Compassionate Boundary Setting
“A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.” Martin Heidegger
Last week I shared a new way to look at “balance” in your life, and today as a powerful follow-up I hope to shift your view on “boundaries”.
Boundaries are limits we put into place to help each other meet our needs.
When I first learned about boundaries, I didn’t really understand what they were, and that was a good hint that I needed them in my life. I also felt boundary work had to be hard and heavy, but have since learned otherwise. Here’s a visual I love to help you rethink boundary setting as a healthy, compassionate practice.
Your Sacred Space
Imagine you have a beautiful yard, like a magical garden where you feel wonderful and the surroundings are beautiful. It’s a healthy, vibrant and secure space where you feel at peace and at home. This outdoor oasis represents you, your healthy inner experience and your lush self-care practices.
Beyond this space is the outside world, in whatever form that may look like for you according to your unique situation. Perhaps its a similarly beautiful garden setting, a dirty and dangerous junkyard or someplace in between. It represents whatever or whoever is in your life that feels threatening to your well-being.
Between these spaces is your sacred fence. Perhaps it’s a flourishing living fence of well-kept hedges and floral vines, or maybe it’s a solid and strong cedar fence, that smells as beautiful as it looks. This fence represents your boundaries. Its simple purpose is to delineate between the two environments. It exists whether being viewed from the inside out, or the outside in.
The goal here is to tend to your sacred space rather than the surrounding environment – to focus on what you value and what you want to protect vs. who or what you want to keep out. View your fence as a means to better enjoy what you’ve cultivated within your own yard, rather than for avoiding difficulties. In doing so, you operate from a place of self-love, avoid reacting to or punishing others and convey your boundaries with compassion so they are more warmly understood, received and respected.
And don’t forget that fences have gates, for the opportunity to let others into your yard as circumstances allow.
Build Your Fence
Could you relate to your situation in this metaphor? Or are you still unsure if you need to set some boundaries? Chances are you do if you feel constricted, upset, anxious, angry, irritated or are complaining about something. So for example, you may need to set limits if you . . .
- have had it with your never ending “to do” list;
- procrastinate because you can’t handle the pressure;
- can’t take another minute of your loved one’s passive-aggressive communication;
- won’t put up with being treated poorly any longer;
- are stressed and overwhelmed by all the little things to do at home and work; or
- want to take better care of your needs and feel like your enough.
So in these situations, and others like them, how will you take care of your “oasis”? What are your fences AND what will you do if someone crosses them?
What situations will you say “yes” or “no” to, to meet your own specific needs, wants and joys?
What will you “do” or “not do” if these boundaries are crossed, by yourself or others?
Naturally, you will also want to respect other people’s boundaries too. If you are on the receiving end of someone drawing a line, you’ll now understand that everyone’s boundary needs are different, boundaries aren’t necessarily personal or your fault, and the best response is “Thank you for telling me about your boundary and I’ll do my best to respect it.”
Ultimately, boundaries are about self-worth. By compassionately setting and upholding them for yourself, you are growing and nourishing your own self-worth. Yes please!
. . . . .
If you would love to talk to me about your boundary-related issues, you’ll want to claim my new introductory offer.
“Balance & Boundaries” is my new introductory 1:1 Coaching Intensive. If you’re ready to: Get clarity on your balance issues; develop solutions for your most pressing needs; cultivate boundaries to uphold your desires and leave with the confidence to move forward, this is for you!
Check out all the details here: Balance & Boundaries Intensive
To your sacred space!