Holding Boundaries, Helping, and Bob Ross Sprouted! [the first six weeks]

Hold Your Boundaries!

The first 6 weeks are done! I spent some time this weekend reflecting on where we’re at right now, as a community, and the biggest challenge I see people grappling with is holding boundaries. What do I mean by that?

What is a boundary?

A boundary is a limit. Knowing your boundaries means that you know the limits of the things that make you comfortable. When you start to feel uncomfortable, anxious, or stressed, in an interaction with another person, they have probably crossed one of your boundaries. I like the suggestions in this article for figuring out where your boundaries are.

What happens when you don’t hold your boundaries?

The most immediate consequence of not holding your boundaries is unhappy, upset, or resentful feelings. The secondary consequence is insecure or frustrating relationships with others. Both lead to the breakdown of trust and feeling of security that are necessary for our community to thrive.

If you don’t set firm boundaries, don’t articulate where your boundaries are, or you let people cross your boundaries without consequence you will probably feel angry, frustrated, or resentful. Resentful is when you let a frustrated or angry feeling build up inside you until you feel ready to burst with it! Recently, I let this happen to me with a person that I love. The result was that my resentment built up and built up and built up until I couldn’t deal with it anymore, and we got into a big fight where we were yelling and screaming at each other on the street. It was awful, and I still feel bad thinking about it.

If you don’t tell people your boundaries, the consequence is that they won’t know that they’re making you uncomfortable and will probably continue to do the thing that is making you uncomfortable! If you tell someone your boundary but don’t reinforce your boundary when they continue to break/push it, the consequence is that you’re sending that person mixed signals about your boundaries – they will probably feel confused about where your boundaries are and continue to break/push them and make you feel uncomfortable and start the cycle all over again.

But I don’t want to be mean!

The number one reason I hear people at school give for not holding boundaries is fear of being mean or upsetting someone. It’s true that sometimes, holding your boundaries can make other people unhappy or even angry.

Here’s the thing: if you don’t articulate your boundaries then you are resigning yourself to being the one who is unhappy or angry. You allow the threat of other people’s feelings to rule your life. You won’t feel safe or secure in your relationships. By not articulating your boundary, you aren’t giving the other person a chance to change the behavior that is upsetting you, but you are guaranteeing that they will continue to do the thing that is making you uncomfortable!

Often, it’s not enough to just set a boundary – you have to hold it. If you tell someone your boundary but don’t reinforce it every time someone pushes or breaks it, you’re sending that person mixed signals about your boundaries. They will probably feel confused about where your boundaries really are (they’re not in your head, after all, and need your feedback to know how you’re feeling) and will continue to break/push them and make you feel uncomfortable and start the cycle all over again.

Setting a boundary is not being mean. Setting a boundary is clarifying what you need to be in relationship with another person. Setting a boundary is showing others how to be kind to your self.

Holding boundaries can look like…

…saying “Stop” or “Stop rule” when someone is doing a thing that makes you uncomfortable, and explaining to them what you need them to stop: “Stop rule on following me, I need some space right now.”

…articulating “if…then…” statements to illustrate where your boundary is, and how you plan on reacting if it is crossed: “If you keep ignoring my stop rule, then I won’t play with you anymore.”

…explaining your boundaries before you start a game so that other players know how you want to play: “Let’s play dodgeball, no headshots allowed.”

Weekly Mosaic

I broke my streak by not posting this on Friday! I am bummed. My mosaic isn’t as detailed as it has been in previous weeks – blogging time got cut short and our energy was very raucous so it was hard for me to focus enough to finish.

Bob Ross Update

He sprouted and made a friend!

Poem of the Week

Just as relevant today as it was last week – thanks Shel!

Published by

Mel

Mel Compo is an interdisciplinary artist, playworker, and facilitator at the New York City Agile Learning Center. Their work with children centers play, art-making, city adventuring, and open conversation about language, bodies, gender, networks, emotional intelligence, brain plasticity, and cycles of growth. Mel studied the intersections of SDE, poetry, and the history of American education NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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