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Boundaries For Health

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to eliminate all the negative energies from your life without guilt.

I'm sharing this chapter taken from my book, Finding My Way Facing My Journey With Courage, to remind you how important it is to honor all that is inside you, without carrying around the guilt. Self-care is a huge part of your health. If we don’t address those negative influences, whether it’s a job you outgrow, a boss you dislike, a co-worker or family member who is habitually draining your energy, your health will suffer. You take on both emotional and physical pain, while ignoring your own feelings, letting others walk all over you. This was a huge life lesson for me. When I learned to address my fear of speaking up and learned my power was in saying "no," even if that meant disappointing others, I became empowered.

Here’s my story:

A woman I met at a networking group called me one day for my opinion on something. Generally, I am happy to share my thoughts when asked. However, this woman kept me on the phone for more than an hour-and-a-half, in a one-sided conversation. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. As I learned all about my caller’s ongoing family drama, her health problems and other tragedies that were occurring in her life, it became clear that this phone call was really a venting session for her. Whenever I brought up ways to change her focus, or take action that could help her feel more empowered, she dismissed these recommendations with a laundry list of excuses.

So why was she using my precious time? Because, I allowed her to use it!

We need to recognize people who invade our space, whether they appear as a friend, a sibling, mother, father, co-worker or acquaintance. For years, I tried to avoid conflict. I allowed people into my space without my permission. This caused me a tremendous amount anxiety and physical pain. Instead of acknowledging my true feelings, I stayed in the victim role by letting them overpower me.

A good example of how I stayed in the victim role took place around 2002, when I was at my print media job; the CEO of the company hired a friend of his to work alongside me. At first, I thought it was going to be nice having another woman with whom to talk and bounce around ideas. When Katie showed up at work, it was a pleasure to share stories. She engaged when talking with me and was genuinely interested in every aspect of my life. She was a young, very attractive single woman with one of those super-enthusiastic personalities who would jump for joy when you said anything. However, something about her seemed peculiar.

That is when I started to notice that Katie’s efforts for approval and friendship by me and everyone else in the office had a hidden agenda. On the surface, she was a happy, team player; but behind the scenes, she was purposefully sabotaging my work to make herself look good. I began to notice more and more of her shifty ways that appeared to be supportive, but in actuality, she was going behind my back, stealing my ideas, and taking credit for them. Astonishingly, I began to have nightmares of a wolf showing up at work and biting my head off. That must have been a metaphor for how I viewed the situation. I had an eerie feeling that something wasn’t right. As I started to pay more attention to my feelings, I discovered that this colleague was taking the credit for some of my work, while looking over at me with a huge smile on her face, and telling me how great I was.

People Who Abuse, Exploit And Have No Regard for Your Well Being In Dr. Phil’s book, Life Code, he writes about people who are “BAITERS.” The term BAITERS is an acronym for Backstabbers, Abusers, Imposters, Takers, Exploiters, Reckless. He says, “These people are always gathering data and building a file on you. Everything they do, every interaction, is for a purpose. If someone is deliberately causing you pain or harm or putting you at risk by disregarding your well-being, that person is a BAITER.” I was working alongside one! As the experiences with Katie escalated, I was more and more furious, but I kept silent. Chronically living this way can wreak havoc on our health.

Not addressing our negative emotions, pretending they don’t exist, causes a chain reaction within the body. It causes our blood pressure to rise, blood vessels to constrict, muscles to go into spasms and attacks our immune system. Over long periods, this can be very dangerous to our health.

The Effects of Negative Emotions In my mind, Katie was my boss’s friend and there was no way to prevent her sabotaging me. This is another example of having a “victim” mentality. Instead of addressing the situation, I chose to allow it. I gave Katie my power. The ramifications for me were chronic back pain, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. I would come home, scream, and yell at my family, taking out my fear, tension and anger on them. I lost my vitality, felt fatigued and depressed, and powerless to change the situation. As I walked into work one morning, after a long, sleepless night, I sat at my desk and all of a sudden, I couldn’t move. The pain paralyzed me. The pain was so bad; I couldn’t hold my head up; it felt like it weighed 100 lbs. I was suffering so much pain, both physical pain, and the pain of humiliation that I had let my situation get to this point. I knew I had to leave the office, but I was unable drive home. Katie jumped in and offered. So here I was, in excruciating back, shoulder and neck pain brought on by my not addressing this co-worker head on, allowing her to dance around the office, sprinkling lies and deceit dust over me and my work. What did I do about it? Absolutely nothing! Now the woman who is sabotaging me is going to take me home and will look like hero! As I lay down in the back seat of her car, I felt as if my whole world was crumbling. The following day, I received a call from the publisher to ask how I was feeling. She kept prodding me to explain how something like this could happen. She perceived that something was wrong. She had no idea what I was about to tell her. I confided in her everything that was going on. She was shocked! Immediately after our conversation, she went directly to the CEO and explained the entire situation. They fired Katie on the spot.

This is a good illustration of why, instead of going months, sometimes years, putting up with a damaging issue, the answer is simple. Face the situation and face reality. Address it head on. This approach can be emotionally challenging in the short run, but lifesaving in the end. This teaches us resilience. We come out of the situation learning more about our ability to handle a problem instead of running from it, which leaves us powerless and often ill.

Remember, you deserve to feel good. You deserve to honor all that is inside you. You deserve to take care of your needs first, if that is going to keep you safe and healthy. It is my wish that you take away this important message, and begin to notice those times when you're allowing others to dictate how your day will go, and step in to protect your precious time and energy.

Contact me for a free Discovery Session to explore how I can support you on your journey towards setting boundaries, a more healthy lifestyle, and how to become your own health advocate. To your health and happiness! Donna Markussen 781-354-4075

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