What If They Need Me?
This week’s topic is tough for me to write about because it’s something that is coming up lately in my own life.
Here’s the deal, I still see setting boundaries as doing something to someone else – not as caring for myself. And when I do try to view boundaries as caring for myself, I feel selfish.
This is what my brain knows to be true – each day is 24 hours long.
And here is how I desire to allocate my available time:
- 7 hours to sleep (striving for 8) to recharge my brain rest and cells.
- 6 hours per day to passion (writing, nature, friends, family, doing nothing).
- 7 hours to my work.
- 4 hours to various other self-care necessities (exercise, financial business, health care, eating).
That makes for a full day! Weekends I have a little more flexibility because there usually isn’t 7 work hours of work! So that gets allocated to other types of fun.
What has been happening for me lately, or rather what I’ve been allowing lately, is certain parts of my time have been hijacked - because I handed over the controls. I’ve been giving my attention to things that, frankly, aren’t my concern.
It really became clear to me as I was working with a client* recently who was struggling with drama in the workplace. (How often we teach what we most need to know!) Does this ever happen for you? There is drama happening all around you and although you repeat the mantra “not my circus, not my monkeys” you keep getting sucked into that energy? Perhaps initially tantalized by the excitement and fun of it?
During an Equus coaching session with this client he was able to explore and actually see how drama impacts us in a round pen with a horse. As my client stepped into the pen the horse became highly animated, snorting and prancing around. I could feel the client’s energy rising as the mare’s energy rose. Within seconds the mare was galloping around the pen, kicking out, flinging her head and changing direction on a dime. The mare was being very dramatic and my client was meeting that energy.
When we sync with the energy of drama, it is highly distracting and quite frenetic for ourselves and for those around us. It can also bring everyone else’s drama up a notch until they are galloping faster, turning quicker, snorting, and sometimes kicking out. This is a very important piece to notice everywhere in life, but especially in any place you desire to be a leader.
When we don’t set boundaries, other people’s drama impacts our leadership and drains our energy.
After a breathing exercise, I asked my client to maintain his position in the center of the round pen – truly exercising an energetically centered versus high action/physical leadership style. He provided direction for the mare and witnessed transformation.
As the client stayed grounded in his own space, physically and emotionally, the horse began calmly and rhythmically walking the perimeter. Bowing her head occasionally, stretching out her neck, licking and chewing, with one ear locked on the client. These are all the indications seen in herds when there is an acknowledgment of leadership. She was calmly doing her part, with no drama, following his energetic lead.
The client was smiling peacefully, shoulders relaxed, gently cueing the horse as needed with a simple flutter of the hand. When asked how that felt, he replied, “Amazing. Easy. Connected. Peaceful”.
Debriefing after this session, we discussed how this applies to his workplace. He noticed how easily he gets caught up in drama and how his energy rises up to match that chaos. His goal is to be a confident, grounded leader. That is where he wants to anchor his leadership style. Quickly he began to see how authentic, clear leadership is about setting boundaries around drama, and staying rooted in what you know is your mission, vision and goal for the future.
As we were talking, I realized the parallel in my personal life these days (you spot it, you got it). I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. What if they need me? Who am I to set a boundary? What if I miss something exciting? When I buy into this chaotic, dramatic energy I give away parts of myself – my authentic self. Through this distraction I inadvertently waste precious time that I want to allocate elsewhere. It distances me from the resources and behaviors that I know keep me grounded, balanced, and focused on my mission and vision. In essence, I ground my anchor in their story versus in mine (Anchor’s Away!) and it doesn’t serve anyone.
I tell clients all the time, boundaries are love. Boundaries are the tool with which you teach others how you want to be treated. The session with my client showed me what I needed to look at - which is why I love this work! So I’m revisiting my stories around boundaries and implementing some simple tools to support me.
I’m re-engaging the “do not disturb” button on my phone. I will choose to shut off all technology and go to sleep at 10:00 p.m. I will schedule time for exercise. I will be fully present with who ever I am with in the moment. I will use the metaphorical “stop, pause, delete” button in my brain when my thoughts wander to concern or worry about things that aren’t mine to engage with. And I am hauling up my anchor and resetting it out ahead - where I’m going, not where I’ve been.
Who am I to set boundaries? I am the leader in my life. I am the person who gets to choose the energy I invite in and the way I allocate my time. I am the sole (soul) caretaker of myself on this journey. I am the person who knows to put on my oxygen mask first before assisting others.
I love hearing from all of you. Please post your comments here or on my Facebook page.
*Are you saying, “Hey, that sounds like my story!” Isn’t great to know you aren’t alone? In this shared human journey we have similar lessons, struggles and breakthroughs. That’s why I love this work. We get to learn and grow from each other. The stories I use for teaching purposes are compilations of several people’s stories. If I use specific, individual stories, they are always with client permission.