Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"

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slugsandsnails

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Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« on: February 21, 2018, 08:23:21 PM »
Hi, all. I hope this is the right part of the forum for this! I seem to have a specific problem with a couple of people on social media - it's really my fault as these things only happen because of my inability to set boundaries, and frankly, I am a wuss lol (heck, I only recently realised that there were such things as boundaries lol!) I've been working on setting some boundaries with my Nparents - scary stuff, but necessary!

Anyway, I not only have wobbly boundaries with my parents, I have them with just about everyone else. Add to that my desperation to please, and you have a walking doormat... Anyway, I got heavily enmeshed in social media a few years ago, due to illness, bereavement and social isolation. As I've been waking up a bit, and my health has improved, I've backed right off Twitter because, to be honest, it was doing my head in & keeping up with notifications was stressing me out. I've been thinking about going back but just can't face it right now.

I had got friendly with a group of ladies and we chatted every day for a long time, which was great. I even met one of them - she was lovely. I was also being messaged every day by a guy with whom I shared silly pictures.

I let people know that I was having a break a couple of months ago, and since then, one of the ladies from that group I mentioned has been WhatsApping me every day, always saying the same things - she sends me good morning & good night messages, asks me about my plans etc. Thing is, I've never met this lady & am unlikely to. That chap I mentioned before has been messaging me every day via Pinterest, of all places. I'm never likely to meet him either.  (Note: I'm not suggesting that either of these people has a PD - mind you, how would I know?)

It feels weird explaining my plans to this lady, someone I've never met - I almost began to feel like I needed her "permission" to do things, and had to let her know where I was - echoes of my relationship with my NMum, so I guess that's a bit triggering!

I have met in my time on social media a couple of men who turned out to be very abusive and were almost certainly narcissists (one in particular was very bad - very long story lol! I thought about calling the police but didn't in the end - he's gone away now). The other one was a self-confessed Satanist who took a shine to me and sent me some VERY weird stuff. Oh, and there was the guy who started out "normal" but then sent me a stream of naked lady pics! I have in the past tended to take everyone at face value online - much less so now!

Thing is, I feel awful about it but I'm coming to dread the messages sent by the 2 aforementioned people. They are nice though (I think they are both lonely and I know what that feels like!) and I don't want to hurt them. It's just I'm trying to leave social media such as Twitter and Facebook behind because of the negative effect it has on me, and because of my health problems I've got limited energies which I don't want to waste. So what to do? It's a tough one!

I appreciate it's my fault - I never said it wasn't OK to message me & I always respond because, as I say, I've been conditioned by my upbringing to do so. I didn't realise I even had a boundary until I felt it was being overwhelmed! I've just come back from the cinema with my friend & of course, there's a goodnight message from WhatsApp lady! Any ideas will be most gratefully received!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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Thru the Rain

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 01:11:10 AM »
I don't use WhatsApp, and very rarely use Pintrest.  Can you block people from messaging you?

You don't actually owe anyone your time on any social media. Even people you know and want in your life. And you also don't owe anyone an explanation of your day or your plans - that plus the "good morning/good night" every day is really over the top!

It's OK to "drop the rope" on these interactions. You aren't hurting them - they don't even KNOW you.

I understand not wanting to just disappear, and loneliness is awful - but you still don't owe them any of your time or attention. It's OK to take care of yourself first, and it sounds like you need a break from these interactions.

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2018, 06:20:40 AM »
I don't use WhatsApp, and very rarely use Pintrest.  Can you block people from messaging you?

You don't actually owe anyone your time on any social media. Even people you know and want in your life. And you also don't owe anyone an explanation of your day or your plans - that plus the "good morning/good night" every day is really over the top!

It's OK to "drop the rope" on these interactions. You aren't hurting them - they don't even KNOW you.

I understand not wanting to just disappear, and loneliness is awful - but you still don't owe them any of your time or attention. It's OK to take care of yourself first, and it sounds like you need a break from these interactions.

Thanks Thru the Rain. I think you can block people on WhatsApp, and also on Pinterest, but I'm reluctant to do that to this lady at this point. For a start, we have a mutual friend (who I have met) and I think it could cause ructions. As I type this WhatsApp lady has messaged me with a good morning! Pinterest guy messaged me yesterday as usual which I ignored, but I see he's messaged me again today - at 4:24am! There's nothing wrong with any of these messages in themselves, and since I've not asked them to stop messaging, it's not really their fault - it's just too much for me just now.

