I love thinking about boundaries. The more I study them, the more ways I find that I have violated my own or another’s boundary. Lately I’ve been considering how boundary violations make it more difficult to deal with conflict. Obviously, boundary violations result in someone losing their sense of safety. Conflict is neither resolved nor managed when safety is compromised for any one person in the disagreement. Here are a few ways I have been rethinking the applications of boundaries during a conflict. Boundary violations include:
1. Assuming that we know what others think, feel or why they do
2. Trying to solve other people’s problems
3. Asking other people to solve our problems
I am amazed at how certain I can be about what someone else’s motives are AND how often I am completely off-base. It’s incredible to me how many times I have sought to help someone solve a problem that they did not believe they had. But what flabbergasts me about myself the most is the number of times over the years, in both small and large ways, I have asked someone else to solve a problem that was my responsibility to tackle. This doesn’t mean that we are all alone and without resources; this doesn’t mean we are never given the opportunity to provide our opinion on a subject. We can invite people to help us, we can offer help to others, we can ask for and/or ask to give feedback, but none of this is ok without permission. And none of it gives us the right to expect others to follow our advice OR requires us to follow the advice given us.
Today, think about boundaries in terms of how our misuse of them can exacerbate conflict and how being sensitive to what is ours to do can free us up to work on ourselves (or play tennis)!