“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Brene Brown
This week I have heard myself say the word boundaries quite a few times and whenever there is a pattern like that, I pay attention. Sure it could be said that having healthy boundaries is applicable for all of us, and it is, but I feel like there is more happening here on the energetic level that is contributing to not only the subject but the practice I have put in place personally.
There is no doubt that 2018 has been a challenge for all of us to figure out our own individuality and in doing so, reassess perhaps the ideas of personal space and tolerance. I see boundaries as a picket fence. They are there not to keep others out but to give an indication of what is my space and where I could set perimeters. I have not always been very good at boundaries. I would overwork, over offer my energy, over commit. You name it, I overdid it. It wasn’t until I reached a place of being fried and then not very effective to self and those around me that I began to see that I needed a picket fence rule.
You see, a picket fence is one that is pleasing to the eye, quaint even, as well as effective. I can see through it, over it and around it. I can also open the gate or leave the gate closed and have a conversation over the fence while maintaining my personal space. I’ve come to see the gate as a reference to whether I would let someone in or not. This is not only to my personal life but to my head space as well. It was up to me if they were permitted to be on my property or not. It was up to me if I gave too much or expected more from myself than of others. It was up to me if I answered emails or texts after a certain period of time or chose to wait until the next business day. I was in charge of my gate…what a concept!
People don’t always mean to infringe on ones space but in this world of technology, as well as the perception that you have a vote on how I live my life simply because you “know” me, or share DNA or for goodness sake are my Facebook friend, boundaries have become very lax. I happen to agree with Maya Angelou that we teach others how to treat us. I will take full responsibility for that, even if I wasn’t aware we were in class! I will also continue to respect myself by remembering I have a gate and teach those in my life now about my gate rules through my behavior and through examples of self respect. I see boundaries as a means to self care rather than a keep people out practice. I see it as a way to hear myself as well as have the space to really see others.
I had an opportunity to practice this today when someone suggested I changed my appointment availability just to make it so they couldn’t book an appointment with me. A few short years ago I would have explained the reasons for the changes and justified the schedule (Hello?Don’t you want someone who is booked? Doesn’t that convey that it’s worth the wait or investment?). Today, however, because my gate was in place, I was able to let the client know that I heard them but no, in fact, I do not base my business on someone I see once a year. I was polite but positive of my position and no longer in possession of swinging gate so the message could be delivered respectfully. When you know where you stand, another person’s perception of how you should be, no longer applies. It is very freeing! Try it sometime.
What do your boundaries look like? Do you have a nice space around you or do you have a ten foot high wired electric fence to protect you? Boundaries can go the other way too. They can be so rigid that even the ooey gooey heartfelt experiences can’t get through. Being aware of your no fly zone can help to improve all of the relationships in your life, including the one with yourself!
If you don’t have an awareness of your personal space, well, practice until you do have one. Start with a simple awareness of what matters to you and what you know about yourself. Don’t be afraid to look inside to decide what is there, if you don’t, you will never be able to apply the boundaries you think you want. Don’t worry, they are completely portable. The line can be shifted whenever you feel it needs to be.
I hope you know you are deserving of a boundary or two and that in taking care of you in that way, you will connect to others in a more authentic and fun way! This is not something you put in place and leave. It will grow as you grow so don’t make it difficult. See it as an exploration of you and a gift you give yourself and others. After all, isn’t it good fences that make great neighbors?