This was the lesson of my early twenties that I keep spiralling back to and relearning in new and exciting ways. Now that I am aware how hard it is to treat someone properly who refuses to treat themselves properly, I see it keenly everywhere I look.

Lets look at some unhealthy ways to treat ourselves, these are really more like categories and there is some overlap between them.

  • Bottling our emotions: this is simply not listening to ourselves. There are many reasons we ignore our emotions and try to carry on. Perhaps we feel those emotions aren’t valid because they aren’t being validated and we believe they will not be validated. Perhaps we don’t know a way to continue on in the situation we are in while addressing those emotions. Emotions are big and when they need to be addressed it can often require a lot of work. And not just on the part of people having the emotions.
  • Not enforcing our boundaries clearly: this is sidestepping clear communication; often in favour of sideways outbursts. I can’t state enough how much this fucks with people. I can’t communicate with you if you take suggestions as orders that you have no say in. I can’t deal with it if you offer me something you don’t want to give me. I can’t suss out what the rules are if you aren’t going to be clear with me. I know its scary but we can deal with the situation when I (the metaphorical other in this situation) KNOW WHAT I AM DEALING WITH.
  • Not enforcing our boundaries consistently: I understand that enforcing boundaries is hard work and can feel terribly unfair when you feel like you keep having to do it when people should be able to understand when one situation is the same as another. Guess what? People have their own context for situations that informs them. Getting tired and not enforcing boundaries that you think you have enforced before until you get frustrated an try to enforce them all. Letting your good mood make you more tolerant of behaviours you can’t tolerate when you are stressed out and overtired. Letting the benefits of certain situations flex your boundaries and not being flexible when those benefits are not in another situation… this one especially when unclearly communicated that one is relaxing their boundaries for the benefit of ______ is especially confusing for people who don’t understand what they are providing.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Hanlon’s razor

This is my favourite razor. Nuts to Occam. This is also the hardest thing for us as people who have been intentionally victimized by others to wrap our heads around.

The vast majority of the world isn’t scheming to step on your head to get themselves a bit further along. The vast vast majority of humans are just bumbling along trying to live their best life and are truly confused when people freak out at them as if they were intentionally harmful.

But even if someone isn’t intentionally trying to harm us, this can happen. How we deal with it becomes the turning point in our healing.

  • Do we roll over and tell ourselves this is life now and just take it as if the person who loves us is so committed to what ever they are doing that we would never come out on top if we asked them to chose….?
  • Do we flip our shit and accuse them of not loving us and never having loved us if they could dare take _____ action that is SO harmful?
  • Do we say nothing, but get silently and increasingly angry until we blow up over what seems like nothing when we can’t take it any more?

Those things sound funny, they’re self mocking. I’ve done both those things and am intimately aware of the tunnel vision that both those mindsets are mired in… as well as I am aware of the fact that we can flip between them willy nilly in a stressful situation. HOW CONFUSING FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Oh my goodness I can’t tell you the people who have had patience with me. I can only hope to carry that patience forward in my life for all other people that I can possibly afford it to.

Being able to interact with others healthily comes first to relating to ourselves healthily. If we are bottling our emotions, not communicating our needs clearly and consistently… there is no hope that the world is going to treat us well. We are literally dooming ourselves to be treated poorly by all forever.

Because we can’t treat ourselves right. Others cannot treat us right in the face of it for they look to us as to how we want to be treated. NOT to how we treat others.

But what about those situations where we have not been treating ourselves right by allowing others to treat us in ways that are not in line with our boundaries? Am I seriously telling you that you can’t renegotiate your boundaries with people when you realize that something is out of line?

NO. 

I am actually telling you that you HAVE to renegotiate your boundaries intentionally when you realize that something has fallen out of line with what your expectations are. But this comes with caveats.

Yes. Your boundaries have been crossed and actions need to be changed so that behaviour can come back in line with where the boundaries are. But mistake me not. This is NOT a scenario where you sit people down and tell them where not to tread with an iron demeanour and woe to the person that steps out of line after that.

Renegotiating boundaries is hard business and the first thing to be kept in mind is that almost always, people are crossing those boundaries for a reason. And if you are not open to that reasoning and finding a way to satisfy whatever need on the other person’s part while getting your needs taken care of then this is quite the problem and I don’t know if you can be helped by a blog, you might need professional help in a serious way.

Renegotiating boundaries isn’t something that you can sit down and do in ten minutes. It takes time and often revisiting.

What are some tools to combat this then?!

  • I am a super huge fan of scheduled check ins where issues, growing things that might become issues, successes and reassurances are talked about. Situations that get appraised like this I think have less chance to get so out of line that serious issues are occurring. Even responses like “I’m not sure what’s wrong but I’m trying to figure it out and I might ask for your attention later in the week or next check in to address it when I suss it out.” WARNINGS ARE THE SHIZNIT. These check ins can be weekly, monthly or whenever.
  • There’s not a lot of ways to combat this other than being open and understanding and able to put a lid on your emotions and consider someone else’s perspective… which is almost always what we are begging others to do for us. How silly that when we get bent out of shape we are often super bad at considering things from other’s perspectives. Could this be a possible explanation for why people haven’t considered our perspective? If we aren’t considering the perspectives of others and modelling that behaviour, HOW can we expect that out of others?
    • But what if I’m always the one considering others’ perspectives and never having mine considered? Are you only considering the perspectives of others to get them to consider yours? Or are you doing this because it is the right thing to do? When I say modelling good behaviour I mean it. This shit disseminates but only if people start doing it. Be the first in your group to get on this band wagon. You were doing it before it was cool.
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