One of our dear readers, Sheryl, has written to me wondering why she was unable to set boundaries with her previous boyfriend - it's a very common situation and one that so many of us find ourselves in.
Here's her email:
After literally making a list of my assets (what I have to offer) what I want in a relationship and then what "he" turned into after the first 6 month, I tolerated the most immature, crude, cruel behavior I have ever seen.
I'm struggling as to WHY? Why would I have put up with something that was truly so unacceptable to me... even at the time.
That's great you made this list, Sheryl. It really puts it in perspective when you can see just how much you have to offer and what you were putting up with.
We all have our reasons that we go into that place, where we forget who we are and what we deserve. Be so proud of yourself for seeing this and realizing that setting your own boundaries around someone else's behaviors are the key to getting what you want – and avoiding what you don't – in any relationship.
Whenever we find ourselves putting up with certain behaviors that we wouldn't normally allow, there's an exchange going on that we may not even realize. As in, what you were getting in return from him offered you something that was worth more to you than calling him on it and refusing to put up with it, or simply walking away.
Since you obviously understand the way boundaries work and you're in touch with your own, there was clearly something there that seemed worth it to you at the time, even if you weren't consciously aware of what it was.
Look closer at what he had that drew you to him.
Why were you with him in the first place? Why did you remain with him while he was exhibiting these behaviors?
Don't look for these answers as further reasons to beat yourself up; look at them as clues to understanding some triggers deep within you that you may not even realize you have.
Sometimes it takes a certain type of person under certain kinds of circumstances for us to see something – and learn something – that we wouldn't otherwise have learned.
That's the real gift in these experiences. There's always a reason if we're willing to see it – and learn from it.
But don't let this derail you, Sheryl.
Too often we look at these at yet another opportunity to shrink back and stay stuck in the "why" instead of asking the questions, finding our answers and becoming aware, and then moving on to making whatever changes we need to make in our lives out of our new awareness.
Don't stay in the why. Come out into the beautiful light of you.
Do you have any other words of encouragement or advice for our dear friend Sheryl? Share them with us in the comments!