Sometimes people can be so amazing. They can be sources of inspiration, motivators, resources, teachers, give you moral support, keep you company, and provide so much of the good, necessary fuel for life. As human beings we are social by nature. We need people.
But people can be like a crabs in a pot of boiling water. They seem to innately want to bring you down, consciously or subconsciously, and we have to put up with those yucky tendencies in order to benefit from the wonderful things humans have to offer.
The question is, how do we find more of the good and less of the bad?
In the end, there is only one solution. You must protect yourself. You must be that vigilant guard protecting the gates that lead to your life, the type of guard who limits what goes in and out, carefully screening for good and bad and being mindful of your boundaries at all times.
All too often we assume that others are supposed to know what our personal boundaries look like. We expect them to automatically respect our preferences. When another person does something to offend/bother/annoy/take advantage of/trouble us, we get angry. We can’t believe that they would be so inconsiderate and rude. We can’t understand why they don’t care about our feelings.
In reality, humans don’t come with individual instructions and warnings about our personal boundaries, and even if we did, there is no guarantee people would even read them. Furthermore, if another person doesn’t understand the concept of boundaries, or if they lack their own definition of personal boundaries, they are unlikely to know where your boundaries begin and end. It sets up the perfect scenario for other people violating our boundaries and causing a negative reaction within us.
But who wants to live that way?
One possible solution to battling the problem of people violating our boundaries involves a little foresight, planning, and self-discussion.
First, figure out what your boundaries are. Define them. What do you want? What does your vision look like?
Then, figure out how important the details are on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most important. If you are getting upset with people interfering with your vision of the holidays, take a moment to step back and utilize your Observing Ego. Reflect on the importance of the issue. Will it really matter to you to have Christmas at your house? Can you really stomach so-and-so coming? Your answers to these questions will make the next step easier.
Once you know what you want and how important it is to you, then you must draw the line in the sand, so to speak. If you are adamant about having Christmas at your house, you must convey this to others. You’ll need to make that phone call to your parents and siblings politely telling them that you plan to spend Christmas at your house this year, and they are welcome to join in on the festivities or not. If you’ve already thought-out the importance, don’t turn back. Don’t make apologies. Boundary is defined. Boom.
It’s the undefined, unknowing, feeling like your arm is being twisted into something you don’t want, awkward anticipation of hurt feelings and impending arguments that cause us stress. Learn to avoid all of it with strong, defined boundaries.
The crabs in the pot of boiling water will try to bring you down. Your mother might start talking you out of Christmas at your house. Your sister might pick a fight with you over the time. A friend may get upset if they don’t get an invitation.
These are all possibilities. In fact, it is likely you will get resistance from the humans in your life. Plan to expect it.
We’ve gone over boundaries. Another aspect to consider is who you allow into the inner circles of your life. In other words, you do you hang out with? Who is your referent group? This is important, and a lengthy topic of discussion that we will have to address another day.
For now, work on your boundaries. Might I suggest being firm with your mother about the way she talks to you? It would be a good start.
Your Observing Ego