Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept. -Anna Taylor
THE GIFT OF BOUNDARIES
Our boundaries reflect how we communicate who we are, and how we relate to others and the world around us. It is a powerful undertaking to effectively set and communicate intentional boundaries, and it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others.
This time of year can serve up a multiplier effect in terms of testing our boundaries and often brings to a head those energetic and relational challenges that we manage to keep at bay through distance or avoidance. There are so many potential social and personal overrides to our boundaries, that we often consciously and unconsciously sabotage our own well being.
When we engage from a sense of obligation, a fear of missing out, not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, or any other place that does not feed our authentic selves, it shows up in our mood, energy, the quality of our interactions and capacity to respond. The actual or anticipated anxiety that we experience can be largely attributed to unclear or inconsistent boundaries, which in turn create relational cycles that are fueled with assumptive and expectant communication that serves no one well.
What can you do to break the cycle?
ASSESS THE PRESENT
Our resistance to engaging with particular individuals and situations is often based on past experiences and patterned reactions that give way to anxiety based on presumed future behavior. When we continue to anticipate or respond based on past behavior before the actual event or interaction, we live the worst-case scenario several times over, expending energy and creating unnecessary stress. We live with held energy from the past and toxic energy around the future, merely waiting for the next drama or conflict.
The majority of my coaching and facilitation with clients over the past 6 years has been through partnering with and learning from horses. The beauty of working with horses around boundaries is that they live in the present. They are discerning their safety in the moment.
Horses will knowingly test your boundaries to assess your self-awareness, your capacity to take care of yourself and the authenticity of your intentions.
Assess a situation that you are facing as it is right now. Is someone or something pushing your boundaries in a negative direction? What do you need to have a different experience?
SET CLEAR INTENTIONS
When we are not clear about our boundaries, and feel challenged around maintaining boundaries, it is a sign that we have already moved away from our true selves. This inner conflict often gets projected onto others and our focus shifts to attempting to control and judge the behaviors and responses of others as a primary focus.
When we avoid setting and maintaining clear boundaries for ourselves, we do not allow ourselves to feel and move through the heart of the actual issue and energetic block at hand; as such, the incongruence with our own authentic way of being becomes the source of our pain and discomfort.
Horses invite us to clarity through immediate and accurate feedback and responses to our presence, and inner alignment around our intentions and outer expressions. They offer a very unique opportunity to define and declare what you need.
What is the authentic action you can take to create boundaries that align with your needs and values in the given situation? What will persist without these boundaries?
COMMUNICATE YOUR BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are a portal to authentic communication and connection. Teaching others how you want to be treated is a pivotal step in taking responsibility for yourself and inviting others to connect with your true self. Even when we think we are clear, a lack of communication or consistency in action can send mixed messages.
When we learn with horses, they gift us the opportunity to practice this communication and to name any blocks or miscommunication in our expression and energy, and to learn what works. The somatic experience of this gives us a knowing of what it feels like to hold a clear boundary.
When we clearly communicate our boundaries, it is an offering of respect and acknowledgement of ourselves and the other person (or horse), and this facilitates trust. While it is for us, it also offers the other person or people to repsond differently (or not) and the oportunity for a more authentic connection.
What is the missing conversation that could facilitate authentic communication around your current situation? What prevents you from having this conversation?
HONOR YOUR BOUNDARIES
Committing to and adjusting our boundaries is a practice. Be gentle with yourself and trust that you know what is best for you. Practice letting go of the thought that others necessarily have the capacity or desire to respond to your boundaries in ways that you want.
People generally push or ignore our boundaries with our permission. It is you who must honor your boundaries. Others may respond favorably to your boundaries or not. Either way, a more authentic connection will be reflected.
What do you need to be supported in your practice?
The very people with whom and situations around which we seek to set boundaries or feel challenged are the teachers and classrooms in our lives. They are messengers who reflect who we are being and not, and our need for boundaries, in service of our greater consciousness. When we remain open and curious, we can find learning and experience greater awareness even through those with whom we may have to sever relations.
Most often what we learn or unlearn in one area of our lives, serves as a lesson in multiple domains of our being. Where else in your life does your present relational issue or situation show up?
Ultimately, boundaries are not about the behavior of others, but an opportunity to realign with our essential truth. Boundaries set with loving intention and authentic action can significantly shift our experiences, release our anxious or blocked energy and open us in ways beyond what we imagine.
What priority boundary will you gift yourself today?