I Am Sorry for Having Boundaries
Before you say anything, let me reassure you: I’m not actually sorry for having boundaries. And yet, I spend an awful lot of time apologizing for them. What’s up with that?
I suppose the idea that boundaries are selfish is so deeply ingrained, we tend to feel that by setting limits we hurt other people. In fact, I was talking to a friend about her daughter’s boyfriend. He has a mother who parents by that idea. She sets no boundaries in the name of being kind and compassionate. It has left her son with so many emotional issues that he is struggling to cope with life and his own relationships.
Here’s the thing, though: boundaries and limitations are important.
By maintaining boundaries we care for ourselves; we protect ourselves from the demands of the world in all manner of different ways. By teaching our kids the importance of boundaries, we give them the skills to do the same for themselves when they grow up. That, in itself, is an act of compassion—which means that the compassion of boundaries extends the learning we give our children (or the other people in our lives that we care about).
Compassion isn’t the same as letting people get away with whatever they want. Part of it is expressing limits and giving guidance about what we’re okay with so that our relationships remain healthy and happy. When we’re honest about where we’re at with our own energy, needs and wants, we can minimize the frustration we feel for each other; building relationships that nourish us and contribute to our contentment.
Boundaries are a source of compassion not just for yourself, but also for those you hold dearest.