In the development of compassion, boundaries play an interesting and sometimes complicated role. They are like the stake and wires that are used to help keep young trees rooted and growing straight. Early on in our practice of compassion, or when we’re faced with difficult, new challenges, a lack of healthy boundaries can lead to our compassion being blown away before it’s had a chance to take root. As we develop, though, boundaries held too tightly can stifle our compassion and keep it from reaching maturity. In the process of developing compassion, we need to become skillful at knowing when to apply boundaries and when to relax or release them.
Setting healthy boundaries involves saying no, refusing to do something, or refusing to interact in a certain way when not refusing likely would lead us to feel stressed out, hurt, disrespected, resentful or angry. Things that stress one person out might be enjoyable to another, so exactly where we set out personal boundaries is an individual decision.
Source: “Developing The Lost Art of Compassion” by Lorne Ladner