The Gift of Boundaries
Happy Summer! Yes, it’s not our typical summer. Most of us aren’t traveling and many of us are still sheltering in place to some extent, but I’m all about making lemonade out of lemons…literally and figuratively.
I am celebrating summer and reminiscing about what I enjoyed during childhood. What are your childhood memories of summers? I have a distinct memory of girl scout camp and this riddle.
I like pepper not salt.
I prefer to jump in a puddle rather than a pond.
I like drinking out of a bottle rather than a cup.
I much prefer coffee over tea.
I like pebbles not rocks.
I like trees not shrubs.
Do you know the answer to this riddle? I won’t spoil it for you now but I will tell you at the end.
This riddle reminds me of preferences and how when we examine our preferences, we find they are often tied to our personal core values. These personal values can never be wrong.
Knowing our values is paramount to living in resonance. But knowing them isn’t enough. We need to honor them and to honor our values, which is honoring our self, we need boundaries.
It just so happens boundaries are the gift that keep on giving so they fit beautifully in the month of July (my gift-giving month) and they tie nicely into summer as well. My family often doesn’t get the connections I make in my mind, but bear with me, this will all come together.
Boundaries when clear, consistent, communicated and enforced are gifts that keep on giving. They are a gift to you, the setter and enforcer as they prevent resentment and keep you from living in dissonance.
They are also a gift to the person on the other side of the boundary whom I will call the recipient. The recipient won’t have his/her feelings hurt when you say ‘no’ and they learn what is acceptable behavior in regard to your boundaries. An added bonus, if the recipient is really paying attention, they will learn by your example and start setting and enforcing their own boundaries.
One thing my friends and family know full well about me is I won’t commit to something I don’t want to do. Nope. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t say ‘yes’.
For those of you thinking this sounds like a contrary child, let me ask what about this statement most bothers you?
If I commit to something, I will do it. I’m not going to back out at the last minute or make excuses. I’m also not going to feel any resentment or obligation when I do say ‘yes’.
~ My commitment is not a ‘should’. My acceptance is a ‘want’. ~
Do you see how this is a gift? I’m honoring myself by not committing to something I don’t enjoy doing and my friends/family don’t have to wonder if it’s about them. Honoring my values by enforcing my boundaries is very clear. It has nothing to do with the recipient. No wasted energy by either party.
Let me share some of my personal preferences.
I am happy to help you move but won’t volunteer to drive you to the airport.
I much prefer kitchen clean up over cooking.
I prefer weeding to gardening.
It took many years, but once I figured out how my values coupled with my boundaries served both me and everyone around me (Thank you, Brené Brown!*), this made my relationships much stronger, brought me peace of mind, made me more confident and made life so much easier.
My husband and I have been able to divvy up chores that mostly honor both our values. Thankfully he enjoys cooking and gardening and doesn’t mind driving to the airport. For the chores neither of us like, we either both plug our noses and just do them or we delegate (a bonus of having kids) or hire out when possible. Trust me, before boundary awareness and honoring, there was a lot of resentment in the Treccase house.
Establishing boundaries has circumvented a number of arguments and we both get to do more of what we enjoy.
Now, let me ask you, does it still sound like a contrary child?
In the spirit of keeping this like a summer beach read, short and light, I’ll wrap this up.
If setting boundaries still isn’t compelling to you, let’s put yet a different spin on them.
Boundaries are actually a form of self-care and summer is a time we can indulge in a little more self-care than usual.
Back to my making lemonade out of lemons. This worldwide pandemic has been excruciating on many levels for many people, but it has also given us some gifts if we are willing to look for and embrace them.
COVID-19 has allowed us to identify what is truly important in our lives. It has also forced us to have physical boundaries (e.g., SIP, face coverings in public, maintaining a 6-feet social distance, etc.) for both our self and those around us. But as our SIP is loosened, we have control as to how we want to spend our time. We get to examine our preferences and set our own boundaries. This, my friend, is truly a gift.
So in the spirit of summer, let’s play a game. I double dog dare you to pick something around which to set a new boundary or to better enforce an existing one. What if you don’t revert entirely back to your pre-pandemic schedule? What is possible for you if you make slow, conscious decisions about when you choose to say ‘yes’?
Go and enjoy summer. Make your own lemonade and if you’re curious how to create this new schedule that honors your values and strengthen your boundary-setting muscles, join us at my free class on July 22 at 4:00 PDT - Living Your Value-Driven Life One Day at a Time. Email me here to reserve your spot.
And finally, the answer to the riddle: each of the items that are liked contain a double letter.
*I highly recommend you learn more about Brené Brown and all she has to offer.