It’s frightening when someone crosses the yellow line and drifts into your lane; coming at you head-on. This can apply to driving a car or emotionally. Emotionally? Yes. There are people who don’t know how to stay in their own lane of life and they cross relational boundaries. In my company (private practice counseling), I typically write about the experiences of being in contact with clinically toxic people but for today’s discussion, this sort of behavior can definitely take place from folks who are not personality disordered but just good old fashioned, rude.
We all should be aware of our actions and perhaps we have been guilty of swerving into someone else’s life lane when they never really ever asked us to. Definitely use this post as self-reflective but I really intend it as a resource to help us deal with those folks who feel the need to come at us in a way that is annoying, if not emotionally dangerous.
I have found myself murmuring in my own head thoughts like “My goodness, stay in your lane!” or something similar. I assume that if I am frustrated by encounters with these lane changing people, that surely someone else out there has experienced similar life intrusions. I have lately noticed two types of relational bad drivers and wanted to share them with you in the hope that if you encounter these sort of individuals, that you might not feel guilty getting off the same road as them.
The first scary driver is what I will call the Overstepping Their Role individual. This person might be a family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance or really any level of regular contact with them. Your first awareness that they have crossed the line with you is when you find yourself really irritated and can’t quite put your finger on exactly why. Perhaps you found yourself irritated and immediately knew why. If you encountered an Overstepper, they will have come at you as an expert of your life in some aspect. They may have tried to position themselves in a role of dominance to you or wanted to speak into your life in a way that you never previously opened the door to them. Let me pause here and say that we all need authenticity in our relationships and that includes hearing things that might be hard to hear. However! Those little nuggets of life truths must come from the people that we (and let me repeat WE) have welcomed into our lives in the role of adviser, mentor, leader, confidant or whatever we choose to call them.
The Overstepper does not have the right to position herself or himself in a role that we have not granted them. I highly encourage you to take swift action the very first time that the Overstepper shows their true colors. Sure, you can choose to clear up the fallout of the very first unwanted lane change. This will have you continuing to drive on the same road with them until the next time the Overstepper decides to go for Round 2 of undermining you. For me, I like the saying that says when someone shows you their true colors, believe them. I am long suffering with people who may have had a bad day or are just not themselves for a season but the Overstepper typically has been watching and waiting for just the right opportunity to position themselves in some headship role over you. No. Thank. You. Stay in your lane Overstepper!
The second type of relational bad driver, who likes to target your lane, is the Direct Hit person. Some of the characteristics of this individual include:
- Being the ultimate example of a “Frenemy” or “Famemy” (you know the oxymoron of friend/family and enemy because they behave like both, depending on how it suits their moods).
- Uses triangulation to exclude you from activities with other family members or friends. They get satisfaction from stealing relationships away from you and probably never even noticed someone until you did. Then the gloves come off and they purposefully set out to rob you of your connection with that other person.
- Gloats and gets pleasure from your failings. This is enjoyed by the Direct Hit person because they cannot be truly happy for other people’s successes. They dart over into your life lane with the purpose of knocking out your good things in order to feel better about themselves. They are the equivalent of the school bully but in an adult body.
- They purposefully create situations to make you look bad and then laugh at you in front of others. They have no problem publicly mocking you so others will not like you as much. The Direct Hit person believes this makes them more popular.
- They swing between being nice and a good companion, to hitting you head-on in an attempt to inflict some dings and scratches on your car. Stay in your lane, Direct Hit person!
Some of the behaviors of the Direct Hit person definitely can sound like a personality disordered individual and they just well might be. For the purposes of today, let’s just go with the idea that the Direct Hit person is to be avoided; regardless of any other underlying bigger issues.
Have you been cruising down your own life road and had one or both of these types of people try to cause damage to you? You are not alone. The next time you see the oncoming hit approaching, I highly suggest you flip on your blinker and make a right turn completely onto a new street. As you get away from them, roll down your windows, turn up the radio and sing along to a good song. Life is way to fun to waste time on the Overstepper or the Direct Hit person. Far too many other drivers know exactly how to stay in their lanes. Why continue on an unsafe road with people who don’t have the good sense to know their place in your life? Not a very wise idea for sure.
Happy driving and Keep Dreaming Big!
