What do you do when someone “crosses the line”? Do you match the behavior, name it, or walk away?
Be clear about what behavior you will tolerate and what you find unacceptable. Knowing your limits helps you set boundaries.
Decide when you will engage in clear, compassionate communication in an effort to mend the relationship, and when you will choose to “love from a distance,” remove yourself from the situation, and/or let go of the relationship.
What you choose to do may have little or no impact on the other person, or it may cause the person to reconsider some things. Reconsidering does not necessarily mean that another person’s behavior changes, however.
The other person may not be in the appropriate place to do so for a variety of reasons, including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) experienced many years ago. ACE’s affect how adults show up in the world and impact the capacity to create healthy boundaries. ACE’s may be:
- experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
- witnessing violence in the home or community
- having a family member attempt or die by suicide
Also included are aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, and bonding such as growing up in a household with:
- alcohol or drug misuse or addiction
- mental health problems
- instability due to parental separation or household members being in jail or prison
Sometimes, people believe ACE’s excuse poor adult behavior. While it certainly may explain why someone does what they do, it does not excuse it. When safe to do so, it may be helpful to “name” the behavior. Sometimes people do not realize their impact. However, the person must still accept responsibility for the behavior.
Understanding the reason for someone’s behavior also does not mean you need to subject yourself it. No one ever needs to stay in the presence of- or maintain a relationship with- someone who causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm. Remember, pity is not love, and may signal co-dependency.
Are you prepared to show up with clarity and compassion when someone crosses the line, or before it reaches that point ? Will you remember to be compassionate and clear with yourself first?
To learn more about ACE’s, click here.