Originally published on 12-8-13
We all have had a friend who seems to stir the pot anywhere they go. (Or, gasp…maybe we are that friend.) Sometimes they’re super fun and sometimes they’re too much to handle. "Did you hear what she said?" "I heard she doesn’t even love him."
How about the friend who acts out of competitiveness? You hit a happy stride, she hits a happier one. You lose 5lbs, hello skinny jeans; she loses 10lbs, hello size 2. (womp, womp!) You learn how to make a pecan pie from scratch; she admits she invented pecan pie and that you are in fact baking her recipe.
Better yet, how about the mother-in-law who seems so perfect, unless you don’t do what they want. You are the twinkle in their eye, unless you don’t return their phone calls in which case you’re THE WORST. They always want the world to think their family is perfect. Christmas cards just short of Kardashian are sent out all the while they’re chewing your ear out about how much better you would be if…
The good news is that these behaviors are very rarely about who they are being projected on (you/us). It's really about the assailant's shortcomings, their inability to adapt, and even the way they were raised. The bad news is -- this stuff comes at us, and we have to deal with it.
Everyone we meet is walking around with their own issues, their own emotional baggage, and sometimes their bag ‘o life invades our space so much that their mess becomes ours -- and we're not sure where they end and we begin.
What happened? How did we get here? How do we survive this tornado? How do we get out of here?
The solution is to create healthy boundaries.
Remember the nice living room your Mom didn’t let you trash? She was clear that the living room was special. The sofas stayed clean and free of crumbs, the pillows stayed fluffed, the candles were just barely burned. There were no stains on the area rug, in fact, the vacuum lines were pronounced. The room was always tidy and ready for special occasions. The living room had a higher standard of care that any other room in the house.
Remember the mess I talked about earlier, drama, resentment, disappointment? It's because we allowed someone to walk into our lives and make a mess of things. We allowed our boundaries to be violated.
We can treat our lives like "any other room in the house," or we can create boundaries and treat our lives like the nice living room, with a higher standard of care, only welcoming exactly who and what we want.
Once I realized that the company I kept (be it family or friends or otherwise) really did affect me in some way, it was difficult for me to justify their actions and my reactions. I finally figured out that I didn't have to react, much less be involved.
If I was going to welcome people, their actions, my actions, my thoughts, into my life -- the nice living room, what would be the toll? I came up with KINDNESS AND PEACE. All people, actions and thoughts had to derive from kindness and peace or they weren’t welcome, even (especially) if the thoughts were mine.
If someone or something wasn't kind and peaceful - I created distance - I had a code of conduct of sorts for my actions and the actions of others.
Nowhere in the rule book does it state we are handcuffed to toxicity just because it comes from someone we love or that we SHOULD be around. We don't have to rescue people (shocker) we can love them from afar. We can support them, but we don’t have to be so entangled that our boundaries are compromised. It doesn’t mean we’re insensitive, it means we are honoring our lives and our needs.
Let’s figure out what we want the driving characteristics to be in our lives. Then, let's create and maintain some healthy boundaries for ourselves and for others based on those driving characteristics.
Honoring yourself and creating healthy boundaries is one way to experience the peace and joy you DESERVE to experience TODAY.