I had an interesting conversation with a friend in which she was asking for coaching on how to tell a guy that she wasn’t interested in going for coffee with him, and that she wasn’t interested in being friends or anything else for that matter. She was really stressed out over having to cancel the coffee date, and be that direct with this guy. More importantly she was stressed out, and angry over the fact that she agreed to it in the first place, when she knew she wasn’t interested. It got me thinking: why it is that we women don’t enforce our boundaries more frequently and with more confidence? I asked her: “Why are you twisting yourself up in knots because you want to honour your boundaries? Do you think a guy would be sitting here filled with self-doubt over telling some girl he wasn’t interested?” That stopped her in her tracks. I’m not saying that there aren’t some men out there that would feel self-doubt in this situation, but it is mainly a female-based phenomenon. Why are we so afraid to set and enforce boundaries that we are comfortable with? That honour who we are? I think the answer comes from the fact that we women are raised to be “nice.” And inside of being “nice”, we put up with situations that make us uncomfortable to spare the other person (male or female)’s feelings. The impact of that is that it’s completely inauthentic! It leaves us with feelings of self-doubt, anger, and resentment towards ourselves and the other person. It also leaves the other person believing that they have a shot at a relationship or friendship. Wouldn’t it just be easier to be honest from the start? According to a leading researcher, Dr. Brene Brown, the answer is YES!
Dr. Brown’s research shows that the most loving and compassionate people are those that respect and enforce their boundaries. Why? Because by clearly enforcing their boundaries they are not putting themselves in positions in which resentment towards others develops. This leaves them in a place where love and compassion can thrive.
Having more love and compassion in my life is a much more enticing prospect than more anger and resentment! It’s a new year and time for new actions! I’m declaring that in 2017 I am going to stop being ‘nice’ and start honouring my boundaries. Who’s with me?
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown
Written by Alanna Carr