Photo by Raphael Mittendorfer on Unsplash

Art of Identity

Kind Ways to set Clear Boundaries

There is an art to being with others. Not everyone can find the right balance. Some others are just more difficult to be with, while a few others take no effort at all. What makes one person easy and another not so easy to be with? The way you set and maintain your personal boundaries may hold the answer.

Kindness

Being kind to others is a highly underrated form of communication. Kindness is a universally understood human affect when practiced sincerely. To be kind is to make yourself vulnerable in a very specific manner. Most others are disarmed by genuine kindness because it is either rare for them or familiar to them. One thing is for sure, kindness is not common.

Showing kindness to another is a powerful way to hold boundaries when no clear boundaries exist. Many cultures and societies have evolved from practicing a posture of kindness when clear boundaries were absent. Cyrus the Great for instance practiced kindness while also leading and conquering on a biblical scale.

Clear Boundaries

While clear boundaries are certainly a safe way to operate around others, most often clear boundaries arise out of discord, not consensus. The United States occupies a solid land mass which was unbroken before the States needed to be United. Clear boundaries are often imposed to avoid anticipated consequences. You put a fence around your property to keep your animals in and others out.

There is a severity to clear boundaries which over time will erode the necessity or instinct for human kindness. The status quo of clear boundaries is mostly safe for others, but rarely kind to others. Korea’s Demilitarized Zone keeps Koreans mostly safe from war, but little kindness gets past the DMZ’s clear boundaries.


Human identity is ultimately a fluid balance of kindness toward others and clear boundaries with others. In between showing kindness and establishing clarity is where the true measure of any of us resides. Boundaries are actually meaningless without at least one other. One other to move toward in kindness or hold back with clarity. One other is also the minimal requirement for human identity.

We don’t just make each other through procreation. We make each other through our relationships, our interactions, and in large part—our boundaries. Every time you interact with another you are joining or holding back in a shared boundary. Through human interaction—we become.

Who we become can be shaped by kindness and clarity used thoughtfully at the right moments. An art of identity.