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Boundary or Itty-Bitty Box?

“Love is a built-in strength that’s far more effective than all the usual means of self-defense.”—D. Patrick Miller

It’s de rigueur these days to set boundaries. It’s okay for so and so to do this, but if he dares step over this self-imposed line in my sand, it’s curtains for him.

Here’s why I prefer to eliminate boundaries. Every person, no matter how they present on the outside, has dreams and wants to give love. And every person, unless they’re Jesus or Buddha or maybe Oprah Winfrey, also has their ugly parts, the parts that judge and want attention and do things that, on the outside, aren’t pleasant to be around.

But those traits are temporary, usually caused by some belief that involves their own safety as they perceive it to be.

Over and over again, I get proof that every living being (including birds and trees and ants) is much more complex than I can ever know. And for me to think I have enough information to make a judgement about really anything is a foolish conceit.

My mission, rather than to protect myself from what looks like some slight or wrong, is to stay open and draw out the truth, to feed the part, even if it seems invisible, that dreams and wants to give love.

I’m doing little things to prove that my judgments about others are limited. For example, there’s a waitress at a café I frequent that, in my less than magnanimous moments, I compare to a Nazi. My judgmental self  thinks she’s controlling and has used the pandemic to impose “her rules.” For a while, I avoided this restaurant and even shared a few anecdotes with my friends about her “unacceptable behavior.”

Until it occurred to me that I could be wrong. And that, if I treat her (and even think of her) as the loving, friendly, happy person she truly is, I would notice those qualities.

Now, I go there every chance I get, give her way bigger-than-necessary tips and am constantly treated to the medicinal properties of my own kindness.

Those boundaries that everyone thinks are so important not only limit the person I judge, but they lock me into a cramped box that’s getting more uncomfortable all the time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be released from all sense of threat, all tight places that limit me in any way.  Wishing you big, bounteous love and freedom in every area of your life. #222 Forever

Pam Grout is the author of 20 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, The Course in Miracles Experiment: A Starter Kit for Rewiring Your Mind (And Therefore Your World) that has just been turned into an app. Badass ACIM (badass-acim.com)

39 Responses

  1. Okay, I do agree with you on random people that you just meet.
    How about when you have a narcissist mother and you can never do or be good or enough. And you try to forgive and blahblahblah but then she tries to play the same game decades later on your kids….. What do you do, honestly?

    1. YOU are not a bad daughter. I do believe we need practice in setting boundaries with people who appear to be able to hurt us. It takes time, practice with help from others, and above all, courage…after we create some space and breathing room to experience forgiveness (non-judgement) then we can look at those boundaries again. I hear ya’.

    2. I have never commented on any of these, but came her to express almost that exact same thought as Bad daughter.
      Eliminate boundaries????

      This is one of the most dangerous and ugly kinds of toxic positivity posts I have ever read.
      Looking at yourself first and questioning your reactions to someone else’s behavior is fine, but “eliminating boundaries” can literally be self-destruction.

      A huge section of the population was raised with the message that putting themselves – their physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health – above anyone else’s wants and whims is “selfish” and punishable with whatever abuse the denied person felt like doling out.

      Learning that we are ALLOWED to set boundaries in the first place, much less finding out how to do so, can be a lifelong struggle.

      I literally just yesterday responded to a public FB post from a friend still learning this in her late 30s, asking for anyone’s help learning to set boundaries with someone they can’t just cut out of their lives. I sent her Claudia Cunningham’s book Biting Back, and several others, just to start. She’s in pain. Lots of people are in pain. Because they were told they weren’t allowed boundaries.

      You comparing your your annoyance with a waitress you occasionally see by choice, over her enforcing rules that literally save lives but inconvenience you, when compared to the suffering of people dealing with ACTUAL boundary violations, is just stunning.

      I get that maybe you’ve never had anyone like that in your life, so it may not have occurred to you how literally life-saving strong boundaries can be, but maybe this will be your wake up call.
      Or maybe you’ll decide to set a boundary after all and delete/ignore this comment.
      Seriously… WTF.

      1. Hi Victoria. It’s so true. There are many levels of perception. My own journey (and all journeys are valid) is to see the truth in everyone. I believe I am one with both “sinners” and saints. Thanks for your comment.

      2. 100% agree, her post just reeks of confusing the mystical holy relationship (Level 1) with the practical holy relationship (Level 2). You can see others as perfect spirit while still, you know, taking care of yourself on this level. Sometimes people never change in their lifetime, and it’s up to us to decide who we really want in our lives.

  2. So insightful, Pam. Thank you for sharing this article. I’ve bumped up against my own “stuff,” but I’m realizing more and more that I don’t want to permit the boundaries between those “others” who are actually the same “I Am,” albeit in different name and form.

  3. I fricking love this!!! Rock on! There was a neighbor that scowled at me each time I passed. I was going to gently ask her husband if I saw him out, ‘hey, wtf with your wife?’ Then one day she was out and I gave her a big smile, and then we chatted, and the next time we chatted, and now we’re like buds each time I pass. Thanks for all you do to wake us up!

