Yesterday I took Darby to the vet. The doctor was running late and I ended up waiting for thirty minutes. When he finally entered the room, his first words were an apology. "I'm very sorry for being so late."
"Oh, it's OK," I said instantly.
"No, it's not OK," he said. And paused. That caught my attention, slowed me down.
"Your time is valuable," he said. "And I want you to know I'm sorry for wasting it."
"Thank you," I replied. "I appreciate that."
I can't tell you how much this simple interaction impressed me. Here was a man with a solid set of boundaries who recognized he'd disrespected mine. My time is valuable. His apology reminded me of that and helped me realize how important it is to set and respect personal boundaries.
Learning to set boundaries and especially enforcing those boundaries has been a very difficult task for me in the years since leaving an abusive church/group.
I am FAR too willing to let others take advantage of my time, energy or talents. Instead of asking for what I need, I too often let others determine that for me. I often rush into situations or relationships without first checking to make sure I understand the expectations, guidelines and/or accountability structure. I sometimes over-commit and then need to back out because I get overwhelmed.
I let others take what they want and then wonder why I'm feeling used, drained, depleted and hurt.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't been so wounded by an unhealthy, controlling group situation because then I might know how to instinctively set healthy boundaries like other 'normal' people.
The plain, simple fact is that if I have weak boundaries, then I get hurt.
I don't know how many times I'm going to have to learn that firm boundaries are healthy and liberating. I tend to view boundaries as "restrictive" or censorious. But the reality is that weak boundaries cause unnecessary stress and pain.
Learning to set boundaries and to say "no" is a vital component of a successful life. If I say "yes" to everything and everyone and every belief and every opinion and every perspective--then it's just sheer chaos, I'm totally unproductive, I get hurt and I possibly hurt others.
I used to think that highly-spiritual and highly-effective people did A LOT of good for A LOT of people. But maybe successful people just focus on a few things and get those few things right. This means they probably say "no" more often than they say "yes."
Knowing myself and what I need is the first step to setting boundaries that work for me.
Learning to set boundaries is a work-in-progress. I make mistakes along the way.
But I am learning and I measure success by increased peace, stabilized emotions and mental clarity.
Good Boundaries=Good Life.