The presence of boundaries

Boundaries provide the structure — an outline — of existence. For any given situation and encounter, boundaries flex and bend, expand and contract, open and close. Each person has a different concept of what constitutes a boundary. The universe has constructed its own very-necessary-to-our-survival boundaries (check out the semi-permeable membranes of cells).

I absolutely cannot climb inside another person’s experience nor can they climb inside mine. I can empathize and imagine, but I cannot be in their experience. That boundary is invisibly absolute. Yet, I in the next breath I might breathe in the oxygen they just exhaled — the air we inhale has about 16% oxygen, but our bodies only need about 3% of that, so we exhale about 13%. I might inhale some of the air that was just in that person’s lungs.

Whatever behavior we witness in another, no one can know exactly what is going on inside that person in that moment. We cannot see through their eyes, know their thoughts, or perceive their reality. We can only judge by their behavior how and where to create our personal boundaries. My boundary will be made of concrete and be miles deep if someone threatens me. With those who I love and trust, my boundary is softly transparent, and I am revealed.

When I am engaged in my eternal presence, I realize that behind the behavior of any person is someone who wants to be loved and accepted no matter what superficial personality they portray. Because I cannot know their experience, I must accept that person is doing the best they can, and I must respect whatever boundary they have cloaked themselves with.

All boundaries that exist are different and require judgment, inquiry, examination, knowing which ones we can change, acceptance of those we cannot change, and (as the old Native People prayer goes) the wisdom to know the difference.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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5 Responses to “The presence of boundaries”

  1. holessence Says:

    “… I realize that behind the behavior of any person is someone who wants to be loved and accepted no matter what superficial personality they portray.”

    Barbara – that sentence is the one that stood out and flagged me down this morning. Mighty powerful food for thought. Thank you.

    Laurie Buchanan
    http://holessence.wordpress.com/

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      I am in the aftermath of a difficult telephone encounter with Bethany this past weekend and am being mindful that the daughter who I love is still in there somewhere. I am connecting with my eternal presence for the wisdom of how to connect with her eternal presence and what came to me was to send her the book The Four Agreements.

  2. Snoopykg1 Says:

    It was the one that sparked my attention all day as well!
    I find myself and my personal experience in the statement about people doing the best they can. Too much food for todays thought. I may have to extend it into tomorrow. I am slow. :-))

    Km

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Kim, no one who does as much as you do can be considered “slow” — I prefer to think of you as someone who prefers to pace herself when it comes to pondering great words of wisdom . . .

  3. Snoopykg1 Says:

    Sorry to here about your encounter with your daughter.
    Mine as well (20) has been acting funny lately (distant). I think it is trouble in deciding which boy she loves more! She is such a kind person that she does not want to hurt anyones feelings.

    Yes,
    I do do quite a bit, no wonder I am tired a lot. Tomorrow I am involved as a board member for CLMA to give a workshop at Northern Illinois University from 8am to 3pm. we have scheduled several speakers, exhibiters of lab related services, instruments, and equipment, along with breakfast and lunch. Then I drive 4 hours to Indiana for an inspection Thursday and Friday.

    I will make th emost of it and try to challenge myself with being in the moment. I will let you know later this week how I do.

    Kim

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