討論逐字稿 Boundaries

We discussed a couple of articles on Boundaries. One was a blog post by Jim C. Hines, and the other was an article on CNN. CNN also collected the reactions to their article here.

Do we teach people that they have the right to take care of themselves?
I don't understand, of course people have to take care of themselves.
Actually, no, we don't teach people to take care of themselves. We teach people to take care of others first, then ourselves.
I mean, it's natural for me that people know that they should take care of themselves, they don't need to be taught by others, that's why I don’t get this question.
She just assumes that people know they should take care of themselves.
That's because you're very self-sufficient.
Yes, I agree.
Lots of people don't know how to take care of themselves.
Yes, that's true.
They don't know how to, that's the other question. The question here, they don't know they have the right.
They don’t know?
They don't know they have the right?
That's my humble opinion.
Mine is humble too, don't get me wrong!
In my memory it's that, my mother told me that, you have to take the responsibility for yourself. When you are maybe above 18 years old. But I don't think it's quite equal to take care of myself it's different things, but my parents didn’t tell me HOW to take care of myself. Be alone with myself.
That's an important skill!
I think we are taught to sacrifice ourself, a lot, a lot more than taking care of ourselves.

Can you explain 'sacrifice yourself'?
Like, you just let other people do what they want first, and then, or if there is not enough food for all of us, then you just let other people eat first, and then consider, we just put ourselves on the back burner.
I think that's what considerate people do, that's just being considerate.
But there is a lot of Chinese old story like, for example, there's a little boy, he has an older brother, and if there is two apples, one is smaller and one is bigger...
It's not apple! It's pear!
....yes, sorry! There are two pears, you should choose the smaller one, because you should sacrifice yourself, and you...
But you know I think that's ridiculous, it means just because you popped out first you always get the bigger bit? It's ridiculous, because then the younger ones always don't get enough, they get malnourished, and how is this a good thing?
But when we are just a kid, there is a lot of strange weird stories, to educate us to be respectful of others or so.
Like the kid with the mosquitos!
And why didn't he just kill the mosquitos?
Yes, there were so many other solutions!
There were too many to kill?
No, it's possible, you know, my family is really good at killing mosquitos.
Maybe they [family in the story] were vegetarians.
Wait, mosquitos are all female, right?
They're female, right.
Yeah, maybe they're feminists.

Do we teach that it's okay to set boundaries?
[crickets]
Ok, I have another question first. How do you teach kids, or how do you teach people to set boundaries?
Oo, good question.
Maybe the question is, is your question.
What?
Because, how could you teach…how would you teach your student to set boundaries? Is there any experience for you?
Right, I don't know, that's why I'm asking.
It's a real question.
Because nobody taught me before to set boundaries.

Let's talk about what boundaries are, first, that's maybe the problem. What are boundaries?
Like a line or a zone.
How does that translate into human behavior?
Personal space is a kind of boundary.
Lets make it easier, let's ask, what kind of behaviors cross a line for you?
To squeeze my face. It really happens!
As an adult?
Yes, one month ago, it's really ridiculous.
Is it a doctor?
No, it's not!
Your boyfriend?
…no.
She had to think about it!
It's one of my friends, but I think it was ridiculous for me. Yeah, I just…
Don't feel comfortable.
My grandma…when I was 12, she just came up one day and squeezed both of my breasts, and was like, they're getting bigger. I was so shocked...!
You know, I feel better.
I was so confused, it was my grandma, but it wasn't appropriate, I still feel confused about it.
Like a cab driver asking you, oh, are you married?
I don't like this question either, because getting older and older, this is not so comfortable for me. Because their reaction will become, oh, why, but I don't want to tell you. It's private to share this kind of...
Information.
...well it's not really information, but yeah.
So, what questions are inappropriate for a stranger to ask you?
Are you married?
Where do you live?
I was thinking if it's a stranger, unless he's asking for directions, otherwise he shouldn't ask any question at all.
If the stranger is an old woman or a 40-something man does it make a difference to you?
But it's a different feeling, because if it's a 40-50y.o. woman to ask you if you're married, and a the same age of man to ask you are you married, it's different, right? Even if it's the same question, but a different person then it's different
But it's a stranger, so then, no.

