Updated: Dec 27, 2019
What helps us serve with 100% compassion and love?
What helps us give willingly of our time, energy, resources to others?
What helps us build trust in ourselves and gain the trust of others?
What helps us avoid the poison of resentment?
What allows us to love others without condition?
What increases intimacy between friends, family, coworkers, and the random people we meet on the streets in an age where connections are growing weaker?
What offers a safe environment for the one, main person we are actually in charge of managing?
Is boundaries really what you were thinking?
If you are the average person, probably not.
Because boundaries generally have a bad reputation.
And no wonder.
They've been dragged through he mud!
They are usually referred to as something that keeps us from someone else.
Someone "toxic", or a victimization of some flavor.
We've used them poorly for so long, mislabeling them and blaming them for sometimes hurtful choices and behavior that the true meanings above have been lost.
We lash out in anger and defense of ourselves calling it boundaries or ghosting loved ones forgetting, or maybe never even knowing, that boundaries are set out of love.
Barriers are made out of fear.
When we are acting out of fear we are worried that they may ask us to do something we don't want to do (and then we will have to do it or have to say no and feel bad about it)
Or worried about someone thinking that we are mean if we opt out of a task, or an event, or a relationship.
Or selfish (I literally had a visceral reaction while writing that. Woo! I don't like that one!) if we say no.
Since boundaries are things that seems abstract, it is easier to define what boundaries are by using something visual.
Image that you have a package that is just yours.
This package holds your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions.
You get to choose what you think, what you feel, and what you do.
We don't have to carry other people's packages, but every time we take responsibility and ownership for how someone else is feeling, what they are thinking, or what they are doing, we just took their package from them or accepted it when they handed it to us.
It feels heavy. Because we are carrying more than we need to.
Sometimes we give someone else, or something else, credit for how we are feeling, thinking, or acting.
This is us handing our packages to someone else and expecting them to carry them around.
BOTH OF THESE SITUATION ARE USUALLY HAPPEN OUT OF FEAR
Why does that even matter?
Because it is your gauge to see if you are setting a barrier that blocks intimacy or a boundary that increases love.
Try thinking about it this way:
Are you being loving when you agree to something and do it resentfully?
Are you being genuine?
Are you pasting on a smile?
Is that true kindness to either of you?
Is intimacy and closeness REALLY achieved when you do something because you are afraid of what will happen if you don't?
Or did you just put up a screen to block what you are truly feeling?
A really great way to find out if you are acting out of fear is to ask this question:
Is there anything in you that is saying that you HAVE to do this thing?
Ding, ding, ding, ding!
We have a boundaries alert!
May I use a personal example to demonstrate?
The other day my son was home when he is usually at school.
He doesn't know that I come home from exercising around 9, get in the shower, and then sit down to work all clean and ready for the day.
So when he got in the shower at 9 when I got home, I knocked on the door and asked him to make it quick, please, because I wanted some hot water for my shower.
He didn't make it quick. So I didn't shower right away.
When he got out we had a chat and I explained to him how it feels for me.
I said, "Now I have to sit and work all sweaty and gross until there is more hot water".
He listened quietly and then said, "Well, that's on you, Mom. You don't HAVE to work when you are sweaty."
He was TOTALLY right.
The kid has really good boundaries.
I said, "That's fair" and waited, realizing I was actively making a choice.
And that's where the power comes back.
When we realize we are making a choice.
The rule I use for myself is this:
I only do things I want to do. Things that I choose to do out of love.
One the surface this sounds selfish, but I want to make a case for caring about ourselves.
We show up free of pretense.
We allow people to love us or leave us, but either way it is genuinely "us", not someone we are pretending to be.
We are free from the energy of people-pleasing and worrying if how we show up will be acceptable to them.
They can trust us knowing that we will be truthful. This frees others from trying to protect us and carry our "packages" out of fear. The message is, "They've got this" not "I'm going to have to guess and protect them because they can't handle it".
This doesn't mean saying no every time.
It doesn't mean saying yes every time.
This doesn't even mean that you only do things that bring pleasure.
This means show up with authenticity.
The BEST way I can recommend taking this step is listening to your thoughts and reframing them when you catch yourself saying, "I have to..."
"I have to do this or she will be mad"
"I have to do this or ...."
Can you change that by first of all, giving yourself responsibility and then permission?
Listen to how this changes the following:
"I can't go. I have to watch my kids."
How do you feel when you say it that way?
You'd be unusual if there wasn't just a little bit of feeling like you are missing out, or hostage, or resentful, or exhausted.
Do you REALLY have to watch your kids?
I used to work for child protective services and I can tell you that plenty of people don't watch their kids. At some point there is a chance that someone else, maybe a foster parent, will watch your kids if you don't.
So why DO you watch your kids?
Because you want to.
Because you choose to.
Because you would rather do that than have someone else do it.
How great would it be to only do things you choose to do?
Next time you are feeling a little resentful, a little worried about making someone else feel something or do something, like you have to do something...take a second to think...
Do I really have to?
And feel that shift happen when you really choose to do that thing you normally dread.
Do you have a relationship that needs better boundaries?
Do you need to learn to feel okay setting loving boundaries?
Can I help?
Let's chat. I've got you.
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