Part of setting healthy boundaries is being okay with other people’s discomfort.
Accepting that you can’t take responsibility for everybody’s feelings, but you stand up for yourself anyway, because it means that you’re creating a life that matches your vision of principled living.
I’ve always wrestled with this issue. And not because I have a need to be liked by everybody, but because I have a fear of being seen as an asshole by anybody.
It’s too conflicting with my self concept. Even if I am standing up for my boundaries in the moment, there’s still a small slice of my psyche that feels guilty and needs confirmation that I’m not an jerk for doing so.
Without that reassurance, my skin starts to flush and fear soaks my back and a ripple of panic shoots through my body and I spiral into an anxious ruminative loop that leaves me awash in neurosis and regret. Because the last thing I need is the world thinking that I’m someone who treats people as invisible, as long as he gets what he wants.
Isn’t obsessive compulsive disorder just enchanting? Of course, it’s all in my head. It’s just a story I’m telling myself. And it’s pure fiction. As a friend of mine likes to reminds me:
When you start to feel bad about yourself, find the lie.
Will saying no to this person tilt the world on its axis? No.
Will other humans die when I abide by my needs instead of theirs? No.
Will standing up for my boundaries in this moment be captured on video and leaked to the press and go viral and destroy my career? No.
And here’s why. Most people are too busy, too inundated with information and too focused on their own work to even notice. Odds are, they’re not even thinking about me and worrying about what I think and concerned with how I feel.
And just because I spent all that time worrying about it, doesn’t mean I’ve earned anything.
Remember, when you start to feel bad about yourself, find the lie. It works.
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What fictional story are you telling yourself?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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