How about work acquaintances, what are they allowed to ask you. But wait, we're trying to define boundaries, it's about what information people are allowed to know about you, and what else?
I think it's on the relationships. How close your relationship between you and your colleagues.
Let's ask, how much information do you put about yourself on facebook?
Little.
Like when I take a picture, I try to not show a lot of my house, so you can't tell what it's like.
The information is just shared with my friends, but a lot of photos are posted, I'm not worried about the privacy very much, because I think I'm nobody.
I don't put much info.
I cannot control them (what people will share), so I will control myself.
I do, I put some information, but I don't usually put photos on my. But my mother likes to put photos, and she likes to share information with her friends, but I talked to her about not tagging me her my brother in her photos, and sometimes she listens, and sometimes she ignores me, but like she said, I don't do anything bad, or I’m not that important so it's okay, and she's usually like this is what we ate at the restaurant

Our culture says saying 'no' is rude/selfish/bad.
It's just considerate to satisfy others' needs first.
Do we all agree?
No, I don't think so.
It's not automatically bad?
I think, we all have the right to decide what kind of life or what kind of situation we would like to be in.
How often do you say no to people?
Hey, would you like to help me on a project next week?
No!
Would you like to give money to this charity?
Well, ok. You know, it's easy to convince me, it's hard to be confident in the decision I make.
You know, ask her about the project again, she may help you.
[laughter]

If you have coworkers ask you something extra, how often do you say no?
If it's not that hard to do, then I’ll try to find time.
I will help them.
Me too, I tend to help them.
Because yeah, what comes around goes around.

Are you protective of yourself?
I am very protective of myself. You have to go through a long vetting process before you can be my close friend.
Sure, but I think it's just, everyone protect themselves, but just like a spectrum, and someone is just on the left side, and some are located on the right side, everyone protects themselves.
To some degree.
It's just the subject maybe different.

That's why we have to do so much for our families, because we're in debt.
So that's balance, right?
What do you mean?
You have to pay your parents back for the money they lent you with interest. We also have to pay back with credit and interest, in various ways.
It's just more complicated!
Also, but when we talk about family, it's also different from friends or strangers. It's natural for us, that's why we tend to do whatever for families.
Lots of people have told me they feel burdened by their families.
I will say yes, but still they will do what they do, you cannot say no sometimes.
So, people don't have boundaries, when it comes to family, is what we're saying?
I mean, the scope for 'yes' is bigger, compared to other situations.
That was poetic!

Is it important to teach children their bodies are their own? Do we?
We are starting to do this part at school.
How do you do it?
We draw bodies, we just point to the body, we just ask the kid, what part of the body we cannot allow sombody else to touch, but I cannot remember what was taught to me when I was young.
We were taught, don't get into a stranger's car, don't...
Yeah, we were taught not to allow strangers.
And yet, most children are not molested by strangers.
But this is strange, we have that dialogue there, this example is not normal
I'm not sure what.
Because when we're talking about bodily autonomy, we're talking about abuse, right? You don't think so?
No.
Stranger danger in Taiwan is about kidnapping.
Stranger danger in the US is about sexual abuse.

I guess, boundaries are about, at what point do you determine whether you or someone else is more important, really. Don't you think we're making this kind of calculation often?
You mean set boundaries?
I mean, deciding whose needs are more important, mine or sb else’s. There's a complicated social calculation you have to make a lot.
Do you know this term, 'wider-self-interest'?
Self interest?
What is good for you.
Wider self interest, it means what's good for someone else is also good for me.
So it's like help others and help yourself at the same time?
Yeah, it's like helping others because it'll help you ultimately.


Do you feel that women are expected to be more accessible to others?
Not just physically, through touching, but also in terms of being available for help and conversation etc.
I tend to say yes, which means women are more amiable, which is more accessible, so people may come to them for help more naturally?
So the wording of accessible is more negative, right? It's a negative.
It is in this question, but not normally.
Because I personally think baby girls are more easygoing and more adorable than baby boys.
So it is a human nature?
Maybe, I like baby girl more, I don't know why. But it's not because I think they are more accessible.
Well my experience is, because I used to work in a museum, and in museums they have people working in the galleries, and we call them, they provide help to visitors, like point out the say, like a piece of artwork, and they were all girls, so according to my observation, all the museums I’ve ever been too, they're all girls. Sometimes you like to hear a lovely lady tell you, please go that way, don't touch the art work, it's more comfortable than a man with a tie telling you that. It's more comfortable in a museum context.
Because the man's authority is more scary?
Probably?
Even if a man wears a big smile, they are more scary.
They are not sweet, like a girl or women.
Well, when we record english teaching books, the clients always want the titles to be the male voice. The instructions are often by the female voice.
But why the title should be the man?
Because the title is the title, also, it’s not that important.
I read a study once that said that people understand meaning from a female voice much more easily. Maybe it's because they're afraid of the authority in a male voice, and so shut it out?

