Boundaries? *blink blink*
That used to be me. I didn’t really get the idea of boundaries until my mid-twenties. Hey, I’m a late bloomer only child and I didn’t grow up in a bustling neighborhood of kids — where boundaries are learned right quick.
I was always the loudest. The one who needed parents to “be in the mood” for me.* I was super grabby…my husband says he thinks I was (er, still am a little bit??) like Lennie Small from Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men.**
Really, it was only once I’d physically and emotionally burned myself out — because I didn’t have any boundaries — that I realized I desperately needed some.
It’s been a big part of my journey.
Now, I luh me some boundaries.
My husband might say I love them too much.
I’m not ashamed.
And I’m not alone! I talk to folks nearly every day who struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries.***
So, let me share a couple of tips and strategies on setting boundaries (what’s worked well for me), and a bigger framework that I think gets totally missed when we talk about them.
But first, what comes up for you when you think about boundaries?
This is hugely important. If you think limit, lack, withhold, confine, cut off, or have other similar negative associations, it’s going to be difficult to create healthy boundaries in your life.
You’ll resist them, tell yourself how important it is to be go-with-the-flow, and suffer because you don’t have any necessary internal structures to ensure personal balance and fortify your well-being.
I love opportunities to redefine and upgrade the internal programming. So, here you go. (Cue journal writing homework…)
- AWARENESS // Look at that association to boundaries I mentioned earlier and notice what you really believe about them. Not what you want to believe, but what you actually believe.– Where does this come from?
– Were boundaries nonexistent growing up?
– Or were they everywhere and strangling?
– Just notice the story and where it comes from.
- UPGRADE THE FILE // Think about how you’d like boundaries to feel for you. Liberating, safe, free, nurturing, nourishing, supportive, clear. That’d be rad, right? It’s possible. You’re the only thinker in your head…so you’re in charge. Make your list.Then take some alone time to get clear on how you want to be in healthy relationship with others…– Which emotional and behavioral practices would help you show up full and balanced
– What would reinforce that last list of how you’d like boundaries to feel?You can always think about the ways that don’t work for you and then see what that’s telling you about what would work for you.Like balanced blood sugar/hormones****, it’s really rare to have it without some effort. So it’s ok that you need to think about and dance with the ways you protect your magic.
- YOU DO YOU // The truth is that we teach others how to treat us. When we enter relationships without a container for how we see/hold/hear/honor our own feelings and needs it’s WAY hard to show someone else how to do that for us/with us.Thing is, you have to do it for you first. Otherwise, you’re just waiting for someone else to create a healthy container for you to thrive inside of. You might be waiting a loooong time.Let go of the old story around boundaries and embrace the new one (see point #2).
- THE BEST PART // When you create a boundary around something it allows you to be fully expressed within it. Read that again. Aaaaaand, one more time.Boundaries around generosity make it more fulfilling. Create containers.One of my favorite On Being podcasts is with Matt Sanford, an adaptive yoga teacher,”There’s a reason why, when my son who’s six is crying, he needs a hug. It’s not just that he needs my love. He needs a boundary around his experience. He needs to know that the pain is contained and can be housed and it won’t be limiting his whole being. He gets a hug and he drops into his body.”
Boundaries that create a sense of protection coming from pain vs a sense of protection coming from being aligned with your vision and wanting to design your life with INTENTION are two very different things. Feel into it. Accept where you are with love and gentleness. Make small moves from that place.
Love yourself enough to know when to create a limit. A limit can be more freedom than you’ve every known.
Saint Oprah says, “No is a complete sentence.”
Here’s a video of me breaking down how your lack of boundaries are creating an imbalance in your relationships, and how to move through it. You have to be a member of my private fb group (or heyyyy, you can join it now).
PS My cat, Lemon, has a leg infection from a tussle with a cactus, so I’ll be at the desert vet tomorrow during MAGIC HOUR. That means, no MAGIC HOUR (weekly live coaching via fb live) this week. 🙁 But you can watch a rerun here! 🙂
* Cue “I’m just too much” and “Who I am is inappropriate and will upset people” belief patterns.
** Here’s a less heartbreaking interpretation of this character, but you get the idear.
*** If you wanna geek hard on some DEEP boundary work associated with child development, check out Magda Gerber’s work. Her book “Dear Parent” will blow your friggin’ hair back.
**** Get ye to WomanCode. That is all.
Image by Amy Dov Studio