I have a teacher friend who talks a lot about boundary setting and respect. Working with children is a wonderful (althought not always pleasant) way to learn about yourself because it leaves no room for doubt. Children will make it clear as day if they like you or not. And if they don't, it's up to you to figure out first if it matters to you and second what you can do to shift things. What my teacher friend has learned through her work with children is that children will not "like" you until you have set some firm boundaries around what you will andwill not accept in any given interaction.
Boundary setting is vital in a healthy relationship - any relationship whatsoever, whether it's for the two minutes you're in line at the store or with your lifetime partner - because they give the other person and you freedom to be yourselves. When we know where we stand with someone, our energy is freed up from having to figure that out, and we can focus more on the interaction itself than the nuances behind it. And when we set boundaries ourselves, we feel better about who we are. Setting boundaries is thus a gift to both the giver and the receiver.
People pleasing blurs boundary lines, if they're even there to begin with. We become less and less sure of who we are because we define ourselves more and more by others' reactions to us. "Acting out" (being a b----) does the opposite - it creates those lines so firmly that no-one has any interest in crossing them. Either way, we end up unhappy.
Setting healthy boundaries after a lifetime of not setting them can be confusing at first. The easiest way to go about doing this is to ask yourself what it is you want. What do you want? It's a simple enough question, yet a lot of us have never truly asked ourselves it. When we know what we want, we can start setting our boundaries accordingly.
So today, the task is to ask myself what it is I want, and if I am setting the boundaries around myself clear enough to honor and respect both myself and those around me. I deserve the best in life, and so do you. The clearer we are on what that best is, and how to honor each other while achieving it, the better the experience will be for all of us.