I don’t like the word “boundaries,” at least not how it is often being used in the United States these days.
You see, in my opinion, there’s a difference between healthy boundaries and walls, and it often feels as if the latter is being used.
“I’m setting a boundary!”
“Don’t cross my boundaries!”
“These are my boundaries!”
I used exclamation points in the examples above to make a point.
This word is frequently not accompanied by warmth.
Instead, it’s often delivered with a bite.
It can feel like being attacked.
The word often stings the person it’s told to because it is thrown at them and not delivered with conflict resolution in mind.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t set healthy boundaries, but we can do so with compassion.
We can set boundaries without even using the word.
We can have an open dialogue and an understanding that the other individual likely did not mean to invade our boundaries.
Setting boundaries in the way we often do in the United States doesn’t create loving and warm relationships.
Instead, it often results in conflict.
This isn’t because the other crosses boundaries per se, but because the one setting boundaries comes off as downright rude.
Sure, there are people in the world that we need to be stern with because they do time and time again keep crossing into our space without respecting our personal bubble, but let’s be honest, we don’t need to be informing every person in the lives of our lines in the sand.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m really tired of hearing, “I set a boundary with so and so.”
Rather than set a boundary, can we just say, “I let so and so know how I felt about x and asked him to do y. He understood, and now we are doing much better.”
Does that not come across with more compassion for humankind than: “I told X not to cross my boundaries, and now he won’t speak to me.”
Boundaries are important, but create them gently and don’t be over the top on drawing lines.
We don’t need to inform people that we are setting boundaries.
Just set them gently as you would want them to be set for you.
Be peaceful in your interactions and see what happens.
Don’t use the word, “boundaries.”
There’s no need to even be stern unless you’re not being understood.
There’s no need for anger or coldness.
Understand that there are two people in the relationship with a different lens on and various experiences shaping how they understand the world.
It’s okay for boundaries to be discussed but do it gently.
Only sternly state them when needed.
Work toward peace between you and the other, not conflict.
I bet you’ll be surprised how well the world does as you ask.