Boundaries have been coming up for me SO MUCH lately! As I raise the bar with my own boundaries- again, defined by Brene Brown as “what’s okay, what’s not okay”- the next opportunity to inquire into and define my boundaries comes up.
What I know about setting and keeping clear boundaries is that it is way the hell up there with top ways for us to love ourselves. The first time I heard that, it struck me as odd, or at least as a thought I’d never had before. And, in time, I’ve come to realize how true that really is.
I do recommend giving some thought to this yourself. What’s okay with you? What’s not okay with you?
Boundaries apply to all aspects of our lives. They can be physical boundaries- for example, a closed or locked door. A phone shut off at night. Ways that we do or don’t allow ourselves to be touched. Whether we lend out our property, and to whom. How close we allow someone to be to our bodies. Whether we choose to eat food with an extra dose of toxins in it (ie., not organic). How often we check our email. Whether we engage in work during “non-work” hours.
They can be emotional boundaries. These would be things like whether we choose to engage with someone who is spewing their emotions all over others. Also, it can be allowing or disallowing someone to speak to us in a way that feels bad- like perhaps with name calling, yelling, or sarcasm. It may also be deciding when we need to stop doing something, like spending time with a particular person (platonic, family member, or romantic partner). Or, deciding not to watch certain types of films- for example, violent ones- due to the emotions that tend to come up when we do.
And then there are spiritual boundaries. These center around things like our core values. Or choosing to be around people who are “bad” or “evil”, or not. I have an energetic boundary up when I create sacred space, or when I go into a place- like a bar, for instance- where there is likely to be dark energy. Even habits can be spiritual boundaries: choosing whether to do things that are harmful to our bodies, in a sense, is not only a physical boundary, but also a spiritual one. (You may have noticed there is a lot of overlap between different kinds of boundaries.)
And boundaries can change. Mine change as I discover new things about myself. Or, I may have a boundary about some sexual practice today, but not tomorrow. Depends on my mood and who I’m with.
And here’s another thing about them: when we set them, and others are involved, they may have feelings about them. Especially if setting a boundary is a change from previous behavior. You know how kids tend to “up the ante” when a new limit is set? Well, lots of adults do that, too. They may not like our boundaries. They may attempt to manipulate us into changing them to suit themselves. Or throw their own sort of “adult tantrum”. And then we get to choose. What if setting a boundary results in someone being mad, or not speaking to us anymore, or even ending a relationship?
Think about it. Are you willing to let your self love be more important than whether or not you “disappoint” someone, whether or not they are happy with you, whether or not they like you, love you, or want to be in your life?
For me, that’s a big HELL YES!