Boundaries… my goodness, I could talk about boundaries every day and still have subtle layers of challenges that arise!
As you all know, I don’t play around with any spiritual ideas about boundaries being unnecessary when you realize all is One. You know: there are no such thing as boundaries, they’re just an egoic movement of separation, blah blah blah. I hate that crap, because it’s just not true. That’s largely the reason I just don’t play around with much spiritual theory anyhow. I stick to the basics. I stick to reality. And in reality, we all have a very real NO. That no is essential for our very real YES.
This last month has been a ripe opportunity for me to practice this fine art of expressing and actualizing boundaries. My skill continues to need evolution and deepening. There always seems need for subtler and subtler execution. And honestly, I’m not sure what mastery in boundaries looks like. I’m not sure any one of us has hit that level in this big ol’ world yet. But I sure would love to meet them!
For my part… wow, this month has been full of strange reactions in my system, including getting sick for a couple of weeks so that I had to express some boundaries with my darling and deeply-loved friends and family. Boundaries that felt so weird and so awkward to express, with pressure in my system that feels like, “Am I allowed to ask for this? Am I totally weird and unlovable if I need this?”
My system runs in a very effortless, very still, very expanded way. And I am profoundly sensitive to heavier pain bodies. So my need right now is that my home—where I eat, sleep, and work—needs to be sacred ground, so to speak. I need this space to be easy and effortless and expansive, and therefore anyone who is living with me, staying with me for an extended period, or hanging out here, needs to be available to land into this effortless ease.
And that was excruciating to ask for.
But I think everyone understands how excrutiating boundry-setting can be.
There is such a deep pressure in our systems that if we have a need, we will be abandoned, we will hurt another, we are bad and not lovable. That pressure is a thousand lifetimes old, and the loudest form of the fear is coming from our early childhood programming… and didn’t we all get a shitload of that crap!
And how do you find the right boundaries for your unique system and needs when that pressure is too huge to navigate?
Part of the answer is that regardless of how pressurized we feel, the others in our company already sense that there is a boundary issue in play. People usually know when they have crossed a boundary, even an unspoken one. They just know something’s up. But it’s my experience that most people would really like some clarity on that weird thing they sensed; they would really like to know what it was all about.
Another part of the solution is that telling the truth keeps everyone safe. Truth (or reality, or life) is were we can find safety—versus fear, which has proven to us a million times over that it is very unsafe, extremely limited and creates very real harm when influencing our actions. I say this again and again because while in theory it’s understandable, overriding the pressure of fear in order to actualize your truth is very hard to embody. It takes mammoth courage, because those around us will sometimes yell, “YOU’RE SO SELFISH!” or “You are ruining my life/this relationship/our children’s welfare!” and so on. Sometimes they will threaten you or go silent on you or punish you, or gather the rest of the family to punish you. And sometimes they will do what I think is most painful: they will silently assume that your boundary means that you don’t love them. Ouch…
Basically, it’s pretty common for others to see your needs as an aggressive threat against them. Blame it on fear, but there it is. And goodness do I know this one! Growing up in my family, even my basic needs like food, shelter, sleep, bodily safety were seen as so threatening to my primary caregivers that I was called a monster and violently beaten for trying to get them met.
Nevertheless, our needs are our needs, and as adults we can be empowered to not abandon ourselves. Especially when up against that toxic harmful pressure of fear, we have a bigger power on our side: clarity! As I always say, there is no clear fear. It’s one or the other, it’s fear OR clarity—and clarity is so nice, so peaceful, so supportive. It’s so much better than fear. So, pragmatically, here is how that power can be found.
Power comes from these steps:
1) You have a need. Life is moving you in a certain way and clearly there is an unspoken need. Maybe for space, or solitude, for autonomy, or _______________ (insert your need).
2) Fear is making you frozen, and/or it’s clouding your system with confusion around being able to hear and find your precise need. This same fear is making the others around you start to squirm, or feel discomfort, or their sensors notice something is off.
3) You dig deep and find the courage. You gather your big balls, or big ovaries, and take time in silence to find that precise need. Note: you do not distract, avoid, get busy, do the chores, put on a mask until you can breathe again, etc. You sit still and meditate, or go for a run or walk, whatever is going to support stillness. In that meditative silence, you notice what you need, how to embody it, and then consider the steps to actually actualize that need. You will need to act on it.
4) You communicate that boundary, because this is the only true or real way you can keep everyone you love, including yourself, safe.
Sometime after you have landed step 4, this little miracle will start to unfold, and the magic and beauty of life will begin to open at your feet. Once that boundary is out in the open, and you have actualized and communicated it—and please note that step 3 is before step 4—your system will start this magnificent singing-like energy, the energetic song of freedom! It will sing and you will feel expansive and little moments of happiness will start to spill out of you. How lovely!
This little gift in it for you, this loveliness, makes it just a little more easy and effortless to be alive, to be you, to be on planet earth, to have this body, to live your life! Your exact life is maybe okay. And this is the real power, the real glory, because it makes it just a little easier to make a boundary again. The next time you need to make a boundary, it’s easier… and this snowballs, until eventually your life gets so darn delicious, so lovely, so effortless and joyous to be here on planet earth, that you are so sensitive and connected to your needs the moment they start to arrive and you find you have to dive a little deeper to get that boundary set up, you have to excavate subtler, closer-to-the-bone fears that pressurize your needs into hiding… and this, my friends, is the way we get the skill required for the fine, so very fine, art of boundaries.
And somewhere in there, you get to become a master of actualizing, embodying, communicating boundaries! (But as I mentioned, I’m not sure anyone is quite there yet!)