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BOUNDARIES: A Slight Segue

“Words are so powerful they should only be used to heal, to bless, and to prosper.”

~  Virginia Satir, MS. 

I have been writing about Boundaries from a categorical perspective, and this time am shifting over to a brief discussion of language that often gets interpreted as a ‘boundary’ when in fact it is being presented as demand or rule. There have been a vast number of don’t do this and do do this over the past several months. And a boatload of if you don’t do this you’ll … comments that are meant to instill doubt or ‘threaten,’ generating feelings of being either scared and sad, or angry ~ each of which are the opposite sides of the same coin:  Fear. 

These messages, whether subtle or blatant, are spoken / advertised / broadcast / written. Billboard and commercials, gossip and “I heard”, and even …. flashing highway signs. Huh.  

For the sake of clarity, here are a number of different definitions about therapeutic Boundaries {those me and you personal ones} that I found from a multitude of sources:

  • Boundaries define the expected and accepted psychological and social distance between individuals.  
  • Boundaries can be emotional, physical or even digital. 
  • Boundaries are limits people set in order to create a healthy sense of personal space. 
  • Boundaries can be physical or emotional in nature, 
  • Boundaries help distinguish the desires, needs, and preferences of one person from another.
  • Interpersonal relationships can be difficult to navigate, as everyone has different perspectives, opinions, and ways of being in the world. 
  • Boundaries provide a way for each individual to maintain their own identity and personal space within professional and personal relationships. 
  • Boundaries are the guidelines a person determines for themselves that dictate how they want to be treated and what types of interactions they are willing to accept from others. 

If someone is setting a Boundary, they {hopefully} share what the Guidelines are for that Boundary.  Here are a couple definitions of what guidelines are:

  • A Guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. 

  • Guidelines aim to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice.

The beauty of Boundaries, and Guidelines, is that they require communication between folks. Communication: “the imparting or exchanging of information or news between parties.” Explanations of the whys and wherefores. The needed parameters a particular individual may have for interaction.

Boundaries are more than Preferences. Preference: “I prefer mocha mint chip over pistachio.”  Boundary:  “I am highly allergic to shellfish. I cannot eat it.”  Preference:  “I enjoy quiet gatherings instead of parties.”  Boundary: “I will not get in a vehicle driven by someone under the influence.”  

Boundaries are not about me telling you what you must or musn’t do.  {YOU can eat all the shellfish you want.  You can get in a vehicle driven by whomever at any time you want.} {Simultaneously, I (I-I-I) simply choose different.}

Boundaries are about what I require to feel honored and safe in my interactions with another person, place, thing or event ~ from a physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual standpoint. That old phrase “It’s not you, it’s me”  is abso-poso the truth here!  And to repeat:  Boundaries are not about me telling you what you must or musn’t do. 

Another thing about Boundaries is, they are not about instilling fear and threats, dire consequences and negative outcomes. I am not mandating someone else’s action or conduct.

[That’s a ‘rule.’ or a ‘law’:  “An Authoritative statement of what to do or not to do in a specific situation, issued by a duly appointed person or appropriate organization.”]  Huh.  I may think I’m the Queen of the Universe ~ yet it just ain’t so !! Ha!

Boundaries are about Straightforwardness: Explaining clearly and kindly {without rancor} what is and can be, setting the stage for inclusion and positive outcomes. 

Clarity: No mixed messages or lack of {…or withholding} data.  Consistency: No second guessing and attempting to interpret what that ‘That’s’ “supposed to look like” today.  Freedom: A Choice. The individual right to agree or disagree, and move in a direction based on that choice. (Can even agree to disagree!)   Huh!  I AM the Queen of MY Universe ~ simply not your’s.

If someone else’s Boundary is inconsistent with one of mine, I simply {hahaha} move on. I don’t have to change, alter, relinquish or surrender my Boundary to accommodate another’s. Nor are they ‘required’ to do that for any of mine. Possibly we can find some areas of compromise that support the Boundary in question. What lovely balance.

Possibly we can’t.  The individual wants and needs matter. With a sense of listening, truly seeing ….. and ….. honoring one another. 

Yes. Ultimately, the deepest intent of Boundaries is to heal, to bless, and to prosper all involved.