Human interaction. It can be beautiful and uplifting and can make us hopeful to engage with the world. It can also be disheartening and draining and that’s when we may question why we even bother to be connected. For instance, it’s so frustrating when someone we care about, know, work with or live next to, drives us crazy, more-often than not. Whether they’re crafty at inflating their self-importance, toeing the line with a really bad joke, or always playing the victim when things go wrong, sometimes people can start to drive us crazy with frustration and this is a sign. A sign for what? Growth!
In my mid-20s I became fed up with being annoyed by others. I didn’t like how it felt and I certainly didn’t want to behave in unkind when frustrated. I decided I needed to find a way to relieve these feelings. Once committed to move through the irritation, I asked myself a few questions such as, “Why is this so irritating?’, “Why should I care?”, “How does this really affect me?”.
- In general, there are certain behaviors that can irritate people. Things are irritating when interacting with people who aware, or not, act in a superior or offensive manner. Their behavior is what it is, and that may very well be irritating.
- I do care when I watch people repeatedly play the victim to their life situation. I feel powerless as they continue to make choices that will never improve or resolve their problem or watch them frozen with helplessness believing that nothing, they can do will change the situation.
- The painful reality is in the big picture it doesn’t affect me. What people do isn’t about me, not really. It’s about them.
Here’s the deal. This is where boundaries come in. We are human and have human responses to other people’s behaviors. It’s natural, it’s unavoidable, and it doesn’t make us a bad person. The key is how we move forward. It calls for the setting of personal boundaries! They protect us and benefit everyone around us.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”Brene Brown
We have the power to set healthy boundaries. We determine them. We design them. We draw them. It’s our job to figure out why our emotions get triggered and learn to understand and manage our reactions.
Questions such as:
- What does our reaction say about us: our history, our own needs, wants and behaviors?
- What, if anything, is our responsibility to the situation? Is our response appropriate?
- What part are we playing in the interaction?
What do we truly desire? To correct them? Question them? Expose them? Illuminate them? Eliminate them? Punish them?
Well, after answering the questions above, it hit me that as much as I’m responsible for my part, so are they, and it’s not my job to live for them. It’s their story, their wants, their fears and their skills that lead them to choose what they do and say, and I can’t control that. What I can control is me!
So, I began to work on my part of the interaction. I started with certain behaviors that triggered negative emotions for me and broke down my part and how I could diffuse that. I practiced empathy – recognizing they were trying to fill a void, or pain from the past, or fear of not being enough. My mantra became short and quick:
They’re doing the best they know how, at this time.”
With time and diligent practice, I was able to answer these questions more efficiently and impact my reaction. I got better with every situation and continue to be vigilant to this very day.
This doesn’t mean I have to endure uncomfortable people or situations but I’m able to quickly diffuse the irritation to not react in a way that reduces me. I try very hard to just witness. I sit there and witness. I allow them to speak. I’ve become more comfortable in responding with silence, with compassion, or just rephrasing what they said.
Sadly, sometimes none of these suggestions work and I’ve got to be extremely clear. I’ll let them know I find their comment inappropriate and uncomfortable, and when necessary, I use the most powerful boundary of all, I remove myself and limit or avoid future interaction with these people.
It’s not my job to fix any behavior that may be broken and unacceptable; however, I am responsible for setting protective boundaries for myself. As much as I strive to be kind, tolerable and sympathetic, I’m also not bound to be punished for someone else’s unhealthiness and by using healthy boundaries, it’s possible I’ll become a catalyst of awareness for others.
Keep it Simple,