A few years ago my friend was in the difficult situation of unreciprocal love.
A man who was very smitten with her kept calling and dropping by and she wasn’t the slightest bit interested in spending time with him. She desperately wanted the situation to end but she also wanted to be kind. She didn’t know what to do.
This is what I told her.
Boundaries are compassion.
That by not setting a clear boundary with this man she was being the opposite of kind. When she was being falsely friendly with him and wasn’t telling him that she didn’t want him to call or visit she was actually hurting him because she was letting him think that he had a chance with her.
He was thinking about her and dreaming about her and hoping he had a could create a relationship with her.
And really this wasn’t the case.
I suggested she didn’t have to turn him away with the intention ‘rot in hell you dirty jerk’ but she could send him away with ‘I hope you are happy and healthy and please don’t call or drop-in on me anymore.’
This is real compassion, honesty.
Because when we don’t set boundaries using our honesty what grows is resentment and hate.
Here are some places in our lives that boundaries are so important.
With our Community
Giving to our community is one of the most beautiful things we can do. Think Global, Act Local is one of the best slogans out there and I truly believe participating in local endeavours is one of the greatest karmic advancements a person can make.
But if we give so much of ourselves to our community that we start to resent the people not giving or the people we are giving to then really what’s the point? If we are giving out of a sense that if we don’t do it no one else will or if our intentions begin to stem from frustration and anger instead of love and a sense of wanting to give then we might start going backward karmically instead of forward.
One way to set boundaries with our community is to really think do I have the time? Is this the right choice for me right now? It is fine to say, let me check me schedule, I’m not sure I have time right now or I’ll have to help next time I’m too busy when asked by our community to contribute. Just think, by you saying no to the committee work, food drive or local bake sale you might just be letting someone else have the opportunity to say yes.
With Our Kids
This one is really, really, really important. For this one we could even say Love is Boundaries. Yes, we love our kids sooooo much!
So much we want them to have everything in the world. And included in that everything needs to be boundaries. When I was working as a Family Support Worker I use to tell parents that a child’s job is to test the boundaries and a parent’s job is to set them.
What our children need is an understanding of normal societal expectations in whatever culture they are being raised in. They are blank slates in terms of knowing what is appropriate behaviour when they are born and it is the parent’s job to show them what is expected.
Boundaries make our children easier to be around because they understand what is expected of them and then it is easier for them behave appropriately and then they get increased positive feedback because people, including other adults and peers, enjoy being with them. So, boundaries really help children thrive and have increased self-esteem because the setting of boundaries with children will actually bring increased praise and respect for them.
With Our Intimate Partners
Oh man, this one is a doozy. Having good boundaries with the one we love the most and share the most with is a constant work in progress. We want to give them everything, we love them, but we also want them to give us everything because that is how we know we are loved, right? And if they don’t give us everything what does that say about how loveable we are?
This is good, hard, karmic work, learning how to have good boundaries with an intimate partner and there is no defined line where the boundary is, just a shaky, curvy path that is always moving and just as we think we are a little balanced on it we usually fall off.
The best way to have boundaries with our intimate partners is to tread gently and lightly on this path with lot’s of humor. Don’t be afraid of those late night talks where expressing feelings is long and laborious, be open to change, acknowledge that your own feelings and life trauma that is being triggered is real and needed and that your partners feelings and life trauma that is being triggered are also real and needed and they both get to exist and how they will co-exist will work itself out minute to minute so don’t worry about forcing it.
This won’t always be fun. But sometimes it will be more then fun, it will be orgasmic and mind-blowing. The ups and downs of an intimate relationship is boundary work at it’s best.
And this one is the hardest and the most important. Are you able to say no to yourself? This is really worth looking into. No, I’m not going to over-extend myself, no, I’m not going to think self-criticizing thoughts anymore, no, I’m not going to be too scared to try something new.
Setting boundaries with ourselves is the foundation of self-love. Self-love grows when we plant the seed of boundary setting. What parts of your own life are out of control? Do you think someone else is causing the chaos?
Well, let me tell you something. We make ourselves crazy all by ourselves and inside the chaos is where the answers live, where we find out what boundaries need to be set.
Boundary setting with ourselves is a life process. Looking at our life and the situations we are in, and taking the time to contemplate our choices is the first step to setting boundaries with ourselves. Then we dig deep inside ourselves where the light is just waiting for us and we gather up the courage to set some firm boundaries, with our community, our kids, our partners and most importantly ourselves.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wikimedia Commons