One of the benefits of my divorce last year was realizing that I am weak on boundaries. I could go so far as to say I didn’t have any. After twelve years of trying to make the marriage work I was pretty much all over the map with my feelings and actions. I’ve since regrouped and for the first time have a clear understanding of my emotions and how to deal with them. Here is what I’ve learned so far:
- I recently broke up with my boyfriend. Even though he is a wonderful person, he wasn’t wonderful for me. It took me over a year to come to that conclusion, but I did it.
- I only visit my parents when I know I’m centered enough to handle it. My father is an alcoholic and my mother has dementia. My three siblings and I have a much different approach on how we cope. One visits regularly, one actually takes care of them, and the other is still trying for the relationship we all would have liked growing up. I’ve learned it does me more harm than good when I’m not in the right place to be present with them. I dread the month before Christmas when all three call repeatedly insisting I be there for holidays. They won’t take no for an answer!
- I say no to my friends when they request something I can’t do. Typically this involves watching their children. There was one time I said yes when I shouldn’t have and I had to call my friend to come get her son while the other boy my son was playing with could stay. She was mad at me for months and it almost cost the friendship.
- I ask my children what they’re feeling and have them make their own conclusions on what action they should take. This is a life lesson. It’s important to me that they work things out on their own and learn, understand and trust their feelings. One benefit of encouraging independent thinking is that I’m showing them the respect I hope they carry with them as they grow older.
- I let go of clients that are causing me trouble and/or paying late. This is hard to do because it’s ingrained in my business background that “the customer is always right.” I’ve come to learn that they may or may not be right, but it’s not always right for me. If it’s not working, get rid of it.
- I calmly explain to my siblings that their well intended advice can sometimes sound more like criticism and that I would let them know when I need their feedback. Not long ago I would have more than likely just let it go and waited until the next family gathering before I talked to them. They’re family, I’ll still see them so what difference does it make? But then I realized they’re great to practice my new skills on for just that reason. They’re not going anywhere!
- I stay with a schedule as best I can to help me stay focused and make the most of my work time. Likewise, it helps my two boys to respect my time and not interrupt. They know that when I’m done I’ll be available to them.
- I ask myself what I’m feeling when my boyfriend does something that upsets me and then express that feeling. Instead of getting emotional or blaming him, I involve him by asking what he thinks can be done so that we can come to a solution together. This puts the relationship first and helps it grow.
- I make time for myself everyday. Perhaps this is the biggest incentive to stay self-employed. Truth is I’m terrified of having to go back to a full time job that isn’t flexible with my schedule. I meditate in the morning, write in my journal and exercise daily. Some afternoons I even nap. I don’t know many work environments that encourage that!
- I ask for help when I need it. For me, the ultimate challenge! I pride myself on being independent. I’m self-employed after all. One of my favorite things about what I do is that all the information I need is right at my fingertips on the internet. But I need a human connection too and people generally love to help and give advice. And it gives me a chance to show gratitude, of which I can’t do enough.
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