But these days, life has been showing me that there are times when you can't just tell someone to eff off and be done with it.
Of course, I've known that in my rational mind for a long time, and really, the actual saying of eff off most often only happened in my head anyway~ but still...the ability to wave and walk away has been something I've long appreciated. Whether you smile or yell when eliminating a connection, it's sure nice to have the option of severing things.
But sometimes, for whatever reason, a person has to have ongoing negotiations and interactions with people and situations they don't necessarily want to be involved with. If you're trying to do it in a way that doesn't feel toxic and cause angry eyebrow wrinkles, it requires a whole heck of a lot of skills.
I will admit that I have lacked these skills. So, in trying to work out how to deal with such things, I sought out the words of wisdom from people who have some expertise. It quickly became apparent that learning to set healthy boundaries would be an important step in avoiding feeling venomous.
One of the most valuable things that anyone has said to me in regards to boundaries and interacting with people and situations you're not terribly fond of, is to keep your boundaries firm & friendly.
I have to say this is quite a concept for me. Firm AND Friendly. Like, at the same time? (........)
I'm generally a friendly person (provided that I'm appropriately fed, rested and caffeinated, that is.) I like to chit chat, and most of the time I find people interesting, even if they are a bit baffling at times. I'd say that I usually start off in the friendly camp, until something flips the switch and I move quickly into firm territory.
Once I feel the need to be firm, all of my friendliness has usually gone into hiding and I'm ready to squelch whatever brought on my scary meanness. Like roadkill. Niceness has traditionally been on the other side of the line for me, and when the line is crossed, I'm done.
While that's worked for a number of things in life, it isn't the best plan for some things in my life now, so I'm genuinely trying to merge these seemingly opposing sides. I know some people make it look easy. These are the same people who never yell at their kids. I'm not one of these people.
For me, it isn't easy, not in the least bit. It takes major conscious energy and intention, and even then, it's not always entirely successful. While the people I read about in Mothering Magazine are able to glide through chaos with breathing and nonviolent communication, sometimes I just cannot pull that off. Sometimes, when the firm and friendly combo isn't working on it's own, a gal has to be a little fierce with her boundaries.
And I'm realizing that's OK too. There's a time and place for fierce~ just ask any mama bear who has to deal with an annoying tourist who messes with her cubs. Even if it doesn't make it into any articles in family magazines, I think a bit of fierceness will always be in my back pocket, with an awareness that it should be used judiciously though, and only as absolutely necessary.
But, overall, firm and friendly is a good place to start. On the handful of occasions I've actually managed to combine them, it's been rather amazing. It doesn't mean things are suddenly going perfectly my way, but the process of dealing with them has been a whole lot smoother and less painful.
It feels better, and that's huge. It seems these experts are on to something.
So, I'll be continuing to work on my firm and friendly boundaries. If I can pull it off, it may even avoid some instances of needing fierceness at all.
I'd love any other ideas for dealing with boundaries in healthy ways without telling people to eff off. I have a feeling that I could use all the strategies I can get, so I hope you'll share your thoughts in the comments below.
And, if you liked this, I hope you'll like it Facebook and share it with a friend!