Stabbed in the Back

You’ve opened your heart, trusted someone you cared about, allowed yourself to be vulnerable, and he or she stabbed you in the back. Now, you look back and can see every red flag that indicated this might be coming, and you ignored them because you saw the only goodness and the sacred potential in this person. Still, you were stabbed in the back.

People disrespect you, friends let you down, even your own family could betray you. No doubt, betrayal leaves wounds and scars that can endure and cause the deterioration of your entire system, body, mind, and spirit.

What should you do when you’ve been stabbed in the back?

Jesus had the nerve to suggest you should forgive those who stab you in the back 7 times 70 times (Matthew 18:22), and I’m certain that it’s not about the math problem so much as it is about if someone stabs you in the back you should just forgive them over and over again.

Forgive them, yes, but do not let them walk all over you.

What can you do when you’ve been stabbed in the back?

You can forgive them for not honoring your ability to ability to only see them in the best light. No need to punish yourself for putting your faith in – and trusting – someone else, which would be the natural response of your ego which stands in judgment of everyone and everything, even you.

At the very least, take sacred action to set boundaries for those who disrespect you, and distance yourself from those you know have a propensity to stab you in the back.

You are responsible for the perseverance of your sacred space. Do not let anyone take your power away or have dominion over you. Remember that even in the worst situations someone may be able to impose their will over your body, but you must allow them to have dominion over your mind. Stop giving your power away. Do not allow them to exert authority over your mind.

Pay more attention. Remember the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you.” Not all people are loving, open, honest, and respectful of others, like you. Every now and then, your bound to run across the occasional psychopath, sociopath or narcissist, who could certainly throw your otherwise peaceful or harmonious life off-balance, or worse, even turn your whole world upside down.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who do not have your best interest at heart. Some people are just toxic, and it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you to do.

When you’re just getting started setting boundaries, “back off,” and a firm, “no” are good ways to protect your sacred space. Drawing firm lines in the sand (metaphorically or otherwise) around you is also effective.

When you’re totally comfortable with the idea of protecting yourself from the negative influence or impact of others on your psychological wellbeing or your life at all, then you can consider the idea of loving them unconditionally.

Loving others, and blessing those who hurt you, is a tough row to hoe, but if you wrap your heart and mind around the idea that everyone (including you) is only doing the best with what they have, you might be able to imagine having compassion (not feeling sorry) for that person. Consider, if you were in his or her shoes, having lived the very life that he/she had lived up to that point, you would have responded in exactly the same way.

You might be able to find the wherewithal to forgive the person by whom you were stabbed in the back, or maybe even not judge them for any wrongdoing at all, for they were simply doing the best the could with the tools they had at the time.

Don’t worry if all that love seems inconceivable at present, but at the very least, stop letting yourself be stabbed in the back.

It’s up to you to do it.

They Get Angry When You Set Boundaries

Don’t be surprised when people get upset at you when you’re going about the business of setting boundaries in your life. Often the first response you are met with is some form of rage. When you begin to take a stand for yourself and protect your own sacred space, they get angry when you set boundaries.

Bullies are used to having the upper hand and getting what they want. When somebody starts drawing lines in the sand, insisting that they not be crossed, this rocks the bully’s world. They are bound to respond negatively, out loud or more silently/passive aggressively. Either way, you know your decision to stand up for yourself has upset them.

If you’re dealing with someone who is angry because you’ve asserted your right to set and enforce a boundary, then chances are the responsibility lies with you for allowing this person to take advantage of your generosities or overpower you prior to having to set this boundary.

At first, the inconvenience may have been mild enough that you were able to overlook it, but after a while, it was clear that you were being taken advantage of, and now it’s time to take care of business.

If your bully is masterful, don’t be surprised when he or she responds with vile accusations of your being at fault, or insisting that you are the bully who is inconsiderate and trying control or manipulate the bully. This intimidation tactic will work sometimes to get the bully what he or she wants. Be prepared for it and don’t fall for it.

It’s not that these people are bad, wrong, or broken. They simply have not learned how to respect the rights of other people up ‘til now. By your setting of boundaries and sticking to them, you are helping the bullies learn that rights of others exist and should be respected. They may learn this valuable lesson from you and others who start to exercise their rights to their own sacred space over time.

So, how do you respond when someone expresses anger at your enforcement of a boundary?

Taking the high road would be not responding at all. Think of this as his or her protesting too much or acting out as his or her inner child tantrum runs wild. Maintain a compassionate state of mind and do not respond. Let the bully fully express his or her rage as much as possible but don’t take it personally.

Remember, the problem, here, is not with you, no matter what they say. Zip your lip, understand that he or she is doing the best he or she can do with the tools that he or she has at the time, and walk away with your boundary firmly in place.

There is nothing to feel bad about. Things are as they are, and people will respond in whatever way seems to fit their state of mind at the time. That’s the way it is. And if someone doesn’t respect your right to set and adhere to a boundary you’ve set, that’s on them, not on you.

The setting of boundaries is one of the methods you can use to keep from losing your energy. Take it back and keep people from draining your energy by limiting the control that bullies, toxic friends, or energy vampires might have had over you.

Difference Between Therapy and Friendship

There is a difference between therapy and friendship. Whether you are a coach, consultant, counselor, or member of the clergy, there is (or should be) a clear line between the therapeutic relationship and that of being a friend.

If you’ve been professionally trained in therapy and are licensed by the State or some other governing agency, more likely than not you are held accountable to uphold a code of ethics which assumes certain boundaries be maintained throughout the therapeutic relationship.

Then there are unregulated forms of therapy, such as peer counseling, life-coaching, religious counseling, and spiritual consultation, among others. For these therapeutic relationships, the lines of boundaries can blur, be crossed, or violated.

