Have you ever had someone pressure you into giving them money?
Maybe someone asked for your opinion, but you sensed they really didn’t want it, and then, you feel angry with yourself because you didn’t speak your truth?
Yes, and yes!
We all have felt coerced into doing something we didn’t want to do or saying things we didn’t believe. And we all have crossed someone else’s boundaries too.
Asserting boundaries is a challenge we face every day, questioning - what is okay and not okay.
As you may suspect, setting boundaries does not come with instructions.
A personal boundary, unlike property markers, is an invisible, energetic field, that is fluid, depending on who the individual is and the circumstances, but always, how we define ourselves.
The boundaries we create are an expression of who we are. You might notice that there are some things you are very clear about and others, you are not.
Our ability to decisively follow our values, principles, and beliefs, is also impacted by inheritances, early experiences (trauma), emotional health, and the relationship we have to the individual who is pressuring.
In other words, what we allow and believe to be okay and not okay is a conditioned response— and can always be consciously re-evaluated, which we don't do often enough.
We often proceed under the false belief that the manipulator (family, friend, or stranger) has our best interest at heart and would never intentionally set out to take from or harm us.
Brené Brown, Ph.D., shame researcher, says that the manipulator “is doing the best they can,” according to who they are as individuals.
While I agree with her assertion, it might be a challenge to keep in mind after someone has taken advantage of you, whether for the first or for the umpteenth time. You might believe they think like you, and you might want them to stop or make the decision for you.
From my perspective, as-they-are is correct, but, in truth, we don’t know or need to know the intention of the manipulator. Or why they behave in that way. What lurks behind the sobs, promise, or smile is not for you to figure out.
You wonder, ‘why would someone do such a thing?’ Why do I allow him to do that?
I used to inform children in my Empowered against Sexual Assault classes that it is not up to them to know the intentions of an individual who may be behaving inappropriately. If they sense something is off, they have the power to take action to secure their safety, which it their first priority.
When it gets down to it - boundary setting is not about the perpetrator - it is about you.
You give in to demands for money, integrity, property, emotion, presence, negotiations, sex, work, health, drugs, and advice (and more.) for many reasons. Some are faulty subconscious, well-established programmed patterns that you can change.
Here are a few:
- Your sense of self is vaguely defined.
- Saying no (or yes) is difficult for you.
- You believe you can heal someone's emotional wounds by fulfilling their request.
- You have a pattern of being ‘a victim.’
- You have a false belief that they will stop after this last time.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Where do I end, and where and when do I let them into my space?
- Does my boundary field shrink the more I feel pressured?
- Are you willing to continue sacrificing yourself for the needs of another?
- Are you okay with others having control over your decisions?
Here’s the real problem:
After an experience, it seems more okay for you to berate and demean yourself, rather than stand up for your principles at the time of the pressuring. You avoid the consequence of standing up to someone and damn yourself later.
Remember this - it is not about the money you gave or opinion you didn’t share. What is more important is the loss of your connection to self.
Here are five steps to help yourself!
- Increase awareness and take responsibility for your actions, emotions, and consequences in these situations. Do a self-inquiry by assessing your qualities, values, integrity, limits, and beliefs. Answering the question - who are you, is strengthening. It is common to never put words to what you believe and to think through how you will behave in certain situations because the response is automatic.
- Notice what happens in an interaction when you feel pressured. Tune in to the body and breath. Our internal guidance system can sense if you feel threatened or will message you if you feel uneasy. At this time, you have the opportunity to make a choice.
- You can mentally practice a situation where you feel pressured frequently to gain more clarity and confidence. Practice what you want to say, keep your posture tall and grounded, and steady your breath. Shifting into a power stance and breathing deeply will help you more than you realize!
- If you are reluctant to speak up, share ‘a truth,’ not ‘your truth.’ We become conditioned at a young age not to speak up and to 'be nice.’ Re-evaluate this belief.
- Be clear about your intentions. LEAD with strength, clarity and confidence and have your boundary in place. If you get got off guard, Have a stock answer, such as I will be in touch!
- Have compassion and love for yourself, if you acquiesce to someone’s pressure. It’s another opportunity for you to discover who you are and your needs.
If it’s time to re-evaluate your boundaries, go inward and do a self-inquiry. Recognizing that boundaries are fluid and within our charge is crucial to setting your boundaries. Because boundaries are a two-way street, as we give thought to our values, we also appreciate the boundaries of others.
When you are clear about your values and trust in yourself, you will feel stronger, more secure, and confident that, when you draw the line in the sand and boldly declare your truth, you mean it!
Sanna Carapellotti, M.S., Cht