Day 1. Recognise and Acknowledge Your Discomfort
“I don’t like that.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I’m not willing to.”
“I’m not OK with this / what happened / what you did.”
“This can’t happen in future.”
“This doesn’t feel good/right for me.”
“I am angry.”
“A line has been crossed.”
“Something feels wrong here.”
“I need some clarity before I can proceed.”
“I need to stop, look and listen before I continue.”
“Stop. Halt. Do not pass go.”
DISCOMFORT: A sense of unease, awkwardness or experiencing slight pain or a physical uncomfortableness. Along with this discomfort, you might, for example, experience embarrassment, anxiety, irritation, anger, simmering, resentment, confusion, flusteredness, shame, blame, distress, feeling unnerved, on guard, disconcerted, perturbed, upset, helpless or like a child all over again.
Throughout your life, you’re going to become aware of when something does not feel good and right for you. When these feelings, thoughts and the evidence of these show up, you need to be willing to see and hear the ‘feedback’ so that you can take care of your subsequent feelings and actions but also so that whatever happens next, you respect the other party and respect you too.
How do you acknowledge to yourself and also communicate to others, what does and doesn’t feel good and right for you?
With boundaries, the invisible yet much-needed lines between you and others.
By understanding what is OK for you and how far you are willing to go about something, you guide and direct you via your actions, thoughts and feelings about what is and isn’t permissible.
Acting as your very own personal electric fence, boundaries alert you to discomfort, and when you pay attention to and have an active response about this information (as opposed to dismissing it or responding passively), you filter out and protect you from what doesn’t work for you. You choose how you want to feel and have an opportunity to choose your next actions mindfully. You take responsibility, care for and protect you.
Boundaries alert you to some or all of the following:
- You’re being asked to do something unworkable – for whatever reason, you don’t want to do it or are unsure about it.
- You’re being asked to do something that’s over the line – unfair and unreasonable requests.
- Someone else’s behaviour bothers you, and the situation doesn’t feel/look right – issues alerting you that you need to stop, look and listen before proceeding or that you’re in danger (code amber and code red).
- You have gone off track – not living in line with your values and doing something that’s going to hurt.
- You’re not taking care of and being responsible for you – lack of self-care and self-discipline.
- You need more information before you can respond effectively – need more time, answers, clarity or to get a reading on your feelings.
Our emotions are incredibly helpful notifications that also provide clues about where we need to recognise and help us. Discomfort is an incredibly useful emotion that many people regard as an annoying pain in the bottom there to wreck their sometimes misguided plans and ‘ruin’ their fun.
Discomfort is your notification to be more boundaried.
It’s your inner voice’s way (it represents your true self) of helping you out. Paying attention to you with boundaries will significantly reduce the amount of prolonged and built-up discomfort that you experience which will have a significant positive impact on your well-being, relationships and choices.
When you ignore your feelings, you are made to pay attention in far more painful ways, but it also means that when you do make a stab at expressing your boundaries, that you can end up erupting and basically behaving in ways that leave you feeling less than good about yourself (or your relationship).
You could assume that because you know that something doesn’t feel good and right to you, or that it’s flat-out wrong, that the other party ‘should’ know about it, so why should you have to say anything about it? But actually, silence, half-saying something, saying one thing doing another, can all be read as compliance and even agreement, so it’s time to consciously choose your boundaries and messages so that you don’t end up feeling victimised and suffering through unpalatable situations.
In an ‘ideal world’, everybody would behave themselves, have no baggage, no issues, no anything that gets in the way of having boundaries, but that’s not how life works.
You’re going to have to be vulnerable enough to recognise, respond to, show and at times say that something doesn’t work for you, but the great thing is that once you learn to do this, you’re free to enjoy what does work for you.
JOURNALING: Look at the statements from the start of this class, e.g. “I don’t like that” – In your life up to this point, how, if at all, have you communicated these messages to the people in your life? What do you say? What do you do? Do you address stuff at or close to the time of the boundary issue or do you let things build up? If so, what happened? What would you like to change about the way you handled things?
Look at the definition of discomfort – write down your own version of what discomfort feels and looks like to you.