It sometimes amazes me the games that people play with each other.  And by games I don’t mean fun sports, but weird, anti-social, passive aggressive actions that produce mediocre results at best and definitely bring on drama.  Neighbors are people who live near each other, not through specific choice, but through a culmination of each individuals choices which brought them to this moment in time.  This could be at work, at home, at the grocery store, on a trip, you name it.  Anywhere that someone is, for the most part, there will also be someone else in proximity.  How we deal with that makes a society, one interaction at a time.

Good boundaries make good neighbors because under all the social niceties, we’re mammals and most of us are not predators.  We are herd animals with a high degree of social nature which need to feel secure in our surroundings in order to open up and relax.  Knowing the social structure, having our own dedicated space, and knowing that others will respect our space are the mainstays of that feeling of safety.  Having those violated set us off with anxiety, displays of aggression, and acts to reclaim our territory.

Which all sounds very Animal Planet, but is actually a description of why people in apartments get ‘weird’ over the laundry area.  Supplies left out, wet laundry piled on chairs, ‘stolen’ washers, all bring out our territorial nature.  Homeowners get possessive of two inches of grass and call out surveyors to decide who it belongs to so that the owner can  mark it as theirs.  Garbage cans left out where they don’t belong, cigarette butts left in front of doors, dishes left in the sink too long….you get the point.

On any given day we act without seeing the boundaries of others and violate someones feeling of safety and sovereignty.  That’s party of being human in a body and what apologies are for.  However, it is also one huge reason why communication was invented.  Being able to communicate feelings, opinions, needs, wants, reasons…all help us to keep good boundaries and to be good neighbors.  At least it heads us in that direction.  But it also takes courage.  Passive/Aggressive behavior does not.  And leads to hurt feelings, bad interactions and escalating turf wars.  Literally.

When you feel like your boundaries have been violated, let the anxiety wear off. Let the physical reaction fade, then look at the situation.  Was it intentional?  Can a quick conversation clear it up?  You might find a quick resolution to the issue and create a new and positive relationship if you look to your reactions, your boundaries first, before pointing out that they have none.