Doing the life dance, I’ve learned there’s a cost. Over the years, I’ve heard many people talk about boundaries and how well boundaries manage friendships and relationships… Maybe true, maybe not.
I’m not a fan of the way most people attempt to set boundaries. Not only is the method self serving and ineffective, but more often than not, blatantly RUDE.
Example: Discussions of religion or politics.
These topics are not readily acceptable in public, but if you have a problem with them being discussed, YOU are the one with the problem, not everyone in the room. Most adults are capable of having a conversation without attacking others, and those who understand that others have a difference of opinion may disagree, but they don’t attack.
Those who don’t understand this may need a little help, a boundary if you like, to adjust their message a bit.
A good boundary would be, “I disagree with what you’re saying and we’re not going to be able to agree, but I appreciate you sharing. Now, might be a good time to change the topic. My grandmother has taken up ballet dancing in France, would you like to see her photos?”
A bad boundary is, “What you say offends me and I expect an apology from you before I can continue to talk to you.”
The first example, the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own feelings, states the fact that the two won’t agree and acknowledge the other person’s right to have an opinion, then moves on to a different topic.
The second example, the speaker gives ALL responsibility for the offense to the other person, demands an apology, and figuratively “takes his toys and goes home.”
Either example can be used by the person who feels offended, but the second one takes no responsibility for his personal choices. This social boundary is one that prevails more often than not, leaving the person who feels offended with no personal control over his/her feelings. OOOPS. Do they want NO CONTROL over their feelings?
When friendship goes wrong because boundaries are wrongly used, the person who gave up all responsibility for their personal feelings becomes a “self-made” VICTIM waiting indefinitely for their “proclaimed abuser” to validate their existence and victim status by apologizing for having an opinion. The second person if they fall for the demand, then becomes an enabler, actuating the victim status with the proposed apology, and feeling frustrated themselves for having apologized for something they feel no REAL guilt over.
Psycho-babble? Yes, of the worst kind.
Often, so called psychiatrists, dig deep into a person’s psychic and offer perceived explanations for self-created victim status, applauding the “victim” for seeking help. Psychiatrists and Counselors make BIG Money applauding victims in their pursuit of “help” as they spend hours listening to the “victim” explain how others have wronged them, wrongly.
In all the counseling sessions I’ve attended (and there have been a few), there were VERY few trained counselors who indicated that I should take responsibility for my own actions/reactions and either move on from a relationship or simply let go of the relationship to allow the other person to take responsibility for their own actions. More often, the counselor/psychiatrist indicated I should seek to repair the broken relationship by explaining to the other person their fault in the break.
No. No… No! That’s not the solution!
With any situation, if you can OWN it, you can FIX it.
Take responsibility for the broken relationship. Understand your own part in the situation and acknowledge that you might have been at fault, then fix it if you can. If you can’t fix it, take responsibility for your own choices and walk away – NOT A VICTIM. Don’t jump into the fire accepting all responsibility if it isn’t yours, that enables a victim mentality in the other person. But do own your part in the situation and FIX that part. If there’s more and you can’t fix it, see if you can discuss it with the other person, but if there’s no option for fixing the problem other than enabling the person to continue being a victim, stop there.
Say this, “I love you and I am at fault for my part of this issue. I’ll fix that, but I can’t take responsibility for your part of the problem. It’s been a lovely friendship and I’ll miss you, but I won’t carry your part of our friendship as well as my own. God bless you my friend, I’ll be praying for you.”
And let them go their way, with your blessings.
Tell me how you handle broken friendships and how you might fix one, if possible. I’d like other thoughts on this issue.