Because I believe my massage therapist is brilliant and insightful, I am going to share tips that she shares with me from time to time. Today's nugget is particularly beautiful considering we are currently filling up the pool in our backyard.
One thing I often struggle with in my personal relationships is taking on other peoples' problems and trying to solve the problems for them. In the past six months I have been working on learning how to say, "That's tough." And then give the problem back to the person to solve. Some days I am better at it than others. Some days I allow people to take advantage of me (and then resent it) and other days I don't let them get away with anything.
When I allow people to take advantage of me and get away with inappropriate behavior, I am allowing them into the "swimming pool". I am saying, "Come on in, the water is fine. Stay as long as you want. I'm here to make your life easier, more relaxing, more comfortable." There are certain people in my life that should be in the swimming pool - my immediate family. As an adult, that would typically means spouse and children. If you don't have a spouse or children, it would mean allowing people in that you know will come for a swim and then leave. Or perhaps people who come for a swim, but bring their own snacks to the party.
You decide who you allow into the swimming pool, but then you live with the consequences of how they use your space and how long they stay.
For the majority of people in my life, I should be a trampoline. Trampolines allow for flexibility, but they allow me to bounce the person back out of my space and hand the problems back to them. These are my healthiest relationships. It allows me to help others and show empathy, but it also allows them to figure their own stuff out. You could say that it allows them to "bounce" things off of me.
It's really easy to blur those boundaries and allow someone to jump right off the trampoline into the swimming pool. I am REALLY good at doing that. When I do, my expectations for people soar higher than are realistic. I start to enable bad behavior in order to "fix it". It becomes inappropriate and hard to let go the longer they swim.
It is very difficult to send someone, dripping wet, back to the trampoline. Really - the two are not meant to be used at the same time.