Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Puzzle of Boundaries

Boundaries exist at all levels of life and they are either respected or violated. What defines a boundary is a somewhat mystical question: if we are all interdependent with no real beginning or end, then in a sense there is no such thing as a delineating line between entities.

Yet, in this relative world boundaries appear real and if crossed, trouble ensues. Bypassing the issue of political boundaries such as the town, the county line, the state, the country and the geographically birthed ones, not to speak of those artificially drawn by victors of war, consider the capsule called "self." 

The cause of disharmony or the ingrediants for harmony lie in this intangible psychological bundle of thoughts and emotions called "personal boundaries." And these so-called boundaries are dependent on subjective perception and common consensus. Thus, the complications and confusion.

One of the favorite places for boundary-deficient people is Alanon, where the missing boundaries of the non-addicted are called "co-dependence." Another favorite area where a demarcation is ignored: domestic violence and all crimes committed against an individual by another.

These are the more obvious ones, but when it gets down to subtle emotional issues and how to navigate through relationships to self and other, the dividing line gets more tricky. What is the difference between a person who shares all that they have and one who has a "mine" and "yours" mindset? Is one right and the other wrong?  In some cases sharing might be the salve that dissolves fear, while in other cases it would be healthier to say "no." Each instance depends on the particulars of an individual's patterns.

The only safety valve that prevents one from running over another's boundaries or having one's own dissolved: KINDNESS. Personal interactions may require mediation, discussion, reflection, therapy, or other tools, but even in the midst of negotiation, it is entirely possible to consider that "the others" or your "inner self" have a desire for happiness and peace.

An attitude of kindness does not imply being a doormat. It simply means that as you firmly draw boundaries, compassion and mindfulness help to grow a healthy detente.

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