In this very short but compelling video clip, Brené Brown discusses the notion of living a B.I.G. Life. Her research has revealed that the most compassionate people are the most “boundaried” people. She begs the question of what Boundaries we would need to erect in order to live in Integrity and be the most Generous in our assumptions of others (i.e. believing that everyone is doing the very best they can in each and every situation). Makes perfect sense … intellectually. And, I’d venture to say we’d inhabit a world filled with expressions of compassion/empathy/good will if it were easier to actually do this in our day to day existence!
But, boundaries are so darn tricky to execute. It is so much easier to erect a boundary once you are PISSED OFF. There is NO second-guessing about putting up a boundary once you’ve been hurt. We may not even think twice at that point … and then … we erect it angrily and often self-righteously. But the problem with putting up boundaries in ANGER is that the meatiest part of our message gets lost in the perception of ATTACK. When you put up a boundary with someone because you are feeling violated … they feel your anger … and may not be able to hear your justification for erecting the boundary.
In fact, many people who have been chronically wounded in their prior lived experience struggle terribly in their attempt to set boundaries … because – they often approach the boundary WITHOUT the assumption that people are doing the best they can. Their perceptions that people in the present and future will be out to get them just like the ones in their past shift the energy and intent behind the boundaries. And when we are coming from that defended space, our boundaries are like fences erected out of barbed wire … rather than compassionate reminders of how we need and want to be treated.
And so, we must learn to set the boundaries before we could shoot daggers out of our eyes …to set them proactively … not … reactively. We must learn how to set them kindly and firmly. And then … lovingly hold them in place for the benefit of all of those concerned.
And to do so, we might have to sit in the discomfort of guilt rather than the self-righteousness of resentment. This is the trickiest part to navigate. Many of us are more comfortable living with the resentment directed at others than inhabiting the guilt we might feel in our own hearts if/when we have our own backs …before we get mad at another. BIG lives do not just happen … they are consciously and courageously created.
May we all commit to living BIG … Karen