People make mistakes—and oftentimes a very messy mess of things.
These errors and inaccuracies come in lots of sizes. Sometimes the slips are small, other times they’re colossal…so massive that others might start to question how the person even makes it through the day, never mind life.
And the disappointment and damage that’s done? Well, that comes in many shapes too.
Sometimes we ask and they commit, but don’t actually commit. Or we beg and they say yes but in our heart of hearts we know it’s a no.
Sometimes we build the perfect product but our CEO—the one who’s supposed to hit it out of the park—turns the pitch into pudding, the kind that no customer wants to eat.
Sometimes we plaster on a smile and to her face, right to her face, we say, “You look great!” But as soon as she’s gone we whisper, “Did you see her? She looks heinous. When did she get so fat?”
And the list could go on.
People flake. They drop in and then they drop out. They tell you one thing when they mean another, and what they wind up actually doing is hard to make sense of.
So we put up boundaries and draw lines in the sand. We get firm, and we take a stand. We construct walls.
And I’m not going to lie. A lot of the work I do is helping people do just that.
Mid-session we’ll pause and I’ll say,
It’s true. You have got to know when and how to roll up the partition. You’ve got to get clear, decide on the stakes, hammer them in, build the fence, and put up the signs. But while you’re doing that, you have got to ask yourself this:
‘Are my boundaries flexible enough for forgiveness?’
I do this song and dance because in my mind there’s a difference between a boundary and a fortress. Boundaries forgive and fortresses don’t.
A boundary can set us free, while a fortress can lock us up in a prison of loneliness.
A boundary flags our fears, while fortresses keep us lying face down in the mud with them. Boundaries are awareness and fortresses are judgment—never ending, set in concrete, a truth is a truth is a judgment.
It’s the difference between “I won’t allow him to treat me like that anymore,” and “Men are pigs.”
But here’s the biggest, deepest, truest part of all of this. You’ve got to be clear about the difference between a boundary and fortresses because:
If your life is a fortress, what happens when you f*ck up? What happens when you ask more of yourself and for some reason or another can’t commit? What happens when you build the perfect product and you are the CEO that botches the pitch?
What happens when you look in the mirror and plaster on a smile in order to get yourself out the door, only to berate yourself an hour later for putting on a few pounds?
We’ve got to be careful when we build our boundaries, and castles, and moats because so often the person we think has f*cked up, the person we’re judging, and shaming, and hating, and saying we don’t want anything to do with anymore?
So often it’s our very own self, and that’s the place our boundaries need to crumble the most.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own