Recently a friend mentioned a “boundaries allow kindness” approach, which she’d read somewhere, empowered her to manage the continual demands of her difficult mother. Only a couple days later I read about it in Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. She wrote, “One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries and holding people accountable.” She described how she herself used to appear sweet on the outside while feeling judgmental, resentful, and angry on the inside before she mastered this.
Boundary setting tends to sound painful, where one person feels guilty and the other abandoned. You might get hard on yourself, feeling selfish when refusing to assist someone “in need.” So much conditioning centers around putting yourself last, swallowing hard to force yourself to help even when it doesn’t feel right. Boundaries might become a desperation move, where you only decline when you can’t stand it any more.
In reality, setting mindful boundaries deactivates the negative charge between two people, allowing both to experience kindness. Kindness arises within you when you honor your wants, needs, and feelings and don’t force yourself to attend to someone else. Forcing yourself always hurts. Often the recipient also softens when you become clearer since they know what to expect and can scale their expectations. At the very least they benefit from you releasing resentment, judgment, and anger.
In Jin Shin Jyutsu® Japanese acupressure, the Organ Function Energy Lung self-help supports both internal and external boundaries. Safety Energy Lock (SEL) 3 harmonizes relationships since “you plus me makes three.”
Have you mastered mindful boundaries? When you set them, do you find kindness arises more readily?