Assertiveness Training: Creating Personal and Healthy Boundaries
Although this series of articles is designed for relationships, there is a previous step in the school of life that has to be learned before true equality in relationships can take place. This step has to do with self-respect and self-defense. You could even classify this as assertiveness training in a way by creating healthy and personal boundaries.
All too often the gentle souls on the spiritual path will try to turn the other cheek (using both sides of the face and the rear end), rather than stand up for themselves as a being of worth and value. If we are to value the other as ourselves, we must be as willing to value the Self as we are to value the other. In a relationship, we have to care for both parties. If we are not doing that, we aren’t being spiritual, we are being masochistic.
How much do you love your partner? Are you willing to do anything for them? Are you willing to love yourself and do anything for you? If not, you are not caring for the relationship as you should in order to keep it healthy and thriving.
When we speak of asserting and setting healthy boundaries, we are saying that beyond this degree of my personal space, you may not go. For instance, you may caress my cheek but you may not break my cheekbone. You may share your opinions with me, but you are not permitted to treat my views as worthless. We can engage in lively discussion but I have the right to complete a sentence without interruption.
Notice the self-respect inherent in each of these examples. True self-respect means that we can accept our right and authority to set these boundaries without negative emotion or drama. If we are just beginning to set our boundaries, we needn’t hysterically decide that we are unloved if they are stepped on at first. We merely point out the infringement and refuse to allow it any further.
This is where the assertiveness training comes in. How do we uphold our right to set boundaries? If we have allowed a partner to ride roughshod over us for a period of time, they may not believe that we are willing (or able) to hold our own in such matters. We have allowed them in one way or another to believe that unacceptable behavior is really okay. It doesn’t matter if we have “said” that it wasn’t alright, if we have been unwilling to make a commitment to our own self- respect, it just doesn’t count.
This issue comes down to a negative balance in self-respect which has kept us from committing to our own self-worth. We have decided (consciously or not) that our need for our partner is of greater value than ourselves. This is desperation, and has nothing to do with faith, love or self- worth. We have chosen to tolerate unacceptable behavior because we lack faith in our lovability, love of ourselves and/or just don’t feel that we are worth staying with unless we abase ourselves.
When the commitment has been made to believe that we are worth right treatment, it is no longer an issue of how will we uphold our personal boundaries. Hit me and you go to jail. Negate my opinions and yours will no longer be listened to. Interrupt me and conversations between us cease.
Do these responses seem excessively harsh? If so, it is possible that your natural responses have been badly under- mined. This is because these are exactly the reactions your partner might take, if he/she were acting analytically. That is due to the fact that your partner knows that they are your equal and are entitled to (at least) equal rights. When you know that you are worthy of the respect of an equal and are willing to commit to that, you will know it as well.
As I’ve stated repeatedly in my Prosperity and Wealth Building articles, desperation is a lack of faith in the power of Good. In metaphysics we recognize this as an illusion. There is nothing that you must have that you have to give up your intrinsic worth for. The Divine will provide whatever you need, physically, emotionally and spiritually, while ensuring that you are honored for the magnificent beauty and grace that you are. This is our role model for what love really is. If we are experiencing something else, then it is not love.
As you practice setting healthy personal boundaries you will be training yourself to honor self respect and this assertiveness will really pay off.