  4. I am ready! #222 In gratitude of you sharing your self with us. Even the parts that are in the raw and finding there way for attention.

  5. Judgement & truth seem to be the energetic themes now. We’ll be forced to see it in our collective institutions and our personal lives. I’ve been drawn back to my friend Byron Katie’s THE WORK, my boyfriend Eckhart Tolle’s POWER OF NOW and my buddy Pam Grout’s THANK & GROW RICH for guidance and 🌞.

  6. My experience is that everyone likes to feel appreciated and they know when we are judging them. When I had difficulties with my Mom, I realized that some of the things that drove me nuts about her were things that I did as well (although I thought I wasn’t “as bad”). When I finally decided to accept (and acceptance is love) my Mom just as she was, everything shifted and our relationship became very loving. As Pam points out, we don’t know why people do what they do, but we do know if they are acting out, they are seeking the love that they cannot find within. Boundaries are useful as a first step in loving ourselves but, when we truly do love ourselves, others are not able to harm us. This also goes for allowing others to have their views without condemning them.

  7. Yes, Please and Thank you!!
    We as humans tend to speculate negatively until we have evidence that we SHOULD have speculated positively. lol
    Bless us every one. Here’s to the bright, bright light of self awareness illuminating us ALL!
    Thanks for sharing your insight, Pam!
    Have the most blessed day! XO

  8. I think that was a great post but am not quite sure what you mean about not having any boundaries. Please explain.

    1. Hi June. It’s a spiritual thing, emphasizing we are all one. Today’s ACIM lesson (190, I think) gives a great explanation.

  9. Thank You Pam. I am so proud of you for removing your boundary in this instance. You may well be the start of a healing process for this waitress. What l have found working in the retail sector is that COVID fear can severely impact our behaviour. I was probably very much like your waitress at the start of the pandemic…urghh! I was so fearful. As soon as l turned off the TV and tuned in to The Dude all that changed.
    Also, food service staff are subjected to much abuse themselves (not suggesting by you personally, but my daughter works in fast food service and l have heard some pretty grim accounts).
    Keep smiling and shining your light. Love you xx

  10. I love this
    It is so true and so freeing
    Everyone is love even if it seems to be buried under layers of behaviour that’s trying to protect us from what our mind tell us we should fear.

  11. Really nice articulation of why people can appear to be jerks sometimes and why it doesn’t make sense to react. I don’t have any information about what’s going on in there, and we’re mainly just trying to feel safe. Thanks for this…

  12. I have a very hard time with this one. I do my best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’ve done it in my family for decades by swallowing what’s handed me and letting it go. With people outside my family, I do my best to walk in their shoes before making a judgment. Then I gulp hard, adjust my sails, and try again, only to be disappointed and hurt.

    I wish it worked out as easily as it did with the waitress. That would be my Utopia. But the older I get the harder things seem to be. How odd, I thought it’d get easier!

  13. I would LOVE to know what differences in attitude, (if any), that waitress had towards you after your “mind change.” *Currently reading “A Happy Pocket Full Of Money” by David Cameron Gikandi- (for the 3rd time!). ;o)

  14. I absolutely loved this post about boundaries. I am amazed at the depth of your perception into the hearts of people. You are a gifted writer who speaks to my soul……meaning I see the truth through you. I have most of your books and a couple more that I can’t find. I am so glad that I have connected with you as you inspire me each day. Reading again…..”Art & Soul Reloaded”. Love❤️ Sylvia.

  15. I loved this statement…Over and over again, I get proof that every living being (including birds and trees and ants) is much more complex than I can ever know.

    I take Sara, my three year old female giant schnauzer with me everywhere I go. Our Winn Dixie Supermarket is one of her favorite places to go as she has been going there with me since the 2nd day I brought her home from her birth place in Italy.

    Yesterday was really interesting. Three different people stopped to talk with her. During our conversation, each of the three people admitted that they listen to what their dogs tell them and that they talk and listen to the trees. Each one made the comment that all animals, plants, trees, etc. know much more than we humans.

    Sara’s grandmother in Italy has connects with me and our dogs daily. She always gives me correct information. It’s amazing that all, except humans, can connect with others all over the world without a telephone.

    How does one begin listening to the trees, plants, animals, etc. Laughing and Playing.

    I remember when the angels told me in 2004 that all I have to do is laugh and play. That was a concept that I couldn’t comprehend. I asked what else. It has taken me many years to let go and laugh and play.

    Thank you for another wonderful message.

  16. A friend of mine lost his life due to mental illness and struggling during this time of covid. Any and all spiritual approaches to these difficult times is helpful and inspiring. I truly appreciate a positive approach to life at this time because the negative, toxic self loathing approach just boils down to these things: spoiled, bratty, self centered people unable to see that life goes way beyond one person that is unwilling to see the world beyond their own point of view. Negative people can just go on being miserable and leave the rest of us alone. Keep the self loathing to your miserable self. If you don’t have anything nice to say nothing at all. PS thanks to you Pam and everyone else that keeps their thoughts and ideas positive during this difficult time. Remember those that struggle with mental illness.

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