How a Manifesto Can Free You From People-Pleasing
A friend of mine wrote a personal manifesto to clarify and celebrate what is true for her right now at this time in her life. She sent it to me, and I thought it was so brilliant. I asked her if I could use it as my blog post this week. I know you'll like it!
A manifesto is a statement or declaration of the intentions and beliefs of the writer. It's an excellent way to get clear on paper about what you want in your life. As you read it, I hope you'll consider what would be on your own personal manifesto. I'll give you some thoughts at the end on why I think this one is such a great example.
Healthy Boundaries Manifesto
by Ruth Denyer*
Radical self-love is the concept upon which this manifesto is based and will provide a framework for how decisions will be made, moving forward, in my life. Radical self-love is defined as our inherent state of being, a state where we are worthy and enough.
I am adopting these behaviours not to build a wall to protect myself or hide, to hinder my personal growth or development, or to become a less caring or kind person, but to honour myself as a being who was placed on this Earth by a loving God, who recognizes that my one task is to develop my unique set of gifts and to offer them, compassionately and willingly, to the world in a way that honours my being.
Change happens in the blink of an eye—a decision is made, a shift happens in the brain, and a new way of interacting in the world comes forth. Please forgive yourself when you make a mistake, it is not easy to change the conditioning and behaviour that took sixty years to create. And there are those around you who have benefitted from your lack of healthy boundaries—sitting with their anger and confusion will be part of this journey. When in doubt, return to the principle of radical self-love and use that to guide your behaviour.
The experiences that have lead me to create this manifesto were painful, damaging, hurtful, traumatic and unpleasant, and I honour them all. I also recognize that I am still not at peace with many of them, still holding the uncomfortable feelings they create within me.
I know it's hard to be reconciled
not everything is exactly
the way it ought to be
but please turn around
and step into the future
leave memories behind
enter the land of hope
-Zbigniew Herbert, from “A Life”
Asserting Healthy Boundaries: Eight Guidelines
1. I will carefully guard the energy I direct to individuals, groups and causes and be judicious in selecting those I support or allow into my life.
2. I will choose my actions to support my best interests. Should someone see me as the answer to their problem, as someone who will carry out their agenda, this should serve as a red flag to proceed with caution and to deliberate on how much I want to get involved, or whether I should completely step away.
3. I recognize that it is sheer folly to fix, save or rescue anyone. I can’t enable anyone, do it for them. I can assist in the development of others, should I choose to do so, or assist them to the degree that I find acceptable.
4. I have every right to set my own agenda and priorities, justifying my life to no one. When or if the time comes, I am allowed to change my mind, my course of action in life, without defending my decision to others.
5. I am prepared to be scrupulously honest about who I am, my True Self, when anyone projects onto me his or her fantasies of whom they would like me to be. Should they not listen or modify their views, consider distancing or, if necessary, ending the relationship.
6. Conversely, I must recognize that I can’t project desired qualities onto others. I must step back, take time, and let people show me who they are—their actions will demonstrate what I need to know.
7. I recognize that I am an agreeable, outgoing, and conscientious person and my automatic response is to say “yes” when others make requests of me. Build in some time to ponder the answer by saying “let me think about it” or “let me check my calendar”. Do not succumb to the pressure for an immediate answer. If I say “no” to a request, I do not need to defend my decision. I will guard my precious gift of time.
8. I have the right to maintain safe physical and emotional boundaries. Unwanted touching, grabbing, hugging, kissing, inappropriate comments, unwelcome judgement, gaslighting, betrayal or toxic gossip will not be tolerated.
*Ruth Denyer is a retired librarian, spiritual director and currently a student of the Living School, a program run by the Centre for Action and Contemplation. After a lifetime of people pleasing, she decided to write the “Healthy Boundaries Manifesto” to mark the occasion of her 60th birthday. She is determined to live by these guidelines for the rest of her life.
I love this manifesto because it acknowledges the past, present, and future of the writer in a compassionate and understanding way. I love how Ruth recognizes and takes responsibility for her part in creating past relationships that didn't quite live up to her own expectations and desires. She's made it clear who she is and how she wants to live going forward in this next stage of her life.
The value of taking the time to write out a manifesto is you have it to refer to in the future. You can remind yourself of the person you want to be and the values you want to uphold in your life. And for recovering people-pleasers, putting a stake in the ground and saying this is what I want in my life can be the step you need to take in being firm with boundaries in the future.
Writing a manifesto is getting your truth in front of you. It's clarifying and inspiring. It's helpful in any life transition. I hope you'll make time for yourself and write your own manifesto.