- I immediately explode on the person in front of me.
- I explode on the sweet little old lady cashier that is moving too slow.
- I stuff negative energy deep into my soul and sit in silent miserable anger for hours or days.
- Have a crippling panick attack, that hits like a corner slot machine – random, but usually after a lot of bills are stuffed into it.
- Get on social media and viciously trash that person, or someone who reminds me of them.
These were my usual choices to deal with my anger, when I felt like someone was running over me or not listening to me. When I weakly set a boundary, and let them run all over it, it effected me deeply – no matter where I stuffed it.
This is an old cycle. I am learning how to tell someone what my needs are, to set healthy boundaries. In the past, I would accept someone stepping all over my boundaries – putting their needs or wants over mine. On the outside I was a people pleaser – so much of my self-worth was rooted in it. But it left me an emotional powder-keg; I was ready to explode at any time. I’m still practicing my boundary setting skills, but I’m getting better at the word “no” or calmly and respectfully putting my foot down. I believe that we all have a right to live our lives the way we want – as long as it isn’t breaking the law or disrupting someone elses peace and happiness.
I had the idea for this post, because recently I had to stand my ground. I was painting on a job site, and I told someone repeatedly that painting is a great joy of mine. I LOVE to put on some music, clear my head (maybe let it drift a bit), feel the thickness of the paint as I dip my brush, hear the noise as it rolls on the wall or the brush cuts across the surface, and guide the brush with eyes. Just find a place of zen and find a piece of joy and happiness.
There were several interruptions. Every time I got a flow going and hit that sweet spot, here it came. “Hey Brennan….” “Do you think we can…” “Can I grab you for second to help me…” All of it; things that could wait.
In the past, I would smile and say, “No problem! What’s up?” On the inside, I would be furious, angry, resentful, be texting friends complaining, making angry posts about something closely related, and screaming in my head, “what is wrong with you?? I TOLD YOU THAT I DON’T LIKE BEING INTERRUPTED WHEN PAINTING!”
I can’t do that any more. When I allow my emotions to boil up and the kettle to whistle with an explosion of steam – and try to swallow it – it burns me up from the inside out. All of that energy comes out somehow someway. I lash out at someone who doesn’t deserve it, drive like a jerk, or have a panick attack. My panick attacks are what first got me into therapy. Years and years of swallowing boiling hot emotions caused me to melt down, because my mind could only handle so much.
instead, I took a very deep breath. I smiles. I was calm. I was respectful.
“It really is important to me to not be interrupted when I’m painting. I don’t multitask well, I’ve accepted that, and every time you stop me, it takes me a long time to get back in my flow. I need to get this done so we can move forward on the project. I need for you to respect that, and while I’m painting, work on other things or go relax.”
That didn’t work. When you have a friend or family member that doesn’t have many boundaries, I have found, it can take a few times of standing my ground. I uses to fail, here. Give in. Submit. The unhealthy cycle, for me, continued.
I just can’t do that anymore. I must take care of myself, or I can’t be an effective person. I know this.
So after a few times on repeat, I said this,”If you can’t respect my needs, I will immediately put down my brush and I will do NO painting while you are on the site. Period. This project will drag out for weeks or months. This is your decision.”
Response: “I’m going to upstairs now. You won’t see me the rest of the night.”
I finished the job on schedule, proud and satisfied in every way; and they couldn’t be happier with the work that was done.