People and Boundaries…

a line drawn in the sand

My early morning writing time was consumed today with this topic, rolling around in my head for a while now….

It’s a funny thing about people and boundaries.

Learning when to push in and when to step back is a necessary process, but a fragile balance, indeed.

Whether family, friends, coworkers, or others – respecting boundaries – the proverbial line in the sand – is critical to….. what?  Maintaining relationships? Maintaining your sanity? Both? Probably.

I’ve spent a lot of time this school year understanding this process better. As an Instructional Coach working with fellow teachers, both seasoned and new, I’ve had to learn my timeline is not others’ timeline and my expectations have to take a backseat to others’ expectations, if they’re working to figure things out. And even if they aren’t, it’s still not my place to determine when to push in (which used to be incredibly challenging for me!).

I’ve also learned that when people are ready, they will ask. It may not be me, it may not be a direct question that contains the words ‘help, support, or assist,’ but when people are ready, they seek out who and what they need. Most of us do, don’t we?

Professionally (and in most ways personally, I believe) I’m okay with asking for help. I like to think I’m fairly resourceful, so ‘help’ may be from people in my life, but often from people I don’t know – authors of books, blogs, magazine & newspaper articles, etc…. I count on their expertise, their experience, their objectivity – to help me make sense out of that which vexes me.

Then there are the people we love. Talk about vexing us! They may or may not be birth or blood family, but they are ours. And…. we love them in spite of all their stuff. To be clear, that doesn’t mean we condone their choices, but it does mean we understand they must live their life.

I’ve had to learn that this particular group of people is the group that requires my most vigilance. You see, I think when we love someone, we want the best for them so we’re willing to jump in – no matter what – to help them, support them, even fix them.

But guess what? They are just like us – only willing to get help, support, or fixing when they feel they need it. Frustrating, right? We see their actions as harmful, hurtful, painful, even dangerous in some instances.

Truth is, there have probably been times when they (or others) saw the same in us. And while it drove them crazy, they did not push in because they knew (either instinctively or we told them!), to stay the hell out of our stuff!

So here we are – faced with this dilemma: push in or step back. Painful as it is, pushing in doesn’t guarantee the outcome we hope for.

It’s a funny thing about people and boundaries…..