The only way to stop them is to go back on Twitter & they contact me on there but I'm really reluctant to do that! I don't know why I feel so guilty - I've been dropped a few times on social media & have survived, unpleasant though it was.

The thing is, I have been where these 2 people are now - I have been terribly lonely and isolated. I know how it feels - but I don't have the energy to carry them, awful though it sounds - I'm in a rather delicate place myself, trying to sort things out & make more of a life for myself!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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HeadAboveWater

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 12:29:29 PM »
I'm sorry that this is causing you difficulty. I think that you are showing some good self awareness in understanding why the current situation is not working well for you.

Lots of people take breaks from social media or take breaks from certain apps when it feels overwhelming. Would it be possible to tell the people that are messaging you that you are about to take a break of indeterminate length? You could also say "Thank you for your messages. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to chat." (It is, after all, the truth.) To be clear, you don't owe anyone these explanations. Use them only if it feels easier for you. It's totally acceptable to fall silent or to use the block button if these digital relationships aren't something you want. 

Setting boundaries does feel difficult at first. It gets easier, though. It's like using a a muscle to make it stronger. You won't have to see these people or interact with any disappointment. (And they might not actually be that disappointed. We don't know their true personal situations or how they'll react.) This really is about the perfect opportunity to practice boundary setting -- no face-to-face contact needed, minimal repercussions on other relationships.   

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2018, 01:21:48 PM »
I'm sorry that this is causing you difficulty. I think that you are showing some good self awareness in understanding why the current situation is not working well for you.

Lots of people take breaks from social media or take breaks from certain apps when it feels overwhelming. Would it be possible to tell the people that are messaging you that you are about to take a break of indeterminate length? You could also say "Thank you for your messages. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to chat." (It is, after all, the truth.) To be clear, you don't owe anyone these explanations. Use them only if it feels easier for you. It's totally acceptable to fall silent or to use the block button if these digital relationships aren't something you want. 

Setting boundaries does feel difficult at first. It gets easier, though. It's like using a a muscle to make it stronger. You won't have to see these people or interact with any disappointment. (And they might not actually be that disappointed. We don't know their true personal situations or how they'll react.) This really is about the perfect opportunity to practice boundary setting -- no face-to-face contact needed, minimal repercussions on other relationships.   

Thanks, HeadAboveWater. I've left a pinned post on Twitter explaining that I'm still taking a break from social media, which includes private messaging. However, I haven't yet messaged the 2 people I mentioned in my OP directly, and I think I'm probably going to have to. I've already heard from WhatsApp lady a few times today - I haven't replied to her last message which basically said she was looking forward to hearing how I got on with the chiropodist! I really haven't got the energy for that! Why on Earth did I tell her I was going to the chiropodist?! Trouble is, my boundaries are so weak I feel that anytime someone asks me to jump, I say "How high?!" I also have a basic fear of making people angry, thanks to my upbringing, which doesn't help!

I've heard from Pinterest guy twice and I haven't replied to either message, which feels rude but I just don't have the energy.  I will have to pluck up the courage to message them both soon! As you say, this is a good exercise in boundary setting for myself - I'm learning how much contact I can stand from people (especially Internet strangers!) and acting on it before my head explodes! A lot of it is having the courage, I think!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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CathyMathy

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2018, 02:50:48 PM »
Hi slugs! I second what headabovewater suggested. I am a week off FB and even deleted the app from my phone and tablet. The reason: the political ads and comments from friends got too triggering and I was answering them back with a lecture or scolding. Too much negative emotion coming at me, and then probably generated by me.

While your situation is different, it's also not. I have to remind myself that strangers dont owe me significant interaction and I don't owe them same.

But I was also on SM to assuage some of my loneliness. Realized I was spending too much emotional time on unproductive thoughts and feelings.

Sounds as if you will take care of yourself and figure it out.

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2018, 04:21:41 PM »
Hi slugs! I second what headabovewater suggested. I am a week off FB and even deleted the app from my phone and tablet. The reason: the political ads and comments from friends got too triggering and I was answering them back with a lecture or scolding. Too much negative emotion coming at me, and then probably generated by me.

While your situation is different, it's also not. I have to remind myself that strangers dont owe me significant interaction and I don't owe them same.

