece with your happiness on it, if you’re constantly focused on making someone else happy?

I recently read a blog where the writer was describing how her mother was always subject to her dominating father. How her mother would obey her husband’s every request and generally do everything to make him happy. Which party do you feel sorry for in this scenario? Hopefully both (and the blogger, who was a child in this unhealthy environment). None of these roles are pleasant. No one enjoys that amount of power – no one enjoys being ‘small’. I don’t know this couple, but chances are the imbalance was probably there from the very beginning and has then, with time, become even more outspoken. Regardless, I believe that the imbalance wouldn’t be there in the first place if they both knew their value.

I was once told that relationships are all about meeting a person you’re at eye level with (in regards to energy and soul – not height). It’s all about healthy counteraction and great communication (the latter being the ‘glue’). When I heard this I had just been in a relationship where I was the dominating one (you can read about it here) and had formerly been in a relationship where my partner had all the power, so my first reaction was to fear the future. What were the odds that I would ever find anyone where the balance would be just right? I didn’t even know what to look for! So I gave up the hunt for a little while and focused on myself – the best thing I could have ever done.

I worked on my relationship with myself daily! In several different ways (some of the exercises I used can be found here, here and  here). If you don’t love yourself, how are you ever going to show anyone how you want to be loved? If you don’t respect yourself, how are you ever going to be able to demand respect from others? If you don’t see your own inner beauty, chances are others won’t see it either. Be nice to yourself. Think positive thoughts (a little about positivity to be found here)! Smile to yourself and the people around you daily – you have so much to offer and so much to be grateful for. Why would you waste your fabulous energy on someone or something who doesn’t appreciate it?

Respect yourself

If you’re feeling powerless in your relationship, you’re probably not placing yourself high enough. There’s nothing wrong with loving others (on the contrary – go for it!) or wanting to be good to them. But the problem with putting others first is, that you automatically put yourself second. Think about that sentence for a minute.
Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude. It means you value the one person that will be with you forever – regardless of what happens. (In case you missed it, this person would be you.) You need to be your own best friend. You need to realise your value. Once you do this, nothing can knock you over (not completely, anyway).

You are never powerless. If you’re not happy and don’t see a change on it’s way – make the change yourself. Your happiness is your own responsibility. Leave behind what’s pulling you down and move forward. Put yourself first. Value who you are or no one else will.

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‘No’

When studying to become a teacher, I specifically remember listening to a radio show one morning where the host was interviewing a Danish Family Therapist called Jesper Juul. The subject was ‘the importance of ‘no” when raising children. Jesper Juul claimed that parents today have such limited time with their children that they tend to say ‘yes’ and allow pretty much everything – mainly out of guilt. He claimed that parents are afraid of saying ‘no’, as they fear the child might feel unloved otherwise.
The interview was rather long so I’ll go straight to his point which was that a ‘no’ can be a huge declaration of love – quite often even more so than a ‘yes’. Children need their parents to set limits. A world with no limits is big and scary. Children need structure and they need specific guidelines as this gives them a sense of security. So really, saying ‘no’ can be the best you ever did for them.

As Jesper Juul is a family therapist, his theories and thoughts will obviously mainly deal with family issues. However, I find the point from above rather transferable to all relationships in life.

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Speaking to friends and family I’ve noticed how the fear of saying ‘no’ has become a common tendency. Even more so is the fear of hurting others, which I guess is a very positive thing – not a pretty picture if we all wandered around hoping to hurt one another. What is striking though is, that the fear of rejecting – the fear of saying ‘no’ – is present even when wanting to protect one self and set own limits. But why do we fear this so much? There are so many ways to say no, to set limits and define oneself. Why has setting boundaries become the equivalent to hurting or even violating others?

I recently wrote about meeting Lis (if you missed it, you can catch up here) and how she has showed me a new way of perceiving the world. The fear of hurting others was a subject we spent a rather large amount of time on – not because I’ve ever been that scared of conflict, but because I simply didn’t want to push particularly one person away even though he was driving me insane!

