It can be a paralyzing feeling – waking up knowing you have another day of everyone else coming. Their demands. Their dreams. Their priorities.
A few years ago I felt a lot like that. Practically every day.
I’ve written before about how my exterior looked amazing. I was earning the degrees that should bring me success. I was living in foreign countries that people dream of visiting. I was chasing my dreams.
But was I? Were they really my dreams? Or were they someone else’s?
You can guess the answer – the latter. I was doing what I thought was right for a successful life, but my inner demons were nasty. They sapped my voice and energy. I tried, but what I really wanted didn’t fit in. I didn’t fit in. And after 2.5 decades of not fitting in, I was sick of it. All I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs and punch things (neither being very effective coping mechanisms, btw).
And yet, I couldn’t ‘just go with it’ the rest of my life. Passive aggressive isn’t a strategy.
The fascinating part? I’m not alone. Every day I meet people just like who I was. And almost every day those same people tell me how much they admire my strength and focus.
The good news, I tell them, is that it isn’t a secret.
My BS is good. Really good.
My BS are my Boundaries and Standards.
BS defined: Boundaries are what you set for your Self. Standards are what you set for others.
B are how you treat your Self, and S are how others treat you.
I could wax poetic about how to define and hone your personal BS. In fact, I do this exercise in my work with private clients and groups. As a taste test, I wanted to leave you with five tricks to begin playing with.
5 Tricks to your BS:
- No S before B. You can’t avoid the hard work. Figure out your boundaries before rattling off a list of standards for others. Otherwise you only sound like a harpy, and that isn’t sexy or strong.
- B means you go in. It’s time to tango with your shadows. Ask the hard questions. Identify what lights you up, fuels your energy, and patterns where you crack under pressure. Think of situations where you were triggered, stressed, pissed off, or incredibly inspired. These all help define your B. Only when you are done with this foreplay are you allowed to list
- S means you go out. You have to communicate what you need, want – and what you don’t need and don’t want. Be clear. Be concise. Be relevant.
- If your S’s outweigh your B’s, go back to #2 and go deeper. This is the inner work we all avoid in the beginning but learn to embrace. I’m not saying they have to be equal, but one grossly outnumbering the other is a red flag. Especially with the S’s. Ask yourself if they are really standards for how you want others to treat you, or, for example, are they a laundry list of gripes you’ve had because someone made your life more difficult.
- BS requires refining. Your BS changes, so be aware of what works and what doesn’t, and amend as needed. Be patient with yourself and others. But not too patient. If you don’t see a change in the way others engage with you, revisit this exercise and see where you need more clarity and communication.
On a closing note, BS doesn’t mean you become a B. The world doesn’t need more harpies, drill sergeants and negative Nelly’s. You can be graceful AND full of BS.