What might be missing from your boundaries? Kindness.
When boundaries are not honored or respected in a relationship, it can seem like a relief, if not exhilarating, to just step away. And that’s the conventional wisdom. At least it is on Pinterest. I always read the memes with a Jerry Springer-like guest voice inside my head and imagine the author, hand on her cocked hip, snapping their fingers, 1, 2, and 3 back and forth in front of their chest. The “they just don’t deserve you” vasovagal response has become an anthem for validation and a leg up on self-respect.
What’s missing from this rallying cry of empowerment, though, is kindness. Not just the “be nice to others” kindness, but an opportunity for deep healing and connection for yourself. We need to look and see if we’re stepping away from an offensive violation and into safety, or stepping away from a challenge and into avoidance. There’s a difference and the former is kind to you, but the latter, perhaps not.
There are times when it is perfectly appropriate just to stop, step out and walk away when your boundaries are violated. Appropriate and necessary. I’ve dared you to disengage before.
If we notice we’re burning through people and relationships, and repeatedly finding ourselves in situations where healthy boundaries are still being violated, stepping away might just be stepping back in line to find the next partner to play out a familiar scene.
“What would kindness do?”
It’s a basic question but can be a good lens for seeing if this is just a bad situation or a chance to go deep to learn and establish good and healthy boundaries. Kindness might say to get away quickly. Kindness might say, hey, “There’s something for you to learn here”. Your soul really wants you to get this and this could be the opportunity to do it differently”, but we need to look through that lens. If kindness sees that this would be wasted time, energy and heartache, it will let you know, and you can navigate that with kindness, and your other tools, as a guide.
We can tell if a boundary is a healthy boundary if it factors the things (like kindness) that are deeply important to you and your soul, into the equation. Kind people will feel like they are failures at boundaries, if the boundaries, what they are and how they are employed, don't feel like an extension of kindness. Kindness will not let bad behaviors (yours or that of others) perpetuate. Kindness says a boundary needs to be here so this does not emanate into the space we dwell in or out into the world.
The quickest and possibly healthiest way to move out of feeling you're in a victim role is to enlist healthy boundaries. Even if just out of thin air, you’ll tip the scales toward self-respect and sovereignty. If you feel you are drifting through the fog, of anything, boundaries serve as the firm ground that can instantly appear under your feet. From here you can decide… and queue The Clash, if you should stay or you should go. Let kindness be a boundary and see what it’s like to step into that, to get your answer.
As I’ve often said and hold deeply, boundaries shape our world. They are the infrastructure for the lives we want to have. Traditional advice makes it seem like their function is to keep things out, but I think boundaries are the containers for all that we want to have within our lives. If the lens of kindness shows you that your current challenge will likely be back in a new form, and you know you are safe, try sticking around a little longer to see what is possible. Apply new or repair your existing healthy boundaries. It might be the kindest thing to do.
Do boundaries leave you confounded, nauseated, or feeling hurt? It doesn’t need to be that way.
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