Boundaries: From Fear or Love?By Dr. Margaret Paul
July 22, 2012
Communication regarding setting boundaries that comes from fear and anxiety leads to conflict. Effective communication leads to intimacy.
A very important aspect of being a loving adult is setting loving boundaries for our inner child. Whether or not a boundary is loving depends upon which aspect of you is setting the boundary - the wounded self or the loving adult.
The intent of the wounded self in setting a boundary is to have control over not being controlled or rejected by another. The wounded self comes from the fear of being invaded, rejected, engulfed, abandoned, seen as wrong, bad or unworthy, and projects these possibilities from the past onto the present moment. Instead of discerning what is actually happening in the moment, the wounded self protects ahead of time, just in case someone may be invading or rejecting. The wounded self enters an interaction already defended against his or her fears.
The wounded self believes that a boundary is telling someone else what to do or not do. This isn't a boundary - it's an attempt to control, and it has not power because we generally can't make others do what we want them to do.
The intent of the loving adult in setting a boundary is to take loving care of oneself in the moment. The loving adult knows that a boundary is something you set for yourself, letting the other person know what you are going to do if their unloving behavior continues: "The next time you are late to an event, I will take my own car."
The loving adult discerns whether another is open or closed, loving or unloving. The loving adult is compassionately aware of the feelings of the inner child in the moment (Step One of Inner Bonding). If there is anything other than peace and fulness within, the loving adult immediately moves into an intent to learn (Step Two of Inner Bonding) to determine what the inner child is reacting to (Step Three of Inner Bonding) and how to handle it lovingly (Step Four of Inner Bonding). The loving adult then sets the boundary (Step Five of Inner Bonding) to take care of the inner child. Sometimes setting boundaries can be done softly, along with an intent to learn with the other: "I don't like being spoken to with this anger (or defensiveness, etc.). Do you want to talk about what is upsetting you?" Other times, when you already know the other will not open, the boundary needs to be set firmly and acted upon immediately, saying something like "This doesn't feel good. I'm going to take a walk and maybe we can talk about it later," while disengaging from the conversation. Both forms of setting boundaries are forms of effective communication.
When being right or not being rejected or controlled by another is more important than being loving to yourself and others, your wounded self is in charge. When you find yourself feeling righteous, resistant, judgmental, angry or shut down, notice your intent. What is most important to you in this moment? Are you afraid that opening to learning and loving makes you too vulnerable to being controlled by others? Do you feel that opening your heart is giving in to someone who wants you to be open? Are you afraid that you will not know how to take good care of yourself if someone gets angry, critical, or in some other way invasive or rejecting? If this is what you are experiencing, then you need to look at your relationship with your higher Guidance. Are you shut off from receiving the messages from Spirit regarding the loving action? Do you feel that no one is really there to help you, that you have to know what to do and do it all yourself?
It is only when we are open to learning and loving that we can feel, hear, and perceive the messages that are always coming to us from our spiritual Guidance. It is only then that we can know how to take loving care of ourselves in the moment. If you are afraid to be that open to your higher Guidance, then you are stuck figuring it out and doing it all yourself. When this is the case, it is time to examine your false beliefs about higher wisdom.
Life becomes much more peaceful and fun when you don't have to protect ahead of time buy trying to control others. You will end up with much more energy when you don't have to constantly figure out ahead of time how to be safe, trusting that your loving adult, in co-creation with your spiritual Guidance, will take the appropriate action to keep you safe.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."
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Today, notice if your intent is to get love or approval from others or to give love to yourself and others. Trying to get love or approval will always end up causing suffering. Giving love to yourself and others brings joy.
By Dr. Margaret Paul