But I was also on SM to assuage some of my loneliness. Realized I was spending too much emotional time on unproductive thoughts and feelings.

Sounds as if you will take care of yourself and figure it out.

Thanks, CathyMathy - I'm trying to take care of myself whilst not causing any hurt feelings, but that may not be possible! I've known these people, although I haven't met them, for a few years but on the whole our interactions are pretty shallow & maybe they represent a world I'm trying to leave behind - I don't know! Like you, I was also on social media because I was lonely and isolated - my online world began to seem more real than the offline one. It just didn't feel healthy. Plus there were a lot of things I should have been doing, but wasn't because I was on SM. You're right about the toxic political stuff on SM - I tried not to get involved in any of that but it does get to you in the end!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2018, 05:38:18 PM »
Lol! I've just spoken to one of my oldest "real life" friends about this problem and how on Earth was I going to word my "farewell" message! She said "Oh, for the love of God just stick your phone on airplane mode for a few days and just ghost them! That's what I would do!" She said that anything else would lead inevitably to too much JADE on my part. And she is one of the nicest people I know!  :aaauuugh:
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 06:02:08 PM by slugsandsnails »
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 09:08:23 PM »
OK - I've decided what I'm going to do (I think lol!) I knew I had to do something when my WhatsApp beeped this evening & I felt too anxious even to look at it! I'm concerned that if I "ghost", that will open the floodgates for "OMG! R u dead?!" messages. I thought that I would send both people the following message: "Hi! I do enjoy our chats but I'm finding keeping up with messages and social media pretty overwhelming at the moment, so maybe we could catch up say, once a week or so? I'm sure we could find plenty to talk about that way!" I have no idea who they're going to react which made me think - I don't really know either of them, do I? I don't even know if the chap in question is married or single, as he never talks about his life, just sends me silly pictures - every day! We shall see how it goes!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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CathyMathy

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2018, 10:09:39 PM »
Ok, slugs, you've got a plan. Stick with it. There's no right or wrong here, just some ways better and more effective than others, so give your way a try. LOL "once a week" can be just another way for you to ease into cutting your ties with them completely.

I have found these situations to be a great learning experience. Once you realize you won't die from giving these people the brush off, I'm sure you'll find it easier to be more assertive and self-confident bc you will have gotten through the worst part, which is probably guilt. Honor your new strength and approach to people!

Like you, my absence from FB has freed me to redirect my attention to the things I need to do and accomplish without obsessing over the state of the world. And if any of my real friends or family wants to talk, they have my phone number.


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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2018, 10:26:17 PM »
Ok, slugs, you've got a plan. Stick with it. There's no right or wrong here, just some ways better and more effective than others, so give your way a try. LOL "once a week" can be just another way for you to ease into cutting your ties with them completely.

I have found these situations to be a great learning experience. Once you realize you won't die from giving these people the brush off, I'm sure you'll find it easier to be more assertive and self-confident bc you will have gotten through the worst part, which is probably guilt. Honor your new strength and approach to people!

Like you, my absence from FB has freed me to redirect my attention to the things I need to do and accomplish without obsessing over the state of the world. And if any of my real friends or family wants to talk, they have my phone number.

Thanks! Lol, yes I guess it could be seen as edging gently out of the friendship. I'm pretty nervous, as I'm not used to doing this! I've blocked a few people online in my time but that was due to really outrageous bad behaviour on their part - these two have done nothing wrong, especially as I didn't realise I had boundaries until I noticed they were being pushed! I don't want to ditch them entirely, especially the WhatsApp lady, as I've known her for a while & she's been supportive in the past. I could change "once a week" to "every few days", maybe! I Googled the problem, and others have suggested that you only respond to, say, less than half the messages which should get them used to hearing from you less. But won't that be like an "intermittent reward" thing, where they might message you even more because they know you respond "sometimes" (it's how gambling addiction works, apparently!)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 10:28:54 PM by slugsandsnails »
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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CathyMathy

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2018, 10:46:16 PM »
Yea, the intermittent reward thing complicates, doesn't it? But you won't know what they will do until you do something. And you will cope with that and adjust your plan as needed. You are embarking on a great experiment to see what actions will get you to the place you want to go.

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Thru the Rain

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2018, 01:34:57 AM »
I think your plan is great.

And in the event they get upset at your extremely gently worded plea for space, then I think you have your answer about whether they truly want a mutual exchange.

