I am so lucky to be doing a series of workshops with the amazing Jane Cunningham called Healthy Boundaries for Kind People. During week 3 we had discussions around values and boundaries – concentric kindness. This was so powerful and I had so many aha moments, including visceral reactions, being embodied. The workshop is based on Randi Buckley’s work.
We were asked to come up with 5 values. Mine were; authenticity, respect, integrity, wellbeing, trust, trust in myself. I had more but these were the first 5 at this time. Honesty is pretty important to me also. We were introduced to Concentric Kindness (Randi Buckley) where “we put ourselves in within our boundaries and kindness” at the center. We “cultivate what we desire to have around us. Each layer serves as an activator and a protector as relationships or situations become more intimate or closer to you.”
“For healthy boundaries, all situations or people, must meet the conditions of your outer layer of safety. Your bottom line, your outer-most layer of the circle, is your North Star. it informs you of what is acceptable, how you respond to it and what you work toward if there is ever a need for resolution.”
This was quite profound as Jane generously shared her examples. My outer layer was respect, as it was for some others and it became apparent that in order to allow anyone to get closer to me there must be respect not only from the other person but also from myself. Jane explained that kindness needs to be an equation – for others and self otherwise it becomes something else. Randi suggests that if you are uncertain whether ‘respect’ for example (could be any value, trait, quality) is present a question could be “what is needed for respect to be present? OR what would respect do? Solutions can be found by using the value (your boundary) as the lens and let the value itself, be instructive.” As I write this I am connecting even more with how powerful this is.
The reason I am writing this blog is because of the impact of value, boundary work and now this concept of Concentric Kindness. There is clarity and making sense of why, at times, I can feel uncomfortable about a relationship or a person and not fully understand why. Sometimes, especially in more personal relationships, it can be harder to hold boundaries, safety and this can be confusing. Relationships can be difficult to be in, manage and enjoy. This can sometimes lead to ways of responding that feel uncomfortable and undermine our core selves.
Values and Boundaries – Concentric Kindness had me realise that some energies, relationships are not ok for me. Not judging, just understanding so that it helps to hold values not only for others but myself. For example, there was a situation where some of my values of kindness, generosity were quite strong and because it involved people I love it took me sometime before I realised that things were not feeling ok. This is not about blame, only a story to understand.
What I had realised was that I was not holding kindness for myself or generosity. I had these uncomfortable feelings and instead of being able to step back and be curious, I judged myself, feeling that I was wrong for having feelings that felt uncomfortable, wrong for feeling like we were being taken for granted, wrong for feeling like we were being punished because we pulled back a little and then more. If I had used those values for myself in kindness I may have recognised earlier that my values were being breached, trampled on not only by others, but also by me unknowingly.
The respect value is my bottom line, now I see that. We were not only being disrespected but I was also allowing this to occur and therefore disrespecting myself. What I love about this value, boundary work is that there is no blame. It is what it is and it brings clarity. If a relationship does not feel respectful, for example, we learning how to go from “not like that but like this”. So trying another way that feels ‘respectful’, therefore an invitation. We did this unknowingly and the invitation has not been accepted.
I guess we have not accepted the others values either, they are different to ours and so it is what it is. Of course there is sadness and grief but now at least there is a feeling of wholeness and authenticity, which are strong values as is integrity. I have been living a values led life, however this time around we are being taught what that actually looks like in relationships and how we negotiate that. Even though the outcome may not be what was hoped for, as in end of relationship, it does leave a person feeling less violated and more intact and we can only do that for ourselves. As adults, again no blame, holding compassion and here is how we learn how to be who we want to be, who we deserve to be.
When I uphold these values for my inner boundaries as well as my outer boundaries then I can continue to live this rich and full meaningful life. This is not a pretty process and it hurts like hell. In the pain though now there is healing to liberation, true liberation. I get it now, versus suffering. This is a talk by Tara Brach: Pain x Resistance = Suffering. Pain x Presence = Freedom.
Wow, I hope this makes sense. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this journey. The last 18 months has felt like being ‘gas lighted’ and of course we have our part in it but now I understand why. My core value is trust, trust of myself and I am learning to do that more and more with ‘growing pains’. So worth it though as life is life and I want to feel my agency in it and as there are more opportunities to be with discomfort there is also even more opportunity to be with joy, pleasure, gratitude. When we are open to all emotion, we feel all emotion the yummy ones get heightened because we can not numb out on just some emotions, we then numb out on all. The growing pains are healing to feeling everything as we are meant to.
From a yet again enlightened Liz
Honoring kindness through values and boundaries