When we got Huehue last March, one of the first things we did was install a chain link fence. We live on a court, so before the fence was put up, our backyard flowed into the neighbors’ yards in one, big park-like greenspace. It was beautiful and open, and we felt kinda bad sectioning off our yard, but it was the right thing to do for our pup. Once the fence was up, I was astonished by how different I felt in our back yard.
I was in MY space.
I knew precisely where MY space ended and Harold’s space and Brian’s space began.
I knew what was mine and I knew what was theirs, and it gave me such a sense of peace and safety.
And THAT, I’ve realized, is the power of boundaries.
A fence is a very clear, obvious, tactile boundary. You can see and touch it. Interpersonal boundaries are more ethereal, but not an iota less important. As a long-time people-pleaser/fawner (a skill that served me well in my youth), establishing boundaries between ME and what I want and Others and what I perceive they want from me has been a challenge. You know the saying – “you don’t know what you don’t know”? Well, if you’ve never had boundaries, it’s hard to know that you don’t have boundaries!
During one of my sessions with my coach, Ariel, she did a Somatic Experiencing boundary exercise with me. I may have written about this before, but it was such a powerful experience that it bears repeating. In the exercise (done over Zoom), Ariel stood up and backed away from the camera. She offered me the option of telling her to come closer or move farther away. I assumed that I would want her closer, so I asked her to move closer to me, but I noticed a subtle internal shift. So I asked her to back up and to move from side to side a bit. When she reached a certain spot, my body was like, “Yessssss.” I was sitting in my space, and Ariel was standing in her space, and there was safety and power in me with her being outside of my boundary.
Why do I choose to write about boundaries, a year after the fence construction? Well, the Universe is making me do it. 😛 Ha! – saying that, playing the victim, is yet more evidence that I have (and will always have) more boundary work to do! But, in all seriousness, the topic of boundaries has been percolating up in SO many different feeds that I figured I better transmute it into some writing.
I am no expert on boundaries, but I am an expert on collecting information and sharing it with others, so here some resources for you, should you desire to explore this topic further.
Tend HER Wild Podcast – Boundaries & Self-Sabotage This podcast with one of my teachers, Dr. Betsy Rippentrop, talks about boundaries and how we can be really good at setting them in some areas of our life (e.g. work), but horrible in setting them in other areas (e.g. we automatically say YES whenever a friend asks for help, even when we want to say no). Even psychologists with PhDs struggle with boundaries!
10 Tenets of Wellness We covered “Coaching Self-Care and Development” recently in my coaching class. To be WELL and to take care of our Selfs, we must make conscious choices to support our own health vs. subsuming it to the needs of others. We need time alone. We need time to play. We need to be careful who we surround ourselves with. Said another way, we need healthy boundaries.
We also discussed setting boundaries in our health coaching practice, and I share this information because I think these concepts to apply to ANY sort of work where you are in relationship with other(s). Boundaries are “expectations we hold others to. ”They help us guide decision making, support our desired best self, allow us to be more than our jobs, prevent burnout, and support healthy client relationships by setting clear expectations about the helper’s role. Here are a few sample boundaries to get your mind juices flowing:
- I have a right to be treated with respect.
- Leisure time is critical to my self-care; I do not work in the evenings.
- I do not participate in gossip.
And then comes the really hard part – ENFORCING boundaries. “What we allow we encourage,” so when someone crosses a boundary, we need to enforce it, or the behavior will continue and likely become even harder to address. Here are a couple of ways to verbalize boundaries:
- “That doesn’t work for me.”
- “When you regularly show up for our lunch dates 15 minutes late, I feel worried about the impact on the rest of my day. I need respect for my time. Are you willing to meet on time going forward?”
How do those feel? For me – UGH! It feels SO uncomfortable and so full of potential conflict to say those things, but enforcing boundaries builds up that fence and with the fence comes safety and peace. So what do I want? Do I want to avoid discomfort, or do I want to have my own back and stay in my own power?
Damn it, Life! Why is the hard stuff always so good for you??
Space to be Human Lab – Helping you heal so you can get back to doing what you love
One of my clients crystallized for me why I love CranioSacral Therapy. She noted that at one point in the session, she experienced freedom from her thoughts. The minute she said it, I was like YES!!! That is why I love it!! I love having a few moments of relief from this damn monkey mind – a few moments of floating in some other level of consciousness, while my body, mind, and spirit are held by a compassionate witness.
If you like the idea of getting some space from your thoughts and deep relief and support for your frayed nervous system, I invite you to book a CranioSacral Therapy session. April is CraniosSacral Therapy Awareness Month, so I am offering 75 minute sessions for $80 (a discount of $20). Book a 75 minute session and use code “CRANIO.” If you are a new client, you can book here.
The Itsy Bitsy (A catalytic question)
When you are faced with a challenging situation, what does taking decisive action look like?
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