Practitioners of kindness are humans, too. Which means, like all other humans, there are parts of us that want to lash out at others when they are triggered. And when people get triggered and lash out at other people, they tend to hurt others and this chain of hurt ripples out, like a domino wave of moustraps.
But/And “Being kind” doesn’t mean “I don’t have boundaries.” To be kind to ourselves, we MUST have boundaries and sometimes people cross them, often triggered by their own pain which you have nothing to do with. Which, then triggers your pain….
Sometimes you have to state your boundaries and then enforce them when your stated boundaries aren’t respected. I recently wrote a “STFU and Go Away” email to a friend who repeatedly crossed boundaries and I regret saying STFU.
I’d hired a friend to do some work and things went quickly bad when I asked why the amount on his invoice was over a thousand dollars more than our agreement. The communication spiraled into accusations and got down to disputing the last couple hundred bucks. And he just would not let up.
My choices seemed to be: “engage in/prolong the fight because I’m in the right and being bullied into giving this guy money we didn’t agree to is a boundary.” or “Pay the guy so he’ll just STFU and go away. I don’t need the stress over a couple hundred bucks.” I anguished a lot because to me, both felt like losing.
Finally after losing sleep and stress, relentless text demands and phone calls and worry he was going to show up banging on my door, I just paid him so he’d shut up and go away. He was a (former) friend and we’d helped each other out before, so the whole ordeal seemed more painful than it would have been if I’d just hired a professional instead of a Friend With A Tractor.
So I paid the him because I knew it was the path of least resistance, but I felt like I needed to make a statement to be complete.
So I spent literally seven or eight hours writing and editing and probably four hours on the phone with friends to what ended up being a 300 word note. I explained the factual reasons why i felt violated as a friend and told him the only reason I was paying it was because I knew it was the only way he would STFU and go away. “So STFU and go away,” I pointedly ended.
As soon as I hit send, I regretted saying “STFU and Go Away” when “Now go away” would have been equally emphatic.
Takeaways for me:
- Being kind doesn’t mean “no boundaries.” Boundaries are a basic kindness for Self.
- An awareness that when people act out of the pain body, hurt often ensues. And hurt leads to more acting out. It’s not you, it’s them. But it will be you if you’re not really careful.
- You can say “No” and be kind about it.
- You can also say “STFU and Go Away” without saying “STFU.”