Two years ago, in the spirit of generosity and love, I made an offer for a 1:1 session for the lowest price I had ever offered for a 1:1 session in all of my years of business.
I called it a pay-what-you-can day, but I explicitly mentioned I had set a minimum donation for the session. Given the tight schedule I had going into the holidays, how much I give in just a one hour session, how deep I tend to go with my clients and how profound the breakthroughs had always been, I wanted to make sure the value exchange was win-win for both me and the person who would take me up on that offer. Someone paying $1 for an hour with me would have been NOT a win win for me. So I set that loving boundary.
I got a ton of beautiful messages from people who were so excited and thankful. Many booked sessions and paid well above the minimum. Some paid the minimum because it was what was in their budget at the time. All was going smoothly…
And then someone on my team informed me that there were a few people actually writing in and complaining about the minimum. She told me they had written quite hateful emails, attacking my character, and saying awful things, simply because I had set a minimum amount, and they wanted to pay lower than the minimum. “How dare I say it’s pay what you can and then set a minimum donation? Only an awful person would do that!” (The basic jist of their emails.)
A while ago, a woman who was interested in working with me received my program agreement. My program agreement is very clear on what the boundaries are around my time, when you can text me, what happens if you cancel a session last minute or don’t show up to a call, what to expect, and more. I always love it when someone I work with has this delineated because I feel safer knowing what the boundaries are and I know I won’t run the risk of crossing those boundaries.
She read it and signed it. Yet a few months into working with her, she was violating almost all the terms of the agreement, texting me at 7am, bombarding me and my team with 17 angry messages when she failed to show up for a session. When I kindly reminded her of the terms of our agreement, she lambasted me and my team, saying I was rigid and closed-hearted with my boundaries. Needless to say, I, gently yet firmly, ended our work together. But we continued to get emails from her insulting me, to the point where my very kind and calm assistant had to block her.
Coincidentally, the month after I let go of this client, another client came in. She was so thrilled to sign up to work with me she almost cried. When I sent her the program agreement, I got an unexpected email from her. It was a thank you note for so clearly stating the boundaries of our relationship in my program agreement. She told me that she absolutely loved my program agreement and that it had inspired her to set better boundaries. She has been working with me ever since. She is a dream client.
Another time when I was on a live Facebook video and graciously asked a woman to save her question for the end (which I had just stated at the beginning of the broadcast was the protocol for questions), she insulted me live, left the video, and blocked me. Everyone else was happy to wait until the end and we had an amazing Q&A session at the end.
There’s also the time a woman wrote in three weeks after our clearly stated refund period demanding a refund for a program she had ever even attempted to try out. When we informed her that our refund deadline had expired 3 weeks ago, she proceeded to publicly flog me on Facebook, tagging me to make sure everyone knew my name, and telling everyone what a horrible person I was.
That same day, I got an email from a client who had also tried to drop out of the program after the refund period. She wanted to thank me for holding our refund boundary and not giving it to her because she now saw clearly how she had been self sabotaging. When she didn’t get the refund, she actually began the program. She was writing to tell me just the first module had changed her life.
And finally, there’s the time I lovingly confronted one of my dearest friends after I found out she had been saying negative things about me to other people. I wanted to create a space for us to say whatever was in our hearts and clear any thing that could get in the way of our friendship and be honest. She refused to be honest. I had to end my friendship with her. It’s a boundary for me in relationships that if you can’t be honest and upfront, then there can be no real connection. She then proceeded to tell many clients I had referred to her that I was fake and dangerous.
A few months after I got a text from another friend that said, “Lisa, thank you for being such a badass at loving boundaries. You’ve inspired me and it has made me a better partner and friend to learn that from you. It’s one of my favorites of your qualities.”
Why am I telling you all this?
Because, honey-pie, as you can see, I have been pissing people off for years with my boundaries.
I have blocked more people than I can even think of on Facebook, kicked people out of programs, out of our forums. Ended friendships. Been awkwardly confronted by a hostile person I had never met, at a conference, who was apparently mad that my assistant had written her back (instead of me), when she wrote in asking for me to give her an entire itinerary for a trip to Panama. (Because apparently now I’m a travel agent that works for free on top of running a business and living my life.)
The truth is, we have a hard time with boundaries in our society. We are taught that to have boundaries is “rude.” Women, especially, have a very hard time with boundaries. From a young age we are told that our bodies, our minds, and our souls are free fodder for all sorts of poking, prodding, criticizing and sizing up. And that we should be okay with this free-for-all of unsolicited invasions of our mind, body, and soul, and put on a nice big smile with a cherry on top of it.
We are taught that if we do not conform to society’s values, if we are not the nice one or the good one that lets everyone walk all over her like a doormat, then we will be ostracized.
I was one of those good girls once. Very careful not to offend… Bending over backwards for family, friends, and clients so that I could be approved of and loved… Taking on majors in college that weren’t aligned with my soul, so I could please my parents… Allowing men to subtly violate my physical boundaries on dates because I didn’t want them to feel emasculated… Dieting and starving myself so I wouldn’t offend people with my curves… “Acting nice” towards people in my industry that had been downright nasty… and more.
You know where it got me?
It made me sick. So sick that doctors thought I had an autoimmune disease that would cause me to slowly suffocate to death.
