I’ve been thinking about the balance between boundaries & forgiveness.
Too many boundaries and you find you’ve built a fortress around yourself and you’re living alone. Too much forgiveness and you’ve turned into a doormat that everyone walks over.
How do we know when we’re in balance?
First, we extend forgiveness to people who we feel confident will not hurt us again. If you’ve found yourself in a relationship where you’re constantly extending forgiveness to a person who repeatedly hurts you, you’re unbalanced. If someone is constantly apologizing for the same repeated behavior, you’re in the cycle of abuse.
When you have so many boundaries that you’ve built retaining walls around your heart, you may feel physically repulsed by your true feelings and unable to share them with people, even when you’re pretty confident that they won’t hurt you. You may be quick to strong expressions of “tough” emotions like anger, but unable to show sadness or fear. Rather than turning to a trusted friend, family member, or partner when the going gets rough, you may find yourself retreating to get control over what feel like less desirable emotions, so you can present yourself in a more controlled way. This is a lonely place to live.
Balance feels easy, but getting there takes bravery.
Once you realize you’ve been a doormat, you can choose to set boundaries with the people currently in your life. Sometimes people don’t react well to this, because they’re used to doing whatever they want. Sometimes choosing to lay boundaries also means choosing new people in your life. Boundaries come easier when you choose to spend time with people who aren’t constantly violating them.
Once you realize you’re living alone in a fortress of your own making, you can choose to carefully share your feelings with people you think you can trust. But first you have to learn to trust *yourself,* and do less thinking and more feeling, so you know what your feelings even *are.* This is the only way to get them to go away; otherwise they live right under the surface, needing to be controlled.
All of this takes practice, and getting there feels scary.
The ease is worth the effort.