I have a question. Have you ever had an experience that, there's someone who just doesn't know how to set boundaries for themselves.
Like what?
Like there was a teacher in my school, he always talks to you like this [comes too close]
Like that [comes too close]?
Yeah! I feel so uncomfortable. He talks to male teachers like this, and also to female teachers like this. I asked my boss, how do you feel about that? He doesn't have bad feelings, but I do, I just hate him to come to my office. I feel like he just doesn't know how to set boundaries.
Can I say something? I think he is not aware that he is used to doing that. It's not no boundaries, he's not aware of his behaviors.
So what do I dot to make him aware?
Ask him, do you know you tend to do this?
It's difficult.
Yes.
It's difficult? But I found out that for a long time I would pat people, I didn’t mean to hurt people, I just sort of naturally pat people.
But how did you realize it?
It took me years to realize I had that habit, nobody told me, but sometimes when I pat people, they would say ouch, and then I realize I just pat someone.
But if all I can do is just back up away from him, and he doesn't realize it?
Maybe he just thinks it's your personal issue, because maybe others don't that. We tend to pinpoint others, not ourselves.
That's true.
But trust me, he doesn't mean to do that.
I know but, he always comes to my office.
Can you say something like, please don't stand so close?


That last paragraph, I don't know what you guys think about this. Is it a good way to teach kids to respect others' feelings?
Teaching respect for others' feelings
"At 4 years old, my son decided he didn't want to hug his 94-year-old grandma when we visited with her at the nursing home. She said it was OK and nodded in understanding, but we couldn't help but see in her eyes that it hurt her feelings. When it came time to tuck our son in that night, my husband and I decided against hugging and kissing him. Why? Because he needed to learn compassion ... the impact of his actions on others. We wanted for him to understand how grandma felt when he didn't want to hug her. I can now say 'remember how it felt?' and he understands. Part of my job as a parent is to teach him what he needs to know to grow into a good, kind, caring, compassionate person."
I can understand your rationale, but I can't quite agree with this way to educate the kid. It seems that if you can decide not to hug or kiss your grandma, but I won't hug you, it's kind of punishment, or if you don't love your grandma, I don't love you.
But maybe for a four year old, maybe it's not that serious about love, but it's just that day, he doesn't want to hug his grandma, what's wrong with it?
But why did the parents explain to the kids, they choose not to hug the boy on that day, right? Why can't they just tell the boy that that will make the grandma hurt?
I also don't quite agree with that. Sometimes kids' behavior doesn't have any reason, they don't even know why?
Maybe they just want to make an impression on him I'm just guessing.
Of course, a four year old can be hard to understand sometimes, but as a kid grows up , you can understand him more and more, you can teach him how to take responsibility for his own decisions, but that case it's difficult
Why?
Because you have to explain to him, I don't think the kid would get it, compassion.
Like that's a really good question, how do you teach or explain compassion
Experience, so if I were the kid's parents, I will teach the boy in a different way, I would kiss him, and ask, do you like to be kissed? He will probably say yes, then I will say, maybe your grand mom also like to be kissed?
That's a positive way.
Right I use a positive way to teach him.
It seems it's all about how you teach it, but saying that it's kinda vague.
Then, when should we teach the kid that he can choose, he can have his or her own choice, to make decision
And hugging or kissing is a natural behavior, if you don't feel like doing it, and you are asked, it's an unnatural behavior
But it's about the culture, but I really don’t know, my sister's kid, my family is a serious and not funny family.
Really!
Yeah, and my sister's first kid is now a second grade kid, and one day I saw her come to my parents house, and she went to the kitchen directly to see my mom and give her a hug, and this was like, so out of nowhere! My family is not the kind to do this! But it's natural for this kid, and I don't know why, and I asked my sister, and she doesn't know why either.
What's your mom's reaction?
She was so happy! But the point is, if you asked her to do it, it would make her so awkward.
From your example it's unusual to do that, but in this example it's usual to do this.
I think hugging is really kinda new in the US, like only in the last 10-15 years or so.

Two Minute Concluding Statements
I am new here, and my friend told me there's a group, and he invited me to come. I used to work in a museum, but I quit my job last month, and I’m going out of the country in September. So I have no job right now.
Lucky!
I'm having a great time at home with myself. It's quite new to me to come to a group like this? Because in college I like talking to people in English, but we went another way, we have a book ,it's like a textbook, and we would discuss one chapter, and we follow the topic and we talk to each other, and at the end of the discussion we read an article, from Newsweek, so it's political economy social article, and we discussed the things we loved from the topic. Because I’m a poly sci major.
So today I read the article, and I feel it's a very refreshing time for me, to read about boundaries, and my first impression is that I don't know what boundary is. And so reading it, I got a sense of it, and I started thinking that having boundary can mean that you can be a selfish person, and you have too much boundary, so I was thinking, am I too selfish? My mother taught me to always take considerations of others needs. And as I grew up I became less selfish more considerate, but in college I start to think, am I losing myself? Setting boundaries doesn't equal being selfish, and in this discussion, we talk about what boundary is, which is very helpful, to know everybody's idea of boundary. It confirms my thoughts, also, that setting boundaries is not selfish always, it's okay to do so.

