Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thrive: Loyalties and Setting Boundaries

I was inspired to write this post because I had an aha moment of something that seems to be a reoccurring, cyclical problem for me:  I am loyal to a fault.

What do I mean by this? 

I mean, I am the person that seems to continually bump into situations whereas I will assume that my loyalty towards a person or situation is well-founded but then end up days, months, years later believing that same loyalty but get hurt in the end.

Let me give you some examples:
  • A friend tells me she has a goal that is really important to her.  I go all-in and not only tell her she can do it but I send articles, information or make a connection for her that I believe can help her achieve that goal.  Months may pass and at a hapapy hour over a glass of wine, we are chatting and she says, "Oh, you know I am going to be switching jobs because I need the paycheck."  I sit surprised because taking that job will be a direct contratian action to fulfilling her goal she said was important to her.  After questioning her a bit, I find out she had abandoned the pursuit of the goal months ago and never read the article or called the contact I setup for her to help her achieve her goal. What?!?!
  • I get a new client who aspires to reach a goal and secures my coaching services to make it happen.  The passionate pursuit of their goal starts out strong with assessments, great exercises to gain clarity and the development of a great plan to make it happen.  Within a few months of working on the execution of the plan...fizzle.  I get the obligatory call or email that goes something like, "I have loved our work together but ___ (fill in the normal excuse people make for not realizing their goals)"
  • A friend has a big issue with another student #10 in a leadership program.  I really like and have befriended student #10's best friend who is also in the program.  Out of loyalty to my friend, I stop being friendly to student #10 and her best friend.  Years past by and it turns out that I become closer to student #10's best friend and get to know student #10 better...student #10 is a great person!  I judged student #10 based on the opinion of my friend whom I had only known for a year and thought I was being loyal to by not extending friendliness to them.  And guess what, I am no longer friends with that friend! Shake my head...
I am being open and honest about this because I believe more people struggle with this than they will admit or are aware of.

I was talking with my sister the other day and she was telling me that she has a similar problem that she does with people and don't know why she feels such a sense of "I need to save the day and help that person."

Why do we feel such a need to "save people" from problems while also placing loyalty to their goal, issues or priority?

I know for me, it started from my days of being raised in church and being told repeatedly about sacrificing.  It was drilled into my head that the greatest, most self-less act someone can do is to sacrifice themselves for others.

While I still believe this is true, the hard part is figuring out boundaries and where to draw the line?

For example, is your loyalty misplaced by being friendly to someone who will never be that loyal back to you?  Are you being loyal to a situation that you need to let go and letting your pride rule your judgment?  Have you been afraid to let something go due to fear?

I am no psychologist or counselor but what I am is a coach...coaches focus on what efforts and actions will help people move forward in life and (a lot times) get unstuck.

So here are my life and coaching suggestions based on how I was able to move forward and end this cycle!
  1. Determine and commit to make yourself a priority: what I have found in my own situation and the situations where I have coached people is that for some reason, we have made our priorities come AFTER we exhaust ourselves trying to help others achieve their priorities.  Re-align that thinking.  For the first time in your life, before you say yes or take any action, ask yourself "Will this make me put myself and my priorities second?"  As they say, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help anyone else!
  2. Discipline yourself to help people only at the same pace they are willing to help themselves:  y'all this is HUGE!  I learned this from a non-profit board I was on about eight years ago.  The non-profit's mission was taking in at-risk young women and giving them a place to live and have stability that would create change for the rest of their lives.  Their un-spoken motto that took them almost 20 years to realize is that they only helped the young women in pace with how the young women were helping themselves.  Anytime this balance of help became un-balanced, it created a cycle of entitlement and co-dependency.
  3. Don't remove people from their process:  everyone has to go through tough processes.  Sometimes, if you are not careful, your help will pre-maturely remove people from a process that is necessary for them to grow and develop better habits, awareness and wisdom.  Don't rob them of needing that to happen...their future is contingent on that process, even when it's hard and difficult.
  4. Loyalty should be earned, not given away: again, as I mentioned above, I was always taught about sacrifice.  Somehow, this messaging turned into a lack of respect towards myself and the goals I had for my life.  I take full ownership of that happening and now know with should only extend loyalty and commitment to those things and people who have earned that loyalty.  At the end of the day, that's connected to you valuing yourself, your space, your boundaries and what's REALLY important. Everything else should be be assessed afterwards. Period.
One thing I can share with you is that I have gotten SO much better in pausing and asking myself how my reaction is/is not consistent with my priorities and whether it will help or hinder my life.  This is and will continue to be one of my greatest testimonies in my growth and evolution as a woman who lives authentically towards my purpose.

I hope you were blessed by this post and let me know if you see yourself in any of the situations I noted above...believing for you to be a rock star!

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