The most compassionate people Brene Brown met over the past 16 years of research were people who also had good boundaries. Having good boundaries means knowing clearly what is OK and not OK for you and letting others know it. If we don’t set boundaries, we allow people to get away with behaviors that aren’t OK with us; then end up feeling used, angry and resentful.
Setting and maintaining good boundaries are a sign of self-love and self-respect. Self-love because, like the instructions we see on every air trip, we need to take care of our needs first before we can properly do anything else, including taking care of our loved ones. Self-respect because by setting good boundaries, we are respecting our own needs and limits. And since how we treat ourselves mirrors how we treat others, we are also showing respect for others when we set good boundaries.
Good boundaries establish something that may surprise you: they are the necessary foundation of real compassion, empathy and vulnerability. Compassion is the belief that we are all connected with each other, and that this is rooted in love. Empathy is what we learn that helps us communicate this connection and love to others. Being vulnerable is being open-hearted. Setting and maintaining good boundaries frees us from worrying about how others may invade them. They simply won’t cross our boundaries, and this means we are free to see what others do and say in a benevolent light – that they are doing the best they can at that time. We are free and open to explore, to empathise, to be compassionate and open-hearted in a genuine way.
With good boundaries, we are free to be ourselves in any situation.
If you have trouble maintaining your boundaries, here are three things you can do to built effective ones.
- Know your bottom line. This may involve some soul-searching; it isn’t always easy or straight-forward to determine what we are willing to tolerate and what we’re not willing to tolerate. Sometimes it takes experimenting to find out. And once you figure it out, it may change with time and under different circumstances. Whatever it is, learn to know it and stick to it.
- Be flexible. Having said “stick to it”, circumstances and context aren’t something we can ignore when making decisions. As you become comfortable with knowing and holding your boundaries, you will also be able to alter them as needed. Why? Because there are different kinds of bottom lines: some are based on other more fundamental ones. For instance, using a pretty frivolous example, I never drink coffee after 2pm; I’m pretty good at sticking to that, but sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense – if I’m enjoying a really good meal and always like finishing that kind of meal off with a really good espresso. Completing a really good meal in a satisfying way is more important to me than not having coffee after 2pm.
- Feed your spirit first. Self-love and self-respect are essential for living well and happily. Making sure that your spirit is happy before doing or agreeing to anything will always lead you in the direction of openness and freedom.
Getting on the right track on the first date – Steve Harvey
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At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org