The idea that as entrepreneurs we need and want people in our lives who are reliable probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. When we have multiple plates spinning all simultaneously, a business owner must learn to rely on others to help carry the load. If the entrepreneur doesn’t, guess what comes next? Plates start falling and crashing to the floor. Some of those plates represent years of hard work and dedication. Some of those plates symbolize significant portions of our earthly financial net worth. Plates falling means bad things for the business owner and anyone else she or he has along on the wild ride of owning the place. Signing the checks comes with a huge responsibility.
What is one way that a business owner can keep important projects from crumbing into a pile of obvious failure? Be surrounded by Viking ships and not dingy boats. You see, Viking ships are those people in an entrepreneur’s life who are dependable, do what they say they are going to do and basically don’t sink with the weight of normal demands. Viking ships can be employees, contract staff, outside vendors or even people in our personal lives who provide us with the support needed to help us succeed.
As independent as most entrepreneurs can be in their personality, it is super healthy to recognize that we can’t be everything our business requires for it to thrive. Sure, in the wee beginning we were CEO, CFO, human resources and the janitor but as our business grows, that ability to be all things has to shift. Otherwise, we end up being really awful at all the job functions we take on. When the time comes to need assistance in the form of other people, we don’t want to be anchoring ourselves to dingy boats.
You know these types, right? The folks that continuously grumble about their job description or tasks that have been assigned to them. They are, perhaps, vendors who say they will deliver a good quality product at a specified date and it never seems to happen as promised. A dingy boat could also be someone in our personal life who is inconsistent in their care and appreciate of us. They might be that fair-weathered person who shows up when you’re the life of the party but disappears into the water when you try to share the messier side of entrepreneur life.
I sincerely hope that you are currently surrounded by Viking ships who are out there on your behalf holding weight that you don’t need to carry. If on the other hand, you look around and a few dingy boats have or are about to go under the water, it might be time to re-evaluate who you do business and personal life with in this season of the entrepreneur adventure.
Keep Dreaming Big!
(“Adulting” – The Action of Being an Adult)
Sometimes I don’t feel like being an adult. Sometimes I just feel like ignoring the responsibilities that adults have to deal with every day. Sometimes I don’t want to have to follow social norms and filter my words so that they fit into society’s expectation of how an adult is supposed to communicate. Sometimes I want to have a full on public hissy fit and have it be okay.
The other day I was able to witness my child alter-ego in full form. I was in a crowded store shopping for something I must have needed, not just wanted, because to know me is to know I don’t enjoy shopping. Playing into gender stereotypes here for a minute, I think I shop like a dude. I enter stores determined to get exactly what I need, to do so in the quickest amount of time and with determination to not waste energy taking the long path to my desired purchases. I plan in my head how to get in and get out!
While on my path to obtain the items I needed to buy, I turned a corner and there she was. An adorable toddler lying on the floor full on screaming. She wasn’t waving her arms or kicking her feet. She just was on her back, arms and legs stretched out and she was communicating her feelings in a real clear manner. Her mom was un-phased by her daughter’s moment on the floor. Mom was close by and kept on shopping. As I passed by, mom looked up and gave me a nice friendly smile. She was clearly not rocked by her child’s behaviors. She was just letting her have her moment. I wish adults could allow each other to have our moments. Instead we have to shove our moments down, hidden away inside ourselves so as to not disrupt the fake façade of adult life.
By the time I reached the end of the aisle, the little girl was on her feet, wiping her tears from her face and moving on to the rest of her day. It dawned on me that after the shopping trip, the little chick was probably going to go home and get to take a long nap! She was living the good life and she didn’t even know it. I knew it though and was longing to be her for a day.
As adults we can’t let our true emotions hang out for all to see and seldom do we get to take long naps in the middle of each day. Instead we shove ourselves into socially constructed boxes and go do adult life as we are taught. Obviously, being an adult isn’t all bad and comes with many perks. There are just some things I wish were different. I would like to recommend that we all try and find moments in our daily lives where we can step out of our adult constraints and be silly or express our true emotions or take a good long nap. Let’s not get so far away from our light-hearted kid selves that we completely forget what it feels like.
What are some ways you can you set aside adultness for a little while each day?
Keep Dreaming Big!
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Christmas is literally right around the corner and are you ready? Not just ready with the activities planned and ready with shopping done, but are you ready? Ready for whatever may come up, both positive and potentially negative. I don’t know about you, but into each of my own holidays, a little bit of good and a little bit of hassle always seems to go hand in hand. Some years it’s a lot of good and some years it has been a lot of hassle. Such is life, right? Our hope is that we can plan ahead to help create realistic expectations and remove (when we can) the problems that could pop up.
