It’s been a tough day. Boss keeps calling you the whole day and demands that deadlines are met (plus some other things). So that when the day is done, you’re dead tired from work. It’s 6:30PM and you would have just wanted to lie down and relax for a while, do nothing, and recoup before taking your dinner.
Then your phone rings. It’s your friend again. She habitually calls you around three to four times a week to talk about her lovelife. She remembers you every time she and her beau are in a fight. Must be her shaky lovelife again. And of course, she needs to hear your advice. She needs your listening ear, she needs a friend. But you’re tired. Despite that, you take her call, after asking how are you, she proceeds with how she is even before you can reply to her question. And then you hear the teleserye-inspired love story all over again. You try to tell her that you need to rest between her sobs but she’s in such a miserable state to listen to you.
By the time you hang up, it’s already 9:00PM. You haven’t taken your dinner and you’re all the more drained because of that drama delivered to you fresh via cellular phone. You fall asleep without having recouped, never mind the dinner and the clothing change.
This is a commonplace to women nowadays. A “friend” who drains your energy is called “energy vampire.” I want to make this clear. I have full sympathies towards friends who are going through something. But I have deeper sympathies to people who allow other people to “dump” their baggages on them without boundaries.
In many occasions, we suffer when we do not set healthy boundaries for ourselves. Setting healthy boundaries is a non-negotiable in keeping our wellbeing. Let’s get clear on this. We need to have the courage to say “No” to people who drain too much of our energy. If your friend habitually ‘dumps’ on you, chances are, she perceives you as someone who doesn’t have boundaries. But most importantly, ask yourself why you allow these people to dump on you? What do you fear so much from disallowing them? What have you got to lose?
Sure, it is not that good to lose friends; but shouldn’t friendship operate on mutual respect? What is the quality of your friendship when the benefit only goes one way? Most often than not, friends who drain your energy with the encore telecast of their life drama don’t listen to your advice. They just need to hear themselves play their story over again.
Sure, these kinds of relationships feed our need to be needed. We feel good when we are called upon for help and it feels good to help. But check if you’re stretching yourself too much. Feel free to unsubscribe to drama issues. You can choose to not take their calls. IF we are to care for others, we also need to care for ourselves. We need to be clear about the level that we are allowing people to use up our energy.
Of course, we need to share our energies too. “No man is an island,” so they say. There will also be times when we need help from someone we can confide too. But always be mindful of the limits. Part of caring for the self is getting clear with boundaries. Again. You are free to decline calls. You are free to decline night out invites. You can choose to sleep early. You can stay home and be alone. It’s up to you to set it. Do not worry so much about what others will say about you setting boundaries. Remember, those who are unhappy with you having these boundaries for yourself are the ones who enjoy you having none.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a teacher at Tuburan Institute, Inc. She is also a wife and a mother of two. For questions and comments, feel free to drop her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Facebook page, Joan Mae Soco.
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