…another aspect of Sovereignty and Setting Healthy Boundaries. (From my book, “Crafting a Better Life”)
This has been a life long lesson for me. Having grown up in a house with zero boundaries, I was never taught their importance. Or, for that matter, how to effectively set healthy boundaries and then enforce them.
If this resonates for you, don’t worry. You CAN learn to set healthy boundaries. You CAN learn to enforce them. Although it might be uncomfortable in the beginning, setting boundaries is crucial to supporting your personal power.
There is a misleading perception these days… “be open, be inclusive, don’t judge”, etc…no matter what. Sure, we all agree that being nonjudgemental is a good thing. But not if someone is taking advantage of you or spewing negativity all over you. There is nothing spiritual or enlightened about being a doormat.
The best way I have found to learn this skill is by modeling someone who is good at it. Studying someone who has mastered a skill you desire is a great way to learn. So, for example, if you want to learn how to be more comfortable with networking…you could find someone who’s already comfortable with it and join them for some networking events. Then, watch their behavior and start behaving that way yourself. It may feel awkward at first, but it works. (Just like as children, we modeled our parents…there is a reason we sound just like our mothers sometimes!)
This works for any behavior you want to learn.
I didn’t get really comfortable and capable with boundaries until I started working in a doctor’s office as a rehabilitative Pilates Instructor.
Dealing with people in pain is challenging. Being in chronic pain is exhausting. And, some patients have more difficult personalities than others. So, setting boundaries became crucial for me in order to maintain my own personal sanity. And let me add, many of these people tried to test my boundaries or ignore them altogether. But I stayed firm…once I got comfortable enforcing them.
Fortunately the office manager, was outstanding at setting boundaries. He too had to learn this skill years ago, but he was clearly confident and capable now!
I studied him like a hawk. And eventually, I became very clear about my boundaries, despite how uncomfortable it was at first.
By far, the most important boundary I learned to set was how to ‘hold space’ for people. By that I mean, someone could be struggling physically or emotionally, and rather than hooking into their emotions, I quietly, compassionately, observed them. I witnessed their pain…without getting personally involved with it. (And I wouldn’t do any good as a life coach if every time a client got upset, I took on their pain…)
I think this boundary, ‘holding space’ is an important one for everyone to learn. Because, yes, people want to be seen, heard, and understood. But we can offer people that compassion and simultaneously keep our own sovereignty by staying in our own emotions and not hooking into theirs.
I repeat…We can be unrelenting in minding our own energy and emotions, and still compassionately observe the pain of others.
This is especially important now due to our current events. We are bombarded daily with all the terrible things happening in our world. If we allow ourselves to get sucked up into it, we’ll burn out, break down, or self destruct.
Now more than ever we must set healthy boundaries and enforce them vigilantly. Especially when it comes to holding space and witnessing others.