The Three Pillars of Redefining Love
Let’s define each of these terms:
Boundaries for Self: Boundaries determine where you end and other people begin. Without boundaries, there is no you. In order to love yourself, you must know who you are. In order to know who you are, you must establish boundaries – you must clearly define the space you occupy in the world – and you must give yourself permission to reside in that space.
Boundaries for Others: Setting boundaries is so much more than telling people “no” once in a while. When you set a boundary with someone, you are establishing a protective barrier between yourself and the other person, to whatever degree is necessary for your own mental and emotional well-being.
An Act of Love: When we set a boundary with someone, we are showing them that we love them enough to tell them who we really are.
When we Redefine Love, we are able to love people despite our differences, even if they hurt us.
Some people must be loved from a safe distance.
That distance may be physical, social, or emotional.
Maybe we choose not to socialize with them anymore, but we continue to maintain the same activities, church, or community. This type of boundary really doesn’t affect our day-to-day routine. It just means that you decide this person isn’t going to be a part of your close social network.
Maybe we choose not to share our deepest thoughts and feelings with them, or our successes and failures. This type of boundary works well for family members or coworkers we must continue to interact with. Just because we see them frequently doesn’t mean we have to allow them into our close circle of support.
And maybe, if the person is truly dangerous or highly emotionally toxic, we choose to distance ourselves physically from them, or limit interactions to only public places, etc.
Accountability for Self: You are not a victim of your emotions. You are the boss of your feelings. You are not a victim of circumstantial relationships. You can choose where you end and others begin, and with whom you want to share your life.
Accountability for Others: When we Redefine Love, we recognize that we can love people through anger, hurt, and disagreements. And we realize that ignoring the weaknesses in ourselves and others is actually a far greater betrayal than being honest about our feelings and experiences.
Grace is the willingness to accept that we all view the world through the lens of our own experience. Grace is the ability to look at someone’s shortcomings with compassion and empathy. Grace is the love we hold for everyone, despite our differences. Grace is the peace we find when we allow others their own path. Grace is the self-respect we feel in spite of our own flaws.
Grace allows us to view conflict not as a negative to be avoided, but as an opportunity to better understand another person. Perhaps we have something to learn from them, or they from us.
Once we have redefined love to allow for the messy, painful aspects of the human experience, we can love everyone, regardless of their beliefs. We don’t have to take sides, because love is not determined by whether or not someone makes us feel warmth and affection. Grace allows us to set boundaries, and sometimes, love people from a safe distance.
Grace is the guidepost against which we harness the gate we can choose to hold open, or respectfully close, depending on how others fit into our own personal voyage through life.
If you feel at any point like you want to harm yourself or someone else, seek professional help immediately or dial 911. You are worth too much to the world to choose otherwise.
The author of Redefining Love is not a licensed mental healthcare professional. The information included on this site is for the specific purposes of learning to set boundaries and hold yourself and others accountable with love and grace. For mental health diagnosis questions or clinical mental health treatment or concerns, please reach out to a licensed mental healthcare professional.