Day 4: Boundaries 101

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There was one mission I set for myself during 14 Days of Love: speak up when my boundaries are crossed, and set them with whoever crosses them.

This is a hard one! For a beginner like me, it takes people to inadvertently upset me to realize that’s a place I need to set a boundary. Brene Brown advises that we keep a “soft front, strong back”. Approach it kindly and politely, and be firm and assertive at the same time. This is important advice because it is really hard to do.

A week prior to 14 Days I defended a certain boundary for the first time and I was the opposite of “soft front, strong back”. This boundary seems so common sense for me that whenever it was crossed before, I’d find excuses for the violator such as “It doesn’t happen often”, “They’re just trying to help”, “Don’t make a fuss about it”. I even bent backwards to defend them, like “You should just be grateful that they’re here to help at all”.

That voice that persuaded me to let it slide is Fear. My Fear is scared of conflict and confrontation and worried that I’m not being a “good person”. But feelings don’t go away. Each time the frustration sticks itself into my heart like a splinter. I become more and more sensitive to pain and on that day that I decided not to push another splinter into my heart, my body pushed all the splinters out, onto the violator.

In other words, the day I decided not to take it any more, I got really mad.
Since I never got mad about it before, it might have been quite shocking to the violator. I hope they got the message.

A week later a similar situation was about to happen, and I wasn’t going to rely on hope, because to be fair, with all the words that came out of my mouth, none of them explained what made me so mad. So the night before, I set the boundary. It wasn’t perfect, but doing it imperfectly, as I did when I first defended that boundary, is better than not doing it at all.

For any of you who’d like to learn about boundaries, I recommend these two pieces: “Ten Steps for Developing Effective Boundaries” at Life By John shows us what boundaries look like. And “The Alpha Mare” by Elizabeth Gilbert shows us what a boundaried person looks like. 

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