“Boundaries can be used in two ways – by limiting the actions of the people who have hurt you, and by including the people who’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy. In other words, boundaries prevent harm and allow benefit.
…When a friend proves trustworthy, see that friend again. Risk a little more. Notice when you are treated kindly. Pay attention when someone offers you trust. As you become more discriminating about the people you let in, the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people, and you’ll have less room for the harmful ones.”
Anne Katherine, “Where to Draw the Line”
Often we think of boundaries as a means solely of keeping toxic people out. But, as Anne Katherine explains, they’re also how we let trustworthy people in.
But how do you know who to allow close and who to keep at a distance?
As ever, it’s our darned feelings that hold the key (cue eyeroll). Paying attention to how we feel when we’re with other people is vital. In simple terms, it’s the good old Drains and Radiators principle (if you’re not familiar with these expressions, this Huffington Post article explains more).
We feel good around Radiators – they exude warmth and we leave their presence feeling richer for the interaction. Drains, on the other hand, disregard our boundaries and push their own agenda. They’re prone to complaining and negativity. Drains leave us feeling depleted, bummed out or angry (or all three).
The good news is you get to decide who you spend your time with. If you feel your life is full of Drains, you can start today to build a community of Radiators.
Then “the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people” and you’ll have the life-enhancing, mutually-supportive relationships you deserve.
Katherine, A. (2000) “Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day”. New York: Fireside.