It’s fairly common to struggle with boundaries. The desire to come through for everyone is strong, but not half so strong as the fear that if you set a firm boundary, then no one will accept you for where you are and what you want. What if love is only ever available on someone else’s term? This is a terrible fear straight from our inner child.
We’ve turned loyalty into a obligation test. But how perverse is that? “If you love them, set it free” is a culturally touchstone for a reason. We want the freedom of choosing our the loyalty that works for us. And we know each demonstration of loyalty means nothing if it wasn’t in consideration of the other person’s boundaries, needs and desires.
I suppose this hit me today because I’ve been astonished to see athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles holding their boundaries firm. They loyalty to sports, their countries and to us as fans only matters if it’s given freely and with joy. They owe us nothing, so when they do perform as their most elite selves, it’s what’s most beautiful and courageous thing. It’s a feat without ego. Those victories come in freedom.
Prioritizing one’s boundaries and well-being doesn’t need any apology or explanations or attempts to change yourself to fit another, if someone requires obligation on their terms it’s natural to feel invaded.
It’s the most loving thing in the world to set out what you actually want and need. It’s always the right thing to do. We don’t own each other. We each get to choose what’s best for us. And that fear we won’t be loved if we stand firm? Let it go. We always feel safest and most cared for when we know what we are offering is genuinely wanted.