Below offers some insight into the reactions you can expect from your colleagues when you start exercising your right to create, enforce and maintain your personal boundaries. This is part two in a three-part series.
As women we are raised to be pleasers, to get along, to say yes, to be part of the solution not part of the problem. This approach, unedited, usually benefits everyone but us. When we finally decide enough is enough, and we are ready to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things, it’s only natural to wonder how we’re going to be received. Speaking from personal experience there are roughly three phases to the process: the storm, the retreat and the return.
Phase 1: The Storm
Like any storm you can see it coming and you usually have a pretty good idea of how bad it’s going to be. So, you prepare. Whether you are pushing back on your workload, making a case for fair pay for fair work, or letting a weekend work call go to voicemail (which will no doubt create interesting dynamics Monday morning), expect to meet some resistance.
Preparing mentally for the storm. I’ve found the intensity of the storm is based on two variables:
1. The amount of experience the other person has had with you enforcing boundaries.
2. The emotional intelligence level of that person.
Unfortunately, these two factors are related to the other person, which means you don’t have a lot of control here. Bottom line, if the other person is accustomed to being allowed to behave however they please with you AND they are more of a command and control, my way or the highway kind of person, then mentally prepare for more of a level 4 hurricane. Anything better will be a welcomed surprise.
I know… so far this sounds pretty bad. Just stay with me, some good news is coming.
During the storm, stand firm in your power. This is absolutely critical. If you back down now, it’s like giving a screaming child candy every time they freak out. Remember, you have the right to establish and maintain your personal boundaries. You are not asking for a favor, something extra or special treatment, you are simply saying it’s time for quid pro quo respect between two adults—regardless of positional power.
Once it is clear to the other party that you are committed to maintaining this boundary, the storm will begin to fade. Then, you will move into the next phase of the process.
Phase 2: The Retreat
As the storm passes things will become quiet, in a strange way. Your phone may ring a little less, you may not be included on a project that has your name written all over it, or you may see a decrease in communication other ways. Expect this. You’ve just established new standards for everyone to play by and your colleagues are going to take a step back to recalibrate. If this is the first time, you’ve made it clear that there are new rules of engagement, then expect this retreat to last a little longer.
Even if you do remember to expect this response, it will still trigger fear. So, you should also expect to hear from your ego shouting things like, “See what you’ve done! …Now no one is asking for anything! …You need to fix this fast! …And, blah, blah, blah.”
Quoting my own journal during such a time, “While part of me feels really proud of the steps I’ve taken to bring more balance into my life another part of me is saying… nice work… you’ve just committed professional suicide.” This is a prime example of inner wisdom vs. a freaking-out ego. Which voice do you think was louder? Right.
I’ll tell you more about why I wrote that in my journal in the next blog. Suffice it to say, of course, my fear was going to me speak to me. I was stepping outside of my comfort zone in a big way. And, when you step outside of your comfort zone your fear is going to get loud too. Why? Because, most of us have allowed our fear to control far more than we realize for a really long time. Once we decide to make new choices we have no tangible experiences, yet (operative word here… is “yet”) to remind ourselves why everything is going to ok.
So, when things start to hit a fever pitch for you, and they will, take a deep breath. Trust the wisdom that guided your right actions of empowerment. Stay true to the quiet, deeper inner knowing and soon enough you will have an experience to validate why you did what you did.
Another thing, it’s during these #ohshit #whathave.i.done moments that you should be calling on your support team (see the last blog post if you missed it). These wise women that you trust will remind you that you are in fact not only sane, but brave.
The point is you must do whatever you need to do to calm your very real, very irrational fears. Then, take another well-deserved breath and realize part of this quiet feels really, really good. This is what you wanted—the power (and time) to spend your energy on the things that matter most. This is what the world needs from you. Only you know what matters most to you.
This period of retreat, of quiet, is a gift back to you for all you have given to others. This is some good karma! Recognize it. Honor it. Use it! Replenish your energy and feed your soul. Whether you know it or not, you’re taking steps to align yourself with your true purpose in life. Choose to believe it or not, I’m just saying what I’ve learned to be true.
Phase 3: The Return
Here’s the most important piece you’ve probably forgotten, but others have not. You are awesome. You are totally and completely awesome… awesome… awesome. That’s how you found yourself starved of energy to begin with.
People with bright lights, creative power, passion, and drive stand out. You stand out. Others are naturally drawn to you. They always have been and always will be. You add value to everything you touch because you care deeply. You’re a great resource and people are going to want to continue to tap into the unique gifts you have to offer the world. But, they are your gifts to give; soul-level energy is not to be taken. So, trust me, they will be back.
Still don’t believe me? Let me put it this way. 99-percent of the time you make people’s lives easier, better, more full. Even if that drops to 75-percent of the time, YOU MAKE PEOPLE’S LIVES EASIER, BETTER, MORE FULL! That’s what they know to be true about you. When they do return, your inner wisdom will have that “I told you so” moment with your fear and your ego.
So, give yourself a big hug; and, take great pride in paving the way for other women to also make clear their boundaries- to choose freely how they will and will not channel their unique gifts into the world.
Remember, it takes courage to consciously step into the unknown. It takes a leader. And, the world needs your powerful, feminine leadership.