A few weeks ago I saw an article that says 84% of Facebook users admit to being annoyed by friends on Facebook. Perhaps I’m blessed, but I’m rarely annoyed by my FB friends and am often blessed by people I connect with (mostly) online.
I wonder though, in the frenzy to cultivate and interact with online friends, if we sometimes forget the meaning of true friendship. Ideally there’s a give and take to a relationship, an intention to make your friends as happy as they make you, a desire to be treated as well as you treat your friends. And herein lies the rub: That doesn’t always happen.
If fences make good neighbors, do boundaries make good friends? Should you erect a fence to surround your heart and protect it from careless comments and hurtful behavior? Now I don’t want to have the Great Wall of China encasing my heart, but maybe a pretty picket fence with a lovely design stenciled on the pickets and a pretty gate that opens to true friends.
I am generous to a fault with other people. I always give them leeway. If a careless word is tossed my way, I think that it was unintentional. If someone does something that wounds my heart, I tell myself that they really didn’t mean it that way. If a joke cuts too deeply, I chide myself for being too sensitive. I know that part of the problem is dysfunction from my childhood. I pretty much had to take whatever was thrown my way and swallow it, regardless of whether it made me choke going down.
This image pretty much sums up the way I’ve responded to hurtful actions and words:
Now don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not inundated with awful people in my life. And I believe that often my excuses are spot on. Most people don’t intend to be hurtful. But I’ve had some hard knocks in my life, and I’ve come to the conclusion that life’s too short allow myself to withstand needless pain. If someone wants to be nasty, I don’t have to be a willing victim.
I’ve grown to be an optimist. I’ve concluded that I always want to see the glass as half full, no matter how much liquid is left. I know that the sun will rise tomorrow, and at the end of the day I’ve got a great life.
But still when that little voice from deep within tells me it’s okay to not be a doormat, I often don’t have the courage to stand up for myself. I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about this, my friend (and wonderful author) Courtney Walsh posted about boundaries recently.
So what’s the point, you ask? The point is that I think I’m beginning to gather the strength and dignity to kindly not allow others to roll over me. Now don’t expect an overnight transition--I’m a project, and I’m working on me.
What about you? Do you protect your heart?