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2018, 08:26:04 AM »
I think your plan is great.

And in the event they get upset at your extremely gently worded plea for space, then I think you have your answer about whether they truly want a mutual exchange.

Thanks very much, Thru the Rain! I've sent the message to Pinterest Guy & just got a reply - "No worries!" - so that's a relief! Haven't quite got up the courage to send it to WhatsApp Lady yet, as we had more of a friendship - but I'm not knocking the connection on the head, just trying to tone down the messaging! I will do it lol!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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sandpiper

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2018, 12:50:24 AM »
yep, what the others have all said.
It's good practice to set boundaries with these sorts of peripheral relationships & it's good to remind yourself that it's a learning curve & everything that doesn't work out the way you wanted it to is part of navigating that path.
You might want to be more specific & say that you will check in on one particular day & then stick to that. Don't check messages, don't open the app, and if you want to step right back, just give very vague hellos.
I followed a friend's initiative on social media last year (I'd only been on it for a few months & wow, yargh) and advised everyone that I was stepping back from social media so that I could focus on projects and as I as finding it a bit unreal, I was only going to follow people that I can't communicate with easily in real life.
So I've kept friends who live over 200km away & family & friends on the other side of the continent or the country.
I've maintained private groups on FB that arrange clubs or sports activities together & have just explained my boundaries to anyone in the clubs who asks to 'friend' me. It's just 'nup, I'm trying to do real life friendships instead of cyberspace friendships so I'm happy to have a coffee with you but social media is for family/friends overseas etc etc.'
There's an art to stepping away slowly from people with personality issues and it's back away slowly, and make yourself very, very dull to them.
If they try to talk you out of it then remember this is about them prioritising their needs over yours. Someone who genuinely cares about you will respect it and understand if you need to take a break, or step back a bit. If people don't respect your choice you can either repeat the boundary & say 'perhaps I wasn't clear - Blah and Blah' - or else if it's bad, you block them or mute them for a set period (1-4 weeks usually gives me time to clear my head) & just give yourself the space you've asked for & which they are unable to respect.
There's always someone who decides that they are special & when I explained my FB boundaries I found that there was one person in particular who had my email & phone contacts & who then decided to use them to send me spam about her business every other day. I just blocked her. She'd obviously decided not to hear me & while she was acting super-friendly, it was a really invasive and insidious form of boundary violation. I haven't had a showdown with her - there was no need. It's just 'yep, sorry, busy working on other things at the moment & trying to avoid the time-suck of social media.'
Most people will understand that & there's no shortage of drama on social media for your friends to attach themselves to, if you need a break.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2018, 02:33:23 AM »
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Thanks very much, Thru the Rain! I've sent the message to Pinterest Guy & just got a reply - "No worries!" - so that's a relief! Haven't quite got up the courage to send it to WhatsApp Lady yet, as we had more of a friendship - but I'm not knocking the connection on the head, just trying to tone down the messaging! I will do it lol!

Awesome! It is so wonderful that you got that validating response. Nice work! :)

When I was just starting to establish boundaries and be assertive. I would get nervous too. But actually doing those acts of assertiveness anyway (despite the nervousness or sense of guilt), is actually a great sign you are establishing new behaviours. And that is wonderful :)

Actually this social media thing is a perfect opportunity to practise assertiveness in a relatively low stress way (compared with your mother say). I started with small things like this, and then my T had me build up to bigger things, like saying 'no' to my mother. You will get better and better at it!

I think I mentioned this before, but I found this book 'Whose Life is it Anyway? When to Stop Taking Care of Their Feelings & Start Taking Care of Your Own'.  by Nina W. Brown.
really useful. It is the companion book to 'children of the self absorbed'. It really helped me to develop healthier boundaries and more assertiveness.

The cool thing is, as we develop these boundaries and heal from the past we develop healthier and healthier relationships with others too. Its quite magical almost.

Nice work with the assertiveness :) Best wishes!

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2018, 05:53:05 PM »
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Thanks very much, Thru the Rain! I've sent the message to Pinterest Guy & just got a reply - "No worries!" - so that's a relief! Haven't quite got up the courage to send it to WhatsApp Lady yet, as we had more of a friendship - but I'm not knocking the connection on the head, just trying to tone down the messaging! I will do it lol!