Some may say in religious therapeutic relationships that due to the separation of church and state, that no professional boundaries be maintained or enforced, and we see where that has gotten us. All you have to do is to look for the news stories of clerics in compromising positions for not maintaining boundaries to make you think twice.

The ACA code of ethics is an accepted guideline which sets forth a prescribed set of boundaries to protect both the therapist and the client. It helps to maintain a positive therapeutic environment for effective counsel and reduce the risk of compromise.

Of course, the first thought that comes to mind it that of sexual conduct. The agreed standard that intimacy or any sexual conduct in nature not be engaged in at any time during the therapeutic environment, nor for a period of five years following the completion of a therapeutic relationship.

There are other boundaries which help maintain a professional relationship between therapist and client, like not going to the movies, out to lunch, exchanging gifts, attending birthday parties, or other social events.

Yet, as in all things, these boundaries which should be enforced by all people helping other people, whether regulated or not, are amidst a spectrum, left to the interpretation of the therapist or the company they keep.

On one end of the spectrum your therapist might meet with you in an office with no amenities, there is no physical contact between counselor and client, not even a handshake. If you meet your counselor in the aisle in a supermarket, you will find him or her unapproachable. Even if you’re amidst a serious emotional outpouring, when your time is up, the session is over. If you can’t pay, the fee is non-negotiable, and there is no out of office or after-hours support.

On the other end of the spectrum, your counselor may offer you tea, may begin your session with a handshake and conclude with a cursory hug. If you meet this counselor in public, he or she may smile, stop, and engage in conversation with you for a while. You may run over your assigned time limit if reasonable or necessary, and there may be some flexibility in making payments and/or additional connection methods or support outside office hours.

There is no right or wrong way to do this as different modalities and schools of therapeutic thought interpret these boundaries differently. There is no judgment here, but the primary goal is to unequivocally protect and support the client.

Transference is a normal occurrence within the therapeutic relationship and it’s up to you to find the boundaries which work best for you, preserving this sacred, safe space.

If you are sitting in the seat of the coach, consultant, or counselor it is up to you to make clear your boundaries at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship and remind your client periodically when it appears, he or she might be approaching a boundary.

If you are the patient, it is on you to adhere to these boundaries and be certain to tell your counselor if you have boundaries of your own which need to be respected. If you feel like any boundary is unreasonable, talk it through with your counselor.

Talk to your counselor about your feelings and don’t keep them bottled up lest they explode. Negotiate your therapeutic relationship and make it work for both of you, or it may be time for a change.

Setting Boundaries

Are you ready to move your life to the next level?

It’s necessary for you to clearly define your work area. It’s the same thing as having an office at your workplace so that you can have the ability to close the door and concentrate on the important things that need tending to in an effort to maximize your effectiveness.

The same goes for your life. You need to create for yourself a safe area to do the work of planning, preparing, growing and expanding so that you can move to the next level. To accomplish this, you must create healthy boundaries.

setting boundaries

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

Before you can go about setting boundaries to hold the sacred space for you to conduct your personal work, you might consider taking some time to go inside and discover within yourself where your boundaries ought to be located.

You know when someone in your circle of influence says or does something that doesn’t make you feel good. In fact, it may make you feel downright bad. Easy: draw a line in the sand right there. Write it down and keep going, until you have demarcated your personal safe zone.

But wait, there’s more…

Who are the people in your life who drain your personal reserves, toxic people who destroy your sense of wellbeing, who disrespect, hurt or abuse you? See them clearly for who they are, and begin to consider protecting your sacred space from these emotional (and/or physical) intruders.

Setting Boundaries

Find ways to either control the space between you and them or protect your personal space from their negative influence. Inform people what is acceptable and what is not acceptable as you define and protect your sacred space with love and respect.

This was an expensive step for me in my practice as I work with a lot of type A personalities who regularly disrespected me – not in an effort to berate me directly, but as a way to fully express themselves while we conducted deep work – while is it was effective, it didn’t make me feel good in those moments.

I had to establish a boundary and be willing to back it up. The day I drew the line in the sand, I called each person who would have crossed the line in the past, had I established it. I clearly communicated to them about my decision to set this clear boundary and enforce it. Enforcing it would mean severing our professional relationship. I had to come to the point where I valued myself enough, that I would no longer let people disrespect me, no matter how much they were willing to pay me to let them do it.

Some of the clients were offended and severed the relationship at the conclusion of the call. A few stayed but crossed the line and I promptly cut them off, and they departed disgruntled, while others continued to work with me, keeping their emotions in check when directed at me.

This helped me to create an exciting safe place for me to work, filled with love and mutual respect, empowering my clients and I to flourish within the space that we do our best work together.

Setting Boundaries

Once you establish a boundary, you must go about the work of setting boundaries by clearly defining them with the potential offenders, as they should be allowed the courtesy of honoring your boundary out of respect to you.

In terms of the more violent offenders, it may be counterproductive to approach them face to face. You need not face extraordinary drama or abuse when setting boundaries. In this case, it may be in your best interest to just create distance – a safe space – between you and the more difficult people in your life. You will be better off without them.

Enforcing Boundaries

Unfortunately, setting boundaries without enforcing them is folly. Enforcing the boundaries you have set can be the most difficult part of the boundary process. It may include saying goodbye to people you care for, love, admire, respect (or in my case, pay you good money). Nevertheless, if you’re setting boundaries, you must enforce them.

You will discover, as you define and protect your space, you will attract more centered, supportive and loving people to fill the vacancies left by those who moved away from your circle of influence and thrive as you continue to pursue the sacred work of you and achieving your highest and best.