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Day 12. Recognising Unfair and Unreasonable

So, over the past couple of weeks, you’ve gained a sense of boundaries. From what they are and why you need them, to why some people seem to be resistant and damn near allergic to them, to how regardless of what anyone else is doing, you can still be boundaried.

In order to have a healthy concept of boundaries, you need to have a sense of what is unfair, unreasonable, and yes, at times, super-shady behaviour.

Once you can recognise it, once you can name it, once you’re willing to own the fact that not everything is possible, you will be in a much better place to embrace healthy boundaries.

If you keep saying yes to or appearing to comply, even if it’s passively, with unfair, unreasonable requests and behaviour, you will be in a world of pain.

So, what does unfair and unreasonable mean?

When gauging what is unfair and unreasonable, you have to ensure that you are coming from a place of recognising that things are equitable – that you have the same rights and responsibilities, you are not ‘less than’ and so you need to consider whether a request or what somebody is doing feels good and right for you.

Whatever you’re agreeing to, whatever’s happening around you, your participation, what people expect or request of you, the impact of a person’s actions — it’s got to feel fair and appropriate in the circumstances because you are the one who has to live with the consequences.

If you doing, being, agreeing to or putting up with something, isn’t going to cause you more problems by impacting on you negatively, knock yourself out.

Here’s how unfair looks in working practice:

Person A has been working 15-hour days and has hardly slept, relaxed, or eaten because they’ve been so stressed and are on the verge of burning out.

Person B has had a less stressful week, is feeling quite content within and has some free time.

Person C has a favour to ask of Person B, wanting them to babysit on Friday night and help out with something on the Saturday.

Sure, Person C might not be fully aware of what Person A is going through, but it would be unfair and unreasonable of Person A to agree to their request. It doesn’t mean that Person B ‘should’ do it – it depends on if they want to, what their plans are, their bandwidth, etc., but neither party are obliged. If Person C doesn’t respect Person A’s no and keeps trying to push them to agree, then they are being unfair and unreasonable, especially if Person A has said, “I can’t this time. I’m exhausted after working an extremely long week, and I’m not the best person for the job.” They might even say, “Have you thought about asking Person B?”

If Person C tends to spring things on Person A or others at the last moment and has a sense of entitlement, while the request itself (help with babysitting might be reasonable in the wider sense), how they go about things is unfair and unreasonable. If they have a sense of entitlement, they don’t empathise, are critical of others when they say no, are passive-aggressive, manipulative, and tend to take advantage, their behaviour, thinking and attitude is unfair and unreasonable.

Person C might try to guilt Person B into doing it because, from their perspective, Person B has ‘more time on their hands’, but Person B has the right to use their time in any way they see fit. If Person B can help out Person C and they’re not going to experience negative consequences or certainly end up with more problems than they started with, then they can go ahead if they want to. If Person B thinks, “Actually, I’ve helped out Person C lots of times and somebody else can do it”, that’s OK. Person C might not be thrilled with that but respect means respecting people’s no, even when you’d rather that they said yes. It means not imposing yourself upon others.

Let’s say that the favour on Saturday is to take care of the cat and Person A or B is allergic. News flash: it doesn’t make sense for them to take care of the cat!

If either Person A or Person B are complying with Person C from a place of fear, guilt or obligation, they are ‘helping’ out Person C for the wrong reasons and will feel resentful. They are being unfair and unreasonable to themselves because they do not recognise their line and their limit. They are not listening to themselves, and they are not doing things from an authentic place.

If Person C’s attitude, thinking and behaviour are about using fear, guilting others, imposing and basically making other people responsible for their feelings, behaviour or improving their situation, they are behaving unfairly and unreasonably.

The TAKEAWAY

  • Turn down anything that jeopardises your wellbeing.

  • Turn down or certainly revise your motivations for agreeing or continuing if you are doing it from a place of being in a ‘child role’ (making the other party an authority over you and not taking up your responsibilities).

  • Don’t emotionally blackmail you into doing things. It’s bad enough when someone else guilts and shames you or implies or directly threatens negative consequences! 

  • If you already feel resentful or are going to, it’s got to be a NO.

  • If by saying or showing yes, you’re going to give the impression that you are OK with that person’s status quo and what they expect of you, then it’s time to be more boundaried.

  • Unfair and unreasonable is about recognising where you’re unfair and unreasonable to you and also recognising where others are being that way with you.

  • If you don’t recognise where you do not have your own back, you will feel victimised by the injustice of what you feel is an ‘others’ problem without owning your part in things.

  • If you’re going to be or do something, do it because it’s who you are and it’s what you would do anyway – if there’s a hidden agenda, you’re being inauthentic plus you will have unfair and possibly unreasonable expectations of others.

  • Unless the benefit of something outweighs any problems it’s going to bring you, say/show no.

JOURNALING: Take the scenario above and try to recall a situation where somebody was expecting something unfair and unreasonable from you (or behaving that way) or where you expected it from yourself. Using what you’ve learned in this class, can you see what was unfair and unreasonable about the situation? Can you see where you needed to be more boundaried and if so, what do you now recognise that you’d need to say (to you or them), think or do in that situation? Make sure that you use this as an opportunity for compassionate recognition, not to scold or guilt you over! What do you typically think when people ask you for something or you feel that they are expecting something? Write it all down. Is there an emotional blackmail vibe to it? Is it possible that you could have done these things without activating your conscience and making you feel bad? Refer back to unfair and unreasonable and see if you can write loving responses to these that provide you with perspective.  

TASK: Is there someone or even a few people in your life who regularly make unfair and unreasonable requests (or who behave unfairly and unreasonably)? Is there someone (or a few) who you find that you treat you unfairly and unreasonably in an attempt to please them? List ’em! These are the peeps who are in your People Pleasing/Bad Boundaries Entourage. They are benefiting from you not having your back, even if it’s not what they intended. These are the people who you need to be vigilant — conscious, aware, present and boundaried — around.

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