In an effort to be a nice person, I forgot about my boundaries.
It started when I increased my niceness factor after hanging out with Zoey, my miniature dachshund who is teaching me a lesson about the homeless people who live in my downtown neighborhood.
Sometimes I take Zoey with me to get my daily caffeine fix. I plop her on a patio table, a vantage point that makes it easier for her to scan the area for passersby who might stop and pet her. She doesn’t care if their clothes are ripped or if they don’t have a job, a house or a car.
She just cares about getting greetings.
I end up talking to her pet-me suckers, even if I feel wary about their bedraggled looks and slouched demeanors, indications of a tough life.
A few weeks ago, I let a couple of guys pet her, then join me at my table, even though I didn’t feel comfortable and wanted to get my own stuff done. Trying hard to be polite, I forgot that I could have said “no.” They continued joining me almost every time I came out for coffee.
I looked up boundaries on the Internet and saw that feeling bad when you tell someone “no” is a sign of an unhealthy boundary.
I learned that boundaries are necessary for maintaining a positive self image and are a way to define yourself without letting others do the defining.
Boundaries are the physical and emotional limits you need to protect yourself from being used and from people who drain your energy or take up your time without your permission.
I also learned that we are responsible for how others treat us.
A few days ago, I told the two guys “hello,” let them pet Zoey and said I had work to do. I didn’t tell them that my work was this blog. I didn’t tell them that after I said “no,” I was glad that I had stood up for myself.