Boundaries. Oh, my goodness. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. This is such a challenging subject. Some people have fabulous boundaries. They know exactly how to set limits with others and themselves, and it’s all easy. Some of us have horrible, sloppy boundaries, where we’re all over the place, and people are taking advantage of us, and we’re not able to communicate well. I want to talk to you about a three-part process in discovering how to have good boundaries so that you can feel comfortable in your own skin, that people around you know where they stand, and life in general feels good.
Here’s the thing. Most people don’t know what a boundary is. They really don’t. A lot of people think that a boundary is when they get pushed too far, and then they feel the need to set an ultimatum, “Either you will do this, or I will do that.” That’s not really what a boundary is. A boundary is self-care. A boundary is about looking at what you need in your life to be caring for yourself, whether it’s caring for your energy, caring for your emotions, caring for your time, caring for your resources. It may be your money. It may be how long somebody lives in your home, borrowing your car. Whatever it may be, boundary is self-care. When you’ve gotten to a place where you feel like you need to set an ultimatum, your boundaries have been pushed way too far. They’re way out of whack. At that point, you need to draw it back.
Now, this is a three-part series for a reason. It’s not just so simple for me to say, “Here’s how you set a boundary, one, two, three.” That’s not how it works. We all have these weird ways in which we’ve been given our boundaries or our boundary less-ness from our parents, and the way we were raised, and what we think a good person does or a bad person does. The first place we need to start is really looking at our own self-care. What that means is some people, for instance, you can give them a compliment and they deflect it. They don’t receive it. They say, “No, no, no.” They can’t even say, “Thank you.” They’re just like, “Hahaha.” When you say, “Gosh, that’s a beautiful blouse,” or “Man, you did a great job on that,” they can’t receive that.
Then there’s another place where somebody is craving that compliment, and they go looking for it. Some people will let you buy them a cup of coffee, and some people will absolutely not let you buy them a cup of coffee. You have to figure out what feels good to you, not based on what your mind thinks is the right thing in the moment, but what your internal guidance system says. What opens you or closes you? What creates an expansion or a calm feeling in the center of your body or a tight, constricted feeling? Now, I talk a lot about the internal guidance system. You’ll hear this on every podcast. If you don’t know what your internal guidance system is, it’s something you were born with. Go to zeninamoment.com. You’ll find a video, where I walk you through actually feeling your internal guidance system so you’ll know what I’m talking about.
There’s a way in which a lot of the rules in our life about what we can receive or not receive actually don’t come from what’s real for us in our life. Oftentimes, it’ll just be coming from past belief systems. You shouldn’t receive something. You shouldn’t let somebody give something to you. Or you should feel uncomfortable if somebody buys you dinner. Or you should give away something. If somebody compliments you on something, you should give that to them. There’s all these weird rules that we’ve collected along the way, but they’re not necessarily authentic for who we are and our own self-care. They’re this way in which we’ve been put upon by the way others feel and that didn’t necessarily even come from their own authentic experience in the world.
The first thing to discover is where are you uncomfortable with receiving? Sometimes we’ll put boundaries up around things in just being receptive that aren’t even real for us. What does that mean? It can show up as a compliment, like I said, or it can show up as somebody buying you something. It can show up as… I had an experience the other day with a woman who is a single mom. She was talking about how tired she is, and I offered to take her son for a couple hours on Saturday. She immediately came back with, “Oh, I can’t do that. I feel guilty. I don’t have enough time with him as it is, and I would feel bad.” Fifteen minutes ago, she was just saying how she’s exhausted, can’t get anything done, is so far behind on everything, and is very stressed out. Yet, when I offer to give her some support, she says no.
Your internal guidance system is giving you guidance, whether it’s an expansion or a contraction. Very often when we say no, we’re closed. We haven’t been trained to say no when we feel expanded or neutral inside. Most of the time, our nos are coming from a knee-jerk reaction that’s based on a belief of how we’ll look or what’s right or wrong, and it’s not even real; it’s not even true. I want to just encourage you in starting out to discover what is something that you are doing a knee-jerk reaction on that you should be receiving. It could be support; it could be help; it could be a compliment; it could be receiving a situation that’s happening, that you’re hearing about, and your knee-jerk reaction is, “Oh, that’s going to be bad for me.” I want you to gauge, using your expansion and contraction, feeling your receptivity to the world around you, receiving everything in the world around you. From there, once you know what’s real that you should be keeping out, we can set boundaries. If you don’t even know what’s real for you, and most of it is from a contraction that’s a knee-jerk, that contraction means that what you’re thinking about, what you’re receiving is not true.
It’s very important. You cannot set authentic boundaries that will be adhered to by others in a safe way unless you are open. You have to be open when you set your self-care guidelines for others; in other words, boundaries. You have to be open, and then they’ll be received. They’ll feel good for the other person to hold them, too. Knee-jerk reactions of boundaries sound like ultimatums or a closing of an intimacy door. They show up as a power trip; they show up as a negative thing, and they are. If you’re open and you know what your true self-care is, it actually is received, and it feels good for the other person to respond with respect. First, you have to not be in a knee-jerk place. Notice when you’re having a knee-jerk reaction to anything in your world right now and notice, “What am I not receiving here?” It may be in receiving another person’s anger or another person’s negative emotion that you find unpleasant. It could be receiving somebody saying no to you and your reaction to them is, “Well, to hell with you. How dare you say no to me with everything I do around here or how much I participate?” That knee-jerk closing is what we want to get to, because that’s not true and authentic for you. If you make a boundary from there, like I just said, it won’t work.
This is Zen in a Moment. I want you to please share this podcast. This stuff works, I promise. The more you learn about it, the more you do it, the happier you’ll be, the more confident, centered, the more you’ll feel like yourself, in your bones yourself. If you want others to have that, please share this with them. I enjoy comments. I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear any topics that you have. You can always reach me through the contact page on zeninamoment.com. In the meantime, until we get to be together again, I am sending you love and blessings.