We know David Richo is a big fan of love. Who isn’t!? But I notice a question comes up when people are encouraged to be vulnerable and open, to love or to forgive. The question is about whether we have to love everyone, be open to everyone, forgive everyone. This section of the book talks about love and boundaries.
The idea is that we can love unconditionally AND our choices can reflect healthy boundaries. For example, you can love someone who says things that are hurtful before thinking. This person can be a family member, but it doesn’t mean that you have to “put up” with these hurtful comments because you love them. You get to draw a boundary and let them know it is not Ok with you. Or, you might choose not to verbalize the boundary, but choose not to share really personal things with them. Or, you might decide that you don’t feel comfortable spending time with them one on one, but you are OK at family events. Loving someone doesn’t mean putting up with ways of being that are not OK with you. One of my close friends talks about this by saying “you can let them into your heart, but you don’t have to let them into your home”. So, you can love, but you don’t have to be with them.
If someone is not a safe person or if a situation is not working for you, it is OK not to engage. It is not necessary to be rude or aggressive in drawing boundaries, it can be done with loving kindness. Now, this doesn’t mean we get to walk around and put walls up everywhere, blame and quit on everyone because the world is just not safe or OK with us. In love, we have to be accountable. Yes, we have to take a look at ourselves first. How am I creating this situation? How is this familiar? Where is my opportunity to grow here?
David Richo continues his discussion about the interplay between love and fear. We need to open our heart to love and keep standing there, look inside and feel our fears if they show up. I really love the friendly relationship David Richo builds with fear in this section. He says that fear helps us because it “protects us from what we are not ready to handle” (p. 109). He goes on to say that fear is the “threshold guardian that protects you from a place that holds dangers too terrible for your current level of strength” (p. 109). You know what? I’m really grateful for fear because, without it, I believe there are times when things really would have been too much for me. Here’s the second cool part about fear that the author mentions: “Our fears point to where our work lies” (p. 109). If we can pause and notice that we are feeling fear, we then have a really important piece of information. We have a direction to go in our work.
When we are dealing with a difficult situation, it is a delicate balance at times: trying to decide if it is our fear/pain/issue that is causing the problem or if we need to create a boundary or request that a change be made by the other person. The idea is to love, stretch into the discomfort that fear can present, and, create healthy boundaries to take care of yourself and your love when that is necessary.
*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".