How do you handle situations when you have changed your mind, when you have decided, after sometime, to institute a boundary that you haven’t before? How do you explain to someone that the behavior that you seemed to be okay with for so long, just isn’t okay?
I have found that communication is the key to every relationship. As long as I share my needs and wants in a kind manner, as long as I clarify what I am okay with and what I’m not—even going as far as explaining that I thought I was okay with such and such behavior, yet now I know I’m not– then I actually encourage it.
Knowing all this, I still get scared that if I share my needs, I will be judged as needy, I will be judged as unkind, and the other person won’t even understand what they did wrong, as they have been doing it for so long without any consequences, nor negative response from me, so why bother?
I try to live by the words of the Sage Hillel, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” — Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14.
I am the most important person in my life. I was created in the image of God and as part of God, which means I must take care of me and share my needs and wants, and I must do so clearly. It’s not okay for me to resent you for the requests I never made of you.
The important part of Hillel’s words is the second part: “If I’m only for myself, than who am I?” It’s truly important not to be selfless and just as important not to be selfish. It’s incredibly important to be kind to me, and it’s equally as important to be kind to you.
Another incredible Hillel story is of a man who asked Hillel to teach him the Torah on one foot, to which he said, don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto yourself, and the rest is interpretation.
Firstly, if I’m worried about your reaction, I will become resentful, act out, and cause greater consequences. So, not saying or doing isn’t really an option when you—or for that matter, I– aren’t okay with the given circumstances, even if I were for who knows how long.
Therefore, as Hillel says, take you and me into consideration. Do it kindly and take care of me first, while making sure I also care for you.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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