Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Boundaries and Compassion

imageLisa Gentile, Moxie Mavericks Life Coach and Mentor Extraordinaire, has pushed, prodded, and supported the Poetic Muselings from early in our adventures. We’ve maintained an on-going exchange of ideas, building on our progress and plans. With the new year’s map unfolded on our virtual table, it seems a good time to share some of Lisa’s material on setting boundaries while maintaining compassion. Food for thought, with our reactions and additions woven in.

As the recent series of posts show, we’re excited about our projects, and new ways to approach them. Balancing the Plan Stage with the Action Stage is always difficult.

We encourage each other to stretch, do big, hairy, scary things. Act as cheerleaders and critics, as the situation called for. We try very hard to listen to the words, and hear what’s behind them, to temper our support.

Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we need to pull back; we, as friends and professional colleagues, cannot fulfill all the roles all the time. Sometimes, the subject is too close to us for us to separate ourselves from the problem.

We each have our own networks of friends, acquaintances, professionals, and family, who are the intricate web that support or entangle us. Sometimes both. We’re called on to provide support to those “others”, and rely on them for the same. What we need isn’t always what we get.

What follows is from Lisa. In many ways, her words grant us permission (if we need it) to step back, reclaim our space and know we deserve to protect ourselves — with tools of compassion for all parties.

It’s okay to protect ourselves from someone who has behaved unjustly. We can strive to do it without judgment.

From “Self-Compassion” by Kristin Neff:

“Discriminating wisdom clearly sees when an action is harmful or maladaptive, and when we need to protect ourselves from those with bad intentions. However, it also understands that all people are imperfect, that we all make mistakes.”

“It’s useful here to draw a distinction between judgment and discriminating wisdom. Discriminating wisdom recognizes when things are harmful or unjust, but also recognizes the cause and conditions that lead to situations of harm or injustice in the first place.”

When we feel vulnerable and we need to reach out for compassion, it’s okay to be selective about our confidant.

From “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown:

“We have to own our story and share it with someone who has earned the right to hear it, someone whom we can count on to respond with compassion . . . We definitely want to avoid the following…:

The friend who takes on your pain so you end up comforting her.
The friend who responds with sympathy rather than empathy.
The friend who is disappointed in you.
The friend who is so vulnerable that she scolds you or looks for someone to blame.
The friend who is made so uncomfortable by mistakes that she denies your story.
The friend who speaks as if one-upping you is the same as connecting with your vulnerability.”

We all do all of the above from time to time and may continue to be good friends to others. But when we are vulnerable we need the right friend for the occasion.

“When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, able to bend, and most of all, we need someone who embraces us for our strengths and struggles.”

Our exchanges have given me something to think about in terms of tactics for erecting these boundaries. I am open to further thoughts on the matter.

Lisa Gentile, M.S.
Moxie Mavericks Life Coaching


imageOnce again, thank you, Lisa.

Building on what Lisa has identified above, we invite you to ponder the following questions, and to answer with your heart:

How do you choose your confidant?
How do you recognize and communicate the type of feedback you need?
How do you recognize unjust and/or inappropriate comments or actions from others?
Does it happen repeatedly with the same person or people?
Specifically, what tactics have you developed to protect yourself in these situations, separating you (the recipient) from the message and sender of that message?
How and what do you communicate in this scenario?
How do you remain compassionate, but protect your personal boundaries?
How do you heal yourself after such an encounter?
What form of creativity helps you re-center and move forward again?

Please share your ideas, and what you’ve learned on your life’s path. Recognize your strengths; identify where you may need to establish boundaries; trust yourself to try effective methods others have developed; and maintain a sense of compassion for yourself.

In a few weeks, we’ll collate the responses into a follow-up post, so, you can continue to add to your own comments, and build on the thoughts that other people present – like an ongoing dialogue.

Thank you for your courage to participate.

(If you would like your comments to be anonymous, you can send them to me at the following, and I’ll add them in:

Michele Graf — poetic DOT muselings AT gmail DOT com. Drop the spaces, and substitute the dots and at.)

Note – these photos were copied from internet sites before I knew how to identify their priginal sources. I’m searching for that info, so I can properly credit them; if you know the source, please tell me so I can add it in. Thanks.


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  1. Pingback: » Boundaries and Compassion: Relationships Poetic Muselings

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