Boundaries

What is the difference between internal and external boundaries? Do strong internal boundaries enable attitudes that superficially look like codependence, but actually protect against it?

This page is a stub, created on 2020-04-07 (last updated on 2021-02-09). Its contents are notes on the issues and angles I want to address about this topic.


I'd like to explore some topics around internal versus external boundaries. An internal boundary might be something that one considers to be at the core of their being, a deeply held value or principle, like honesty. Internal boundaries are likely to be about the standards of behavior one has for oneself. An external boundary might be something like what kind of behavior one is willing to tolerate or accept in or from others.

There are some interesting questions about the line between (1) assuming positive intent, believing people are generally doing their best, understanding motives and intentions, feeling compassion for their struggle, and (2) making excuses for them, enabling and sanctioning harmful behavior, and engaging in self-abnegation.

Another dimension or manifestation of (2) above might be something we don't often characterize as "enabling and sanctioning harmful behavior": tiptoeing around people's uncalibrated sensitivities, coddling them, infantilizing them. In this context, it's about knowing "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours". This might often come up as trying to be kind and compassionate, but implicitly disrespecting their dignity as a human being who is responsible for their own thoughts, emotions (or emotional calibration), and behavior.

And another class of this tension might manifest in trying to navigate one's own apprehension of the truth versus the pressures of social cohesion. What constitutes legitimate tact and sensitivity?

A-whole-nother dimension of this is the connection to codependence: Do strong internal boundaries protect against codependence? (For example, perhaps because one's core values are inviolable?)

Is conflict-avoidance via pretense actually an insidious form of codependence?