For setting boundaries, today I learned that people want to feel safe, and maybe they want to avoid to be hurt, and so they want to set some boundary for themselves. I'm thinking about my self, because I think I'm an easy going person.
That doesn’t mean you don't need boundaries!
And I often not very good at turning down people, even if not very close friend. I think that, in the beginning, I'm not setting so much boundary...
Yes.
...but during the class I'm thinking that maybe the image of easy going and trying not to fight with people, and always keep my personal thought in my heart it's a kind of boundary, to protect myself.
Hm! I do that sometimes!
The conclusion is, we should be respected for the boundaries we set for ourselves.

I think I have two key thoughts, the first one is, you all know I came to class without reading the article beforehand, and so that the reflections are, firstly, it's good for me to, because I look at the questions for the first time, it's good to know my personal, intuitive thoughts about how do I view things, and also because I have the chance to listen to your opinions, so I can see how I am different or similar to others. And the second thing is, if I come to class I should try to read the article in some way, I derail the discussion because my thoughts are not along the same way with you.
That’s okay, we never prepare.
Shush!
Don't encourage others!
And the other takeaway, the other we discuss about how often do we say no to the coworkers, something like that, it make me realize that I say no more easily to my boss than my peers.
Actually the same is true for me.
So why?
I don't know.
So actually that's a finding for me, it's weird.

I think, boundaries is, I don't know how to describe it, but after our discussion, I though about my experience in working in the new company, because I’m a new colleague for them, so if some person asks me for lunch or dinner, I will say yes, but actually the choice of the lunch is no my favorite, I don't like that food, but I will go with them.
And that's a big sacrifice for you, all about the food
Yes! So I'm thinking about this, I'm doing some sacrifice for my job, it's such an important part of my life, it's such a big sacrifice for me. And I want to say that, I'm trying to build up a relationship by sacrificing my only interest of my life, is this valuable?
But it's just a very special period for you, it's not for permanent.
Yes, but I'm just thinking about that for this topic, but actually, another sacrifice is, I , it's hard to describe, but I try to become more friendly. You know, I'm already friendly enough, but I try to become more friendly, because I'm a new comer
Because you're trying to be accepted in the group
But I find I lose some respect from them. So this is a problem, because I damage my boundaries, but I also lose my respect from them
So you just need to be who you are.
Yes, this is so important, because the respect is really hard to regain, or build up, and so this is how I’ve been feeling in this two months.
It's a painful realization.
But next time when you go to a new company, you won't make the same mistake.
It's an experience, even another new company, a new relationship, it'll be different.
Yeah, but I learned a couple years ago, when I was going through some difficult things, I realized, To be experienced, like to say "I'm an experienced contractor" means you have to go through the experience, and it's often not pleasant. Sometimes the experience is of you doing it wrong, and then you know for the next time, you have the experience now! But it wasn't fun to go through.
So you have to build up the respect of your coworkers. Start by choosing what you want to eat.
Yes, the first step is saying what I want to eat! The second step, is, well, can someone to recommend a second step? Well I think the second step, maybe I will show more opinions in daily life.
It's not like you don't have opinions!
Yes, but now more opinions, because if you want to show friendly, the percentage of opinions has to drop. But now that time has gone by, I should express more opinions, what I think and something like that.
You just readjust your boundary line, recalibrate, you will find the perfect balance.

I have a thought, when I read the first sentence,
""At 4 years old, my son decided he didn't want to hug his 94-year-old grandma when we visited with her...",
I have a lot of feelings about this sentence. I because, in my family, that's not the way we were brought up. But I appreciate the way my sister guides my two kids. There's an example, one day, each kid has two cookies. The smaller one, the younger one finished his cookies and the older one still had hers. And the smaller one wants more, and so he looked at his sister's cookies. And my sister asked her daughter do you feel like sharing with your brother? You can decide this on your own, you can choose to share or not to share. And you could see the older one...
Struggle!
...yes struggle for awhile, and then she goes, 'no'. And my sister said, that's fine, that's totally oaky. And I was moved by my sister's behavior, and her way of teaching these two kids, because the kids feel respected by her mom, and I don't know how my sister have this wisdom, because we were not raised that way. We are supposed to share what we have, all the way. So that's the story I have to share.

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