Boundaries. . .
Each morning II take a walk by myself, for my own mindset and clarity. Sometimes others have wanted to join me but in all honesty this my moment to gain focus and clarity. I’m not being mean, just clearing a little space for self reflection.
Boundaries allow those who care about us to support us in the way we want to be supported. They provide a clear line between what we find helpful and harmful, so people don’t have to try to read our minds. They let us engage in relationships fully and openly, knowing we’ve clearly expressed our limits and made it easier for others to respect our needs. In fact, the best way to preserve a relationship often includes setting boundaries within it.
You’re not being mean when you set boundaries, you’re being kind—to yourself and your relationships. But that doesn’t mean they’re not uncomfortable. Any conflict can be uncomfortable—if your burger comes out rare instead of medium-well, I’m betting at least some of you would just eat it rather than speak up. Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable because when we set a boundary, we’re expressing a limit that hasn’t yet been established (while perhaps pointing out someone else’s inconsiderate behavior), and asking if the other person is willing to make an adjustment for the good of the relationship.
Research shows that the main reason people don’t set boundaries where they need them is that it’s very uncomfortable. I won’t try to pretend otherwise—I feel it, too. It’s not always easy for me to say no to a friend or family member, to ask my wife for some me time, or to tell my someone, “I won’t discuss this with you further.” Speaking up in the moment, advocating for yourself, and asking for what you need is uncomfortable. But what’s both uncomfortable and damaging is reaffirming the story that someone else’s feelings are more important or worthy than your own—which is what you do every time you swallow your healthy boundary in an effort to keep the peace.
This is yet another example of setting boundaries The Buddha talked about. Seeing this with clarity and without blame can allow you to strengthen—with love—the boundaries that will preserve your values and honor the deep interdependence of life not only for yourself but those you love.
Peace and Love, Jim