Being able to be yourself no matter what is not easily. More so to say NO without justification or feeling guilty afterwards. Setting healthy and flexible Boundaries might help you towards a free and prosperous life.
“Honoring your own boundaries is the clearest message to others to honor them, too.”
― Gina Greenlee
In last week’s article we went through open, closed, and flexible Boundaries, its downsides and benefits. We approached how Boundaries impact personal and spiritual development. If you want to read the post you can do it following the link Boundaries – First Line of Defense
It is time and go deeper into what Boundaries are.
What are Boundaries?
Boundaries are the limits or rules you set, consciously or unconsciously, to regulate how the environment and the people impact on you, and how you connect and respond to them.
Boundaries are often the result of life experiences both good and bad. Some even argue that Boundaries are influenced by past life experiences.
Boundaries are very important in how you go through life, approach your spirituality and assert yourself. They include:
- Setting personal safe space
- Distance you allow others to approach
- Personal likes and dislikes
Types of Boundaries
- Physical – Has to do with the personal space, and allowed to be touched or not
- Emotional – Deals with the flow of feelings, emotions, and beliefs, either personal or coming from the outside
- Mental – Has to do with thoughts, ideas and opinions
- Spiritual – How one connects (or not) with the Divine
Boundaries and the Bioenergetic Field
There is another aspect related to Boundaries that most don’t talk about. That is the way Boundaries express themselves on the bioenergetic field around our bodies (usually called “aura”, studied in the beginning by Kirlian  through photography, and nowadays with more modern equipment by the HeartMath Institute ).
Only some people are able to see the bioenergetic field with the naked eye, but we all are capable of feeling it. A good example of this (it happens to most) is when you are walking down a street and suddenly you turn around and there it is someone staring at you. Before you turn you felt something, you didn’t know what it was, but you felt something that made you turn. Before you turn, your conscious mind didn’t know what it was. Only when you turned you realized what it was. My explanation to the fact is that we can feel energies beyond the scope of awake consciousness (the body can act like an antenna).
“Boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits.”
― David W. Earle
In general, to feel the bioenergetic field you can just use your hands (people trained in Reiki do this quite easily) or you can find some sort of “amplifier” in the form of crystal, divining rods, pendulum, etc., to allow you to feel it.
My personal preference goes to the divining rods. I exemplified this in class to my Transpersonal Art Therapy and Counseling students. They were quite surprised, and became even more surprised when I taught them how to do it. I remember the excitement of all those adults filling the room while playing with a new skill that most thought was impossible just a few minutes ago. Exhilarating.
Another interesting aspect of Boundaries is that they change from their default mode (your normal setting) and react to your present thoughts and emotions.
It is a bit like what happens with body language. When a person is afraid she tends to contract the body, occupy less space, and the bioenergetic field follows the same direction, contraction. As you can imagine the opposite also happens, when you feel relaxed, protected, and loved, the bioenergetic field expands.
It is important to note that the expansion or contraction of the bioenergetic field is not the same as having Boundaries open or closed. They are different aspects of the same phenomenon.
Let’s now see how Boundaries affect your daily interaction with others.
Boundaries and Dealing with Others
Being aware of your Boundaries is particularly important when you are in a toxic psycho-energetic environments or you deal with judgmental, abusive, or controlling people.
Boundaries are also of great importance when dealing with people that don’t take responsibility for their own actions and life.
Previously abused and/or traumatized people have in general more difficulty to set healthy flexible Boundaries, specially for co-dependents. The good news is that anybody can learn to set and maintain healthy flexible Boundaries.
As we have seen Boundaries are very important. Why then is so hard to set them? There are some reasons for that to happen. In general people:
- Don’t know themselves well enough
- Are disconnected of their emotions
- Don’t know their own rights or they feel they don’t deserve them
- Others’ needs and feelings are seen as more important and are put first
- Don’t feel comfortable in setting boundaries as they believe that Boundaries will interfere and risk the relationship
- Never learned throughout their lives to have healthy flexible boundaries
How to Set Healthy and Effective Boundaries
There are several aspects to take into account to set healthy and effective Boundaries, they are:
- Know yourself – specially your needs, values, and rights
- Be flexible – listen, try to encompass both sides of the question
- Accept yourself – including your emotions and needs
- You don’t need to justify yourself (only if you decide to)
- Stay grounded – exercises like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, stamping your feet, grounding meditation
- Open and non judgmental of others
- You are not responsible for others emotions
- Protect yourself when dealing with people that are manipulative, abusive and drain you
- Pause, stay cool – don’t act out, stay with what you are feeling
- Make yourself heard about what you want (your desires) and what is important to you (your values)
- Out of the question to discuss your personal value’s
Some Practical Tips for New Boundaries
“Individuals set boundaries to feel safe, respected, and heard.”
― Pamela Cummins
The “Five Things” Method
To implement the “Five Things” method you need a pen and paper. Then, please start listing five things that you want people to:
- Stop doing around you (e.g. criticizing other people that are not present)
- Stop doing to you (e.g. interrupting you or inconsiderate)
- Stop saying to you (e.g. “you always give up”)
Now, think about your current Boundaries and what you are willing to offer to specific family members, friends and colleagues:
- How much of your time and attention are you willing to offer to others (e.g., do you always make yourself available)?
- How much acceptance and praise do you receive?
- How do you feel after being with others?
Read your notes out loud each morning, first thing in the morning. Carry the notes with you, in your wallet. From time to time you might need to review them and make some adaptations.
Start now. Try to implementing your findings but bear in mind that those close to you may not like the new “you”, or support your process.
To be free and responsible for your own life has a price. You might lose acquaintances, even friends along the way, but be sure that the new ones that will come will be in line with your new “you”. Take your time to implement, be direct and persistent.
Happy new Boundaries!