Healthy Boundaries; Healthy Borders

Here is an original text from a book entitled,

How to Be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration
by David Richo;

following that original text is an adaption by yours truly.

This is the first two pages of chapter 7.

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MAINTAINING PERSONAL BOUNDARIES

IN RELATIONSHIPS

Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity
and your right to choices:

“There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things.”
         – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Our journey began at birth with no sense of boundaries. We did not know where mother ended and we began. We felt omnipotently in control of our need fulfillment and of its source.

Our first growthful realization was of separateness. Our first task was letting go, i.e. acknowledging a personal boundary: I am separate and so are those who care about me. This was a departure and a struggle.

It may have felt like an abandonment. From the very beginning of life, we may have equated letting go of attachment with loss of power and of secure need fulfillment.

The mystery of why we hold on so fiercely today may be in this original terrifying and illusory equation.

Adults learn that separateness is not an abandonment but simply a human condition, the only condition from which a healthy relationship can grow.

With boundaries comes interdependence rather than dependency. With boundaries comes personal accountability, not entitlement to be taken care of unilaterally. From boundaries comes the mutuality that drops control of another in favor of honor of another.

Boundaries do not create alienation; they safeguard contiguity. Boundaries are what makes it possible for us to have closeness while we still safely maintain a personal identity. To give up personal boundaries would mean abandoning ourselves! No relationship can thrive when one or both partners have forsaken the inner unique core of their own separate identity. Love happens when two liberties embrace, salute, and foster one another.

In a healthy person, loyalty has its limits and unconditional love can coexist with conditional involvement. Unconditional does not, after all, mean uncritical. You can both love someone unconditional and place conditions on your interactions to protect your own boundaries. “I love you unconditionally and I take care of myself by not living with you.” This is a shrewd fondness!

The essential inner core of yourself must remain intact as relationships begin, change, or end. The journey never violates our wholeness. When you are clear about your personal boundaries, the innate identity that is you is not bestowed y others nor do you let it be plundered by them.

It is building a functional healthy ego to relate intimately to others with full and generous openness while your own wholeness still remains inviolate. Itis a great boost to self-esteem to be in-touch and intact. This is adult interdependence.

In every truly intimate relationship, we become ego-invested in the other person. This means that we are deeply about our partner’s welfare. It also means that we care about our partner’s opinions and treatment of us. We are vulnerable to hurt and rejection. We have given power to our partner. This is perfectly normal flows logically from the nature of commitment.

In a functional ego investment, we will give power without thereby being personally diminished we are vulnerable as lovers not as victims. In other words, our commitment does not mean losing our boundaries.

In a neurotic ego investment, we lose our ability to protect ourselves. The actions of our partner then determine our state of mind, rather than simply affect it temporarily. We live by reacting, rather than by taking action.

This is an example of how the unfinished business of early life, discussed in Chapter One, can sabotage adult self-esteem. Those who were abused in childhood and had no way of defending themselves, have the most trouble in making a healthy ego-investment in relationships. For them, boundaries were never clear or safe, and the drama of relating depletes their tentative ego supplies. Grieving past abuse replenishes their inner silo.

And here is my adaption:

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MAINTAINING NATIONAL BOUNDARIES

IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Our national borders protect the inner core of our national identity
and our right to choices:

“There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things.”
         – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Our journey began with tiny settlements, filling a wilderness left relatively unpeopled by the die-off of vast native civilizations. We had no permanent boundaries. We did not yet know where we ended and England, or the tribes , or another colony, began.

Our first national realization was of separateness. Our first task was letting go, i.e. acknowledging a national boundary: ‘America is separate from other national entities.’ This was a departure and a struggle.

In its violence, the American Revolution may have seemed like a rejection of our mother country. But later we and England became firmer allies and better friends.

Adults learn that separateness is not a rejection but simply a human condition, the only condition from which a healthy relationship can grow.

With borders comes interdependence rather than dependency. With boundaries come national accountability, not entitlement for poorer or younger nations to be taken care of unilaterally by older and wealthier ones. From boundaries come the mutuality that forgoes controlling, or leeching off another nation, in favor of respecting and sharing with another nation.

Borders do not create alienation; they safeguard contiguity. Borders make it possible for us to have closeness while we still safely maintain a national identity. To give up national boundaries would mean abandoning our nation! No alliance can thrive when one or both nations have forsaken their own separate identity. Love happens when two liberties embrace, salute, and foster one another.

In a healthy nation, loyalty has its limits and unconditional love can coexist with conditional involvement. Unconditional does not, after all, mean uncritical. You can both love someone unconditionally and place conditions on your interactions to protect your own boundaries. “I love you unconditionally and I take care of myself by not living with you.” This is a shrewd fondness!

The essential inner core of our nation must remain intact as alliances begin, change, or end. The journey never violates our wholeness. When we are clear about our national boundaries, the innate identity that is us is not bestowed by other nations; nor do we let our peace, heritage and prosperity be plundered by them or by their dissatisfied citizenry.

It is building a functional healthy national unity when we are generous with other nations while our own wholeness still remains inviolate. It is a great boost to patriotic esteem to live in a nation that is both in-touch and intact. This is healthy interdependence.

In any truly healthy international relationship, we become invested in our allies. This means that we put money and effort into our ally’s welfare. It also means that we care about our ally’s opinions and treatment of us. We do not allow them to overrun our boundaries and plunder our wealth indefinitely. We do not do so to them, either. This is perfectly normal and flows logically from the nature of alliance.

In a functional alliance, we are open as friends, not as victims. In other words, our commitment does not mean losing our borders.

In a neurotic investment, we lose our ability to protect ourselves. We helplessly allow the actions of our ally to determine the state of our union. We live by reacting, rather than by taking action. We give up power, perhaps in the fear that other nations will not stand by us or will look down on us; we fail to realize that we are responsible and able to care for ourselves, and that they need us, too.

This is an example of how the neurotic fears of individuals can sabotage national patriotic esteem.

It is also important to notice that those nations who abuse their people produce citizens who have the most trouble in respecting healthy international boundaries. For those citizens, boundaries at home are not safe or worthy of respect, and so they behave contemptuously toward our borders and our rules.

When they understand how bad governance has destroyed their opportunities at home, they have taken the first step in empowering themselves to change the situation in their own nations. If we allow them to import their improper expectations about government to our nation, and to export our wealth to socialist nations that would otherwise have overthrown their oppressive and impoverishing governments by now, we help no one.

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