Coach Shari: Pushing the Envelope
Ever since my husband left to go on a ski trip with the guys, Miles the Pug has had a slight behavior change. I really didn’t notice anything at first, but as time went on, it became quite obvious.
Miles always sleeps at the end of the bed on his special comforter. Every night, he knows his routine— if he sees me beginning to work my way upstairs, he runs to get in his position on the bed. His ingrained habit is very consistent.
However, there was a slight shift in his behavior this week. First, I woke up in the morning and realized that Miles was asleep on the pillow above my head. Apparently, he had moved into this new position in the early morning. On the following day, I awoke shortly after just falling asleep to find him already on the pillow above my head. I let these new habits slide.
The third day, I was riding my stationary bike in front of the television. I was deeply engrossed in Dr. Phil and his dysfunctional guests when something made me look over. There was Miles, walking across the coffee table. He had never attempted something like that before. I yelled at him to get down and he scampered away. The fourth day was the final straw.
I walked into the family room and sat down on a chair to watch TV. I was sitting for only five minutes when I slowly turned to my left. There was Miles, sitting on the couch, relaxing on the beautiful throw that I just bought less than a week ago. Before this event, Miles hadn’t jumped on the couch for two years; he’s really clear on the fact that it’s forbidden.
Now, the part that really stunned me was his reaction. I yelled at him and he just stared at me and didn’t move. I yelled a second time and he slowly jumped down. I wondered to myself what was going on in that Pug brain.
I thought about how as each day had passed this week, Miles sensed a little more opportunity to take advantage of me. Each day, he pushed the envelope a little bit further, culminating in his relaxed nap on my new throw.
Miles broke the well-established rules in the house for one reason only— he sensed that he could. But why did it happen now and not ever before? After some thought, I had my answer. I didn’t continue to set well defined boundaries for what was acceptable behavior. I didn’t call him on the first behavior change that I witnessed.
That got me thinking about how it’s really not that different with the “humans” that you have in your life. I’m sure you’ve had an experience where an individual takes advantage of you in some small way. It could be a friend, a family member, a co-worker or a love interest. If you neglect to acknowledge your dissatisfaction with the situation and then state your firm expectation, the individual will be emboldened to push even further. Before you know it, you’re wondering how things ever escalated to this degree. Why did they do it? Because they sensed they could.
It’s up to you. You are the one that needs to be clear in your boundaries and firm on what you will accept and what you won’t accept in your life. You are the one that needs to be consistent with the message that you send to others.
If you have some work to do, you need to start NOW.