June 10, 2018
I work in a field that involves my heart. Not the organ, but rather the emotional center of me.
As a psychotherapist I’ve been trained and advised and encouraged to not let it get personal. When I hear things like that I’m struck by the irony that if the work I do isn’t personal, I’m not sure what is.
To be clear, personal is not a euphemism or synonym for having poor boundaries. Taking things personally that aren’t personal can be an expression of poor boundaries, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
Having poor boundaries is when we can’t figure out where one of us ends and the other person begins. That ends up diminishing both of us. The personal I’m talking about is when we interact and we enlarge each other.
I work to keep it personal. And I work even harder to maintain healthy boundaries so I don’t get in the way of building relationships that matter to me. And when I find that space where both are happening at the same time, that’s the sweet spot. That’s where we have a meaningful interaction.
This isn’t a treatise on how to have healthy boundaries or on how to create meaningful relationships. It’s simply a suggestion to look at each and every one of your relationships as an opportunity to be personal.
Be kind. Love. Give everyone who comes into the circle of your life the benefit of the doubt. See their strengths, and if they’re not harmful, overlook their predictable weaknesses and limitations. Bring your best self to every meeting with another human being, because you have no guarantees that they won’t be the last person with whom you interact.