Many times, when we set boundaries and refuse to lower our standards, we’re accused of having “an attitude.” Lord only knows how many times I got that response when I either said no to something I didn’t like or refused to be manipulated or to take abuse. Therefore, it’s better to accept, even embrace, the reality that others will see you as doing just that- having an attitude when you stand on your principles.
Toxic teachers will assume that you’re insubordinate. Abusive managers and supervisors will think you’re not a team player, and bullying peers will see you as a ‘difficult’ person to be around, and that’s only a very mild version of what they may call you.
Understand that anytime we enforce our boundaries and standards, we become threats to abusers. We expose the manipulative people in our lives through the limits we set and see them more clearly. Why? Because we force them to tell off on themselves through their very reactions toward us.
Through having boundaries and standards, we can better tell the difference between real friends and fake ones. We can better see which people are truly for us and value our friendship and which ones are only in our lives because they want something from us.
Like all abusers, bullies feel entitled to devalue you and expect you to “just go with the flow” and not object to it. With these types of people, your healthy boundaries and standards are an insult to them. Why? Because they don’t recognize limits.
In their minds, anything goes, and the world and everything in it is one big free-for-all. In other words, any rules, laws, or limits don’t apply to them.
Bullies and frenemies believe they should have carte blanche to treat you any way they choose. They get super offended when you get enough of their abuse and finally have the courage to put your foot down. Accept that you will lose people you think are friends when you establish boundaries and standards. And they will often be the people you’d never expect.
But realize that these peoples’ condescension and dismissal are only proof of their discomfort and their only recourse. Bullies can’t handle an assertive person of incredible strength because they can never meet them on their level.
Also, understand that you cannot grow, be safe, or be free if you don’t set boundaries, and in many cases, people go out of their way to prevent targets of bullying and abuse from imposing any limits. It seems that boundaries and standards are okay for anyone else but strictly prohibited for targets.
But realize that you cannot continue to live your life as a doormat. Therefore, you must dig deep and pull out the courage to establish your boundaries, which include,
You are a flesh-and-blood human being who has rights! And sometimes, you must “cop an attitude” to defend those rights and enforce your boundaries from relentless bullies and other fakers who won’t take no from an answer and continue to violate them.
When you set firm boundaries and standards and enforce them, you protect your physical well-being, emotional health, self-esteem, and identity from anyone who seeks to destroy them. You make yourself an individual human being who asserts your right to make your own choices and decisions.
(Continued in Part 2 Next month)