S:0367 Distinction: Boundaries vs. Walls

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


In order to protect yourself you may have had to put up walls. However walls are, by their nature, expensive to erect and even more expensive to maintain. One of the costs of having a wall is the fear that a breach may occur, leaving you vulnerable. This is a bigger cost than you may first imagine. Think of the infrastructure it took to support and defend castles in the Middle Ages.

Another more subtle cost of a wall is that the wall prevents you from moving as you wish; it becomes your prison.

A boundary is similar to a wall in its prime purpose — to protect you. The difference is in how it works. A boundary acts as an early warning system to let you know of a possible threat. Think of a bell on a distant fence. Once a boundary is set it requires very little energy on your part.

You set boundaries with people who will respect them. If a wall is needed for you to feel safe, do you really want that person in your life?

Walls are weapons which restrict you, while strong boundaries create space which allows you to flourish.


Copyright 2002 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.