Saturday 18 August 2012

Being firm vs being mean

Posting this picture up recently on Facebook elicited a lot of comments. People were saying things like "Oh yes, I used to be nice" and "reading this gives me strength"

This makes me think - do we feel like we are being mean when we are just setting boundaries for ourselves? Do we need validation from someone else to be able to give ourselves attention and space?

Being firm means being resolute; making a decision, setting a boundary and then sticking to it. Being mean can be a conscious choice to hurt somebody, or an unconscious cry for help. Needing space for yourself to think, to ground, to clear your energy (whether that be through exercise, sleep, reading a book or other activity that nurtures you) is vital. You have to be able to do this to get energy in order to give energy back.

I heard someone give a talk last week about personal power. She said "It's the old put your oxygen mask on before everyone else thing". The audience nodded their heads and looked puzzled - they really didn't understand what she meant. It is so important to really explain this concept. It is something that I came to terms with a long time ago, and I knew that I was accepted into my psychotherapy degree course 5 years ago when I used this very phrase, and saw the smiles on the faces of the interview panel.

We must get energy in order to give it. We cannot give our energy to everyone else, we then have none left. Simple as that. It can be a straightforward as setting boundaries. For example, if I took all my client's troubles home with me how would I ever be able to relax? To sleep? I make sure that when I am available for my clients I am fully available, refreshed and alert. I want to be the best that I can be.

This means that I don't take client calls when I'm with my family, after hours or when I am driving. When I am not working I get rest, I play games with my children and I do things that I love. By making firm boundaries and having space to myself, I recharge and rejuvenate myself. And then I can be fully available, and the work is magical.

Where can you set better boundaries in your life? Please leave a comment.


  1. Ambra Bergamasco18 August 2012 at 19:33

    Abby, this is so true and beautifully said. As you underline, this concept need a great deal of attention and explanation so not to be misunderstood. I came to terms with this as I started my PhD and as I proceeded in writing the thesis. This is vital work for me, at this point of my life. If I don't get it right it will prevent me from fully reach my potential and expand in other sectors; most importantly I will not provide a just life for me and my daughter. So I had to think in terms of boundaries. The underlining truth is that if I do not cater for my needs and my well-being, nobody will. It is me, first and foremost, that I need to look after as if I do so my daughter and all my other relations will flourish around me. Teaching myself boundaries made me meet new people and made me discover a lot of interesting things about me and the world. Boundaries are necessary structures that allow us to move forwards and teach us how to love ourselves.
    Thank you for this. taking time to reflect on it made me realize the progress I made in this department in the past year.

  2. I agree. I am learning that if I don't set time for myself I will burn out. The light that I want to shine through me needs a vessel of love and awareness so Iam understanding what I need to do in order for me to be that great vessel. Namaste Love and Light to you. Thank you for the insight you bring everyday. You are a great Light of Love. ; ) Marie

  3. Thank you both. If I was to boil down l that I do into one message it would be "looking after yourself is not selfish" :-)

  4. Thank you, Abby.  Your thoughts come at a very special time for me.