Saturday, July 21, 2007


LIMITS, parameters, bounds, outer limits, confines, extremities, barriers, thresholds.
Thesaurus of ENGLISH

It seems to me that what we seek in a relationship with another is in radical opposition to the concepts encapsulated in consideration of personal boundaries. I am hearing, more and more frequently, a call for the establishment of individual boundaries … and this in discussions centered on promoting a rewarding relationship. Please forgive my simplistic reasoning here … but isn’t that somehow akin to the building of fortifications as a form of creating closer neighbors? Are boundaries not a form of protective structures with the express purpose of staving off unwanted attention, advances, or intrusions? If so, then how, in the world of reason, can we hope to create, build, and enhance oneness with another when we are focused on constructing systems, methods, and predispositions designed to limit or exclude that other from sharing a life experience with us?

And this thinking is not limited to interpersonal relationships. There are the same sort of conflicts in philosophy being dealt with, at this very moment , by nations, communities, and organizations who are desiring the benefits of unbounded commonality … whilst clinging to ethnic, national, religious, or ideological singularities that are threatened by those very wishes for a more embracing unity. Automobile makers want to offer special qualities inherent to another particular brand of car … so they buy that unique company with the intention of enhancing the depth and range of the parent company’s portfolio. But they then find that by maintaining the identity and character of the acquired brand, they, as a parent concern, cannot integrate the new acquisition into the “family” of existing systems, methods, and philosophies that form the character of the owning organization. The European Union is an openly obvious illustration of a diverse group of individual entities wishing to enjoy the familiarities, conveniences, and economies of a single statehood … but struggles, even as we speak, with the desires, of each participating nation, to maintain their selected and chosen boundaries in a variety of particular considerations. So, My Dear Reader, this conflict between desires and intentions is not something particular to nor unique to your present struggles in your interpersonal interactions. So … what to do?

If I may be so bold as to reduce an infinitely complex set of considerations to a childishly simple scale … allow me to offer this “lens” through which we may see a manageable perspective. First … clear the “table” of all of the conflicting elements. Then … place on that table of consideration the one single, lone, and overriding desire that motivates us to engage in the exercise. Simply put … “What do we want?” But only in one short sentence … even better … one word. No embellishments. No amendments. No ancillary addendums. The one single, primary desire. Now … anything else to be considered must be weighed against its enhancement of … or diminution of our core desire. This is not hypothetical. Do it now! Take a moment ... or many moments ... and "know thyself."

It is a well-established fact that all personality/temperament types have, as aspects of their natural make-up, specific sets of inclinations and preferences. As example … some thrive on constant intimacy whilst others find intimacy to be something best “taken from the shelf” only on occasions deemed appropriate and timely. Therefore, we are best served by recognizing our individual propensities, and those particular to those with whom we wish to live comfortably, when seeking some state of harmony between what we have elected to place at the center of our table of choices, and what is the choice of those who occupy places of significance in our world. If our desire is for intimacy and theirs is for autonomy, it is pre-ordained that we will be engaged in a constant effort to tear down barriers and boundaries that are being hastily constructed and reinforced by the other as they attempt to protect their “space.” A situation that, obviously, holds little promise for a relaxed and enjoyable relationship.

How many times, over my lifetime, have I heard one spouse relate their frustration with their attempts to engage their mate in a desired activity only to be met, repeatedly (and often for many, many years of repetition), with rejection and even occasional hostility. Something that could have been easily dealt with if only they stopped … set aside all of the accumulated detritus of experiences wasted … and shared with each other their single and central desire. From which they would be able to agree to accommodations that would support each others’ wishes. (The underlying conflict could, of course, have been avoided if only they had taken the requisite “moment” to be still … and look rationally at themselves prior to binding themselves in the constrictions of an ill-fitting commitment.) But ongoing warfare and conflict can … and often does, become a comfortable state of unhappy being. Far too often preferred to that fearsome and dreaded (by individuals, nations, organizations, and groups alike) savior … communication. (A saving mechanism usually avoided with the excuse that we want to “avoid conflict.” How bogus is that?!)

All of this having been said, I offer you this. If you exercise the rational good sense to avoid a hostile environment … you will need little thought of establishing protective, defensive boundaries. If you find that your energies are being depleted in constant efforts to establish and reinforce boundaries … perhaps you are in need of … relocating. A habitat that compliments and supports your desires needs no fortifications … only more avenues for the importation of beneficial experiences.

I thank you for your indulgence and patient consideration of my little ideas and perspectives … and for your continued hospitality and gracious kindness. As I remain, Your constantly loving Friend and willing Servant.

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