I honour the boundaries of others.
I respect and honour other’s lives as their most personal asset, to share as they choose, or not at all.
I know only what my own boundaries are and make no assumptions about the boundaries of others.
In line at the market was a forty-something woman who was showing [anyone who would look] photos she’d just picked up from a photography studio. They were Glamour Shot type pictures of her daughter. They were attractive, but did she have a right to share them with strangers? In doing so was she honouring her daughter’s boundaries?
A man met a woman who had lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks. He wanted to know more so he went online and researched her husband’s death. Was he being respectful of the woman’s privacy and honouring her boundaries?
A friend shared that she learned her son and his girlfriend had recently had sex for the first time. How many had their personal boundaries violated in that disclosure?
Looking where we aren’t invited to look, sharing what isn’t ours to share, giving away bits of information not ours to give, or engaging in any other violation of privacy is disempowering to others and dishonours their right to create their own healthy boundaries. If asked about another’s well-being, social or marital status, health or other personal matter- unless given permission to have such a conversation- we should always defer to the subject of the questioning. Want to know if my friend is single? You’ll have to ask him. Wish to know how that co-worker’s surgery went? You’ll have to ask her. Without clear authority to speak on another’s behalf or delve into their world, we have no right to presume to know what their boundaries are or if we are breaching them. We empower others when we give them the right to choose the parameters of their own boundaries. We also show them we value their world, their lives, their stories and even their images as their own. And in the process of respecting others boundaries, we empower and remind ourselves to create and promote our own healthy boundaries.