Boundaries Allow Kindness

boundaries_smRecently 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?

4 comments

  1. Hi Christy, I struggled with boundaries until my late forties. I used to joke that it was part of my “Libra” personality. I preferred to let things go and not make too many waves. And like Brene Brown, I would often feel angry and resentful when others took advantage of my laissez-faire attitude. A cancer diagnosis made me more conscious of what I could no longer tolerate. Around that time, I came across the following anecdote:

    Sir Winston Churchill hired a young aide to be his gatekeeper. On the young man’s first day, Sir Winston said, “Occasionally, I like to take a brief nap to rejuvenate myself. It’s never more than fifteen or twenty minutes. While I am napping, I am not to be disturbed unless there is a crisis.”

    Eager to please, the young man nodded. “Very good, sir.”

    Sir Winston persisted. “No, not very good. Everyone who comes to you will say that they have a potential crisis and I must be awakened. To avoid any confusion, I will tell you what I consider to be a crisis. It is an armed invasion of the British Isles. Anything less than that can wait.”

    Thanks for another insightful post.

    Joanne 🙂

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    • Hi Joanne,
      I’m amused by your “Libra personality” excuse! 🙂 I think most of us assume it’s the other person’s fault until we realize our lack of boundaries invites people to take advantage of us. Ah, life lessons!

      Love the Churchill story, thanks for sharing it.

      You’re welcome and thank you.
      All the best,
      Christy

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  2. Christy and Joanne – Thanks to both of you for an insightful dialogue. I appreciate the refreshed awareness of how good boundaries serve both parties with increased clarity.
    Tricia

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    • Thanks for your comment, Tricia! There’s so much more that can be written about boundaries (and I suspect I’ll revisit it a few times) but when my friend told me the only way she could be kind to her mother was by setting boundaries first – wow! I’m still startled by that and yet it makes so much sense.

      By the way, Joanne introduced me to the Positive Fabulous Women chat on Twitter I mentioned to you. I was reluctant at first since calling myself a positive, fabulous woman felt like bragging but now I embrace both the title and the chat!

      Warm regards,
      Christy

      Like

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