Saturday, September 18, 2010

Knowing the Precious Difference Betweeen What We Can and Cannot Control

This concept is the next step in realizing how to use healthy boundaries. It comes up time and time again, "So, how am I supposed to deal with some one when they get upset with me because I said 'no'? How am I supposed to deal with that anger and guilt?"

What people say, how they respond to us can bring about hurt. We were raised to be considerate and sensative to others feelings, after all. However, it can be taken to an extreme, where guilt and anger are used as tools to manipulate and even coerce. This type of control is what we want to avoid.

Unfortunately, instead of avoiding the anger and the guilt by simply walking away, we do everything within our power to make that person stop being angry or stop our own sense of guilt from hurting us. This allows them to get what they want from us. In this type of dynamic, what they say and how they say it has more control over us than what we think and what we do to take care of ourselves.

We give away this power to control ourselves for many different reasons. We do not want to lose their love, companionship, friendship, or caring. We may not want to feel the all-consuming guilt that resides within us after years of conditioning that tells us we are some how responsible for another person's happiness. We believe this is true! After all, we have no choice. Right? We grew up having no choices, so what is there to believe that is anything other than what we were told or what we were forced to endure???

This is where you have a choice. When someone tries to use guilt to get you to do what they want you to do, then it is important to walk away. Get space. Calm down. When you are calm you can think more clearly and then choose what you want to do, separate from the guilt or anger or hurt feelings. Ask your self, "How can I take care of myself here? What do I need to do to take care of myself given what is going on? I know I can't change him. So, given that is the case, what do I need to do to take care of me?" Waiting until the answer comes to you and then acting on it will set you free. You are your own best-friend! You are your own safe-place! Trust in this.

Once you practice this a few times, you begin to feel it. You feel free. You feel at peace. You feel happy again. All the things that are great about being human. They are at your finger tips.

Some people may feel that this is being "selfish". This is a distinction that I work with many people on. There is such thing as being a "healthy selfish". There is such a thing as being an "unhealthy selfish". As always, there is a balance between putting ourselves first, and considering the feelings of others. Although we want to see others happy, it is not our responsiblity to sacrifice ourselves in the process. In day-to-day interactions, we must take care of our needs first so that we can have more energy to assist others in meeting their needs. Finding this balance can be tricky. But, it is important.

It is also important to note that once you allow this for your self, you must stop using your anger and guilt to try to control or manipulate others. Watch out. We have been conditioned to use these tools and we have gotten to the point where we don't even realize we are doing it. When you are angry, walk away. You have a right to your anger, but you do not have a right to take it out on others. We cannot change others. They are going to do and say what we may not want them to do and say. You can make requests, but using anger or guilt to control them will only get this vicious cycle back in place, and it will also make you feel miserable about your self.

You know you care about others. Now, what is it going to take for you to begin to care about your self? What are your needs? What are your wants? Do you allow your self to express them? Or do you push them down in order to please others or avoid someone's anger? You have to decide if you are going to live miserable any more, or if you are going to choose a happy life. It IS your choice. No one elses. And, even though someone may be angry initially whe you set a healthy limit, they most of the time will adjust and come around.

Homework: Find that balance between self-care and tending to the needs of others. Work towards taking care of your self first, and then think of what you can do to assist someone else. Children can also learn this valuable lesson, on how to take care of themselves instead of giving too much of themselves away.

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