5 Times When It’s A Boundary Issue Not A Trust Issue
There is a case to be made for not being an open book.
A big chapter in it is that while you may feel secure in the state of having nothing to hide, and feel safe with a ‘heart on your sleeve’ default mode, a lot of people are simply not looking to understand you. At best, most people are thinking more about what you might think about them. At worst, too many people than we’d like to acknowledge will be scanning for ways they can use you or, abuse you.
This is a crucial piece of common sense which sometimes must be spelled out for trusting, empathic souls – before they morph into bitter, cynics (which is also a common theme). When we assume everyone else is like us, that our good intentions will forever be mirrored and met, we can set ourselves up to fail in myriad ways. We can set ourselves up to not conduct due diligence on a person, organization, or situation. We live in a world where schemers rise – and become CEO’s, Presidents, and other ‘Leaders’ or ‘Influencers’. That’s not a blanket statement about all people occupying these roles but it’s hard to make it through one single day without running smack into an example of one.
So, while we may see deep honesty and openness as a lovely character trait – and, it most certainly can be once someone has been thoroughly vetted – it is more or less a ‘state’ rather than a trait; and, it needs boundaries.
Here are 5 times when it’s a boundary issue and not a trust issue.
1) When someone is pushing you to move or commit too fast
This can happen in a relationship, in accepting a job, in choosing a roommate or in choosing a life mate. It may feel refreshing at first when someone wants to get close really fast (rather than playing coy games) or rush a decision based on the high of instinct and first impressions. The downside of this is often when you are being rushed to act on instinct and first impressions, it’s because someone can only manage their red flags for so long. Or, the situation you are being sucked into is really not as great as it seems – and, you’re really being coerced to act impulsively under the guise of acting instinctively.
The boundary between being impulsive and acting on instinct could be unpacked ad nauseum. Let’s just stick (for now) with recognizing that there is one.
2) When you feel uncomfortable
If being with someone, and talking with someone, does not make you feel valued, supported, and, accepted, then it doesn’t matter whether ‘it’s you’ or if ‘it’s them’. There needs to be a boundary between you. Period. People must earn, or earn back, your earnest openness once they have – intentionally or not – caused you to feel ‘less than’ or hurt. Again, there need be no blame assigned, just a relative boundary established.
3) In professional situations, boundaries are a crucial component to navigating the workforce
Remember, not everyone wants to be accountable or hug it out. We live in a competition-based economy and unloading your problems or unpacking your life story to your co-workers can backfire quickly, especially when the waters get rough or it’s time to pass around blame. Even during job interviews, don’t assume an interviewer is looking to see ‘you’. They are looking at you from a quantum level, meaning they’re not merely seeing ‘this or that’ but rather ‘this, and this, and this, and this’, to infinity.
Questions running in their mind script might include, ‘Will this person be a threat to my position or make me look bad’? ‘Will my significant other be attracted to them?’ ‘Will they be able to tolerate my crazy mood swings’? There is a spectrum of possibilities at play, here. And, they can all be happening at once at a conscious or subconscious level. The best approach is to keep it simple.
4) When someone either constantly asks for your help or constantly antagonizes you, recognize these are both methods of controlling you
It’s not always your job to save or to serve. In the case of the former, assumptions play a big role. Someone might eventually assume you’ll do something to the point where they won’t even ask anymore – and at this point, just hope it wasn’t the slightest bit inconvenient or something you’d hoped might be reciprocal. It’s best to get on top of this sort of phenomenon before you become a part of their ecosystem and overall homeostasis. If you start to help someone, and you know you can’t do it indefinitely, be honest with yourself and them from the start. It’s only fair, for both parties.
In the case of the latter, there are some people who are so bent on dominating you – in some cases it’s just their personality, in others it’s because you represent something which triggers them, personally – that almost no conversation will end well. Again, keep it simple. Most personal stuff should be on a need to know basis, and with an exclusive ‘who’s who’ list of who needs to know it. Sure, there are exceptions to this. That’s all. There are always exceptions.
5) When it’s people who have hurt you before or, someone who seems poised to act just like them
No, we can’t judge all people by the those who inflicted our original or secondary (and, so on) wounds. However, you know what is real? Being drawn back into a toxic relationship or situation and getting ‘re-traumatized’ all over again. That is something that is all too real – it’s called a pattern. And, these people (or situations) can drag you back to square one and then ride off into the sunset, stomping over you like the puddle they’ve left you as, in their wake.
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