The first time you read about “boundaries”, it doesn’t make any sense to you. (So it this is your first time, you are probably at the “this doesn’t make any sense” stage)
The next twenty times you read about boundaries, it doesn’t make much more sense, really.
But after a while, a picture starts to emerge…
And the picture looks like this:
“Oh, right… I see… I have *some* control over how I interact with the world… how much I let in, how much I give of myself…”
The way to “control” this interaction with the world in a way that serves you is… establishing boundaries.
Here’s what boundaries aren’t:
- A set of strict rules, “dos” and “don’ts”. If someone “crosses the line” you get crossed with them.
- Anything to do with societies’ cry of “that person has no boundaries”. (It may be true, it may not be true, but saying it like this definitely doesn’t help.)
- Stuff you have to remind people over and over again.
Here’s some of the characteristics of boundaries.
- They are clear, easy, simple “second nature” beliefs that are part of your subconscious.
- You embody the certainty that nobody else but you gets to have a say over your internal world. (that’s “sovereignty”)
- No anger, no anxiety, no hatred needed to reinforce them. They are “there” all the time, grounded in your clear, strong belief in them.
- They are an expression of your “sovereignty”.
- They need to feel “safe” and “easy” and “light”. They need to make your body feel all “ahhh” *sigh with relief*.
As I explained in my online workshop on “objectification” (if you missed it, I’m planning on doing another one soon)
Us women have a tendency to not have very clear boundaries. We take in too much from the outside, and give too much of ourselves. That kind of thing.
So we easily absorb this idea that we are here for someone else’s benefit.
And this lies at the core of how objectification “gets under our skin”.
We have a tendency to “own” other people’s perceptions of us. Like “they said I am like this, it must be true”.
- First, you notice that someone has said something about you. “OK. This person has said that I’m like ‘this’. And I don’t like it one bit.”
- Then, you frame it as “their” perception of you. This is separating between you and them. “I’m going to frame their perception as “their” perception only. Not mine (at least until I look at this perception myself and decide that it is also my perception of me)”.
- Now you get clear on what you think. You can ask “do I think of myself as being “like that”? Is this something I want to think about myself? Is this my idea of myself? Is it society’s idea of me, based on parameters x, y and z? (and do I personally identify myself as a collection of x, y and z parameters?)”. Your boundary is slowly taking shape! You are bringing in your own will and desires and wants.
- Then, you give back what you don’t want and you take in what you do want. You can say “ok, ‘this’ is something I don’t want to think about myself. This is not my expectation of myself. ‘That’… perhaps, I don’t know, in time. But ‘this’ definitely not.”
- Now you go back to focusing on yourself, with as much compassion as you can manage “even though I don’t want to think of myself as ‘this’, for a minute there, I almost did. Is it possible that a part of me believes I am like ‘this’? If so, I’m going to try and be kind to this part of me, who wants something that isn’t what “I” want. And I’m just going to remind her that “I” want something different”.
So. To sum up:
first you put a sort of filter in between them and you
you get clear on what is “theirs” and what is “yours”
you give back what’s not yours and you set up a more solid boundary
finally you spend some time with yourself and what triggered this “intrusion” of outside “stuff” into your personal space
Wisdom for the ride
Use your emotions!
If you’re angry, that’s a sure sign that someone or something has crossed your boundaries.
So after you rage and have a fit (which is totally allowed, so long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else) go back and ask:
“Something pissed me off, so I’m just going to assume that some boundary has been crossed. How can I get better at establishing boundaries that work for me? Did I say “yes” when I felt like saying “no”? Have I accidentally accepted someone else’s idea of who I am?”
Why is all this “boundaries stuff” so important?
Because you don’t want the world to trample all over you. And you don’t want to spend so much time subconsciously dealing with other people’s “stuff”.
The shortest version of this post:
The better you get at meeting your needs, and working on your stuff, the better you’ll be prepared to help other people (when you choose to)
This is known as the “PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST BEFORE HELPING OTHERS”.
And it is always more challenging than it seems.