today in my individual session susan and i were chatting and she said, "you know it's like the dog doo-doo analogy." at first i wanted to play along like i had a clue what she was talking about but then i realized this wouldn't be skillful or helpful if we were going to have a conversation about 'the dog doo-doo analogy' because i would be totally lost. so i just looked at her confused and she said, "have i told you that one before?" me, "i don't think so..." (i'm pretty sure i'd remember something about dog poop coming from my therapist! lol) so she proceeded to tell me this :
you go out to walk your dog and let her use the bathroom. you come in and are walking around the living room and go "on no! what's that smell??" well somewhere along your walked you stepped in dog doo-doo and dragged it all around the carpet in your living room and now you have to clean it up. the next night you're coming in from walking your dog but you go "oh! i smell it this time! i'm going to take my shoes off at the door so i don't spread it all around the carpet." night three you decide that your pattern of stepping in dog doo-doo on your walk seems pretty consistent so you're going to take a flashlight with you and really be vigilant about watching where you walk that night so that you don't step in it.
she related this to me learning how to set boundaries. this is something i struggle with. what we did in our session today was what she called "cleaning up the crime scene" or "cleaning up the living room" from all the dog doo-doo. i set a boundary and then let someone walk all over it with dog doo-ed shoes last week. so we went over how to keep them and their shoes outside my boundary. next is realizing in the moment that you've set a boundary and that someone is pushing it and practicing your skills as best you can to not let them come over the limit. it may not be perfect, but at least you can keep it contained (at the front door) instead of all over the living. and the last is once you've mastered setting limits and others respect you and the limits you set you are vigilant in keeping them (taking your flashlight with you on walks so you don't step in it!).
susan said that part of the reason i have a hard time setting boundaries is because of the religious culture i was brought up in. i agree with her. i was taught to respect my elders, which isn't a bad thing, but makes setting boundaries with them difficult. and then there is another factor of different personalities. some people are not going to read me as well as others. i'm going to have to set boundaries with them over and over and over again because of them, not because of me.
boundaries are good, healthy, and appropriate. let's all try to listen to what people are saying when they speak and respect what they are saying to us. and speak up for ourselves when we feel we need space.