The Wheel of Misfortune: No Boundaries
No boundaries, so we just talked about over-giving is to get a feeling. No boundaries is to avoid a feeling. I cannot say no, because if I say no, you're going to react poorly. You're gonna be upset, you're gonna be sad, you're gonna be angry, and I don't wanna feel that. So oftentimes, if we have a problem with no boundaries, we have a high level of empathy. Because I don't wanna say no because I literally will feel your reaction. Now, here's the thing about boundaries. Boundaries is like, you have this yard around you, and around that yard is a fence. And in that fence there is a gate. And when we have a problem with boundaries, we leave that gate open all the time. Come into my yard, pick my flowers, dig up my vegetables, eat my fruit, come in, do whatever you want. I'm gonna leave the gate open for you. Now, what we wish would happen, is we wish that because we left the gate open, the person will come into our gate and be like, "Wow, what beautiful flowers you have. What amazing fr...
uit you have. You actually, I just remembered, are so important to me, and I respect you so much that I'm actually gonna go out and shut the gate for you." That's what we hope will happen. I'm hoping that the other person will prove to me that I'm worthy of them going out and shutting the gate. I'm hoping that they will respect me enough to shut the gate for me. But that doesn't happen, what happens, is they come marching through our gate, and they think, "I'll just pick these flowers here, and just get a little bit closer and I'll eat these vegetables, and I'll just dig up your dirt here a little bit." And then they think, "Okay, well, that's good enough, so I'm gonna set the boundary now right here." To which we're like, (gasp) "What? You were supposed to shut it back there. I cannot believe you took advantage of me leaving my gate open. You were supposed to shut it, 'cause I couldn't shut it. I couldn't bear to tell you no, so I was hoping that you would shut it. And then you came in, and you did something that got me frustrated, because you came way closer than you were supposed to, because I was very generous in leaving my gate open." Now, the thing about leaving the gate open, is frustration with someone is the sign that you didn't set the boundary soon enough. So I have a two-year-old, and she does things that two-year-olds do. So when I leave the gate open, and she comes toddling through, and she starts to pick my flowers, and I'm like, "Oh honey, don't do that." Which is not a boundary, it's a hope. I'm hoping that you won't do that. I'm hoping that you will respect me enough as your mother to just stop. But she's two, so she doesn't. (crowd laughing) And she comes over, and starts messing in my dirt. "Okay, okay, that's enough." Not a boundary, a hope. And then she gets a little bit closer, and gets dirt on my leg, and I'm like, "What are you doing? I'm frustrated with you now. You should have respected me back there. You should have shut the gate for me. Because if I would have shut the gate and told you no, you would have broken down into tears and I can't handle that. I don't wanna feel your reaction, so I can't shut the gate." Now, this trips us up with our money. Because we cannot say no to people when it comes to money. So you work at a job, and people come to your desk, and they want more money for another fundraiser for their fifth kid. And you can't say no because you don't wanna feel guilty, and they're gonna judge you for being stingy, so you give them more money. Your roommate comes to you and says, "I'm short on rent again this month. Can you spot me money?" I can't say no, because they're in a bind, and they're gonna feel bad, and I don't wanna feel that reaction, so I give you money. An adult child comes to us and says, "I just need a little bit more money this month." I cannot let my child feel upset, so I give them money. I want to avoid the feeling, and so I can't say no. The ways we do this, the answer's always yes, even when you want so bad to say no, you say yes. You don't wanna feel like you're letting people down, and so you pretend that your yard doesn't matter. People take me for granted. People take advantage of the fact that I left my gate open. People are taking me, people are taking advantage of me, but I left the gate open. I didn't say no, I'm frustrated with you because you keep doing this to me, but I didn't say no.