A while ago I wrote about learning to say no, without apology or explanation. That I had come to the realisation that I need to set boundaries in several areas of my life for my own health and well-being.
As hard as that has been to do, it’s also been quite liberating.
Unfortunately, it’s also made me very aware of just how many people have little respect for boundaries and become very angry and hurtful when you start insisting on them.
I’ve noticed with my friends, as well as myself, that when people start insisting on their boundaries being respected that these people who have historically not respected others, that their instinctive reaction is to hit out and hurt as much as possible.
It’s extremely difficult to go through as the one setting the boundaries. Harder still to watch your friends be hurt in such ways knowing that you can do little but support them through it.
I’ve also noticed that these disrespectful people tend towards being narcissistic, if not downright narcissists. As such they are consummate liars.
Yet they hold the person setting boundaries to a standard far higher than their own, in fact to an impossible standard. It’s not enough for those people to not lie, but they must also not even be suspected of lying by the liars. Which given their own tendencies is impossible as they are always assuming that you lie, because they would do so themselves in the same situation.
Which brings me to my clearest realisation: we have to stop expecting others to act the way in which we would.
When we expect others to act with our values and morals we are not treating them as the individual that they are. We’re not respecting them as the person that they are.
We need to understand that if we’re lucky, we’ll find people as friends and partners who have similar values in terms of what is ultimately important to us. However, even then the way in which they live out those values will be different. We are different people.
So just because I would act in a certain way in a specific situation doesn’t mean that I should expect others to do the same. I need to pay closer attention to how they do act in different scenarios to understand how they would probably act. I may need to actually ask them to act in a certain way if that’s what I need from them.
Expecting them to act how I would is a surefire way of getting hurt. So while I’m setting my own boundaries, I’m also learning to let go of my expectations of others. To change my expectations of others to be based on reality and how I have actually seen them act over the years, not on how I would like them to act.
But also, to not let their actions change who I am.
Being lied to doesn’t make it OK for me to lie.
Being truthful is an innate part of who I am.
Am I perfect at it? – not a chance.
But I can say that I rarely say anything that I know is definitively wrong deliberately.
That when I do realise that I’ve inadvertently misled others I correct the misunderstanding as soon as I can.
That if I’ve had to withhold information for privacy, security or the best interest of others I’ve done so with great difficulty but knowing that sometimes it’s the only moral course of action for me to follow.
While the quote below is anonymous, I’m pretty sure it should actually be attributed to Mark Twain. Regardless of the origin, it’s been the cornerstone of my life and one that will remain regardless of how others treat me.
With that being said. To those in my life that are also working on setting boundaries and insisting on others respecting them – I salute you, I support you and I applaud your actions. Be strong!