Boundaries of Kindness, setting limits for disagreeable people

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"Kindness goes a long ways lots of times when it ought to stay at home." Kin Hubbard

“Kindness goes a long ways lots of times when it ought to stay at home.” Kin Hubbard

Wonder, wonder? I’ve done a lot of that since Ma died. I wonder how she managed to welcome me with kindness into her home no matter how rushed I acted or how far apart our visits.  

I’d stop by and stay an hour or I’d stay 10 minutes.

Sometimes I’d visit weekly. She appreciated our time together.

Other times I’d wait three months to go by. My grandmother appreciated that visit as well. Her response was always the same.

I love you. Come again when you can.”

On the other hand, there’s another family member who, time my feet stepped onto her not-so-welcome mat, said, “Well, it’s been a while.”

I tried going more often to stop the negative comments. Next, I tried going less often because I hated hearing her sarcasm.

Finally, I stopped visiting all together.

While watching a young couple I care about deal with a similar situation, I wondered again. They have friends with whom they enjoy fun and spontaneous visits. The couple also has friends who make unpleasant comments about their not-frequent-enough visits, which now makes every get-together feel like a hostage situation.

What’s up with people who choose sarcasm and manipulation as opposed to those who have figured out good friendships are rooted in respect and freedom?

I guess the answer isn’t so hard to understand. It’s easier for some of us to wield control and guilt to get what we want, rather than work on ourselves until we’re likable enough for people to want to be around us. I hate it for friends who don’t feel good enough about themselves to put aside misery and manipulation for better choices that create lasting relationships. But if I hang around them long enough, chances are I’ll become miserable and manipulative as well.

All I know to do is form boundaries of kindness … if we can be kind to each other, let’s hang out. If not, let’s love each other from a distance. 

Are you willing to live by these boundaries? How do you handle family and friends who make negative comments every time you’re together?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be –I’m easier to get along with when I give myself permission to spend time with likable people, and when I love my not-so-likable family and friends from a distance. I hope family and friends will do the same for me.

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