March 2, 2007
March 2, 2007
An Acquaintance approached me with a question that clearly illustrated that she had lost the direction in her life and was going in circles. Her question was, “How do I correlate the religious teachings of kindness, consideration, compassion, and patience with the courses on women’s rights of assertiveness, independence, and maintaining my own boundaries?”
My answer was: “It is easy, but first you must visualize yourself as the core of the universe. Everything that is just and good begins with you and your ability to be strong enough handle life’s problems. I have modeled my ideas after listening to Eleanor Roosevelt speak many years ago. I thought, ‘Eleanor is so right. E. Roosevelt said that each individual must take care of their own life, and then their families, then the community, then the state, then the country and then the international community. In that manner, the resulting conglomerate is strong. Imagine all these cores united into an impenetrable alliance for or against whatever life deals them.
Each of us must establish the boundaries that we need to maintain this strength. After all if our children need us and we are drained, then we can not meet their needs. If we donate too much of our time without coordinating it with our other life’s needs and schedules, then every aspect of our lives weaken. Our marriage falls apart, the organization receives a poorly executed performance and so forth. By strength I mean emotional, physical and sometimes financial. We can not be all things to everyone. Assess your own abilities. Pleasantly state to your children, spouse, relative, coworker, friend, or organization, ”I would love to be able to do this for you, but I am not able to at this time. I am------(stressed out,overworked, drained, etc. whatever fits the blank.)”
Your assertiveness comes into play when the responder refuses to accept your factual refusal. Often people work at making you feel guilty. Guilt may be difficult to ignore because our society is built on using it to motivate behavior. This is where the assessment of your own personality is important. You need to review your past actions and decide if the request is appropriate for you.
Take into account the fact that the best long term benefit is often to refuse to add on or aid the situation. A child needs to learn that every demand is not met in life. Their own hard work may accomplish the desired object. (Be sensible and understand child developmental stages. Of course you don’t ignore an infants cry for food or any other emergencies.) Organizations that continually rely on you because you are so efficient instead of spreading the work load over the other members, actually does a disservice to the group by creating an elitist and often resented hierarchy. Pandering and pampering your loved one may actually create a shell of yourself so that your spouse looks elsewhere because you are no longer the person s/he married. (The only exception to this is, if the behavior of both is mutually done and mutually satisfying.)
Now there are times, such as a mother taking care of infants when she must push beyond her level of endurance because there are no options available: that is, no money for help, no relatives available to take over, no spouse who will pitch in -to take up the slack. However, if this is your case, don’t give up. Contact a community resource (church or women’s groups such as NOW or VIBS) and explain you desperately need help for a short period of time so that you may adequately care for your child/children.
Putting aside the obvious exceptions to the theory I am presenting, let me go on with the concept. As each person strength radiates into the community, it creates a united influential unbeatable group.
America is probably the closest to that ideal of any country. Perhaps this is why we are so strong when adversity strikes.