The bother with boundaries

After a while, the therapist queried, “You know it’s not your job to do all the things, right?”

The patient responded, “I realize that, however, some of the things will not get done unless someone does them, and the Someones who could be doing them aren’t stepping up because their boundaries say that those things shouldn’t be or aren’t their responsibility.”

For all the talk about the importance of boundary-setting as a part of self-care, there’s a question that continues to be overlooked.

Once you’ve set your boundaries around what you will and will not do, what happens to the things that you will not do?

Someone else has to do them.

Who is someone else?

What about their boundaries?

What about the things that still need to get done?

It’s an infinite loop.

Hard and fast boundaries don’t allow for the delegation of tasks to someone else…their boundaries don’t allow for new tasks to be added to their list.

Strict boundaries don’t allow for growth opportunities in areas of interest or in areas of skill.

Boundary-based refusal creates a bigger problem for the big picture when the things still need to get done and aren’t getting done because they all seem to fall beyond everyone’s boundaries.

Sometimes the things that need to get done aren’t things that can be ignored. Ignoring them creates more things…more complicated things…they’re like Tribbles.

Sometimes the things that need to get done are the things that need to be done by the person closest to the situation…not someone outside the situation. Involving someone outside the situation fractures trust.

And sometimes, the things that need to get done require follow-up and follow-through…and someone outside the situation isn’t the best person to do either one.

The excuse that a task is beyond one’s pay grade only really applies for tasks that require a specific set of skills or knowledge–and the assumption that neither one can be obtained through doing the task. (And that statement “beyond my pay grade” is incredibly insulting to both parties, tbh.)

The therapist asks, “Well, what IS your job?”

The patient* says, “To do the things that need to get done. I have a list…in multiple places…that keeps growing. Beyond that, I really don’t know.”

*often a gifted person of any age

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