My sweet friend left a card in my mailbox this morning with this quote on it, seemingly, just when I needed to read it. Tis’ the season for kindness and giving, but sometimes it truly is difficult for us to remember that. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned a pattern in the characteristics of those I surround myself–radiant, bubbly, givers–people who genuinely want to enrich the lives of those around them and make this sometimes scary world a better place. More importantly, I’ve learned boundaries and the beauty of setting them towards certain people in my life.
I’m a giver myself. I was always the person who couldn’t say “No,” and who wanted truly and deeply to give and enrich everyone around me as best I could. As the life cycle story goes though, that didn’t pan out for me so well.
Without going into detail. I’ll say it left me empty, broken, and with nothing but a bad attitude and distrust. It drained me–and for a while–I felt unable to give my time, energy, talent, and love to even those who hadn’t wronged or taken advantage of me. For some time, I even adopted the mentality that everyone was out to get me and I was only going to care for myself. While this provided enlightenment and growth, for sure, it did not provide fulfillment. It simply wasn’t me.
Surely, I was putting myself first, which in my time of brokenness, was the only thing I felt I could do to protect my dignity and my heart. But instead of fulfillment, I found myself angry and less fulfilled than when I was giving to everyone, even those taking advantage and not returning the love, gratitude and fulfillment. I’m pretty sure this is why “Yes” People are afraid of the word no. In their hearts, they are givers, but learning to set boundaries, to be a better giver, is an invaluable trait to learn.
While I think I’ve always been a decent judge of character, I’ve learned as life has thrown challenges my way, that true, quality people come into your life radiantly, unexpectedly and they add an unmatched quality of joy and fulfillment. I’ve learned that this particular kind of person never really goes away once they enter into your life. Certainly, they never lose a place in your heart. I’ve learned that there are, certainly, seasons of fulfillment for people in life. They will come into and out of it accordingly; however, their soul, their persona, and the light they provide to the world is one that never dims. They might not have everything together perfectly, but they are eloquently content. I’d like to think that it’s because they live with love. This is why they can come and go, never a memory, just a beautifully nostalgic thought, that’s never lost–and in fact, often rekindled when the season comes.
A sweet note when one of us needs it, an unexpected gift, a lending ear, or giving of time and talent. These are all ways that these types of people that I’ve come to cherish greatly have enriched my life, as I hope I have similarly in theirs. Whether I’ve talked to them an hour ago or three months ago, whenever we come to one another, I truly believe both parties leave better and happier.
So, I challenge you, especially if you’re a “Yes” person, in business or in life, to set boundaries. Make them positive boundaries, but stern ones. I challenge you truly, starting in this month of thankfulness, to set them and just watch how they will enrich your life. Watch how they will allow you to love better, serve better, and live more productively than ever before.
It’s kind of a backwards thinking to think that setting boundaries and requesting standards from clients, partners, friends, spouses, 0r people in need even would make you a more loving person. I assure you, though, it gives more energy, more time, and an unhindered heart. It allows you to serve those whom your soul truly connects with to the best of your ability, not half-heartedly and stretched thin.