Posted in Health and Wellness, Living from the soul, Motivation, Overcoming fear, Relationships, Work

What is the cost of NOT pushing your boundaries?

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“No” is a complete sentence. Anne Lamott

Pushing boundaries (going beyond setting boundaries) is something which I have not always been comfortable with but it is something which I have come to value more as I get older.  It is perhaps because I care less about what other people think of me as I strive to find clarity and real answers to the many questions I have about life. Some people call it bold, as my school principal did when I was four years old.  One day, he called me “Madlene” at the school assembly. I  boldly  walked up to the front of the assembly and corrected him by saying that my name was “Magdalene” and not “Madlene.”  Now, at four years old, I don’t think I knew anything about setting or pushing  my boundaries. I was simply responding from my heart to fix something which did not sound right to me. From that day on, he held huge respect for me and even now (4o years later) we both remember that distinct moment and he never called me “Madlene” again!

As I got older, I noticed patterns in my behaviours where I simply accepted what others did or said because I did not want to step outside my comfort zone, for fear of hurting them or having too much information which could hurt me. It became increasing difficult for me to say “no” and I would actually prefer not to know about some things because knowing would need action on my part or would make me feel uncomfortable. When we look deeper into the issues of why we do not push our boundaries, it is all rooted in fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of being unloved.  Fear of losing control.  Fear of not having enough.  However, as our soul expands and seeks truth and clarity to live our soul mission, those walls begin to crumble. An enlightened soul is no longer afraid of asking questions and pushing against the boundaries because we know whatever the responses are, negative or positive, the universe will provide all that we  need for the next steps of our journey.

A young woman once told me that she was dating a guy whom she was not sure about.  I asked her why and her response was, “I feel that he is not really interested in me.  He takes a long time to ask me out.”

What should she do?  Push the boundaries.  She wanted to stay in the safe zone and wait for him to make the next move.  He was clearly not giving her the green light.  I asked her to invite him out on a date to meet some of her friends.

Reluctantly, she agreed and asked him out.  His first response was, “Can we talk about this?”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because I am not comfortable meeting your friends yet.” he responded.

After six months of “seeing” someone, how can you not want to meet their friends? How can you not want to know more about them?

By pushing her boundaries in asking him to meet her friends, his response brought clarity to her that he was not ready to engage in a serious relationship with her.  She ended the relationship because it was not in alignment with what she needed in a relationship. By not pushing those boundaries, she could have remained in this undefined relationship for a longer time.  Several months later she met someone else who was happy to meet her friends right away.

Here is a list of situations which could be resolved if the boundaries were pushed a bit.

  • You feel stressed all day about not being sure whether you are meeting the expectations of your boss.  Push the  boundaries by asking a question about your performance. It is better for you to know so that you can  take charge of the situation and improve your performance if you need to.
  • You are bored doing the same job.  Push your boundaries by asking for additional responsibilities or a another  position.  You may want to push your boundaries even further by applying to other positions outside of your company.
  • You want to exit  a relationship but you are  afraid that  you will hurt your partner’s feelings. Push your boundaries by speaking about it. For all you know, your partner may also want to leave and be free. Start by saying something like, “I am not feeling happy or fulfilled in our relationship anymore. I would like to get a divorce / separation.” By being clear, you give the other person an opportunity to respond.  It may lead to a divorce but it can also lead to a better relationship.
  • You notice that the decisions being made in your company will have an adverse effect on the business. Your fear  of speaking up and being opposed causes  you to remain silent but you are  furious with yourself  for not speaking up.  Push the boundaries by putting your thoughts  in writing or gathering the courage to speak at the meeting.  Everyone may not agree but what if they did?  You could become a huge asset for this company.
  • Question the cost of things which you pay for regularly.  Most of us accept high insurance rates; we are scared to question our utility bills or afraid to negotiate a better interest rate on our mortgage or credit card. Push your boundaries by asking questions to make sure that you are receiving a fair service and the best price.

What does it cost you NOT to push your boundaries?  Loss of self-worth?  Loss of adding more value to the quality of your life?  Loss of money/income?  Loss of having fulfilled relationships and work?  Loss of living your soul mission?

As one person said to me, the cost of pushing boundaries for him was exorbitant!

“Pushing these boundaries require courage….the costs can also be exorbitant! I have spent my entire life pushing boundaries and have been punished for doing so. However, since I am aware of the consequences, I have also placed a lot of effort in preparing myself  for the consequences….this is what has made me into a better person. I have discovered a new me at all stages.”

When I push my boundaries  I feel that my soul expands. It takes courage to go beyond setting boundaries. It frees my mind, my soul and my heart and creates space for me to grow. Sometimes, we have simply outgrown a boundary  and need to explore beyond.  I have concluded that if people truly love and respect me, they will also love and appreciate my growth when I  push those boundaries.

“Tolerance is nothing more than patience with boundaries.”
― Shannon L. Alder

TuneIn to areas which are not exactly your comfort zone. StepUp and pay attention about what matters to you.

Posted in Motivation, Overcoming fear, Work

Are you being treated as a door mat?

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“I feel overworked most of the time. I need to find a strategy to make my supervisor realize that I am not a doormat.” Sheila said quietly.

By that she meant the everything was being dumped on her – she had become a welcome place for all types of problems. She did not know how to say NO and could never prioritize. She felt undervalued and “taken advantage of”. She could feel the mental and emotional toll it had taken on her over the last year.

In my 20+ years of managing programs/people plus what research shows, this type of feeling from a staff manifest itself in various forms which can create hostile work environments. It is manifested in passive-agressive behaviours, low performance, constant “unspoken” battles, resentment, gossip, and lots of frustration. I have allowed others to treat me as a door mat and I learnt how to be more self-assertive. I coach people to discuss it instead of avoiding it because the problem is not just about you being treated like a door mat in the work environment. You are probably being treated as a door mat in your other relationships as well and most of it stems from a need to please others and to be liked. You can’t change your manager or team but you can take ownership for the situation and approach it sensitively.

Note that there is a difference between working hard and being treated as a door mat. Hard work which is aligned with your belief system fuels you to excel even greater!

Here is one approach that you can use if you feel overworked and feel treated as a door mat.

Try this:

Have a conversation with your manager about setting a list of priorities for a week/month/year. Be calm, smile through the conversation and go prepared with a list of items that are already on your plate. At the end of your discussion, type it up, share it with your manager and put it where you can see it to keep you focused.

Try this script: (Use the word “I” and NOT “YOU”)

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“I feel  bit overworked over the last few months and my objective is to reduce my stress level so I can work more efficiently. I would like to work with you to help me identify our priorities over the next little while, so that I can be more effective with how I use my time and support you in meeting our team goals.”

By using this strategy, you are taking ownership. You demonstrate professionalism and can measure your progress based on your priorities. If new tasks pop up, you can negotiate what to give priority to, seek support from your manager in re-assigning some of your tasks and be in charge of your workload. You will gain respect and feel that you are taking control of the situation and not the situation controlling you. You can also take some other courses in self-assertiveness or try a sports program like kick boxing that help you bring out the assertive side of you.

TuneIn to what you have control over and have the courage to Stepup to create a good work/life balance. The first time you do this will be hard but eventually, you will master it and it will become second nature to you.

Love,
Magdalene