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Is It Safe to Play it Safe?

I recently set a boundary. It was with a colleague whom I liked and respected. Setting that boundary was really tough!

Here I am, a ‘mature’ business woman with lots of life experience, who runs her own practice, and is a leader in her community… and it was still very challenging to set that boundary! How many of you experience similar difficulties when having to confront someone for whatever reason?

Well… I ended up setting the boundary, but then spent a sleepless night stewing over it. What came up in the stew was that I felt guilty because I ‘dared’ to set a boundary!

As I ‘unpacked’ my feelings attempting to get at the source of why this had me in such turmoil, I realized that, somehow, I felt wrong for setting the boundary. As if it wasn’t OK to protect my space.

I finally comprehended that I had been living by an old story about how I should show up in the world. It went something like this: “Be nice, accommodating and understanding of everyone else. It’s your job. It’s OK if others take advantage of you because of your niceness. They will like you for being so nice and accommodating. You must be liked. The world won’t be safe if you aren’t liked.”

Wow! Where did this come from? I had been giving everyone license to walk all over me. Where was my backbone? What happened to my power?

As I dug deeper I realized that as a preacher’s kid with a stern father, I had quickly learned that as a child being super “nice” was expected.  It became the ‘role’ I took on and played all my life. When I set that boundary, I confronted the role of “be nice and accommodating.”  I said, “NO! I deserve to be respected.”

Even though I did the right thing, I still went through quite a bit of inner disturbance. This showed me how challenging it can be to change an old story about how one should show up in the world. Even if I was ready to change that old story, it still created a lot of inner conflict!

We all have our stories that define the roles by which we live. Some build us up by flooding us with confidence and inner strength. Others are self-denigrating and self-sabotaging. They keep us stuck in being small, limited, and filled with self-doubt.

Changing these old stories can be challenging, especially when it generates fear or panic like it did for me. Some of these stories sound like, “I’m not good enough so I’d better not take on anything too big.”  Or, “It’s not safe to be seen so I better play it low key.”  Or, “I have to work really hard to make it. There’s no time for play or having fun.”  Or, “Why bother to try. Somebody else will do it better.”

These old stories go on and on, simmering just under the radar in our subconscious and keeping us from living to our potential. When we try to stretch ourselves, our fear of actually doing something outside the norm yanks us back into staying ‘safe’… but small.

It’s time for you to start living as your big self. When you feel that sense of fear or panic, gather up your courage, then ‘Do It Anyway.’

The rewards of standing in your truth and changing those old stories are much greater than staying stuck in a role that has grown much too small for the potential of who you can be!

So, what happened with that colleague with whom I set the boundary? She realized that she had overstepped her bounds and was apologetic. She made appropriate amends. The result is that our friendship and collegial relationship is stronger than ever, and I feel more empowered because I took a stand and claimed my right to be respected.

If you are plagued with negative thoughts and old stories of how you should show up in your life, then give me a call for a 30-minute complimentary consultation and find out how you can live the life you were joyfully meant to live. Call me TODAY! 415-819-8769 or email me.
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