Happy Tuesday, y’all! Or, rather…happy TWOSday on the blog! Part three is on deck, so…let’s go!
In last week’s post, I took a closer look at my makeup as a 2W3 personality. Today, I’m going to speak to what I think initially looks like a challenge for us Two, but can really be a strength when channeled in a healthy way. That, my friends, is healthy boundaries.
I can only really speak for myself, but I bet it’s true that many of us Twos have a hard time with healthy boundaries sometimes. Both in realizing them in others and establishing them for ourselves. Because we are so…very…driven to help and we very often correlate our value with how well/how often/how efficiently we are helpful to others, we can easily miss boundaries that others have established and we can blur them for ourselves. To be fully healthy in our Twoness, we have GOT to get healthy boundaries down pat, y’all.
So, first let’s talk about recognizing and respecting the healthy boundaries of others…
I might as well jump in headfirst on this one because it’s something I am not sure that I realized for awhile. I think that where I, and many, if not most, other Twos find ourselves in being a helper is that we don’t just try to help with what is immediately known, but we also strive to be intuitive and we tend to try to anticipate so that we can be useful even before someone knows they need it. Obviously, this can be a very good quality. I think that goes without saying. But, where it gets tricky and where Twos become misunderstood in our motivations, I think, is where we go full speed ahead with every good and pure motivation, all the while thinking we are doing good, while we may be stepping on toes.
One example of this is in something that happened to a photographer friend. She has a lovely studio that is outside of her town, not in a neighborhood and not even closely bordered by any other homes. Because she is a photographer who takes amazingly beautiful and very natural photos, she likes to let the flowers, grass and even weeds in backyard of her studio grow up so that it looks whimsical and authentically natural when she shoots there. It’s basically a meadow and is absolutely LOVELY in its natural form. I would say it’s very deliberately rustic, but not at all rundown – a very well kept natural setting. Well, twice now, some well-intentioned person has come over and mowed her property. TWICE!! This left her brokenhearted because her beautiful nature-scape got reduced to stubble. What she had waited for, planned on and cultivated got taken down with zero notice and without her desire to have it done. Not to mention that no one had her request or approval for it to happen. The ones who did it surely just thought they were doing a favor. No malice involved. But, even in their kindness, their actions were misguided. Instead of bringing someone joy that they did this “nice” (to them) thing, it wound up being frustrating and, well…sad. This is the very last thing a Two would ever want to do. We want to make things better for others. Part of what brings us fulfillment is doing something that brings smiles and happiness to someone else. I have also had the experience of having my heart absolutely in the right place, but overstepping just the same. It’s hard when that happens because we really just want to add good to the world and make other people’s lives a little bit better in any way we can, so to miss that mark, is a sucker punch, honestly.
So, how do we go about this? How do we balance our need to help with recognizing healthy boundaries that others have in place? First, I think we have to use our discernment. We have to ask ourselves if we are truly wanting to help because the person needs help OR are we only feeding our own desire to feel good about what we are doing? I know. That can be a lot. Because, it really IS okay to feel good about ourselves when we help other people. But, that cannot be our sole motivator. If someone doesn’t want or need what we have to offer in any given scenario, then we have to respect that and not decide that we know best and do it anyway. I’m talking to myself as much as anyone. Also? Sometimes people aren’t in a place to articulate the help they NEED and we absolutely should go with our gut when we know they truly have a need that should be met. But, again…discernment. Always respect the wishes of others. As I mentioned in the story above – I am sure that whoever mowed the lawn didn’t do it because they were being mean. First of all, who mows a big lawn out of spite? That’s just work for no personal reward, people. But, seriously…I can all but guarantee that their motivations were good, they just really missed the mark. Unless we KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW…then we don’t need to rush in and save the day every single time.
(And, because I’m a hardcore Two, I feel the need to encourage other Twos by also saying here that it’s okay to have good intentions. Of course, it is. And your goodness is not invalidated if the intentions miss the mark. It’s just healthy to know and respect boundaries so that our energies go in ways that hit the mark more often than not.)
Now, let’s talk about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves…
Two things I want to say right off the bat:
- It’s okay to say no.
- You don’t owe an explanation for your no.
Let’s get into this “it’s okay to say no” business because basically any of us Twos will testify that saying NO is not something that really comes natural to us when we get asked to do something. We want to help, we want to be included, we want you to know we care, and we feel value and worth within those things. So, we will say YES even when it feels like we really can’t add one more thing to our lives. We will run ourselves ragged because we do not want to risk rejection. I’m not saying this to make us seem like victims or martyrs, that’s not it at all – it’s just that we are so hardwired to please that we often overextend and forget to take care of our own selves in the process.
But…seriously, Twos…it really IS okay to say no. When we say no to the things we need to say no to, then we are actually freeing up time/energy/availability to the things we want to say yes to. Confession: I am a work in progress on this one, but I’m getting there. I began to find the power of no years ago when I was an elementary school volunteer. Volunteering gives me such a sense of accomplishment and I really do LOVE it. But, there was a point when I was not saying no to anything that was asked of me and I was getting to the point of being frustrated. I finally decided that if I didn’t say no then other people besides me wouldn’t have an opportunity to say yes. So, decided that it was up to me to set my own yes parameters. I can’t even begin to express how much that reduced my stress level AND allowed me to find enjoyment in that volunteering capacity again. I still have to remind myself to do this, even years into the process, but I’m getting there. And I encourage others to do the same. If you really don’t want to do something or you just can’t, then it’s okay not to. You are not defined by having to help all the people all the time. You can take a break and still be an amazing human. You can have healthy boundaries and still be a ROCK STAR TWO! Help when you can and when you want to, but when you can’t then all you ever have to say is “No, I can’t do that.” Which brings me to my next point…
You don’t owe an explanation for that no. You just don’t. Take it from a reforming over-explainer…you really don’t owe that much. If you tell someone you can’t do it, that’s all there is to it. The truth is, the ones who really respect and care for you will accept that for what it is because they are going to know that your no isn’t unkind or uncaring, it’s simply a “no” for that very moment. As much as I hate to say it, the ones who will press you for more details or push you to do something you don’t have time or a desire to do…well, you need healthy boundaries around those people. The people who are genuine within our lives will absolutely respect our established healthy boundaries just like we will do for them. They may be disappointed if we can’t do something they wanted us to do, but their respect will absolutely propel them beyond that. Someone who only wants you to do what they want you to do or only values you for what you offer to them? Not healthy. Establish and maintain those boundaries. Respect must be a two way street, so don’t try to walk it alone because that doesn’t work.
In order for us to be happy, healthy and genuinely fulfilled, I believe that healthy boundaries are vital. Respecting, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is important to helping us maintain our intrinsic nature as helpers. The world needs what we have to offer, so I believe that when we do this, we are taking a potential challenge and turning it into a strength!
Be Happy & Healthy, Y’all…