I ask many of my clients who come into my office physically, spiritually and/or emotionally drained ‘how do you feel you are with boundaries?’ The answer is usually a resounding ‘no good’. Most of us have some struggles with boundaries, which usually starts back in childhood when we learned the basics of how to be in the world. We probably watched our parents have poor boundaries. We were probably asked to override our own needs, wants, and desires again and again without discussion. But it is never too late to learn the value and practice of boundaries. So lets take a closer look!
When we have good boundaries we are exercising self-love and self-care to maintain an empowered, centered Self which operates from an overflowing cup that nourishes all it engages with. With good boundaries we feel less stress and anxiety, more energetically vibrant and youthful, less pain and exhaustion, and more joy, peace, and positivity. Not only that but we also empower others in their own self-love and self-care as an example of what healthy boundaries are. Believe me, I am still a work in progress too in this regard too, but knowledge is power and the first step towards change. Becoming aware that something is not working is half the battle!
So, when we were young we were not typically respected as individuals with our own wisdom, unique needs, or desires. Our needs may have been inconvenient or misunderstood, and cast aside as such. I do see many ways in which people are awakening to a new way of being with children which excites me, one of greater patience and communication, and usually it takes an awareness in ourselves to see where something really didn’t work for us so that we can make the change for future generations.
As we age we are told by society in a variety of subtle and not so subtle ways what is right and what is wrong for us. To stray may mean isolation, shaming, and even worse. Our formative years most certainly create the groves in which we tend to find our sense of safety and security, even if it is at the cost of our authentic expression, unique gifts, and true sense of happiness. The only way we can allow ourselves to override this expression of our true Self is to ignore our own boundaries. As children, because we were limited in our own power and independence, abandoning our truth meant self preservation, so it is not surprising that we would abandon and completely ignore our boundaries. And it worked for survival, so great! You are here and I am too. But we don’t want to live in an unconscious, disempowered, small way. It is a very taxing place to live from, and in my opinion, it is not the place where our true purpose and potential in this life is possible.
Here is a little inquiry exercise for you: Sit down and write down a few ways in which you have, or still do, abandon your own needs and desires in order to stay safe, to appease another, or to prevent conflict. It can be a bit surprising to really be honest about, but such a worthwhile contemplation regardless. Remember knowledge is power! Seeing the ways in which we have let go of having boundaries is the first step to starting to assess where we may want to enforce some new boundaries for ourselves. Then see if there is a way in which you could honor that need, if even just in writing, not necessarily action. You might sit with that and unpack the possible fears around that, or maybe it isn’t as hard to act on as you might have thought!
Which brings me to the a core step towards learning how to improve our boundaries. In order to establish boundaries it is vital to get grounded.
Being grounded is probably the first boundary there is. We must decide that being grounded and feeling like we are coming from a place of firm rooting in our wants, needs, and desires is like ground zero of boundaries. If we are not grounded, how can we know what we want or need? Our body is our antenna, an essential ally and friend for holding our own wisdom and knowing. We feel more empowered when we are grounded. We feel more in our bodies, therefore we have more of a sense of what our boundaries need to be through this relationship.
How does one ‘get grounded’ you might ask? One great way to do this is by taking a few deep breathes. See what you notice in your body when you do. It will different for each of us. Do you notice anxiety, like buzzing through the body? Do you notice a sense of relief as a calm comes over your senses? Noticing what sensations, or even numbness, which is still a sensation, is taking place in the here and now. Making this a practice, for even just a few minutes at various times of the day is strengthening your mindfulness, embodiment, groundedness muscle. Set a timer on your phone to take one minute even to feel the sensations in your feet. You might wiggle them a bit to help send your awareness there. Scan the body, hanging out in spots where there seems to be a kind of ‘dead zone’ that feels hard to connect to. This is helping you to feel the actual physical boundary of your body. That is huge on the road to expanding our boundaries into other avenues of our life. I like to imagine roots coming out of the bottom of my feet and spreading throughout the Earth. These roots are connected to the roots of my intricate nervous system. I imagine the cool, moist, nutrient rich Earth nourishing and supporting my nervous, circulatory, lymphatic systems. It is a very comforting feeling. You might try it for yourself if visualization works well for you, or even if it doesn’t. What would it take to help you visualize that for yourself? Drawing an image of it perhaps.
So there you have two first steps to a more grounded self, which has far greater implications than just improving boundaries. Grounding is a form of self-care much like brushing your teeth. It is a maintenance tool that allows you to stay present, healthy, vital, empowered, and whole. Consider it hygiene for your soul. Everything will operate better with boundaries and groundedness, trust me!
I will be sharing more tools for embodiment, healthy boundaries, and overall well being in upcoming videos, classes, and writing, so stay tuned!
Blessing on your epic journey,