I had this person on the phone almost daily during a long period of time as he was panicking about his relationship in which he seemed to be constantly running his head against the wall. He blamed his parents, his partner, his job, the weather – you name it – for the pain he was going through. It was never his own responsibility and every time I came up with ideas as to how he could confront his partner in order to move forward (i.e. take action), he would somehow avoid doing anything by coming up with a negativity of some sort. I often felt like shaking him! I desperately wanted him to wake up and smell the coffee. He was being run over by his partner to such a degree that it was scary, and not because his partner was a bad person, but because he was so incredibly afraid of defining his own limits. He knew exactly what to do – he even said it out loud – but he was scared of the outcome, so he never did a thing.

With time, I found myself becoming rather honest with him. Frustration got the best of me and once in a while the truth became slightly brutal, resulting in him excusing himself and hanging up. I actually hoped he would tell me to back off, but he never did. He never said ‘enough is enough’ – not to me and not to his partner. He just succumbed to these ‘strong women’ – regardless of what they did to him.
It came to a point where I no longer felt like picking up the phone when he called me. My heart bled for him, I just couldn’t stand being the witness to how he slowly resigned from life. No matter what advice I gave him, he didn’t listen. He just let life be the way it had always been and as a result I backed off.

Looking back, I can now see why the whole thing bothered me so much. For one, I truly wanted him to be happy and seeing him in this state was awful. But what’s even more striking is that he reminded me of my ex boyfriend. Oh yes – the painful truth. My ex and I were so out of balance that I became more and more nasty trying to push him away and he became clingier as a result – it was horrible! Claustrophobia, right there. So why didn’t I just leave? I was scared to. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid letting go of him would mean turning into the strange cat-lady type (let’s be honest – we all fear that scenario). But, as it goes, the lesson kept repeating itself and eventually I was forced to let go. Thankfully.

I spoke to Lis about my struggling friend and how I should cope with it all. Lis asked me what I believed would happen to him if I straight up told him how I perceived the situation. Easy question! (I had pretty much done this already, although he got the ‘light’ version) I knew he would get hurt.  The particularly painful part though was that he wouldn’t fight back – he would just let me do it and maybe not call for a few days till he desperately needed someone to talk to again. Then Lis asked me what actually happened to him when I hurt him. This was more of a difficult one. Erhm… He would get sad? Lis smiled. Calmly she said ‘By confronting him you might hurt him. True. But hurting someone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You start this person’s self-development as you force him / her to look within and deal with the issues at hand. In the end, not only are you claiming your own limits – which is the most important for you – you are also forcing him to set his own limits. You are doing him a favour. He just can’t see it yet.

As she said those words I had an epiphany. My older sister who didn’t always have a lot of patience when we were growing up, would sometimes be quite honest with me. As in, brutally honest. And I would hate her for it from time to time, but the truth is she has sparked quite a few of my most rewarding self developing adventures this way. Tough love, some would call it. Well, today I’m grateful – because it worked. So maybe Lis had a point?

I’m not saying we should all walk around criticising each other on a daily basis. I’m saying that if someone does something that, in one way or the other, somehow crosses your boundaries or asks you for advice and giving it ends up as a frustrating experience, there is absolutely NO reason not to do something about it. Just make sure you deliver the message in the nicest way possible. Constructive criticism, some would call it. It’s a win-win really. You set your own limits (which basically means you feel you are in control of your own life) and you might end up doing this person a favour – potentially a life altering one.

Is someone doing something that frustrates you? Something that crosses your boundaries? What’s holding you back from being honest? How do you feel about the word ‘no’? Do you fear rejection? Do you fear conflict? Why?

Or has someone been slightly more honest than you would have preferred recently? Did it hurt you? How and why? Is there some truth to it? Remember, that no matter how painful it gets, it triggers your self-development when used wisely. You can choose to hate anyone who confronts you or you can listen to what this person says, take it in and do something about it. Might the situation help you in the long run? Maybe one day you will end up being grateful to this certain someone..

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