By Mheyah Bailey CCO-Chief Connection Officer @ Connection Point Centre
Boundaries and the Champagne Dilemma
For the last couple of weeks we have been discussing what it means to be “Fiercely Accountable” This topic fits under the principle of Consciousness in the 5 Simple Steps for Successful Communication model. Consciousness or awareness if you would rather is one of the fundamental qualities one needs to be a Stellar Communicator. When we talk about Consciousness I suggested that all healthy and successful relationships personally or professionally start with knowing yourself first and this is an important truth. This week we will be discussing how in order to be Fiercely Accountable one must be able to tell others what you need and value and that means setting clear boundaries honestly and compassionately.
In our series so far we have discussed the principles and qualities one needs to be a great communicator and are learning what it takes to action these principles. We have chatted about the 5 principles that are necessary for stellar communication, Consciousness, Compassion, Curiousity, Courage and Commitment and we have also briefly touched on the 5 Simple Steps for Successful Communication: Intentions, Observations, Feelings, Values, Requests.
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Today, we are moving on to setting boundaries and what that really means. Simply put, it means drawing a line in the sand and saying: this is me, this is who I am and this what I need and value. Boundaries are limits that you establish within yourself and express to others what’s acceptable to you, what’s not acceptable, what you’ll tolerate, what you’ll put up with and what the consequences are if your boundaries are crossed. Boundaries have to do with your own self-respect, your self-esteem, your beliefs, your preferences, what you need and value and is truly being your most authentic and honest self. Someone with healthy, established boundaries, for example, can and will say ‘NO’. So, if you have healthy established boundaries, you are comfortable saying ‘NO’ . You don’t become stressed, or anxious or worry about it. If something’s not right for you, you can say ‘NO’ compassionately and collaboratively. If you can’t say “NO it can be a challenge to learn but is an important principle in any successful relationship.
A person with healthy, established boundaries can take responsibility for their own feelings and behavior. They don’t blame others for how they feel and don’t take on the role of victim. This is being Fiercely Accountable or even I would go so far as to say “Radically Responsible”. It is essential in any successful relationship that both individuals are able to clearly and compassionately communicate their boundaries to get their own needs met. The ability to do this creates a healthy strong foundation for both people where they can trust each other to speak honestly and truthfully taking any guess work out of the equation. It seems that whenever I am inspired to write something it inevitably shows up in my life right in that very moment. I am reminded to live life through my principles and not compromise myself which can be the danger if I lose sight of my commitment to being Radically Responsible.
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Not only did something show up in my personal life around setting boundaries – readers also started sharing stories about setting boundaries and expressing their truth. Here is an example,
This is a brief example of how relationships can be impacted by years of not sharing what you need and want and being clear with someone.
I am calling it the “Champagne Dilemma”
A friend of mine was sharing with me how he does not get on with his sister and as usual my curiosity compels me to enquire “in what way does he not get on with his sister” He started to explain that she doesn’t adhere to certain standards and when he arrives for some celebration or another, the champagne will be warm and in his opinion the food is less than optimal for a classy occasion. He believes certain standards are important when entertaining and this level of inattention to what is important to him has caused a rift in his relationship with his sister and he is unwilling to even visit anymore. Now when I heard this story I asked him, as one does, if he had considered mentioning how he feels about this to his sister. Of course the answer was a big NO, he would never want to upset his sister by telling her how he feels, but instead he has let it impact his relationship with her and they are not close as they once were. Now to be fair my friend is a foodie and owns 3 restaurants so you can see why this would be important to him and you can imagine me wondering all the way home about this situation. Hope you can see where this is leading.
This is more about sharing ones preferences than needing to draw a line in the sand but it does illustrate how not sharing can be a doomsday for any relationship. If my friend was compassionately clear about his preferences for chilled champagne with his sister imagine all the possibilities for better understanding of each other, which creates friendship and intimacy and hopefully a good laugh at our humanity at the end of the day. He could even suggest that he bring the champagne and food to support his sister in creating the occasion. He could gently say, oh I see we have champagne again, I love champagne, would you mind if I throw it in the freezer to chill for a bit. I love my champagne a wee bit chilly. The possibilities are endless as to how this could be resolved so my friend gets his needs met for what he values, and also preserve and possibly even improve the connection between him and his sister.
To be Radically Responsible means my friend would own that this is his issue not his sisters and it is up to him to resolve it and to really look at his own response to the issue. I have this great formula I use when I have an issue come up. It really helps me identify what is going on for me and helps me see what I need or value and if I need to share how I feel or I need to work on my own ‘stuff’. Going through this exercise helps me discern what is my responsibility and what is someone else’s.
I look at the situation and ask myself three questions:
- What am I judging? I really don’t want to judge others.
- What am I resisting? Yup, that means I am resisting what is real and not accepting what is the truth in that moment.
- What am I attached to? I have to say life is way better when I am not attached to ‘stuff’ and ‘outcomes’. This is when I need to remind myself to TRUST. Trust in whatever is important to you.
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I think we all sometimes fear that we may be rejected or cause someone to become upset if we express an opinion or ask for something we need and want. It’s a lovely quality to want to please someone you care about or work with, but some people don’t think they have a choice and saying “no” causes them anxiety and fear. This can be called co-dependent behaviour however is not a behavior that only co-dependent people engage in. Some people, co-dependent or not have a hard time saying “No” to anyone. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.
Boundaries make a divider between what is your responsibility and what is someone else’s responsibility. That applies not only to your body, money, and belongings, but also to your feelings, thoughts and needs. That’s where a lot of people get into trouble by having blurry or weak boundaries. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems or blame their own feelings on others. It takes a lot of courage to set a clear boundary and then follow through. Alternatively, some people have rigid boundaries, are closed off and withdrawn, making it hard for other people to get close to them.
So – if you are unable to speak up and set healthy boundaries from a loving place, I would recommend you learn how. Speaking your truth is a loving courageous act to oneself and another and could save your partnerships in your life and create more authentic and honest connections. I believe it is our purpose in life to become our most authentic selves so we can better share our gifts with each other personally, professionally, globally, changing the world one conversation at a time.
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