I hope I snagged you with that clickbait title because we do have a very important topic to talk about, and it is related to a border.
If you ask my wife what her biggest issue is with me, it would be I let people walk over me. I don’t stand up for myself, and when things are wrong I don’t get them corrected. Most of what she says I agree with. I don’t like going back into fast food restaurants to get my order fixed, I don’t like complaining to others, and when I get bad services I rather just not go back instead of fixing the issue. My wife is very different. She will march into a store demanding what she paid for even if its just a few dollars of a mistake. She wants things corrected and done right.
For a long time, I would just tell her, Hey you just got to relax. Mistakes happen. She would tell me, Yeah, that’s fine but I paid for it. That was something I never thought about before. This was my money, and my service. Most jobs I worked were in the services industry or working with difficult people in tough situations. I have adopted this passive approach to a lot of my interactions with people because it’s a hard mentality to break. I have always been on the other side correcting mistakes, and I feel like I personally hurt others when I ask for something to be corrected. Mostly because I feel its personal when someone is in my face yelling at me how they bought this yogurt and needed a refund because it’s the wrong Toffeetastic flavor they wanted WayTooManyBerries. Its apparently my fault because I stock the yogurt and mixed up all the flavors making it too difficult for them to find the right one.
For anyone who works in retail, or for anyone who works with people in a services environment can relate to getting yelled at for completely unreasonable things. Having to back down or risk getting in trouble because management cares more about their customers then employees. Why wouldn’t they? Employees cost money, while customers are the people buying the product. After years in this environment I have gotten use to: It’s my fault, I am wrong, and if its not a big deal, let it go.
After working in a more therapeutic, case management environment I am still dealing with difficult people, but there must be a wall between us. This wall also makes it so that I am able to say no to people to better help them. Having this passivity harms the overall impact I can have in a clients life.
I discovered this with my first client who had a bill of over 4000 dollars. Part of my job was to find clients who slipped through our sliding scale and help them get a reduced fee. Normal therapy session for an LCSW is about 140 dollars without insurance. With the sliding scale the service could be reduce to 12 dollars (Depending on size of family and income).
I was very ambitious at this time seeking to change people’s lives and help in any way that I could. That led me to being used, and not helping a family in treatment. By always driving to their house I made it so they no longer had to get ready for the day. By going inside, I normalized myself to the point they no longer cleaned, or washed. By transporting them to all the places we needed to go they became reliant on me. It didn’t matter how much hand holding I did they kept regressing.
I brought this case to my supervisor who pointed out all my flaws mentioned above. I wasn’t helping the family with becoming independent I was making them reliant on me. If I was doing my job correctly they would no longer need to be my customer and learn to advocate for themselves. Its about meeting people where they are and moving forward from there. A part of that is I have to say no. No, I cannot take you to this appointment, I can meet you there. No, I cannot come to your home for this appointment you need to come here. No, I cannot do that for you, but I will gladly assist you. I will assist and help in the least invasive way possible till you are able to stand up and do it yourself.
It was like everything sort of clicked into place when she said that. You mean I can say no, and help people? You mean I don’t have to let others walk all over me? I can keep a boundary, and still help them? This was incredible news for me even if it was taught to me multiple times in school. Getting the experience of working with others made everything click into place.
I started recently applying these skills in my daily life. I started saying no to people. Instead of coming up with an excuse as to why it’s impossible to hang out with someone and not seem like a jerk, I just say no. I have boundary with them, they make me feel bad, and I’m not spending time with them. I’m an adult, and I can make these decisions myself.
We must create these boundaries with others. Its not that we don’t like them or want them to feel bad. We must care about ourselves. This doesn’t mean when the pimple-faced teenager rings up our WayTooManyBerries at the wrong price we get in his face and yell. It means we politely ask for them to double check it. Make sure we didn’t make a mistake, and we say no if we know they are wrong. It’s not about being a jerk, it’s about caring for yourself.
I picture the body as a nation. I am the nation of Felix. I have a flag, my county has a religion, we have an okish economy, we got a really hot ally (my wife), and the national sport is eating Doritos while playing D&D (Damn good nation). When I let people walk over me I let them take a part of me. They start eating away at my main resources: happiness, dignity, self-worth. I lose them to these invaders, and my people are still a welcoming people. We like to believe that others won’t hurt us, but we must have boundaries to protect our resources. To protect Felix from being broken down to the point of hate, pity, and humiliation. A place where we have all been before.
I know in the news there is a lot of issues going on related to the border. Don’t let this analogy get in the way of the message I’m trying to tell you. You need to be a patriot of your nation. You need to be a patriot in that you care for yourself enough to say no and stick to that no. Create boundaries with people, and don’t feel bad about them. You are a human, your only here for a short time. Is it so wrong to want those years to be comfortable? Is it wrong to want the same dignity and respect other people have?
I never felt like I deserved what other people had, I thought it was fine for people to walk over me. I am saying no. If I payed for it, it will get fixed. If I don’t want to spent time with you, I won’t. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It just means I am human, and I want to be happy while I’m here.