Setting Boundaries for Yourself
The topic of boundaries is an odd one for me to pick given the Vedic view that boundaries do not exist. But, never mind that for now. Let's talk about personal boundaries. How to you keep from being completely taken advantage of, saying yes when you really want to say no, staying waaay too long in jobs, situations, relationships that have reached their expiration date, that kind of thing.
Soma bandits (a.k.a. emotional vampires)
There is a semi-affectionate term amongst meditators for people who are looking to feed off your attention but offer nothing in return. "Soma" is the Sanskrit term for "flow of consciousness" but it can also be translated as attention. Your soma, in other words, the direction you are placing your attention, is the most valuable thing you have. Everything in creation likes to receive soma. When you are in a good friendship, partnership, relationship of any kind, for it to be successful there needs to be reciprocation of soma. Some people, however, missed this point, and they love to talk all about themselves, especially their problems, and if you have any suggestions as to what they can do to help themselves, that's the last thing they want to hear as their victim status is a source of attention. You feel drained after an interaction, as you literally are. With people like this, be kind and be brief. When they start showing an interest in you as a person and not just as a sounding board, you can loosen the boundary again. Now that you have heard the term, you can not unlearn it, and you will see them everywhere.
Saying yes when inside you're screaming no
If you have trouble saying no, you will find yourself over and over doing things you don't want to be doing. This is a habit of overriding your inner voice. The first step to overcome this is to start meditating so that inner voice becomes much louder and clearer. Next, start basing more decisions based on what your intuition is telling you, even if it doesn't make complete "sense." As you meditate more, your identity will be based more on your true Self within and less on what you might think others are thinking about you. And we tend to think people will flip out if we say no, but more often than not, they're fine. If you watch other people who set solid boundaries for themselves, you'll see those boundaries are usually respected. And if they do flip out, that's on them. Start saying no to little things and work your way up from there. It starts to be kind of thrilling. You may find yourself going overboard and saying no to everything just for the fun of saying it.
Being your own border patrol
Your life and family are like your own country and you can play the role of border patrol. If someone has racist or sexist or negative baggage they want to bring into your country, you can tell them they are welcome to come in but that have to leave those bags at customs. It can be difficult when it's someone you've known a long time, and they are used to treating you or those in your life a certain way, or perhaps you have a traditional dynamic that you have grown out of. A more non-direct approach is to pull your soma. Say someone wants to engage in gossip with you. You can either change the topic, say something nice about the person being discussed to diffuse the negativity like "they can't be all bad," or simply walk away.
Staying too long in bad situations
This usually happens due to two fears, being afraid of the unknown and/or being afraid of hurting someone else. I think this phrase whenever I am in a situation that I know deep down is no longer for me, "You can always get what you don't want." The unknown can be nerve-wracking, but if you're already in a situation that you're not happy with, might as well shake things up a bit. Meditation helps with having that solid, grounded sense that you are fine no matter what happens, so it makes you freer to try something new, even radically new. If the hesitation is about the concern of hurting someone else, the truth is, if you know in your soul the situation has already come to an end, you're hurting the person by staying in it. Everyone is One so there is no action that is right for one person's evolution and wrong for someone else's. Your leaving the job or the relationship or bowing out of a commitment that feels wrong or whatever needs to be left will set that person on the direction they need to go. Staying too long will only make things worse. The situation will still end, only this time, you likely won't have control over it and it will cause more fallout. If you are not happy in your situation but don't know where to go next, get quiet, look for that pull of charm in some direction. It doesn't have to be the "answer," it's just letting you know what the next right action is, and then the next, and then the next. That yellow brick road can lead you exactly where you never knew you needed to be.
I don't know what I would do without my favorite soma bandits.