Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Boundaries For A Helping Heart

One of the things that I have struggled within life is that my heart is often larger than the boundaries I have in place.  As a result, I've often been worked over, abused, used and put in situations where it was just dog gone uncomfortable.  I'm afflicted with the syndrome of lacking boundaries for a helping heart.

You see, I never learned good boundaries when I was growing up and it is something I've spent much time trying to teach myself.  Any boundaries I had when I was a child was crossed over and over again without the slightest thought of respect towards me by people who were close.  This has carried over into my adult life and made some situations pretty difficult.

People flash their pretty eyes at me and share what they want to do, and poof - the next thing I know, I'm hooked into tasks that I should have just said NO, in the first place.  Sometimes I get the phrases that "oh you are so smart and know how to do this" or "I just have no idea what to do".  Sometimes, being intelligent or understanding many things about different subjects feels like a curse.  Yet, I do not want to be selfish, but saying NO, or setting up a boundary with parameters is scary.  To be honest, when someone strokes my ego, it makes it harder to say no!

The next thing I know, people are walking all over me with expectations that I am there to only work for their needs in life.  I even get some that feel they have complete control of my day and nothing they ask is too much demand for my life.  As time goes, I feel sucked into a dark hole that consumes all my personal resources.  This has happened so many times in my life that I barely can keep up all of them.

Lately, I've gotten to a point where I just avoid people and I avoid letting them know what abilities I have to use.  From the times that I allowed others to take advantage of me, I just figure it is safer.  Yet, by doing this, I keep myself from interactions with people that may be beneficial to my life and my forward movement as a human.

I'm just afraid that if I connect with others that I will once again be used and abused in my abilities.  The other fear in this is that if I say NO or I try to put boundaries in place, the people will run away from me as if I'm a diseased person.  I've seen that happen all too often by the people who I never thought  in a million years would do this.

Saying NO, and putting boundaries in place is essential to operate in life.  It is either that or I just need to play dumb when I'm around other people like many humans do in life.  People usually have far more abilities and talents than they give themselves credit for and I include myself in that statement.

Putting boundaries in place and learning to say NO is essential because if we don't do that, then we are allowing others to walk all over us.  It is fine to have a helping heart but there is only so much of us to go around in the world.  If we completely disrespect ourselves in that way, will we be there for anyone else?  Will we be in a position at that point to help others when they need it?

If you are like I am where you have a helping heart and sometimes a lack of boundaries, I would love to hear from  you the things you do to help you navigate through these things.  What things work for you?  How do you pull back when you realize you've gone too far?

One thing I have seen that even if you put boundaries in place, if someone does not want to honor them even though they give lip service to this, there is nothing you can do to prevent feeling like you are being used and abused.  People often hear what they want to hear and if it doesn't fit into their thoughts, they discard it and then act as if you agreed to something that  you did not.  If I had a penny for every time that happened, I'd be a millionaire!

I believe the best thing we can do is try to be as crystal clear up front as to the expectations and what we are willing to do for others.  Sometimes writing this down and having an agreement between you and the other person can be a helpful tool.  Once you have boundaries in place, than it is up to you to enforce and respect those boundaries because if you don't, you can bet the other person will push the envelope as far as they can.  Sometimes, even with the best of intentions on both parties, you have to stop the team of horses racing across the prairie and proclaim that today, there is a new course of action being put in place.

Related Blog Posts:
1)  We Hear What We Want To Hear (Apr 17, 2011)
2)  Two Frogs And Perception (May 2, 2011)

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