“The more love that you are living in, the more boundaries you’ll have.” –Rob Bell

More love means more boundaries? Is that true?

Brené Brown is a well known research professor at the University of Houston. I heard her on a podcast speak about an interesting study she’d done. She wanted to know how people in service positions were able to sustain compassion in their work. She thought it would likely be that they all had a form of spiritual practice they adhered to. Before I heard the result of the study, I conjectured that suffering could be the link. It was neither. Her research concluded that what all compassionate people have in common is: boundaries.

When I started intensive recovery work, boundaries totally mystified me! I’m in no way an expert, but I have learned from those who were seasoned at boundary work. Here are a few things I’ve learned…

It is true, the more you love yourself, the more boundaries are in place (as with compassionate people). To love ourselves we must learn to know ourselves, and the more we do that, the clearer we become about what we “are willing” to do—or not.

A boundary is not meant to be a wall, but more of a semi permeable structure. We want love, compassion, forgiveness etc. to be able to flow through it. Granted, some boundaries require clear separation from toxic environments and/or people. Although, the majority of boundaries don’t need to be that severe. Most require us to do more inner work and be more honest with OURselves which gives us confidence in our decisions about what we do, don’t do, and why. In turn, we learn how to structure healthier, loving boundaries that respect and care for others in the process.

In recovery, we also come to know from experience that the more we love ourselves and have healthy boundaries—the more capacity we have to love and be compassionate toward others. Win-win! If we want to keep loving ourselves, and being compassionate toward those we’re in service to, then we need to get more comfortable with healthy boundaries. It’s not easy to do, but everybody wins when we do!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.