Awesome! It is so wonderful that you got that validating response. Nice work! :)

When I was just starting to establish boundaries and be assertive. I would get nervous too. But actually doing those acts of assertiveness anyway (despite the nervousness or sense of guilt), is actually a great sign you are establishing new behaviours. And that is wonderful :)

Actually this social media thing is a perfect opportunity to practise assertiveness in a relatively low stress way (compared with your mother say). I started with small things like this, and then my T had me build up to bigger things, like saying 'no' to my mother. You will get better and better at it!

I think I mentioned this before, but I found this book 'Whose Life is it Anyway? When to Stop Taking Care of Their Feelings & Start Taking Care of Your Own'.  by Nina W. Brown.
really useful. It is the companion book to 'children of the self absorbed'. It really helped me to develop healthier boundaries and more assertiveness.

The cool thing is, as we develop these boundaries and heal from the past we develop healthier and healthier relationships with others too. Its quite magical almost.

Nice work with the assertiveness :) Best wishes!

Thanks jollyjazz! Apologies for my late reply - I've only just spotted your response! Bad news about Pinterest Guy I'm afraid - I ended up blocking him, which I do wonder was a bit of an over-reaction on my part, but he kept messaging me, often in the early hours of the morning & I'm afraid I panicked rather. It's a shame. Better news about WhatsApp Lady - she backed right off but we are still Twitter Friends who exchange a friendly greeting, so that's OK!

It's amazing how stressful social media can be, given that we're interacting with strangers who are surely not worrying about us nearly as much as we do them lol! I will check out that book you mention!

Hopefully I will get better at being more assertive and setting boundaries with practice! As you say, social media is a good place to start small!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries" *Update*
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2018, 09:55:47 PM »
Hi, all! I just wanted to add an update here, as unfortunately WhatsApp Lady is starting to WhatsApp me again after leaving me in peace for the last month or so! I have been around on Twitter & always exchange a friendly greeting with her on there, so I'm not sure why she's creeping back on WhatsApp with the "good mornings & good nights!"

I mentioned to her on Twitter yesterday that I was going out in the evening, but while I was out I had a WhatsApp message from her wishing me good night! I explained to her the next day that I had been out, all the while wondering why the heck I was doing that when I've got enough trouble "wrangling" my Nparents & certainly don't need Internet folks I've never met checking up on me!

Today thus far she has sent me 3 messages, in spite of my saying hi to her on Twitter. I should add we've been Twitter-friends for quite a while (we've even exchanged Christmas cards), but much has happened over the last year or so to make me a lot more wary of people on the Internet I don't know - I don't take them at face value any more after being cat-fished by a guy on Facebook who turned out to be married (I had no idea!)

Does anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of simply ignoring any WhatsApps she sent me & only responding to her on Twitter, in public. I keep reminding myself that often, you can't set a boundary while taking care of other people's feelings at the same time!
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 10:00:56 PM by slugsandsnails »
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats

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JollyJazz

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2018, 09:48:37 PM »
Hi Slugs,

Sorry to hear that. It definitely sounds like that lady is being OTT and a bit intrusive.

Quote
I was thinking of simply ignoring any WhatsApps she sent me & only responding to her on Twitter, in public. I keep reminding myself that often, you can't set a boundary while taking care of other people's feelings at the same time!

I completely agree with this! :)

You can ignore the OTT messages from her. Only answer the ones you truly want to. If there are none, that is okay too.

I know you may feel a strong feeling of obligation and guilt if you don't message her (I can very much relate!). But just sit through that, and only respond in the way you see as appropriate :)

Best wishes. It is really good to take care of your own feelings and wishes. Those of us with PD parents are trained to put our own feelings last. Good luck! :)

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slugsandsnails

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Re: Problems with social media & my "soft boundaries"
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2018, 10:42:17 PM »
Thanks, jollyjazz! Fortunately, the lady in question hasn't WhatsApped me today - hopefully this will continue. I've said hello to her on Twitter, though. I get very FOGGY over things like this, as I feel really guilty & uncomfortable if I don't reply to messages! I also know that she has a chronic health condition and is probably very lonely - I don't want to make her feel worse, but neither am I responsible for it! Hopefully she's stopped sending me WhatsApp messages, at least for the time being, but if she starts again I'm going to try to be strong & ignore her on there as far as I am able!
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly for you tread on my dreams.
~ W. B. Yeats