RuPaul was my unexpected teacher on a Friday night in the UK.
My husband and I caught an episode of The Graham Norton Show last September while visiting his family in Manchester.
In the middle of being entertained, I got a lesson on how to set boundaries.
The three guests on Graham Norton’s red couch were Dame Helen Mirren, Jack Whitehall, and RuPaul. RuPaul was launching Drag Race UK. The conversation turned to advice he gives contestants on the show, “If you don’t know what to say, at least have have a list of ten things to say that work in every situation, always.”
He shared two, and after a hilarious memory gap, three of his favourite zingers. The four of us watching enjoyed the show, and I thought that was it.
Around the same time, I started to receive emails through my website requesting media interviews about my involvement in the Sedona sweat lodge when three people lost their lives in October 2009. I was fielding the unexpected requests from England, doing my best to keep the trauma of the past from crashing into the idyllic present.
Immediately upon my return to Toronto, I traded boots and umbrellas for flip flops and hikers, and set off to Arizona. I joined my friend Julie, and quietly marked the ten year anniversary of the sweat lodge in the canyons just north of Sedona. We were two friends, sharing stories and insights while enjoying one of the most beautiful places on earth.
It was a peaceful interlude before a series of interviews full of questions that have felt invasive at times.
Boundaries. I knew I would need to set boundaries. This time I would trust slowly, having learned from experience. When you give your story to someone else, you relinquish control.
As far as I can tell, there are three ways to have influence when we give our story to others:
- Ask every question that comes to mind. Over and over until you have clarity.
- Dig in and find “the why” behind the project.
- Tell the truth, but mind how it comes out of your mouth.
Throughout this time, I have returned over and over to one short video on Youtube. “RuPaul’s hilarious advice for a good chat” on the Graham Norton Show. It lightens the moment, and reminds me that it’s up to us to set our own limits.
We learn from many teachers. I’ve shared the video with clients and friends every time a conversation about setting boundaries comes up. I can foresee enjoying RuPaul’s advice when these interviews are released in the coming weeks and months.
When lines get crossed, I can call up my inner RuPaul, and have something – that works in every situation – at the tip of my tongue to say.
Thanks, RuPaul! 🙏