Brene Brown said, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
I remember making a business deal with a friend of mine. We went into it together knowing that we’d each have to play a part in developing, running, and sustaining the business. The business idea sounded very lucrative, and we were both excited to start going with it.
However, about a month into it, I got reservations. I almost felt sick every time we talked about it, to the point where I hoped it wouldn’t be brought up. But, this was a business arrangement that I agreed to – how could it possibly not be brought up?
So a few more weeks went by and I made the realization that if I continued along this route, I was going to be stressed and very unhappy. I also realized that there was nothing I could do about it. I made a commitment to my friend, and I was going to stick with it.
But it got to a point where I was either going to go all-in, stressed and worried as ever, or I had to back out.
The problem with backing out is that I am always a man of my word. So, really, I couldn’t back out.
I didn’t have a choice.
But the truth was, I did have a choice. I just didn’t like the possible consequences of that choice. I didn’t like the idea of backing out after all the promises.
So what was I to do? If I backed out now, I’d surely upset my friend. I’d also lose the time, money, and energy I put into the endeavor. If I kept going forward, I would be stressed, worried, sick, and who knows what else!
But I had to commit to one path or another. I knew that once I committed to a direction, it would be a lot easier to move forward. It was a Do or Die moment.
And in order to make this decision, I had to figure out what was in my best and highest interest. I had to evaluate what the most important thing was when it came down to my deepest wants and desires.
After much introspection, I came up with the thought, “I need to take care of myself, first and foremost.”
The very first thing I needed to do was to take care of myself. And with that thought, I told my friend that I had to back out.
Then I waited for the anger…
Or the yelling…
Or something to indicate how bad of a person I was for doing this to him.
But none of that came. In fact, I was shocked when he said, “You need to do what’s right for you. If it’s stressing you out that much, then let’s not do this.”
For a moment, I thought I was going to cry. I had built up all of this anxiety based on a fear of what might happen. And when it didn’t happen, I felt a relief so powerful I felt the stress wash away in an instant.
In an instant, all my worry and stress disappeared.
There were two big lessons I took from this:
- You never know how truly authentic someone is until they are up against the wall with a hard truth. I put my friend “against the wall,” so to speak, by backing out of a business decision with him.
His concern was for me as a friend instead of our business arrangement. Yes, there were logistics to deal with, but overall, our friendship meant more to him than our business agreements or disagreements.
One’s true colors are almost always revealed when you give them bad news. The news wasn’t devastating, but it altered the course of everything we were doing, so it was certainly somewhat of a life change for him as well.
His true colors showed that day, and I walked away knowing he was truly a good person. Of course, I profusely apologized for putting him through it, but he made no big deal out of it ever again.
- The second lesson I took away from this is that no matter what the consequence, I chose to honor myself. This was a powerful lesson for me because it proved that I don’t know everything and that even if it went badly, I was still doing what I believed to be right for me.
When you can get comfortable enough to accept possibly uncomfortable consequences, that is empowerment.
When you place your own well-being first so that you can be the best possible person in all situations, that is empowerment.
You’re not always going to be right in everything you do. And not everyone will agree that you need to take care of yourself first (not everyone understands this concept). But one thing’s for sure: you can never be all you need to be in any situation if you are not honoring yourself.
The “you” you bring into every situation determines your path in life. Honor yourself and your own needs first so that you can bring the best you to everything that happens in life.
Honor yourself by listening to yourself.
What do you need? What are you lacking?
If you find yourself in a relationship or situation that doesn’t feel right to you, be your own best friend and listen to your own advice. What would your best friend tell you to do?
Then, follow that advice. You’ll know when it feels right. That’s when you commit to the decision and move forward.
All of this doesn’t mean you don’t think things through. Of course you do. You still need to plan for the changes that are going to happen when you commit to a direction.
This whole article is about developing a philosophy that helps you come to a place of forward momentum. Living by the philosophy that every decision about your life is made in the moment helps you move out of a rut if you’re in one.
If you’re not in a rut and have no negative feelings about where you are in life, then not every decision needs to be made in the moment. Sometimes, you can wait, and you’ll be fine! The idea is to move out of stagnation.
Stagnation is caused by indecision or involuntary incarceration. I don’t mean jail necessarily (although that is relevant, too). I mean, when you really have no choice.
Just gauge whether you really have no choice or not. Sometimes, you don’t like the choices you have to make, so you think you have no choice. However, many times, you are your own inhibitor.
I want you to create the life you want, not wait for one that may or may not ever be. My mom waited for over 40 years for my abusive stepfather to leave her because she believed she had no choice but to wait for him to leave.
Refusing to choose a path because of fear lengthens the duration of your suffering.
Consider options you wouldn’t normally consider. Give yourself the gift of trying something else, even if it means walking into the unknown or utter fear.
One decision in the moment, something you absolutely commit to, may bring more fear, but it’s over a lot quicker.
Don’t wait too long. If you’ve been thinking about changing something in your life, perhaps it’s time to honor yourself and make a change that changes everything.
I believe in standing up for yourself when you know it’s the right thing, then accepting the consequences of doing just that. Not many people are willing to accept getting fired or getting dumped, or whatever the consequences are, but when you live and express your truth, your true path is revealed.
The hard part is accepting that there will be a hard part!
I talk about that in today’s episode. Also, I read two letters: One from a woman who wants to know how to honor her boundaries without getting so much resistance AND a really great letter from someone who calls me out! She thinks I have some sort of pathology and may need therapy. Is she right?
Find out by clicking the play button at the top of the screen.