Thursday, December 2, 2010


I've been thinking about

Asking myself if:
there are areas where my doors are closed...
if there are areas where my light is on
and my doors are open?

Wondering if:
my boundaries are flexible.
Can I open what has been closed
or is it forever locked and barricaded?

Thinking about:
what I may have missed
locked away inside
assuming safety could satisfy.

Trying to recall if:
I make people knock, wait,
and take a big step up
to be allowed through my doors.

Or, have I at last learned,
I control the boundaries.
I can open what is closed
and when I have had enough...

I can close what is open
Tell the guests how much
intimacy I will allow ...
 for now.

Until I choose to turn
on the light
and open my doors
again ... soon.

What a relief
 to know
boundaries do not
have to be rigid.

I am in charge
of who is invited in, and who
is politely asked to leave.
Finally knowing doors are made for
both entries and exits.

I have been thinking about

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  1. Wise words indeed Bonnie, and much food for thought.

  2. I completely hear you in this.


    Oh my, this is quite profound. Boundaries...a vast and personal topic as each of us define our own. It takes a lot for me to set a boundary. And I must admit that when I do it is quite strong. I am deep in thought about this now - and wonder too, well, I cannot even put it in to words.

    Love to you

  4. nice. i thik we should revisit our boundaries occassionally to make sure we have them up the things we dont want to come inside but to make sure too we dont have them too high so that what we do want cant...

  5. They are forever changing, with each encounter, with each life situation. Yes, a wonderful way to look at how we protect ourselves, how we control who and what can come our way.

  6. Very wise words. My boundaries are pretty flexible, but mostly open - though there are a few (small) areas I like to keep to myself.

    Sometimes I forget that other people are more protective about their boundaries, and I've been known to step on toes every now and then.

  7. Weaver: Yes, we do need to think about how we set boundaries - at different stages in the life cycle.

  8. Gail: Yes - it is a topic that deserves our attention, so that we don't isolate ourselves - or allow ourselves to be overcome by others' agendas.

  9. Brian. So true. And to remember, as well, that they are not permanently fixed structures - that we adjust them with different people and different situations. My boundaries may be soft with someone I trust, while appropriately guarded around someone who has betrayed my trust.

  10. Jeff: Yes - we need to give ourself permission to adjust our boundaries. You make another excellent point about considering how respectful we are with other peoples' boundaries.

  11. Hi Bonnie,
    Yes, you're right, and you put it all so well. I particularly liked the second-last, and third-last stanzas/paragraphs. The fact that boundaries can be flexible is something I haven't often considered - interpreting my shifting boundaries as a sign of indecision, but they're not. Sometimes it feel right to be open, and sometimes it just doesn't. This is something that you first opened my eyes to in your Johari window post earlier this year - and which I referred to in my 'other woman' series.
    You must have some idea of how helpful your posts have been, Bonnie. Certainly for me.

  12. bonnie i think people have safe and unsafe zones in their own sense of themsleves. i think also that they open and close doors according to need and then also inclination. being entirely open to whatever - well i've not met anyone like that. several who were very close. steven

  13. Are my boundaries flexible? Can I be more accommodating? These are pertinent questions given the time of year.

  14. Deborah: I so appreciate your feedback! It is actually a sign of maturity and health to have flexible boundaries. Boundaries should be situational, not fixed. Boundaries should be set on information forthcoming from our senses. Perhaps we are feeling very open, yet walk into a dark alley and realize we are not alone. Suddenly our boundaries tighten as our vigilance intensifies ... The primary goal of the healthy functionning ego is to keep the organism alive. Boundaries get messed up when we are overwhelmed by trauma or perhaps overly-cautious caretakers.

  15. steven: Yes, it is a mistake to think that total openness is always and ever the only desirable state. We can maintain an open heart, while at the same time doing sensible things to protect our psychic and physical safety. It is also our responsibility to teach our children about this.

    I often compare boundaries, for my clients, to a zipper. We are in control of the zipper - we can open and close it at will - exposing our vulnerabilities when we feel safe, and adjusting our boundaries (zipper) to the degree we need in unknown or unpredictable situations. It is about flexibility and choice not about either/or or a fixed position.

  16. Paul: Good questions. Another is: Are my boundaries mine?

  17. this is such a thought-full post and very timely in my life at this time...thank you for sharing your thoughts, written so beautifully.


  18. An interesting post, Bonnie, but how one reacts, I think, depends on what boundaries mean to that particular person. For me, I think the goal is to allow the boundaries to fall, especially the arbitrary boundaries that have been erected by culture and driven by fear. I know this sounds ambiguous, but boundaries are often shrouded with ambiguities.

  19. "I can open
    what is closed"

    Thanks for this powerful magic, Bonnie

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral



  20. Your photo is a great capture - one door open, one door shut. We have many doors, we humans, not just one. I guess a peep-hole could be compared to being "open" or at least not rigid- the tiny hole allowing one to see the other side, not completely closed off. Some beliefs and views remain constant throughout life and that can be good, a source of strength. But we must all remember that, as we stand on others doorsteps or porches, we must respect what is within and tread carefully. Honestly and Respectfully. I have been around my fair share of "It's my way or the highway" type of people and when I run into them from now on, I will see them as "door shut with NO peephole" type of people!

  21. linda: I'm glad it appeared at the right time for you.

  22. George: Well - that's the great thing. Once aware, we decide what boundaries we keep and which ones we drop. The point I really wanted to make with this post is that boundaries are meant to be flexible, changing, in our control. And yes, to forge connections in this world we have to be able to drop our boundaries - that's the ideal. But our nervous nelly ego sometimes needs to know it can pull the boundaries back up for a time.

    Your boundaries and tolerance for connection and intimacy are different from mine - as they should be. And we both are unconsciously adjusting our boundaries all the time. They are ours to control.

    I think I recall reading (perhaps in your interview) that you have little tolerance for people with different values and interests than yours. When around such people - say at a cocktail party - you probably lower your boundaries enough to be kind, polite, interested and amiable. However, your boundaries probably are up enough that you will not share as much of yourself as you might with someone with similar interests, values and proclivities.

    Another example: as a lawyer, you were there to openly serve your client to the best of your ability - but you probably had certain boundaries up that non-verbally stated, 'this is a professional relationship not a personal one' - that is the kind of boundary setting I am talking about.

    All that said - open is preferable to closed and it would benefit us all to be as open as possible in this world divided by so many borders.

  23. Cloudia: Yes, isn't wonderful to know that boundaries we erected as appropriate protection in perhaps uncertain situations in childhood - can be reassessed as adults. When we realize we are not as helpless as we were as children, that we have the power to say "NO", then we can soften and lower our boundaries and let ourselves get closer to people.

    And - when we ask ourselves if our seemingly non-negotiable boundaries were established by us or by our parents/religion/culture - we may realize that we can drop them entirely now as adults and establish a new, more flexible set of boundaries - our own.

  24. Margaret: Such great points. We do have many doors - our boundaries are very different when with our loving family than at work with a demanding, difficult boss.

    The other point you make is that we be sensitive to other people's boundaries. We cannot expect that others are necessarily as open as we. Their boundaries need to be respected too, and we need to be sensitive to the signals that tell us to 'approach' or 'to step back a bit'.


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