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Respect-Boundaries

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Boundaries are a means to love, not defenses or walls--even when love means saying no. They are not about refusing help when it is needed, but are instead about avoiding and preventing abusive situations. They establish proper and healthy relationships. They are never about entitlement or rights. Though an MLCer may interpret boundaries as manipulative and controlling, they are appropriate and healthy limits regarding the behaviour that you will accept and not accept in your life. The inclusion of manipulation or control crosses the line, making boundaries inappropriate and possibly emotional blackmail. Boundaries are impersonal in that they are not accusatory toward your MLCer, but instead are safe limits for your relationship for preventing further abuse.

I would appreciate a little respect and consideration. How do I convey this without him taking offense.
Some people think they need to confront and make demands as a matter of respect--their MLCer is being disrespectful and to say nothing would be to enable or to lie on the doormat. Instead of demanding respect, command it. A demand is a direct communication from a place of superiority or power. Often people feel belittled when confronted with demands. Instead command respect in the way you act toward others and in how you treat your Self; lead by example. But accept that whether your MLCer follows or not is her choice and in early MLC many will not follow--but they may later.

Respect-boundaries are about you respecting your Self by showing others that you expect appropriate treatment. This does not mean you live in denial, believing all people will be respectful. You may realize that your children will misbehave, but as a parent you let them know that you expect appropriate behaviour and there will be consequences for breaches. But sometimes the necessary response is nothing. Your MLCer may test your boundaries in order to upset you--seeking negative attention. Giving attention to the negative behaviour feeds the Monster; learn what behaviour will benefit from a direct response and when to refuse to give focus and energy with a direct response. But whether your MLCer takes offense or not is his decision. Do not let how someone else might react control how you should respond and how you should be.

I tried to talk to my MLCer about boundaries and respecting me.
Though rule-boundaries alienate MLCers in the early stages, respect-boundaries are still important--even if they alienate an MLCer. A respect-boundary is about treating all people--all creatures--with respect. You teach people how to treat you by what you allow others to do to you and how you react or respond when someone tries to incite you. They are not something you discuss in a logical manner with your MLCer--as you may have already learned, logical discussions are not part of the crisis.

When I explain my feelings and point of views, he becomes angrier.
MLCers do not care about your feelings and concerns. They feel they have spent too long wasting their time by focusing on you and it is now their turn.

I know I shouldn't try to speak reasonably to her.
Speaking reasonably will not work with an MLCer, but that does not mean you should do the opposite and speak unreasonably. But when most people say they want to speak reasonably, they mean they want to show how they are right or how what they want is best. Speak to her with respect and accept that she may not reciprocate. Listen to her complaints, concerns, fears...and validate her.

It is impossible to make reasonable requests with an unreasonable person. Am I ridiculous to think I can have a rational conversation with him?
It's possible to make reasonable requests with an unreasonable person, but expecting a reasonable response is not realistic. You convert it by treating your Self as well as others with respect--regardless of how you are treated.

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