Healthy Boundaries for Mental Health Month

Recently, I made the decision to not return to corporate America. Not only for my mental sanity, but because I want to pour my time and energy into my writing. I’m not at the point where I can live off of book sales yet, I decided to drive for Lyft to supplement my income.

So far, everything has been going well. There were a couple of rude passengers but overall, most have been pleasant. So in anticipation of another friendly passenger, I pull up and confirm my arrival. When they entered the car, however, I knew this was going to be an unfavorable experience.

The woman and her partner entered my vehicle with an attitude. I have no idea why, but I gave them a friendly greeting and took off. They spent the entire time conversing with each other so I remained quiet as they chatted. After a few moments, my phone did an unexpected reset and I interrupted them for a moment to ask which exit to take; Lyft automatically starts the navigation so I barely caught a glimpse of the address. They both became incredibly rude and proceeded to insult me even after explaining that my phone shut off. But I remained polite, dropped them off then pulled over to give Lyft a thorough explanation for my rating.

I rated the passenger 1 star, hit send and Lyft responded immediately with the following:

“if you rate a customer 3 stars or below, we will do our best to not pair you up again.”

And it got me thinking:

How many relationships do we endure with people who, if there was such a rating system, would deserve 3 stars or less?  Why do we put ourselves through it?

According to Psychology Today, humans are ingrained with the belief that that which is familiar is likely to be safer than the unfamiliar. We further reason that if something is familiar, we obviously survived exposure to it so our brain is ok with steering us towards it. Simply put, we are hardwired to feel that the “known devil is better than the unknown angel.”

As survivors, we do the same thing but to our detriment. Our rational selves know he’s not good for us, this family member is toxic or this situation is not safe but something inside of us instinctively gravitates towards that person or situation which reinforces the wounded aspect of ourselves. And we intentionally hurt ourselves. Psychologists call it wounded attachment.

Laymen call it crazy.

As survivors, while we may yearn for better and tell ourselves we’ll do better next time, it’s tough to break such a cycle; I’ve ridden that merry-go-round my entire life. But now I’m ready to hop off. No more will I put myself in dangerous situations or tolerate toxic relationships. Not only do I deserve better, but my children deserve better. Thankfully, my issues haven’t negatively impacted them, but they do know and understand everything I endured. They do better for themselves, but I want them to see their mom do better for herself.

Now, I rate everyone in my life on a 5-star scale and implement boundaries when necessary. Here’s my rating system:

5 STARS – This is my close-knit circle where we feel comfortable sharing dreams, secrets, and insecurities.

4 STARS – The people in this circle are not my confidants but they are trusted. We hang out and interact with each other on social media.

3 STARS – There hasn’t been much interaction so I’m unsure whether they can be trusted. Social media interaction is ok but they’re kept at arm’s length until I get to know them.

2 STARS – They’ve proven to be untrustworthy but because they’re attached in some way (i.e. family), little to no interaction is involved.

1 STAR – There’s absolutely no interaction.

Since utilizing this system, I’ve found consistent inner peace and the people pleasing desire has all but vanished.

As survivors, we endured so much in the past, we deserve as much 5-star treatment as we can get.

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