Healthy, resilient boundaries feed upon themselves, so that the more vibrant they are, the more they develop…once you become strong in your boundaries, they become more porous; love and caring flow more easily between yourself and others.
-Philip Moffitt, “Setting Personal Boundaries”
Many of us struggle with establishing and honoring our boundaries. Raising the subject is enough to make us cringe, conjuring up harrowing images of confronting our boss, spouse, friend, or even spiritual teacher or therapist. We fear threatening the status quo. We fear conflict.
We may feel tired, ill-used, abused or ignored. We believe ourselves to be kind, sympathetic and compassionate, and we wonder how we got ourselves into this predicament. We try to understand the other party’s side and we seek peaceful resolutions, but more often than not, nothing changes.
We don’t realize that our silence does not benefit anyone!
It is possible to remain gentle and kind and create boundaries. Creating these boundaries does not mean that we seek out conflict or that we attack out of hatred or anger. Creating boundaries simply means honoring and loving oneself.
Our ability to create healthy boundaries communicates that we have a strong and clear sense of what our needs are and how we believe they should be met. When we honor our boundaries, we are not only taking care of ourselves, but we are simultaneously giving permission to others to do the same and honor themselves and their boundaries.
Creating boundaries may involve walking away from a difficult situation or changing the subject of a challenging conversation. Creating boundaries does not need to involve unpleasantness. There will be times, however, when such tactics do not achieve the desired result and a more direct approach is required. In these cases, it is important to operate from a place of clarity, calmness and compassion, both for oneself and for the other party.
So, let us remember, setting boundaries is not about attacking others or avoiding intimacy, but rather is a gentle approach to loving and respecting ourselves. And the more we do, as Moffitt states, love and caring will flow more easily between ourselves and others.