"It's impossible to cross a line when there is no line to cross." — Jonas Cain
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There’s a dog in my neighborhood who gets upset every time I walk by. Even though I never linger and just simply walk by, the dog feels threatened and just barks and barks and barks and barks until I’m out of sight.
The barking dog serves as a mirror to reflect on what we feel threatened by—whether they be real or imagined threats.
When we have healthy boundaries, there’s no need to feel threatened—because we’re secure in what we will and will not accept and have been clear with others about these limits.
Yet when we do not have healthy boundaries, when we have not been clear with ourselves and with others about how close is too close and how far is too far, it is then that our relationships become threatened—whether with our closest companions or with the fleeting interactions of strangers passing by.
While that barking dog has certainly made it abundantly clear that I’m not welcome, it’s also true that I don’t want to stop by and visit anyway. This puts up another mirror to reflect on how often we assume the intent of others because of poorly constructed boundaries, causing needless anxiety and tension.
As for me, I have no desire to spend energy on what can’t be controlled, so I’m thankful for having that dog as a teacher.
In what area of your life are you a dog barking at an imagined threat? How might honoring your boundaries make you feel more secure without the need for aggression?
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Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.