“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” … Eleanor Roosevelt
Do you have a moat around your castle?
Typically these castles with their high walls and turrets were built with a huge moat around them as a protection from intruders. It was very effective. Friends were allowed to gain entry over the drawbridge, while foes were barred by the moat.
Now imagine that you are the castle and your boundaries are the moat. How do you regulate access to your personal space, and how do you determine what people may or may not do or say to you?
If you are experiencing numerous situations in which people are finding a way across the moat to the heart of your castle without your invitation, it may be time to strengthen your perimeter. When we strengthen our boundaries we experience less stress, less fear and gain the respect of others. When we allow our boundaries to become weak, we may attract needy or disrespectful people into our lives.
So how do we establish clear boundaries, and what do we do when someone violates that boundary?
Setting boundaries is a process of deciding what people may or may not say or do to you.
As an example, let’s look at boundaries around other people’s anger. Most of us have a boundary that says, “When you are angry, you may not hit me”. But what about “You may not yell or scream at me”?
Then there is anger expressed in the form of a joke; these are the subtle digs, put-downs, wisecracks and more indirect forms of abusive behavior. Where do you draw the line regarding what people may not do or say to you?
If this process is new for you, I encourage you to set bigger boundaries than you might actually need. Once you have set your boundary, it’s important to let others know.
Here are some examples:
• You may not use abusive language in my presence;
• You may not put me down, chastise me or make me wrong;
• You may not make jokes at my expense.
If you have typically allowed someone in your life to make subtle digs in your presence, let that person know that such behavior will not be tolerated. The next time it occurs, you will remind them that they have stepped over your boundary.
If someone repeatedly violates your boundary, what can you do?
Here is a formula that might be helpful:
Inform: “Do you realize you are yelling at me?”
Request: “I request that you stop yelling at me right now.”
Demand: “Stop! I demand that you stop right now.”
Leave: “This is unacceptable behavior. I will not continue this conversation while you are yelling at me. I am leaving to protect myself.”
When you are clear about your boundaries, and are willing to take immediate action to stop someone from violating your personhood, then you will give off an aura that says, “No one messes with me!”
What strategies have you found useful to protect your personal space from intruders?