Welcome to Day 15 of #write31days!
For more information check out the series’ page.
It’s the middle of the month and you might say: “Okay, I’ve heard a lot about boundary problems, I know why they are so important. I get it. But why is it still so hard to set boundaries?”
Good question. So let’s have a look at some of the lies in our heads that keep us from setting good boundaries.
Lie #1: There’s No One Else
I like to observe people, especially when they’re in bigger groups. Without even being aware of it, we all fall into specific roles. There are special groups dynamics and scenarios that seem to happen again and again.
Good work ethic and honesty is good. Being there for friends when they’re lonely is good. But there is a point of too much. There’s a point when we fall into the “no one else” trap.
The overly responsible
Imagine a pile of work waiting to be completed and taken away. Maybe even some uncomfortable task. We all stare at each other, hoping someone will break before us and do the job already. We see others walking away pretending not to care (or maybe not pretending at all) and find ourselves left with this pile of work in front of us.
What do we do?
If you’re the overly responsible you will be the one staying late and doing the job. You feel like you can’t let your boss down and somehow the work needs to be done. No one wants to come back on Monday and see that pile of work waiting. And since all the others went home already, you’re the lucky one. It will be just this one time…maybe you’ve said this a lot of times already.
You don’t even have to leave your own house to find these dynamics. Who is the one cleaning the kitchen at night while the others watch TV? Who picks up the vacumer on Saturday because the apartment looks just too messy? Everyone in the family wants to have clean rooms, washed clothes, or food on the table, but not every one really feels responsible for it.
And so you work, and work, and don’t stop because someone has to do it.
We often associate this position with mothers, and mostly it’s true. But it can also relate to everyone else, we take patterns we learn at home with us. Patterns and roles we take on at work, with friends, with ourselves.
And don’t we all have these experiences with friends or family members? “We need to hang out, I haven’t seen you in ages.”
“I need to talk to you because I can’t talk to anyone else.”
“If you don’t hang out with me I am all by myself and feel lonely.”
I can’t deny that I love good conversations, heart-to-heart with friends. I like to be there for friends and catch up after a while. And yes, it does sometimes feel good to be the go-to person for someone. The talk-to person, the good confidante.
But this can easily become a burden when you allow someone to completely rely on you. Instead of taking responsibility for themselves, your friends (or family members) let you carry them.
So you carry and you struggle with someone else’s problems because they have no one else. Apparently. Our extreme responsibility will tie us to others instead of teaching them to be responsible themselves.
The overly self-confident
Sometimes it is also ourselves keeping us from setting boundaries. We can’t let go of something because we think we’re the only ones good at it.
This might be true. We are all unique, we’ve all been given unique gifts and talents. We’re all called to serve God and others with them.
Some use their talents more, others less. Some seem to be allrounders and these people are great to have at work or at church. But it can also be really hard because talent can get into your head. “I’m good at something” can also lead to “I’m the best at something”. Once you start using the perfectionist measuring tape no one else can measure up.
I have to admit that I’ve caught myself in these thoughts sometimes. Striving for excellence is a good virtue, judging others from your high horse of perfectionism is not. Not just because it’s not my position to judge, but because I lost sight of the origin. I don’t use my talent anymore to serve others, I draw attention, appreciation and maybe even self-worth from it. This won’t serve anyone but my ego.
I can’t go on forever, there’s a time for everything. So when I leave someone else will take over. And yes, they will do it differently because they are different. Will they be better or worse than me? Not important, it will be different.
What is your attitude? Can you stop working even though there’s still a lot to do? Can you let go of something you’re really good at?