Boundaries or Expectations

Photo from feng-shui-paintings.com
Photo from feng-shui-paintings.com

When you are an inspiration junkie like me (something that inspired the recent title change for my blog), you often come across a lot of different pieces of wisdom and sometimes these pieces of wisdom can contradict one another.

I’ve been increasingly fascinated with Buddhism ever since I went on a field trip to a Zen Center in high school with my World Religions class. If you read a lot of teachings from various Buddhist sources, they encourage the removal of expectations. They encourage this in order to not only remove disappointment but to allow for a greater enjoyment of life in general. Having some rather high expectations for people is something I’ve admittedly had most of my life. I have a hard time when people don’t treat others the way I would and I think sometimes the struggles I’ve had with my disability lead me to expect more of those who haven’t had that struggle.

Another thing I’ve read a lot about is the importance of setting boundaries, something I’ve also had quite a bit of trouble with. Sort of tied in with that whole nice, people-pleasing thing I’m forever working on improving, this is something I’ve really started to make great strides in. But I can’t help but wonder, if we’re not supposed to set expectations in order to have a happy life, then why are we bothering to set boundaries? Isn’t setting boundaries essentially a result of having expectations? And if we’re not expecting anything out of life or the people in it, then is that giving them a free pass to treat us however they want or to be a poor friend/family member/significant other? It seems to me, boundaries are more important than not having expectations. I think it’s good to be able to set boundaries with people because the reality is, people treat you how you allow them to. And I’m sad to say, I’ve let people treat me pretty crappily in my life (yes, I just invented a word too).

I know I probably don’t need to expect so much out of people but I also know how important setting boundaries has been for me in recent months. It’s taught me to stand up for myself, to value myself in my own eyes and in the eyes of others. It’s kept me from being a doormat. It’s felt good!

It’s really just another question of balance I think. I completely get the mentality behind not having expectations but I also stand firm in my belief that sometimes you have to expect things of others in order to assert your own value and to be treated the way you deserve to be. And in order to do that, sometimes you have to set boundaries. So Buddha, I’m not sure what you would have to say about that, but for this inspiration junkie, I think it’s ok.

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