Growing up in the South, being impolite is a cardinal sin. Or at least that’s the way it felt.
A huge chunk of my life was spent being a “yes” person. Or rather, a “yes ma’am” person. Don’t rock the boat, don’t hurt people’s feelings, put everyone first. Be. Nice.
I still remember the first time I said, “No.” to a friend who asked me to do something I simply didn’t want to do. It was twelve years ago at the age of 36 that I found my voice and began to draw boundaries for myself.
She asked me to go to a movie and I had other plans. I’m sure they were something super fun like cleaning my apartment and doing yoga but they were my plans. I was recently divorced and living on my own for the first time and the simple act of being alone and making my own decisions was empowering.
The movie convo was short but it was the first step on a whole new adventure of speaking my truth. She asked and I said no. She left my apartment and I didn’t hear from her for two days. When I did it was a phone call asking me if I was mad at her.
You see, not only is it often hard for us to simply speak our truths and set boundaries; it’s also hard for others to hear them without feeling the bite of rejection.
That day, I patiently explained that nothing was wrong. I simply didn’t want to see the movie. I had chosen to put myself first, fill my cup, feed my soul. It took me a while to realize that I didn’t need to explain that to others.
It is my job to set boundaries that keep me healthy – mind, body, and spirit. It is not my job to explain that to others. No, it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation about it – but it’s not required. I’m not here – you’re not here – to make others feel comfortable with my our choices. Hell, I don’t always feel comfortable with choosing me or marking that safe space. Being uncomfortable is part of growth.
Often when I set a boundary or hold onto my responsibility to take care of my self – I feel guilt. Guilt at putting my sanity a priority, guilty of not being more accommodating to others. Guilt of “hurting their feelings”.
This guilt is one of the snares that keep us caught in a cycle of dysfunction and living lies.
People may misinterpret my boundaries or a simple, “No.” That’s okay. Part of living our truth is learning to release micro-managing others expectations and responses. It’s okay for us to set healthy boundaries and it’s okay for others to interpret them however they choose. Their interpretation may not be healthy or even correct, but “fixing” it is not my job.
Living my truth, is.