A Boundary Story: She Stuffed The Anger and Her Own Feelings
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I want to share a boundary story that a friend told me recently. Like the rest of us, my friend has been on quarantine lockdown for weeks, running a household, raising two little kids, wrestling with the homeschool phenomenon, and working from home.
The other morning, she was putting the finishing touches on breakfast for her daughters and she called upstairs to tell them to make their way to the kitchen. Her youngest sat down at the counter with a confused look and said, “Where’s my breakfast?” My friend explained she was just about finished making it. Her daughter said, “I would like it better if you could finish making breakfast before you call me so I don’t have to wait.”
As my friend told me this story, you could hear the rage in her voice. She said she wanted to take the breakfast plate and throw it across the kitchen. It definitely hit a raw nerve! I asked her what she did. She told her daughter, “That’s rude. I don’t like that.” Her daughter blew her off and went on eating.
I sat with the story for a moment and thought about what happened. At first glance, my friend gave her daughter feedback and set a boundary. But if you look closer at the relational moment, she stuffed the anger and her own feelings and the boundary was more of a judgment. Here’s the kicker: it didn’t even make a dent. Her daughter didn’t feel the feedback.
This seems like the heart of the issue.
How do we get others to hear us?
How do we express a boundary that others can feel?
My friend’s anger was legitimate! She did not like her daughter acting self-entitled and ungrateful. But right below that, she was hurt. She felt like her efforts were invisible, and her needs didn’t matter.
So we role-played a different approach and explored what she might say if she really wanted to access her daughter’s empathy with a boundary. Instead of barking at her daughter or criticizing her, she could slow down, look her in the eye, and open up about her feelings. It could sound something like this: “What you just said really hurt me. I’ve been working on this breakfast for 20 minutes and what I really need is a thank you.”
If you’re a woman and/or a mother, I bet you have a story or a thousand stories just like this. I think the most heartbreaking part of our Doormat stories is how invisible and lonely we end up feeling when our loved ones don’t see and know what’s truly going on inside.
So much of the time, we aren’t aware of our own needs until we’re overwhelmed or angry. When we express boundaries from that place, others can’t access their empathy. We’re actually scary when we’re flooded and pissed off! Learning to communicate boundaries from a more vulnerable and emotionally open place is a game changer.
This is one of the skills we’ll be working on during the Boundary Bootcamp Online Course and Support Group.
Hope you’ll check it out! My Boundary Bootcamp is now enrolling! This course is skills-based, self-care focused and offers a step-by-step process to learn boundaries that will bring you peace of mind. Enroll instantly in this self-study course, supported by an online support group and monthly live coaching calls.
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