In all areas of our lives, it’s important to know our bottom line and hold ourselves accountable for it. Let’s explore what happens when we don’t clarify our boundaries and expectations and accept less than we want. Let’s also explore how setting these boundaries is always a winning situation even if it may not seem like it at first.
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Recently, I was exploring a job opportunity. I was disappointed to hear what the hourly rate was when I spoke with the prospective employer. I set up an interview with him for the following day, but I knew I was accepting less than I deserved. I felt like I was betraying myself. At that point, I thought I only had two options:
- Accept the low rate since I really needed the job, blame him, and feel badly about myself
- Not accept the rate and hold out for something better
Even though I was a little afraid of losing the only job opportunity I’d had in a while, I chose the latter. If I’m being honest, I was also a little uncomfortable being assertive, even though this was someone I’d only had one phone conversation with.
I sent an email explaining that I would not be coming to the interview because I didn’t feel the pay was appropriate for the job at hand given my experience and credentials. The next morning, I was surprised to get a phone call from him asking me to keep the appointment so we could look at some options. He ended up offering me almost double the original pay rate and I left with a new job!
Apparently, there was a third option available to me that I hadn’t even considered: ask for what I want and put it on the table if it’s not already there! I don’t have to let other people deal all the time. I can put my hand on the table, too!
Of course all situations like this don’t seem to have such a happy ending, but if we stay true to ourselves, they actually do.
If we accept less than we are really willing to, it can only lead to blame games, playing the victim and codependency. We can find ourselves in the dangerous and unhappy position of blaming others for what we chose to accept in our own lives. I’ve spent countless wasted hours trying to change others instead of focusing inward. If we’re willing to do this to ourselves, how can we expect any better from anyone else?
If we assert ourselves, the outcome is always a positive one. The people who are meant to be in our lives will honor and respect our boundaries. We won’t be silently stewing over something that they were willing to compromise on. We won’t know until we speak up though!
Some people will not be willing or able to respect our choices for ourselves. This presents a difficult situation sometimes, but not a bad one.
While losing them may hurt initially, it is ultimately better. I would rather face the initial pain of losing someone who wasn’t meant to be in my life anyway than the ongoing pain of betraying my truth over and over again. Wouldn’t you?
This takes practice, but it gets easier. For me, it has also become a less frequent occurrence. The more I live in my truth, the more people who are okay with it are attracted to me, and the more I’m attracted to them. The people and situations that are not in alignment with who I am tend to naturally phase out and fade away.
Being assertive is not being unkind. It lets others know who you are and where you stand. It eliminates wasted time and guessing games. I want other people to be truthful with me even in difficult situations, so I owe it to others to do the same. Most importantly, we owe it to ourselves.