IDENTIFYING BOUNDARIES BY IDENTIFYING WHAT YOU TRUST IN ACTION
When we ask if someone is trustworthy, or whether we can trust someone or not, we set ourselves up for endless disappointment. No one is 100% reliable. No one is 100% trustworthy. When we believe in this myth we create a penal system in our relationships that judges people as either good or bad, in or out. The next time your trust for someone is in jeopardy, instead of asking if you trust them or not, as instead this question:
What can I trust about this person or situation right now?
When we ask what we trust instead of if we trust, we now shift our attention to the pathways of trust in the relationship, which creates a deeper level of trust through empathy and compassion, right alongside our needed boundaries.
For example, we all have people in our lives who have patterns of either cancelling or being late to appointments. Instead of expecting them to change their ways, what if instead you simply followed their actions as their integrity? Instead of demanding, “Why can’t Bill be more reliable? Why can’t he change? He’d better make it the next time or I’m no longer hanging out with him,” notice what you trust:
“I trust Bill will usually cancel the first appointment and then show up and be on time for the reschedule.”
If you trust in Bill’s pattern you now have options around it. Would it help to check in with him about what has him in this pattern and troubleshoot workarounds together? If he changes nothing, what can you change? Would it help to ask him two days prior (when you’re still able to move your schedule around) if he is still up for it, to give him a chance to change your plan and stay in integrity? Or if you really have boundaries around this happening, take action for yourself. Perhaps you won’t schedule with Bill when you have to hire a babysitter to do so.
This also goes for institutions we interact with every day. Instead of complaining about how poor your service was, look at the institution you’re getting your service from and track how you trust them to be with customers and choose accordingly to empower your experience, whether it means not going to that establishment or lowering your expectations.
As Dan Savage famously says, there’s a “price of admission” for anything we get ourselves into, whether in a relationship or going out to eat at a restaurant. We have the ability to track what we trust, and enter into things as we collect data. If you can see how bad someone is with money, then you can trust that they’re bad with money, and you won’t want to financially enmesh with them if you care about financial stability. You don’t have to take someone as an ALL OR NOTHING deal. You can choose the elements that will work for you, and boundary around what doesn’t without making the other person change anything.
I once had a partner who lied a lot. And I mean, A LOT. As a real and revealed person with high integrity to my word, I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t change. Didn’t he love me? When I realized that lying for him was out of feelings of shame and a lack of self worth, I understood better that he was just going to do this, that this was his pattern and way of dealing with insecurity and the need to have control over his life. Once I recognized that I trusted this about him, I no longer expected him to be honest and revealed with me. I also had to end the relationship because it was simply not aligned with my core values. But in doing so, I was no longer judging or shaming another person for being who they are.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT YOU TRUST IN OTHERS, BUT WHAT YOU TRUST ABOUT YOU
I had a client who felt unworthy and kept going to parties where men would take advantage of her, and she’d feel herself getting sucked into connecting with them to gain worth, only to get hurt in the process. She realized that she was actually consenting at some level to this exchange. Men would give her attention, and in exchange she made herself on call for being treated quite badly in the process and feeling even more shame and unworthiness later. To end the cycle she first needed to remove herself from situations where she trusts this cycle will likely occur. Then we needed to work on her worthiness wound and slow down her dating process enough to rewire that wound. She began to build parameters and boundaries in dating that allowed her to better see the cycle in motion and interrupt it. She needed to show her worth to herself by showing her boundaries to the men she dated. And once she stopped dishing out for her worth, we worked on getting her in touch with what she actually desired.
So, give it a try. The next time your trust feels in jeopardy, shift the approach and ask yourself, What DO I trust right now? And then choose whether you’re in or out, and if you’re in, what version of in is going to honor you and what you trust you want and need? Set your boundaries accordingly. And perhaps enjoy taking pleasure in life that much more.
And if you’re a woman and you struggle to identify and maintain your boundaries join me for Boundaries & Consent Online Course for Women, coming up March 24th. Go to https://www.susancoatescoaching.com/events/boundaries-consent-online-course-for-women to register.