For most, it’s fairly easy to recall moments when our boundaries have been crossed. You may not know why exactly but, you just know. It’s invasive, uncomfortable, maybe it stings—it just doesn’t feel good at all. It can become less clear identifying when we have crossed those of others. And even foggier when attempting to call out our own personal boundaries.
So, what exactly are these elusive boundaries? One of my teachers shared that a personal boundary is that place in relationship where you and I can be without resentment… It’s easier to breathe just thinking about that place, right?
Boundaries can be fluid and flexible, they can grow and they can shrink depending on feelings of trust, familiarity, safety and more.
They are the invisible comfort zone between you and another… and they differ with each person that crosses your paths.
Establishing healthy boundaries can mean saying no, or saying yes. It can be making a request, asking for more information, or… choosing to say nothing. Successfully navigating boundaries is like a dance between two, requiring vulnerability, presence, and communication.
Finding these lines starts with genuinely ask ourselves what we are comfortable with.
Try this four-part practice to help you along the way:
Take time each day to notice your personal space with others. Observe the differences. Let your awareness go to the distinctions between what feels good and not so good, how comfort and space grows with some and shrinks with others. No judgement, just awareness. You know what’s appropriate for you and what’s not—what’s a yes and what’s a no. Begin identifying how you know, we each have internal signals–we just don’t always acknowledge them. Make the choice each day to pay attention. It takes practice.
Listen to your body.
Your body has great wisdom in deciding what you need at any given time. If you have overdone it, there’s a good chance you will fall ill, forcing you to a place of restoration. Before that forced downtime, there are signals. Again, hone your attention to the ways that your body speaks to you. Does your stomach ache when a depleting request comes your way? Perhaps this is a moment for more questions or a “no, not this time.” A sinking heart, accelerated breath, a wave of sadness, physical discomfort—each are possible signals, attempting to keep you on a healthy path. How does your body speak to you?
Follow your gut, and your heart.
Learning to listen to “gut” feelings is imperative to establishing good boundaries. It’s so important to cultivate an ongoing dialogue with our inner wisdom or instincts. You know those times that you just know. How many times have you “known” but chose another direction? How did that work out for you? For most of us, our intuition is spot on. If you feel you have no intuition, fear not, you can cultivate this inner muscle with practice. Follow your heart, it knows the way.
Speak your truth.
Give others the gift of your words. Authentic communication lets others know how to interact with—its kind and fuels healthy relationships. When we give too much of ourselves without filling our cups back up, we run into illness and injury. Practicing how to compassionately tell people what you are available for and what is beyond your healthy capacity is you managing your relationships with respect.
The clarity that comes with identifying our boundaries is liberating.
The path toward healthy interactions with others is a practice, one that can be very challenging, especially to those who define themselves as people pleasers. Yet, you hold the key to creating the type of relationships that are energizing and bring you happiness.
You will find a balance and ease when you share your truth with others.
And when you get off track, because we all do, it’s important to remember that you are HUMAN. You don’t have an infinite supply of energy, wisdom, or money for everyone around you. You are a better agent of a greater good when you come from a place abundance, rather than depletion.
Breathe deep and take good care of you, always.