Brenet Brown says that it is impossible to feel compassion without boundaries. That is exactly true.
In Daring Greatly, chapter 7, she talks more about it: The most compassionate people that I’ve ever interviewed… happened to be the most boundaried. They happened to be the people who had very, very clear boundaries about what they were willing to do, what they were not willing to do, what they were willing to take on, and what they were not willing to take on.
Psychological boundaries, simply put, means that you know where the other person stops and you begin. This also means that when other people invade your boundaries, you know how to protect yourself.
Boundaries do not preclude relationships, in fact are required for healthy ones. Loose boundaries can manifest in several ways. People who stand too close are violating your boundaries. This is not the ‘hug’ which can be welcomed, but an uncomfortable feeling of danger. You may have felt this in your life from strangers or even family and friends. When someone takes everything you say personally, that person is invading boundaries. There are many ways to invade your boundaries, and families can be one of the places where this happens. People have a hard time recognizing it because it has often been going on for decades. One of the best ways to ward off someone with poor boundaries is to have healthy ones of your own. You can learn this.
In my book, under the “Let Go” section I discuss the importance of recognizing unconscious resentments in order to ‘let them go’ so that they don’t pop up and interfere with caretaking. Boundary problems are often the root of the resentments. When you recognize this it is the beginning of making strong, healthy boundaries.
In my practice today I work with parents and caretakers, where lack of boundaries creates so many unnecessary problems. One especially frustrating case is where a daughter does have team, as I teach, but still feels that she has to jump in circles to make her mother happy. She cooks when she doesn’t have to and is upset when Mom doesn’t like something. This is literally causing not just emotional distress but physical problems.
As we get to know each other better and work on things that are getting in the way of your happy home, we will talk a lot about boundaries. I want you to understand now that learning to build healthy boundaries with your parent is essential. Its essential to your well being and its essential to your being able to genuinely feel that compassion that your parent will need from you.
Stay tuned for more on boundaries.