Friday, October 2, 2009

I don't think that's an appropriate question.

In this post, I talked about taking care of myself (which I didn't learn growing up).

I have to say, this week I set some minor boundaries. But I find, after all this time, after all the things I've worked on and through - I confess I still sometimes feel guilty for setting those boundaries. And they are not invasive boundaries or terribly momentous boundaries.

In one case, it was a simple "I don't want to talk about this with you." and "I don't think I can talk about this particular issue with you and be kind and loving".

And, despite all of that, I found that to be uncomfortable for me.

I read a handful of articles, which mentioned that feeling guilty when we set boundaries means we're doing it right.

At least I can now recognize it (boundary setting) in others. I was at a party recently where a friend was asked her opinion on something her partner/significant was doing. It was a long conversation that I don't want to give the play by play here. My friend replied "I don't think that's an appropriate question". Not in an unkind or shaming way - but in an "I'm not going to answer that" type of way. I remember thinking "Right on!".

I'm sure my friend probably does have an opinion, and does have an interest in what her partner does. But she's saying that it's private, and between the two of them (not with some group of friends at a party).

Because I rarely saw that modeled growing up - I rarely saw someone (anyone) refuse to answer a question they thought was inappropriate (well, aside from responses during congressional hearings...'on advice from my counsel'...)

Such a simple gesture, sometimes so difficult for some of us (me). But important none the less.

Such a simple concept. I get to say no. I need to say no if by doing something, I will feel anger, bitterness and resentment. I get to say that a question is not appropriate or if I'm not comfortable talking about something in a group - particularly if I will feel uncomfortable or resentful by answering.

Not so easy in practice.


Kathryn said...

When a friend of mine returned from visiting India, she talked about the many uses of the gesture in which a person puts his/her hands together in a prayer position and bows slightly. My yoga teacher ends each class with this, saying "The divine in me greets the divine in you - namaste." My friend told me that this gesture was also used in India to politely indicate that one was not going to answer a question than had been asked. I pictured it as communicating, I respect you, but I'm setting a boundary. A very elegant solution!

superrelish said...

I need to practice a few key phrases like that to give myself breathing space and create a few boundaries.

Aerin said...

Thank you kathryn for this. I appreciate your input (as always).

Thanks superrelish - developing even small boundaries has been so critical for me. It's really helped me and my relationships in so many ways. And yes, I do believe sometimes it helps other people to tell them that a question isn't appropriate. That's how I know someone values my friendship - they're willing to speak up instead of drift away, offended...(not everyone is like this, just for some)...