"I just have a hard time being assertive".
I heard these words from the client's mouth, while conducting a quality review of my colleague, in a side, grass-roots contract I have maintained after 26 years in this field.
He was discussing his overwhelm with all the support he currently receives from the community. He is juggling between visits to hospital and doctors, and the appointments that bring support people into his home. He stated "I have to drive to an appointment and then rush back home to meet with a professional, then go back out.........”
When I told him that he has the option to tell home visitors that a particular time does not work for him, or to protect a day or two out of the week so that he can complete activities of daily living, such as shopping and banking, the above statement was the hard held belief about himself, allowing for an overwhelming and stressful schedule as he recovers from cancer treatment.
All this to say that boundaries are paramount to our happiness. We must know our limits, our personality, or likes and dislikes, our rhythm - need for downtime and uptime, our optimal time of day for work and rest…….to have a life that supports our needs, our desires, and our true nature.
Displeasing others, fear that others will disappear……that we will find ourselves unsupported and alone, are commonly held fears. They are there to ensure that we do what we need to do…… to be supported and surrounded by caring and loving folk, especially during tough times, such as the above gentleman’s trials with cancer.
However, confidence in your value allows you to approach and express your needs, with the stand that these people will also be flexible and elastic…..at least just enough….. to work out an arrangement that supports you and them. Whether you are dealing with a health issue, creating a relationship on your terms as well as theirs, work/life balance…..whatever your issue, clear boundaries support your well being, your confidence, your self esteem and sense of control over your life.
After offering to this gentleman an easier step in expressing his needs, ie. “Can this date and time work instead?”, he was able to consider a possibility.......to have control over his schedule, tasks and overwhelm. Because he was counter-offering, and doing so in the positive, he felt he was taking action toward making something work for himself and the other. This dod not trigger his background beliefs that he was just being difficult, or demanding, or a pain, and therefore didn't eel he was risking abandonment. It was a small step, and with the results of accommodating professionals, he was able to discover the confidence he never felt he had. With the added feedback of his worthiness, he looks forward to asking for more of what he needs and wants.
When looking to set clear boundaries in our relationships, it not only helps to ask for what we need, but also to do it in such a way that it aligns with our values around relationships. It helps to look for what’s in the background, gripping us from asking for what we need. Is that belief true or real? What smaller steps can we take if its too threatening to take the full leap? What smaller thing can we ask for that will give us the confidence to ask for more?
There is a place and a space for all that you need and want. Desire it and let your truth sit in the drivers seat.
With love and all the support in the world,
Testimonials from Lillian's Clients
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