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A friend of mine sends out motivational quotes of the day. A few days ago she sent out this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I love this quote. It is always a good reminder for me. This quote is really talking about having healthy boundaries. About understanding what is our stuff and what is someone else’s stuff. Frequently we allow people to put their negativity, bad mood, or general unhappiness on to us. We take responsibility for making them feel better, helping them understand, helping them be less miserable. In the process of being a good samaritan, we often end up feeling inferior, insecure or downright miserable.
So often we get stuck, trying to make everyone happy. Trying to make sure no one is talking about us or that everyone thinks we are ok. When in reality all that matters is that we are making choices that are honoring ourselves and those we love that are around us. Frequently we spend so much time worrying about what other people think, and if we truly thought about it, we don’t even respect these ‘other people’. We allow them to make us feel ‘less than’, or inferior rather than honoring recognizing the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt that no one can make us feel inferior without our permission.
The key to not allowing people to ‘bring us into their own muck’ is to establish strong boundaries. Healthy relationships involve two whole people. I am an independent circle and you are an independent circle. As we come together our circles might intersect but they still stay intact, one circle does not engulf the other one. Frequently in an attempt to get people to like us, not cause conflict or just because we were trained to be a ‘good person’, we allow people to cross our boundaries and invade both our physical and emotional space. Thus, we give them the power to make us feel inferior or less than. When we have strong boundaries we don’t ‘take on’ or become responsible for someone else’s muck. Even when those around us are struggling or having challenges, we can be there to support them, even carry their weight if necessary, but we don’t lose our boundaries, ourselves. We are still a whole intact person allowing another to lean on us for a time. Ironically, the more fully formed our boundaries are the better support we can become to others. If we set up healthy boundaries and listen to our own innate wisdom we will live happier.