This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Setting boundaries for your mental health

Without boundaries, without lines drawn on the sand, mile markers on the road, road signs to tell you where you're going, we'd get lost. We wouldn't know how to get where we're going. Without a clear sign, we might not even know if we'd arrived or gone too far.

To get to a place like Oatman, pictured above--a tiny off-the-beaten path town on Historic Route 66 in northwestern Arizona--you also have to have a map. It helps. A lot.

Human boundaries are similar. They help us stay focused. They help us find where we're going so we don't veer off in the wrong direction. They keep us on the right path and away from something that might take us where we don't really want to go.

Yesterday, I got a call from someone who belongs to one of the same professional organizations to which I belong. We're both working on the conference committee. It seems he was asked to co-chair next year's conference, and he was calling to ask me if I'd join him in this effort. I had to say, "Thanks, but no thanks." And I'm glad I did. It's easy to get "roped in," if you will, to something that sounds grand. But it's a good thing to think about accepting the offer before you do; it might not be the best idea. Give yourself time to consider the full scope of the job, how that will interfere with your personal and professional life, and how it might impact your life for the duration of your involvement.

I must say, I was honored to be asked. This is a conference I've worked on for several years now, and I could see myself in charge of the entire thing. But not this year. I have a book coming out in November that is going to require my time, focus and energy. Organizing a huge conference would just get in the way of what I really need to do. So I had to decline the offer.

And I was somewhat sorry about that. I could even hear the frustration in this guy's voice, as he's new to the organization, doesn't know many people, and it will be harder for him to find the help he needs. But he will. I did offer my help on the committee--same as I've done this year. And I did offer some names of people he can contact in my stead. The other person he asked, who also declined, did the same. Thankfully, we both know our limits.

There have been moments in my life where I have not. I have accepted jobs, positions and volunteer posts when I shouldn't have, when I knew better, when I did not have the time. I did it for the wrong reasons: for the glory; for something I thought I'd get out of it but didn't; for something that wasn't authentic. The problem with saying yes when you mean no? The people who are counting on you aren't going to get the best work out of you, especially if you agree to do something out of guilt, let's say, or coersion, or because you just can't say no.

Best piece of advice for you: LEARN TO SAY, "No, thank you."

Do it now, in the mirror. Get comfortable with how that phrase feels on your lips. It will be a lifesaver when you least expect it.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to know where you're going, know what you need to do to get there, and have a plan in place that helps you determine where you can help others if the need should arise. But be able to help yourself first, just as they tell you to do on an airplane. In case of an emergency, you're told to put your oxygen mask on first. Why? Because you can't help someone else if you can't breathe.

It's a wonderful thing to be able to help in times of need. But it's not so great if you're doing it for the wrong reasons, to be a martyr, for example. If that happens, you can bet the complaints will come in soon enough...from others and also from yourself. And you won't have anyone to blame but yourself.

If you can remember a time when you've crossed a boundary or someone's crossed yours, or you failed to set boundaries in the first place, post your story here. Tell us what happened and how you worked it out.


Debbie said...

You're so right about saying no. Too many times I've agreed to something for the wrong reasons. I've had to learn the hard way how to say no at times.

I think it really helps when you have your own goals with action steps. Time is scarce and distractions can get in the way.

However, one thing I'm learning is to pray about the direction of my life. There are times when there are interruptions and requests in my day that I believe are divine appointments. And frankly, I don't want to be too busy for them. So I ask God to impress on my spirit when I need to stop and listen and not just say no.

Knowing about your upcoming book, I think you made the right choice Jackie.

The BIKE Lady said...

Thank you, Debbie.

I'm sure that was the right call for me. I have learned to listen and trust my gut.

Not to mention that the poor guy started out on the wrong foot. I had said to him, "It sounds like you have something serious to ask me about."

And he responded, "Not serious, but it is manipulative."

Um. Not exactly the best way to begin, in my opinion. I didn't have the heart to tell him that, though, because I know he was trying to be funny.

I like your comment about "divine appointments." I felt that way about my bike when I first started riding it. It was put in front of me for divine purposes beyond my control. I could have ignored it, but I'm glad I paid attention.

It--and He--has steered me in the most amazing direction.

I like how your visits always lead me back to how I found this special brand of BIKE in the first place.

Thank you for that.