I’ve been in spiritual communities for the last 20 years and only in the last year have I discovered healthy boundaries.
I used to hate feeling guilty when I said “no” because my loved ones (or strangers) would feel rejected by my healthy boundary. So I would put up with what others were putting out, effectively over-stepping my own boundary and/or exiting the situation as soon as possible.
I also noticed that I was surrounded by others with the same conditioned response around this issue. Accompanying this was often an unspoken contract of avoiding the use of boundaries so as not to “hurt” or “trigger” the other person.
The fear of being loved, rejected, or judged by others stops the use of healthy boundaries.
So there is no clear sense of where you end and another begins. There are only undifferentiated selves.
This is not the same as a feeling the spiritual essence of Oneness with others. The feeling of union with another requires a sense of the Self.
My teacher used to say: ”When you finally reach a full sense of the Self, you will want to surrender it to God.” This does not mean I lose my boundary.
In fact, my boundaries become strengthened by my sense of Self.
Boundaries and the sense of Self:
Boundaries allow you to become closer rather than more distant from others.
When you have boundaries, you have self-value.
A good way to think of your self-value is to use transference for a moment. If you’re questioning whether your boundaries have been crossed; how would you feel if you let someone do whatever the behaviour is to your child or your friend’s child?
If you wouldn’t like it to happen to a beloved child, why would you accept it for your Self?
Unless you’ve worked on your boundaries in therapy, your sense of boundary was learned in very early childhood.
When I’ve facilitated boundary work, people are surprised by their relationship to their boundary. Which is actually their relationship to their Selves.
What do healthy boundaries look like?
• Being clear and voiced that the behaviour you are experiencing is unacceptable and disrespectful.
The more you work with your sense of boundary, the more you will be able to be voiced as a matter of fact without emotiveness behind it.
• Boundaries are not barriers to protect you; they are the solid knowing of who you are. You are contained by them. It feels safe.
• Boundaries are changing all the time. They are fluid, not fixed.
• Boundaries are not only so you can say “no” but also so you can say “yes”.
• Boundaries allow you to become closer rather than more distant from others.
How do you learn what your boundaries are?
Boundaries require presence in your body.
Only your body knows– this is the gut/heart/all-over body feeling of your boundaries having been crossed or whether you feel at peace, safe and whole.
You become even more authentic with yourself.
Boundaries are like being connected to the Self all the time.
My teacher Gerry Fewster says:
“Boundaries are essentially energetic expressions of the Self that are sensed somatically.”
This is just a small sample of discussion on this important and vast topic.
I learned to create and facilitate boundary work through I.B.P. – Integrated Body Psychotherapy. I encourage you to find a therapist or workshop in your area if you’ve found this helpful.
I’ll be offering a workshop in Nosara, Costa Rica in September and in Vancouver in 2017. More details to come…
Fewster, G. (1999). Turning my Self inside out: My theory of Me. Journal of Child & Youth Care, 13(2) 89-108
Rosenberg, J., Rand, M., & Asay, (1985) Body, self & soul: Sustaining integration. Atlanta: