It started at a very young age when I would see a stray dog and just feel compelled to bring it home. Of course this was helped by the fact that my mom set the standard for this behavior. It was widely known in the family that if there was a stray just let her know and it would become one of our pack.
It further developed as a young woman having very good listening and empathy skills. Combined with being reared in a manner that if someone you care about needs help you do whatever you can to help. My family is a wonderful and supportive clan and I am blessed to have this as a core value.
The problem is I never defined boundaries or limits.
As an adult I would go above and beyond at work to make sure everyone was getting what they needed in order to do the best they could – sometimes at the expense of myself.
Then there was the dating cycle – if you are broke, date me, I’ll fix you. Again, no limits and therefore a very high toll was taken on myself.
Mentally, emotionally, physically I was beat. I was giving and fixing so much thinking that it was helpful that I did not realize how damaging it was to myself.
But my son taught me limits when he was very young after getting in a bit of trouble. Exasperated and wanting to fix it I asked what I could have done. That is when my most cherished person in my life, this little boy full of mischief, looked at me with a earnest face and said,
“This isn’t about you, Mom.”
Ouch. But it got worse. He could see the apparent shock on my face and told me,
“This was me. I did it so it is my consequence. You didn’t make me and couldn’t have stopped me. This was me.”
Right there he set his limits. He would allow me to be there, guide, protect and love him; but he set boundaries. I was free to tell him that although I love him move than life itself I just didn’t like him at that moment.
You can love someone and not like them all the time – it is human and it was a good thing for him to know. Because there were many times he didn’t like me much either, and that’s ok.
Slowly I incorporated boundaries in other areas. At work I started and at times it seemed to have negative consequences but I realize looking back there really were positive. I left a job before I was fired, I was downsized and I was ostracized for not being a “company player” – in reality I was a team player, I was standing up for my team but that is another story.
Relationships were more sparse and short lived because I no longer felt the need to “fix” or “even though I treat you like crap you have to accept this is the way I am”. Oh, I accept it; I just don’t want it in my life.
Limits – pretty powerful stuff!
But here’s the thing – when we finally start putting limits to protect our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health sometimes we let negative ones creep in.
“I can’t do that because I’m not good enough”
“I don’t have enough experience”
“I don’t have enough talent”
“I just can’t”
Those are negative limits. Those are self-imposed and honestly little pity parties.
If you are not going to let anyone use you or determine how much you give then why are you doing it to yourself?
You are literally sucking the life out of yourself. Knock it off.
Good enough for who? If it personal and someone is making you not feel good enough dump their sorry ass. If it is work then open your eyes and look around – there are a lot of other opportunities out there. Sure it is scary but it is a heck of a lot better than being a life-sucked-out-of-you mess.
You don’t have enough experience – yet.
You have talent – find out how to use what you’ve got for what they need. Is there anything you need to do to improve or get more? Go, move, take action.
I just can’t. No, you just won’t.
Here’s a right in front of your face secret – you have control of your life. You. Decide what you want, what you don’t, what makes you happy, who makes you happy and get on with it.
Your boss is an ass? Either find a way to work with the ass or get out there and get another job.
You’re not getting responses in your job search? Take a look at the actions you are taking – what is working and what is not. Be honest, are you really doing everything you can do?
Not enough time in the day to get everything done? What are you doing during critical hours? Are you really using your time effectively? Are you allowing others to impede on your time? Are you slacking and just doing busy work? Figure it out and fix it.
Then create new limits.
Do not allow people to suck the life out of you. Set your goals high and celebrate the small victories along the way and above all else – do not apologize for your limits. This is taking care of the most important person here – you.
Without healthy limits you cannot fix anyone else if you so choose to do so.
“The problem isn’t that we set our goals too high and miss them. The problem is we set our goals too low and hit them.” – Michelangelo
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.