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Life’s Too Short

Life’s Too Short

Is Work Worth Dying For?

Is your job killing you? Perhaps. If you’re working in a stressful environment it’s likely your life expectancy will diminish and you’ll devote more time and resources addressing personal medical needs. Many anecdotal examples exist that underscore the physical and emotional damages resulting from ongoing stressful situations. However, there is also ample empirical evidence, presented in data collected spanning dozens of studies conducted over the past half century, describing the personal risks associated with stressors.

Life’s Too Short

My father, a wise octogenarian, didn’t coin the phrase “Life’s too short.” However, my dad certainly adopted it and made those words part of the fabric of my life. My dad’s use of those three short words often become part of any conversation when something has gone wrong with relationships, employment, and plans; as well as the appearance of unexpected issues, situations, and needs. He firmly believes relationships are too valuable to squander because “Life’s too short.” For the same reason, he contends that no job, regardless of the number of zeros, is worth unacceptable stress, worry, or disappointment. He believes a person is better off happily poor, than wealthy and miserable.

His continual use of the expression, and its meaning, has become increasingly tangible to me as time passes. Those words are also extremely relevant as I consider them in the context of my experiences with a company that negatively impacted my well-being.

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Toxicity in the Workplace

I very much wish I’d taken my dad’s admonishments to heart during the time I was associated with that dysfunctional, self-aggrandizing corporate entity. My decision to remain with the company because of my friendship with the majority owner, and the handsome paycheck, was a huge error. The resulting issues were wholly unpredictable to me.

It was a toxic work environment where narcissistic manipulation was commonplace and “energy vampires” were everywhere. Truth and comity were often absent. Few took responsibility for their actions. Passive aggression at the highest levels destroyed self-confidence and hampered both production and trust. More than a few empire builders on staff were willing to destroy others in their selfish ladder-climbing quests for power and prestige. Two such individuals, with serious insecurity issues, made my life particularly miserable. One was a towering tree who carried a gun and threatened me on multiple occasions. On one such occasion he threatened me with his firearm.

Where was the business owner during those years? Present, but disconnected. An appeaser who chose to ignore underlying issues and ongoing victimization. That added to workplace stress.

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In retrospect? “Life’s too short.” My health and peace of mind would have been served well if I’d extricated myself from that untenable situation far sooner.

The Lesson

We should all consider the wisdom and love behind the reminder that “Life’s too short,” when those words are shared by loved ones or close friends who truly care about our well-being. Indeed, life is too short.

Workplace stressors can undermine emotional stability, aggravate existing physical and mental issues, result in cardiovascular damage and digestive disorders; as well as create relationship issues outside the workplace. Dietary changes will often occur and many turn to alcohol and other mind numbing escapes. Eating disorders and financial problems will often follow.

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Stressors can be associated with temperature, lighting, sound, smells, proximity to others, etc…  Physical and mental stresses: Influences involving harmful chemicals, drugs, and alcohol.

Steps to Solving Stress Problems

The first logical step is to extricate oneself, where and when possible, from stress inducing people, places, and things.

Second, seek spiritual relief.

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Third, seek direction from trusted family, friends, and associates.

Finally, become familiar with options to better your life. Doing these steps will help you to discover a better life path to follow.

Featured photo credit: Josue Bieri via unsplash.com

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Steve Fowler

Entrepreneur

Life’s Too Short

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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