We all want to have great memories of Christmas 2015 and feel included in the club of functional families and individuals who had a wonderful holiday. We want the picture-perfect Christmas morning and day full of laughter and warmth. We don’t want kids to wake up that morning vomiting with the flu or a grumpy family member who decides that December 25th is the perfect day for them to be a scrooge all day long. Yet, both realities happen sometimes. So, what is the best way to squeeze out as much enjoyment of the day? I think it includes planning the things we feel we can control.
For example, I love baking on Christmas day. I love the warmth of the oven on and the good smells filling the house. I pre-plan what I want to bake and have all the necessary ingredients ready ahead of time. I love to watch movies with my family on Christmas day so the day before we will go and pick out some favorites and have them ready for the afternoon lull that hits after the presents are opened and before dinner. I really don’t enjoy cooking dinners because inevitably not all the food is hot at the same time and it drives me nuts! After the frustration of last year, when half the meal was hot and the other half was stone cold, I have decided to set a crock-pot for Christmas dinner. It can sit and slowly warm while I am busy baking and all come out hot at the same time!
I encourage you to think back to last year or years ago and what were sticking points that made the day either really enjoyable and that you can duplicate or on the opposite, what are some things that need to be changed up this year to make the day go smoother.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and send you wishes for a day that is enjoyable and leaves you satisfied when you lay your head on your pillow on the evening of December 25th.
Keep Dreaming Big!
Our culture has taught us that only rude people set boundaries or perhaps they are only for people who have spent a lot of time in counseling. We have this belief that in order to be a person who implements boundaries, we must do so in some melodramatic or forceful way. We think that people who set boundaries are those that step up on a soapbox, pull out their mega-phone and announce “Hello everyone, please pay attention because I am now about to set a boundary! Thank you for observing this act of defiance.”
On the contrary, setting limits with other people’s behaviors is best done with it’s not shouted through a loud speaker but rather quietly and yet firmly implemented.
Boundaries can be unspoken and steadfast
We don’t have to be aggressive or dominating when we decide to limit the impact that someone’s toxic, or just unwanted behaviors, are having on us. Sometimes we need to simply limit our own role in the chaos and as they say: back away, back away. I am sure we all have had “that” friend who likes to stir up conflict with the people around them. Rather than openly confront the dysfunction, perhaps we quietly put some distance between ourselves and the trouble-starter. Sometimes speaking up is needed but other times it only makes the situation much worse.
I wish I had the boundary skill perfected many years ago. It took me a while to learn the art of the quiet boundary and I was a little more like a soapbox mega-phone shouter. If I had known what I know now, I would definitely have done some relationships differently. One in particular comes to mind and rather than making changes behind the scenes, I chose to openly confront someone who I already knew ahead of time didn’t have the communication skills to handle outward conflict. I was honest with the person about my experiences and the friendship promptly went downhill from there. Now, in my wiser older age, I would not speak up to this person but instead adjust my actions so that my boundaries would still be implemented. Instead of me quietly making changes, the friendship fizzled and was never restored. I had good intentions by trying to clear the air, but because of mistakes in my approach and the other person’s lack of communication skills, it all fell apart. See how unspoken boundaries are sometimes the best approach? We can still achieve what we are looking for and maybe limit some relationship drama in our lives.
A boundary isn’t withholding forgiveness
Setting boundaries can be difficult if we internally worry that we are remaining resentful by setting a boundary. We may even have been told that true forgiveness means having a full restoration in the relationship. Boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness or resentment but everything to do with the quality of our interactions with other people. We can forgive someone and still not want to be around them or be exposed to their dysfunction. Forgiveness isn’t about returning to the scene of the crime again and again so we can be re-harmed. Forgiveness is something that takes place within ourselves and leads us to a place of peace with our past or present hurts. Boundaries help put an end to or limit the exposure we have to behaviors that don’t work for us.
We have a right to decide who and what we allow into our daily lives. We are the stewards of our time and energy. Some people just don’t need to have access to us or they need guardrails on their interactions. Boundaries help set the tone for what we find acceptable and what we are not willing to tolerate. We have the right to make that choice.
What boundary or boundaries would be good and healthy for you to start implementing? My suggestion is to write it down and remind yourself of your desire to make your life as healthy as possible. Some people may not like your boundaries and guess what? Those are probably the exact same people who need the boundary the most. Ironic, right?
I wish you all the best in making your life as healthy and peaceful as you desire.
Keep Dreaming Big!