FROM THE HEART OF LOVE
Setting Boundaries that Create More Love
By Dr. Scott and Shannon Peck
Setting boundaries in your life can dramatically increase love.
Why? Because you are loving yourself enough to set boundaries that prevent you from being treated with unkindness or inequality.
If you are a naturally loving person, you know how easy it is to not stand up for what is right for yourself — even if it is just. Loving people often let others make decisions for them. They often back down in arguments — just to keep peace. They often retreat and suck it in emotionally rather than speak up and hold their ground. This emotional retreat, however, causes massive inner frustration and anger. It also causes injustice. And separation, rather than intimacy.
And it happens in such small ways. At lunch the other day with friends, one of them said something unkind to Scott and in a very gruff way. They probably didn’t even notice it. But Scott became very silent. He was sucking it in, trying not to create an argument. “What’s the use anyway,” he thought to himself, “they’re probably never going to change and speaking up would only make them mad or uncomfortable.”
The joke on us, however, is that we were both conducting a workshop this month on “Setting Boundaries that Create More Love” and speaking up with your feelings is one of the main points we were making.
Here’s the hard part. If we wait until our frustration or anger has intensified within us like a category 5 hurricane, we are likely to speak out with honesty, but also with a great intensity of anger. It takes wisdom — and timing — to know how to set boundaries that actually create love rather than destroy love.
So imagine you were Scott at that lunch. Which of the three choices below would you have made: One, hold in the hurt and be quiet just to keep the peace. After all, these are friends. The least you could do is keep the peace!
Yes, you might keep the outward peace, but imagine what you would be creating inside — just the opposite of peace. And if this pattern of behavior continued without you speaking up, you would be allowing yourself to be treated as a second-class citizen that doesn’t deserve either kindness or equality.
OK, so keeping silent is out.
How about this option — speaking out clearly and letting your real feelings be known. For example, you might say, “What you just said really hurt my feelings and I want you stop speaking to me like that and never do it again!”
Well, you got your feelings out, that’s for sure, but ouch! Would those words create more love? Remember, with every thought we think and every word we speak, we either create unity or separation. It’s healthy to get your feelings out, but when they pour out with a gravy of anger over them, love is usually the loser.
It’s hard not to explode when you are being treated with injustice or unkindness. Yes, it is. But there is a beautiful way to express those feelings and still create love. Here’s what Scott said to our friends, after silently waiting about 20 minutes to gain the inner composure to speak these words well.
“I’d like to share something,” said Scott, “that I hope will bring us all closer. We spend a lot of time together and that is wonderful for all of us. Earlier in this lunch, my feelings were very hurt when you spoke to me so gruffly. I tried to keep silent, but it doesn’t feel right to be spoken to that way. I’m speaking up, however, so we can be closer, because I know you love me.”
Without a second’s pause, they profusely apologized. The feelings moved
towards unity. Everyone relaxed more, including Scott. The love between us
actually expanded rather than contracting.
Although this is a very small, isolated example of speaking up, it was necessary for Scott’s inner well-being, and to ensure that a pattern of kindness, rather than unkindness, was established with these friends.
What created this little “setting boundaries” success were Scott’s opening words. He laid out his intent to have us all move even closer to each other in love. It’s impossible to speak such intent if you are furious at someone or ready to explode. But if a relationship is important to your life, it is worth seeing the bigger picture — the whole relationship versus an incident.
We encourage you to practice setting boundaries that you know are right for
your happiness and equality and to do so with soft language anchored in a
firmness of principle. This is guaranteed to create more love in your life.
Welcome to the heart of Love!
Dr. Scott Peck & Shannon Peck are Co-founders of TheLoveCenter, a non-profit organization “Calling everyone home to Love.” They are authors of books on love & healing, including “Love Skills for Personal & Global Transformation: Secrets of a Love Master.” For lots more love & a free Love Quiz, visit www.TheLoveCenter.com. We are holding the space for you to receive all the love you deserve!
© Copyright 2007 Scott & Shannon Peck
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