I am writing this post in response to my last week’s post because some readers and friends asked me how to create boundaries.
Before discussing self-respect and setting up boundaries it is important to take a look at EGO.
Two faced EGO makes us either Arrogant or Victim.
Arrogance makes us think we are better than others and we are entitled to everything in a relationship and everyone else has to give into our whims.
Victimhood is like ice cream. We love to eat it and we know what happens when we eat too much. Victimhood, like ice cream, comes in many flavors; anger, self-pity, blame, etc.
Victimhood is like ice cream: We always want to eat more because it’s yummy but there are dire consequences if we continue eating it.
Respect, in my view, comes in the middle. To me respect is valuing someone because he or she is there, not based on what he or she does or the purpose they serve. All cultures have one form or the other of respect. Greeting others is a sign of respect in most cultures, because it means that we are acknowledging their presence. We all want that acknowledgement. The fact that we are alive means that we deserve respect. We are all created equal and no race; no nationality or ethnic background is superior to others; hence everyone person deserves to be treated with respect.
What’s self-respect? I searched for the definition of self-respect but couldn’t find any because some said deep admiration for achievement, while others said, a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
This is materialistic definition of self-respect. Respect has nothing to do with achieving something or ability to do something.
Self Respect is extending the respect, discussed above, to ourselves. It’s neither ego, nor selfishness. It’s about how much we value ourselves, irrespective of our abilities, looks and other elements. Once we value ourselves then we are satisfied within and don’t look outwards for validation. We know what we want and we respect that.
Self-respect is like putting oxygen mask on us before helping others, as passengers on a plane are instructed during flights.
Before setting boundaries in a relationship we have define what a relationship is. Many times we forget that a relationship is like a carriage where the wheels represent two people and the carriage itself is the relationship. What each person puts in the carriage defines the relationship. But in reality we think the other person is the relationship.
Boundaries have to be established from the beginning of a relationship otherwise there will be imbalance and the carriage, mentioned above, will tilt one way or the other. If, let’s say, person A perpetually demands from person B it means the relationship is not balanced. In this case the relationship carriage will tilt towards person A and eventually it will cause tension. Arrogance is at work for person A and victimhood is at work for person B because B is always adjusting and caving in.
If, let’s say, the first time person A demanded something and person B gave in, in order to keep peace or make the other person happy; person A may do the same thing the second time and many more times.
We can blame person A for all it matters but in actuality person A is not at fault all the time. Person B is also at fault because she/he didn’t set up boundaries.
How to Establish Boundaries?
Here is some good advice about establishing boundaries. I would add that while setting up boundaries we have to first be clear what we want in a relationship. Sometimes even we are not clear about that. Mind Mapping comes to mind whenever I think of setting boundaries.
- Mind Mapping can help clarify about what we want from a relationship. The given link is about career plan but a lot of the points are really good. For instance, if our goal is to be happy in relationship then we ask ourselves what does that happiness looks like to us. Write down everything that brings happiness to you. A happy moment for me is when I am having coffee in a place which is filled with golden sunshine coming through huge glass window panes. I am wearing light colored clothes and soft music is playing in the background. The atmosphere is calm, i.e., absence of clanking of dishes, and I am either talking or listening to friend(s). Time stops for me and all issues, concern and to-do-lists vanish.
- Another important point about self-respect and setting boundaries is communication, i.e., how we communicate what we want to the others. Communicating ASSERTIVELY is the best way to express oneself because it helps us acknowledge and respect our needs or wants and listen, acknowledge and respect other person’s viewpoint without any reaction.
How do you define self-respect and what do you do to set up boundaries in a relationship?