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Truth and Boundaries

This is the second installment on a series on the topic of Truth.

Truth and Boundaries

I think a lot of people struggle with boundaries, and I only recently got to a good place with boundaries in my life. It was actually my journey into truth that got me there.

Like a lot of people, I have some people in my life that can be really challenging. And challenging is a bit gracious here, as some of these people can be super toxic at times.

For me, it is usually not hard to set boundaries with casual friends or acquaintances - I can choose to not hang out with them pretty easily.

The ones that have been the most challenging for me are family members.

We're told, "Friends come and go but family is for life."

Or if something happens with your parents, you hear, "But they're your parents."

Behavior that is inexcusable in others often get ignored or swept under the rug with family members.

I have some very challenging family members, and I went years... and I mean years... turning the other cheek... ignoring behavior... not speaking up. Or, going in the opposite direction and being confrontational and not kind. Both approaches left me feeling terrible.

All of these led to me feeling super anxious when it came time to interact with certain family members or participate in certain family functions.

I created a lot of ways that I worked around certain situations. I would stay into another location... I always had my own vehicle... I would leave early before things got out of control... etc, etc, etc.

It finally became too much, and I hit a wall. I just said to myself one day that I can no longer attend family functions that involved certain people.

Honestly, it felt terrible, and I very much questioned if I was doing the right thing.

Because family is family, right? You still love them and try to have a relationship with them.

Only a month or so ago, in last month's Yoga + Jesus study group, did a lightbulb go off, and I finally felt relief that I did the right thing. And further, if I needed to set boundaries in the future, what was a good rule of thumb for deciding when and where to add boundaries.

It was when we talked about the verse John 4:24:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Now, what my mind immediately went to was the "in spirit and in truth" part.

Spirit is the Divine within us, the pure goodness and light of who we are. We all have spirit within us, and I like to think of it as the untainted essence of who we are. 

We talked about the definition of Truth last week.

A truth is a literal thing that happens in the world without meaning or stories attached.

It has to be experienced with one or more of your five senses in the physical world.

So... Brussel sprouts are disgusting would not be a truth. "Are disgusting" is not a literal thing that has happened in the world. It is your opinion. Someone may disagree with you.

Brussel sprouts make me gag would be a truth, as it is a literal thing that happens in the real world. It is also not something that can be refuted, which is another indicator of a truth.

The lightbulb for me was that I had been loving my family in spirit - they are good people at heart, they don't have bad intentions, and I do love them...

But I had not been loving them in truth.

The truth is that they can be violent. And say unkind things. Which all leads me to not feeling safe, physically or emotionally, in their presence.

I had already made the decision to not attend certain family functions anymore, and this realization gave me the words and confidence I needed to feel good about that decision.

The danger of loving people in spirit but not in truth is that those people are rarely, if ever, held accountable for their actions. 

In an extreme example, we talked about this in our YTT module on Kundalini yoga. The man who originally brought Kundalini to the West was exposed (after he had passed) of sexually abusing a number of women.

He was loved in spirit, but the truth of his actions were never brought to light until it was too late for him to be accountable for them.

When you say,I love you, but I am not ok partaking in this, you are inadvertently holding someone accountable for their actions. They may experience repercussions for the very first time. Maybe they don't get to see you as much. Maybe they are forced into interacting with you in a new, respectful way. Or maybe they aren't willing to do that - that is a possibility too. Depending on the relationship, this could be very hurtful.

I know it is time to set a boundary when I feel like I am hiding my true feelings on something in order to make someone else more comfortable. 

As Cheryl Richardson says, "If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.”

If you do need to set a boundary, the way I approach it is with straight truth - and not your stories or interpretations. Remember, a truth cannot be refuted.

"This is what happens when I come to visit.... and I am not ok with this anymore. I was before, but I am not now."

I recently had to set a boundary with a friend. I was super careful to stick to the facts. Then, at the end, I stated that because these things had happened, my feelings were hurt, and that I wasn't willing to proceed with our friendship in the way that we had in previous years.

I was very scared to hear her response, but because I had stuck to the truth, it couldn't be refuted. She acknowledged the truth and mentioned that her actions would change.

Now this was a good outcome, but I was prepared for it to not be a good outcome.

If you state the truth of a matter, and say that this is no longer acceptable to you, and the person balks or isn't willing to respect your boundaries, then maybe this relationship is not a right fit for you at this time.

Or maybe it would be easier for you to love them from afar, in spirit and in truth.

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