Boundaries: Tribal, Ancient & Vital For Life
Flabbergasted was an understatement.
I was twitching with fury.
“I can’t believe that they’ve done it,” I declared.
My soul-sister (the City Goddess, Kerry) gave me a sideways glance. “I know. Cheeky, right?”
We were standing in the garden of her newly purchased period cottage and staring at a fence that the neighbour had put in five years before … a fence that enclosed a shed that ate a blatant hunk of Kerry’s garden.
The level of brazen boundary breaking left me fumbling for words.
“It’s cool,” Kerry said. “I’ve spoken to them. I’ve had to show them the original boundary line as they didn’t believe us and now the fence will be taken back to where it should be.”
“Well, so it bloody should be.”
For the rest of the afternoon, lounging in the sun-dappled, autumn garden, my mind kept creeping back to the boundary break. It got me thinking A LOT about boundaries and exactly what they provide for each and every one of us.
Fence-lines and property boundaries aside, they are the lines we draw around what is ours, what is acceptable to us and what we won’t allow.
By setting good boundaries, we know what we can say “no” to and as a result, can then say “yes” and really mean it.
Boundaries are a form of self care and self preservation and are part of human’s most primitive survival tool kit.
If our cave people ancestors hadn’t known where their physical boundaries were, they would have been killed/robbed and cave-less in an instant. If their emotional boundaries were violated their responses would determine whether they were respected or treated like a cave-doormat. Back then, a violated boundary would probably have prompted a gesturing frenzy, a lot of grunting, a scuffle or scrap ( and possibly worse).
In today’s polite society however, setting boundaries can feel extremely squirmy. Saying no and potentially disappointing people can make us feel vulnerable and ashamed. Yet despite all of our complex social interactions, our iphones and 5 bedroom caves (with extensions), we are still cave people in our bones and just like our continuing need to breathe oxygen, setting healthy boundaries is also *rather important*.
Here are the three main boundaries you need to work out, set out and then guard with a spear in one hand and a cup of Earl Grey Tea in the other:
Your physical boundaries are connected to your personal belongings, personal space, privacy, and body.
For example, are you a hand shaker or a hugger?
Have you ever leaned in to kiss someone warmly on both cheeks then had that person freeze and pull away? If so, its likely that your physical boundary has crossed theirs. (I remember my uncle from Sicily coming to see my family when I was in my 20s and how he threw his arms around me and walked up the road with this arms still hugging me close. I felt extremely awkward, not because I felt threatened, but because I wasn’t used to such continued displays of physical contact.)
What are your boundaries around people playing loud music? How do you feel about being naked in front of others? What’s your boundary with locking doors and securing yourself and your belongings?
Your material boundaries determine what you deem acceptable around your possessions.
Do you give and lend people your things? To whom would you lend your car, your clothes, your food or your toothbrush? I have friends who come to my home and eat the straight out of the cupboards and I have friends I would do that to. In other people’s houses I wouldn’t dare!
One set of major physical boundaries are those we set around our sexual activity. Sexual boundaries are there to protect your comfort level around physical intimacy, touch and activities. Many people – particularly teen girls experiencing low self and body esteem – are prone to weak sexual boundaries. They are unsure about what is appropriate, whether they should or shouldn’t feel comfortable with something and often lack the confidence to say no. What are your sexual boundaries and do you honour them?
Your emotional boundaries are your inner force field that protect you and also mark the line between your own sense of self and another person’s.
Gorgeous Emotional Boundaries prevent you from giving advise, projecting blame and accepting responsibility for another person’s negative feelings and behaviour. For many of us, setting emotional boundaries can be tricky especially if our emotional boundaries were not respected in childhood years (for example, through forms of abuse like bullying or taunting). People who have not had their boundaries respected will often grow up to believe that they do not have rights and will naturally put another person’s needs, requests and requirements before their own.
Brene Brown, American researcher and author, has written extensively on the subject of boundary setting, vulnerability and building the muscle of saying “NO” and meaning it. The part of her writing that has stuck with me is the idea of choosing discomfort over resentment. For example, if someone asks you to do something and you say yes out of obligation and not wanting to let that person down … this leads to disempowerment and bubbling resentment at yourself, the person or the thing you’ve been asked to do. On the other hand, a simple “no – that’s not going to work for me at this time”, may feel momentarily awkward but will actually lead to a sense of self respect and empowerment.
One tool Brene suggests to help build confidence around setting boundaries is mantra. She says, “I need something to hold on to—literally—during those awkward moments when an ask hangs in the air. So I bought a silver ring that I spin while silently repeating, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well-being—even if it’s not easy.”
This is where you need to tap into your inner Cave Shaman.
Unlike your physical and emotional boundaries, your energetic boundaries determine what you allow and call towards your life from an energetic perspective. What do I mean by this?
We live in an energetic Universe. Everything we experience, from sound to structure is energy vibrating at a certain frequency. The TV you watch, the community you live in, the people you engage with on a daily basis also have their own energetic frequency.
As cave-dwelling vibrationary beings residing in a world that is plugged into global consciousness (through the internet and our inner web of the mass subconscious), setting up our energetic boundaries is vital to surviving and thriving with gorgeousness. When we set a strong energy boundary, such as “I accept love, respect and loyalty in my personal relationships,” we set up an energetic funnel to allow that in and simultaneously close the funnel to relationships that do not energetically resonate.
The way that this works is by creating a kind of “energetic entry ticket”. This ticket communicates to others what is required if they are going to be in your space. For those people who can’t offer you that energetic match, your presence will feel uncomfortable and they’ll get a sense of resistance to you. Those who resonate with your energy will be oblivious to the boundary and instead experience a sense of comfort and ease when they are around you.
Here are some other questions to help you think about your energetic boundaries:
Where exactly do you want to elevate your life?
Which area of your self, your relationships, your abundance, your business, your health or your home do you want to take to a different place?
How much joy do you want to have?
What kind of relationships are fulfilling and enjoyable?
How do you want the people in your life to be with you?
Do you want peace, love, and prosperity?
Are you expecting to be provided for, supported, and guided to your highest potential in all that you do?
It takes time, thought and courage when setting any of the boundaries out for your life but it is vital to your wellbeing. Boundaries are a form of radical self care. Each time you say “no” to something you don’t want – you are saying a loving “yes” to yourself and that adds to your growing well of self esteem and all round gorgeousness.
Which feels nice.
Oh – and if you need some extra courage to set that boundary? I would suggest that you shut your eyes, summon your inner cave person and let Her do the grunting for you.
May nothing stop you from honouring the boundaries of Who You Truly Are.