The Cycle of Demotions and PromotionsThe Art of Boundary Management
I have hundreds of conversations with people each year. While the people and the exact details change - the overall themes are universal. In essence, it’s the same conversations over and over.
The above picture (created by my son Jack at my request) represents what I call the boundary map. I talk about boundaries so often that I needed a visual metaphor for people.
The Red Circle of Courage
There you are! You are the blue dot connected to the pink dot living in the red zone. The red zone is surrounded by razor wire and a mote. No one else is allowed in that zone. It’s just the two of you. Notice the blue and pink dots touch but don’t overlap since the two people are still fully separate people. Overlapping dots is old-fashioned codependency. Do you have the courage to form a core permanent relationship with someone where you still need to take care of yourself and don’t expect your partner to be your external self-soothing machine? Do you have the courage to form a boundary around the two of you whereby all other human beings are deemed extremely important but still secondary to the primacy of this relationship?
Perfect World and The Real World
In a perfect world - the grey zone, that first circle outside the red zone would include our children, our parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, high school friends, next door neighbor, and the family dog (not cat). Every subsequent circle - green, blue, purple, and orange represents differential relationship zones that we have with people based on trust, intimacy, healthy communication, and shared values. Depending on what zone we place people inside determines how often we interact with the person, how vulnerable we choose to be, and the extent of our expectations.
But we have the real world. So some people need to get demoted.
We Are All In HR
Good boundary management is nothing more than demoting those that need to be moved to a farther circle and promoting those in outer circles to a more inner circle. We are adults and get to decide where to place people. Shared DNA is not a birthright into the grey zone.
Freebie Thought For The Road: The most common invader from the grey zone into the red zone is an adult parent.