SETTING BOUNDARIES FOR OUR HAPPINESS
As we talk about anger, it is crucial to determine what is eternal or real and what remains impermanent. If we want to remain hopeful, we must be willing to analyze how our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes continue to contribute to our suffering. As we have learned, the past has happened. Whether we felt it was fair, unlawful, judgmental, or imperfect, what occurred has little impact on who we are now – unless we let it.
Recently someone asked me how I was able to let go of the past and forgive my parents. My answer remains straightforward- I can be anyone I want to be. I am the one who determines how I choose to see myself. If I do not like what I see, I can change it. Extraordinarily little of who I am right now has to do with the past, of course, unless I permit it. Everything begins with me and what I am thinking right now.
It is impossible to talk about forgiveness work without discussing boundary setting. When we are angry, we must ask ourselves the following about our boundaries:
- Am I trying to write a script and recruit people to play a role in my script?
- Am I caught up in the past with “the should of” and “could of” dialog?
- How much of my happiness is related to my behavior?
- How much of my happiness is attributable to someone else’s behavior?
- Can I control how others behave and think?
- Why do I believe others must think and behave like me?
- Can I be happy right now if I was willing to change my thoughts?
- How are my behavior, thoughts, and actions contributing to more of the same unhappiness for me?
- Who is responsible for my happiness? If we answered, “I am,” then why do we spend most of the time complaining about others?
If we are honest, we may find that most of our unhappiness revolves around not controlling other people, their behaviors, and the outcome of a relationship. We can live our best life ever. However, we desert the creation of our own lives to get involved with how others have chosen to live. Remarkably similar to running a marathon, we have stopped running our race and have become distracted by the other runners. Pretty soon, we become unconscious to the fact that we are no longer participating in the race. We have become a bystander in the crowd. Whether we are rich, poor, healthy, unhealthy, single, or alone, each one of us can choose to have the highest degree of happiness regardless of the situation. But for some reason, we decide not to. We forfeit our joy based on the behaviors of other people or circumstances that we cannot control.
Boundaries are about establishing self- empowerment or becoming our loving custodian. We don’t have to wait until someone buys us flowers; we can buy flowers for ourselves. We do not have to rely on other people’s opinions to define us; we can believe in and support ourselves. We don’t have to worry about lovingly speaking the truth because we know that we have the highest peaceful intentions. We don’t have wait until someone else says they are sorry; we can just let go today because we love ourselves.
If we cannot do those things for ourselves, then we really cannot get angry at anyone else. We must take full responsibility for the quality of our experiences. Anger remains a way to slip away from that commitment. When we cannot say “no,” we set ourselves up for disappointment. When we keep secrets and hide, we will find ourselves stuck in the darkness. When we don’t tell the truth about how we feel, we deprive others of crucial information. When we engage in relationships hoping others will be something else, we have begun a collision course with broken heartedness.
We don’t need to suffer, earn praise, swallow our feelings, or endure lousy behavior. We can set strong cues that let us, and others know where our “stop” sign is. If we do not incorporate traffic signals into the traffic of our daily lives, then we will get run over, and others will get hurt. People may be upset by our choice to say “enough.” Others may feel we are cruel or unloving. But that really is more about them and their unresolved past than us. As long as we operate with the highest regard for ourselves and others, we know that we are following the best course of action. Establishing healthy boundaries gives information to those around us so that we may respect each other. Love and respect go hand in hand. We cannot have love without respect. We respect others because we love them and ourselves.
The key to living our best lives comes down to three essential guidelines.
- We dedicate ourselves to happiness.
- We let others live the life they have chosen to live, and we must concentrate on our lives.
- We realize that other’s behavior or opinions have little to do with us. To do this, we must be clear on who we are- not what other people say or want us to be.
If we follow these guidelines, we will find ourselves taking more responsibility for the quality our lives. We will find the need to forgive fades as we put less emphasis on the things that reside outside our minds. As we get to know ourselves and honor our capabilities, we find ourselves needing less from the world. We become less anxious and more confident in delivering our own happiness.