Divorce is one of life’s milestone events that causes many of us to examine our boundaries. You may even be learning about healthy boundaries for the first time.
The changing nature of your relationship with your ex likely means it’s time to reassess your boundaries with them.
Dealing with family members and friends during divorce may also mean setting new expectations about what you will and won’t share. And now that you’re the solo adult in charge of your children while they’re in your home, you’ll want to establish your own parenting rules.
So what exactly what are boundaries, where do they come from, how do they protect us, how do we change them and can they ever harm us?
Joining me for this important Conversation is divorce expert and frequent guest contributor, Martha Bodyfelt. Martha is the founder of SurvivingYourSplit.com where you can download your free Ultimate Divorce Recovery Guide.
Listen in to the Conversation below and then keep reading for a guest post from Martha.
Tired Of Being Treated Like A Doormat?
Guest post by Martha Bodyfelt
It happens all the damn time and you’re probably not even aware of it.
Your boss just *assumes* you’re going to work late…even though you already made plans.
Your ex texts you, saying how sad he is, although you asked him to quit contacting you.
Your college-age daughter hangs up on you when she gets a call from a friend.
At this point in your life, after your divorce and as you work to move on, you may have just shrugged it off, accepting the fact that people are going to walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But I’m here to say you deserve better than that BS.
And that the time for being a doormat ends now
So, if you’re tired of being treated like a doormat. I’m going to show you how to easily stand up for yourself and show people how to treat you with the respect you deserve.
But first, we gotta talk about some ugly truths. They’re hard to read, but you need to know them.
Ugly Truth #1. Many of us were conditioned to be “nice” and to not make a scene
Every time in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that you were taught to play nice, to be “well-behaved, and to not make a big deal out of something, society was conditioning you to be okay with not having your voice heard. You were being conditioned, little by little, to accept the fact that people could walk all over you and take advantage of you. And you were being conditioned to think it was socially unacceptable or “bad” to voice your opinion that something was wrong, or if you didn’t like something.
And that being “nice” and being “the good girl” meant that you had your voice taken from you.
It’s infuriating, isn’t it?
Ugly Truth #2. Many of us were not raised to establish strong boundaries
A result of being raised to be “nice” and not make a scene meant that plenty of people—whether it was your ex, your family, your kids, your friends, your coworkers–probably asked too much of you, intruded in personal business, or took advantage of you. And since you were never given the tools to say, “No,” or “I’m not comfortable with that decision,” you maybe not have learned how to establish strong boundaries for yourself. It was like the concept never even existed.
Healthy boundaries is a critical skill to establishing your confidence…but many of us were never taught that we had a right to boundaries and to say “no.”
How insane is that?!
Ugly Truth #3. We were taught by society that our needs didn’t matter
I think a lot of us have felt this insidious pressure to be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. Even as early as elementary school, I remember teachers saying, “Well, you’re certainly a headstrong little girl, aren’t you? None of the boys will like you if you’re so stubborn and loud.”
This probably happened to you as well—whenever you voiced that something wasn’t fair, or if you got angry that you didn’t get what you wanted. But that constant failure to acknowledge the things you wanted, even when you were little, conditioned you to think that what you wanted—even what you needed–was never a priority. Which is why so many of us have a hard time advocated for ourselves. And then we blame ourselves for not knowing how to do it.
And it usually takes some life-shattering event like a divorce to wake us up.
But think of that divorce as a blessing in disguise, because now you’re presented with an opportunity to find your voice, and reverse course on the disrespect.
I want you to take everything you’ve been taught about “not making a scene” and “being nice so that people don’t think you’re a bitch…” and throw in in the trash. Because your newest challenge is here.
Take the Not a Doormat Challenge…Details Below!
The next time you sense like someone is about to walk all over you, do the following:
- Ask yourself: Is doing this thing something I’m comfortable with? Is it something that inconveniences me?
- Ask yourself: What’s in it for me?
- If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it.
- Remind yourself that your needs matter, too.
- Communicate your boundaries.
- Communicate your expectations moving forward.
If you’re feeling nervous about sticking up for yourself, take a look at my example below!
Situation: I’m supposed to have lunch with my friend, who lives an hour away. We agreed on meeting at a restaurant that is both 30 minutes away from us. At the last minute, my friends asks that we meet closer to her, which means I’d have to drive 60 minutes instead of 30–I hate driving that
Ask Yourself: Is this something I’m comfortable with? Answer: No! I hate driving out of my way, especially when we already agreed on where to meet.
Ask Yourself: What’s in it for me? Answer: Only frustration and inconvenience. My friend does this BS all the time, expecting me to drop everything and work around her schedule.
If there’s nothing in it for you, don’t do it. I’m not going to drive that far to meet her. Nope.
Remind yourself that your needs matter, too. My need to meet in a convenient place–especially one we both agreed on weeks ago—is important. My need to not have extra hassles in my life is important, too.
Communicate your boundaries. “Hey, friend. We already agreed upon this one location that is convenient for the both of us, not just you. It is too hard and frustrating to drive all the way out to someplace just because it’s closer to you.”
Communicate your expectations. “I hope you can still do lunch at this place that is convenient for both of us. If not, let’s meet up in the future at a place that’s at a half-way point.
As a heads-up, the people who treat you like a doormat may push back a little when you stand up for yourself. They may call you selfish, or whine and “what’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?” When this reaction happens, remember, this negativity has nothing to do with you. This reaction is the manifestation of the fact that they cannot handle your new strength.
But here’s the kicker—people who are worthy of your time and attention will adjust to you finding your voice. And if they cannot or will not, you don’t need them in your life. It’s as simple as that.
From now on, I want you to remember the following.
You deserve better. You deserve to have your voice heard. You deserve to have your needs communicated. Your voice matters. You matter. And don’t let anybody try to convince you otherwise.
Martha Bodyfelt is a certified Divorce Coach whose website, Surviving Your Split, helps readers break out of their divorce rut, regain their confidence, and move on with their lives. For your free gift, “The Ultimate Divorce Recovery Guide,” stop by survivingyoursplit.com