It took me far, far away from my purpose. When you’re so busy trying to please everyone around you and not offend people with your boundaries, you end up making choices in your work and career that actually aren’t suited to you at all. They are more about keeping others happy. And meanwhile, your soul’s work in this world isn’t being done. And you’re hiding, internally miserable and repressed. Are you willing to pay that cost simply for others’ approval?
It made me feel secretly isolated and alone in my relationships. How do you know if someone is really your friend if you are so afraid of offending them that you have to contort yourself or hide pieces of yourself in order to get along?
And worst of all, it deprived the Universe of what I came here to do. The change I was called here to make in the first place.
I was so worried that by showing up authentically in what I was called to do that I would offend or disappoint someone. So, I wasn’t showing up fully.
On that day many years ago, when I sat waiting to find out if I had a disease that would end my life, I made up my mind. I didn’t care how scared I was, or how pissed off people were, I was going to follow my soul come hell or high water.
You know what happened? I got better. My mystery illness disappeared. My life opened up in ways I never imagined. Yes, I had people in my family send me hate mail when I dated someone they didn’t approve of. One of them even threatened death. Yes, I’ve lost many false friendships. Yes, I’ve pissed off some people by saying “no.”
I have the nasty emails and comments to prove it.
But I gained my soul. I gained my life. I gained freedom. I gained true friends. Real relationships. Amazing clients and community.
When I began to honor my boundaries by setting them with others and enforcing them, I had a lot more time for self-care and self-love. My ideas were suddenly better. I was more creative. I was better at what I did. I had energy. I had time to do what I was called here to do.
To be fully free, love, you’ve got to be okay with the fact that you’re going to piss off some people.
There will always be people out there looking to be offended, no matter how nice you are with your boundaries. Truly, I want you to really get this — you cannot do great things without making someone angry. No matter how well you try to say it or how neutral you try to make your face and voice.
We are so afraid of setting boundaries because deep down we’re afraid we won’t be loved if we do.
The truth is, no one’s love should come at the cost of your soul. Real love and connection isn’t about making you contort yourself in a thousand ways to please another person. Real love is about wanting those around you to be fully expressed and free. A person or situation who is aligned with real love will want you to have boundaries and will happily honor them.
Healthy people who get that will rejoice at your healthy boundaries. Those who bristle, attack, or lambast at the boundaries you set for your own well-being are not healthy, and frequently do not have good boundaries themselves. Why waste another moment of your time worrying about whether they like you or not? Why waste time on a person that doesn’t want to honor your well-being by respecting your boundaries? Put your focus instead on those who stand for the expansion of your freedom.
When you set boundaries you not only open up more love for yourself, but you also stand as a role model for others, and let them know it’s okay to have boundaries too.
Right now, I want you think about all the ways in which you are NOT following your soul’s desire and holding yourself back. You’re trying to be liked, trying to be nice, to not make someone angry, or worried about “accidentally coming across as rude.”
How much of that energy could you be spending on expanding your freedom and the freedom of others on the planet, instead of worrying about stepping on a few toes of people who will be angry no matter what?
I want to leave you with one last thing that is very important when setting boundaries: your intention.
It’s very important you be clear on your intention when you enforce and/or set a boundary. This will help you a lot when someone gets angry and you start to doubt yourself. Make sure that when you set a boundary, your heart is in it. Make sure that there is love for you and others in that boundary, and that you aren’t setting that boundary out of fear or a reaction. Be very clear that this boundary is aligned with you and is for the sake of more love for you and those around you.
If you do this, you will know your boundary came from love. And if someone gets offended, you won’t doubt yourself and your boundary because you will know it came from love. It’s not up to you to get everyone in the world to see your heart and your intention. Some people are in so much pain they will not see your loving intention, no matter what you do.
So if you are tired of doing free strategy sessions with people who are “just shopping around,” don’t actually intend to work with you or buy anything, or want to use it as a chance to “pick your brain” and that drains you… Then a great boundary would be to clarify to people who inquire who these sessions are and aren’t for, and be clear about that. Maybe charge a deposit fee to honor your time, which you refund to them if they show up for the call. That is a boundary that honors your time and your energy. If someone is offended by that or thinks that is rude, it is highly likely they were not going to be an aligned client for you. So why waste another moment worrying about whether or not they think you’re rude?
If fielding calls from your mother at 4am leaves you exhausted the next morning and unable to think clearly when you sit down to write your book, then tell her you are no longer taking calls at that hour. Put your ringer on silent. Love yourself enough to give yourself a good night’s rest. The intent there is one of freedom and love for all beings. No longer taking calls at 4am allows you to be more present for her when she calls at a more reasonable hour because you won’t be exhausted. It also allows you to write that epic book that is going to change someone’s life, finally.
People may not always understand your boundaries, but if you set them with good intentions and an open heart, that’s all you need to worry about. No matter how loving a boundary is, someone is always going to be pissed off. No matter how loving you are, there will always be someone who is offended.
I have had people on social media be offended that I volunteered at Standing Rock (when I was welcomed by the elders at camp with open arms!). I’ve had people be angry that my company donated proceeds to a reputable charity that helps women around the world become empowered and independent. Someone is always going to be angry about something ridiculous.
If we are here to do great things in the world, we must understand and know our own personal boundaries. We must respect our own boundaries and state them clearly, with love. In doing so, we serve those around us by serving ourselves. And yes, that is going to piss some people off sometimes.
But no one who did great things with great love had no hate mail and no angry protesters.
If you’re not pissing someone off, love, you’re not doing it right.