How to make room for a moment of joy in a conversation we want to avoid

 

Just thinking about this conversation was making me nervous. But it needed to happen. This person doesn't know me well, but I knew I needed to set a healthy boundary.

I hopped on the phone (to return their call), and listened. And the more closely I listened, the more it became clear that the boundary I needed to set wasn't just going to benefit me, it was going to benefit us both.

I decided to respond by meeting the need they were sharing with me instead of letting my fear of not pleasing them become an excuse for not setting a healthy boundary. When they then asked me directly to do something I knew would violate my boundary, I simply owned up and let them know (kindly but directly) that I wouldn't be able to do it.

And would you believe it. It made them laugh out loud. They couldn't believe that I was being so real. I kid you not. This person laughed, and laughed, and laughed. They were refreshed by my honesty. The complete opposite of what I’d been expecting.

I. Was. So. Surprised. Who knew that boundaries could be refreshing?

I share this with you because for the longest time I thought that setting boundaries would always and forever be the most horrible experience ever. And I'm realizing that that's just not true.

Yes, it can be challenging to set boundaries.

But the boundaries we set also create space for joy. For being refreshed. For discovering that we can stay in relationship because we're embracing mutual respect instead of enduring relationship because we're endlessly trying to please.

So, the next time you find yourself thinking "it's just easier to keep the peace" I hope you'll know that you're not alone in that struggle, and perhaps give yourself permission to set a boundary that makes room for a moment of joy.