Better Late Than Never
I serendipitously came across your name here at Spirituality & Health a few moments ago! I teach a movement class called ‘Nia’ and one of the regular attendees of my classes has also become a good friend over the last four years. I’m feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place as a friend/teacher, in that this woman is consistently late for not only my classes, but everything else. She tends to arrive 15 to 20 minutes late for every class and I find this not only mildly disruptive, but somewhat disrespectful towards me as a ‘professional’. I’m unfortunately at a point now where this has gone on so long (I have previously mentioned to her that I appreciate people arriving on time as much as is within their control) that I feel an animosity towards her when she arrives in class. I’m rather disappointed in myself in that I have not firmly set my boundaries with her so in part this is my issue also!
I empathize with your frustration. I have a couple of perspectives on this, that will hopefully assist you in taking your power back and defusing the situation.
First, I suggest you consider that it really isn’t her being late that is annoying you, it is the story that you have made up in your head about WHY she is late.
Let me illustrate my point. The story you have made up is that she doesn’t respect you enough to be on time. Hence, you are hurt and annoyed. However, how would you feel if she told you that the real story is that she is insanely busy, can barely squeeze the class in and respects you, your teaching and your class so much that she can’t stand missing it? That would undoubtedly cause you to be flattered every time she rushes into your class.
I would consider either asking her what is up that is causing her to be late, or, deciding it doesn’t matter and making up a new story—a flattering one—about what her being late means. If her being late isn’t really the issue, but rather what you are thinking about it; then it doesn’t really matter that she is late. Hence, you will be set free if you let go of the issue without even knowing the truth about why.
As a speaker, I empathize, though. Sometimes people get up and walk out when I am speaking and I simply practice self-observation. I notice that my ego makes up a story that they don’t like what I am saying, or I’m boring or something equally unflattering. When instead, I choose to listen to my Spirit (rather than my ego), I realize that they just had to go to the bathroom, or had another appointment, but wanted to hear as much of my presentation as possible before they had to leave, or… As long as I know I am doing my part, the audience is responsible for theirs. After years of speaking, it doesn’t phase me at all anymore when people leave; I have learned it rarely, if ever, has anything to do with me.
If you feel that you really need to set boundaries, you can tell the class that latecomers aren’t allowed, or you can pull your friend aside and explain to her how important it is to you that she arrive on time. However, as in any relationship, when your happiness is dependent on what everyone else does, you set yourself up to be a victim. When you have a lot of students, that is a lot of power to make you miserable.
Before you say anything to her, I invite you to see if you can do some deep self-inquiry to see what is really bothering you. In doing so, you will discover whether you can simply let go of the issue, or whether you need to indeed “set boundaries” or have a heart to heart with your friend. Then, if action is needed, do your best to take action aligned with your Spirit, rather than your ego.
Let me know what you decide and how it works!