How Buddhists Set Healthy Boundaries

(Photo above by Ann H / Pexels)

Setting boundaries is essential for our happiness. Yet like all great, meaningful acts in life, it requires hard work and courage. Who hasn’t agonized over whether to do an enormous favor for a friend, thinking of their angry face if we say no? Therapist Kari Rusnak writes,

Boundaries are limits and needs you express to yourself and others in order to feel safe, healthy and comfortable.

Setting boundaries is how we share with others what behavior we find acceptable and what behavior we do not.

There are many important boundaries we set each day. Physical boundaries (do I feel comfortable shaking hands with this stranger?), emotional boundaries (do I let guilt get in the way of my decisions?), moral boundaries (do I put up with lying and cheating?).

The hardest part about setting boundaries is letting go of the fear and guilt that come with disappointing others. Psychologist F. Diane Barth suggest some key strategies for setting boundaries:

  • Clarify what you want for yourself
  • Communicate: Be comfortable saying no.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be respectful.

On the flipside, some indicators that you’re challenging the boundaries of others, include:

Barth concludes,

Boundaries are not about pushing people away or about trying to control them. They are about clarifying what you value—including your own space, your own beliefs and your own self-esteem.

Establishing boundaries requires courage, time and practice. Luckily, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is an incredible tool to pull courage from our hearts each day. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the name of the Buddhist principle that all people have limitless amounts of courage and wisdom in their hearts. In this sense, chanting inspires us to find the courage within to live true to ourselves, while respecting the inherent dignity of the people around us.

Setting boundaries comes down to finding the courage and wisdom to live true to ourselves.

Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes,

Great victors in life are those who have developed a strong sense of self that allows them to say, ‘I may receive no praise, but I am satisfied.’ I hope all of you will become the kind of people who can clearly distinguish the true essence of things.

Discussions on Youth, p. 15

Setting boundaries comes down to finding the courage and wisdom to live true to ourselves. When we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can always find endless courage to live with respect for ourselves and everyone around us.

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