In Love's Light, Each Life Is Both Infinite And Unique.
Love's Truth Teaches Me Who I Am and Who I Am Not.
As Love's Wisdom Nourishes Me,
I Discover I Am Who I Want To Be.
Healthy boundaries are made of love; not of fear. Boundaries protect us. Boundaries are filters which create joining, while protecting from toxic exchange. Our greatest protection in relationships is love - love for self, and love for the other, unconditionally. Let your love inform your decisions for your boundaries.
We are limited creatures, so no one is overwhelmed, and all have a potential role in creation. Because we are limited creatures, we must have relationships with others to survive and thrive. As we learn about our limits and strengths, we learn to connect. The greatest connective tissue is love. Healthy connections teach us of love's infinite support for our greatest potential.
Your responsibility is to love yourself and others. Nothing more, and nothing less. Out of love comes self respect and self care. Self respect is the opposite of selfish. Self respect requires you to be responsible for nurturing and nourishing yourself. By caring for yourself, you can do everything love asks of you.
Because you are limited, you must care for yourself in order to help others. You must first be responsible for your thoughts, behaviors, and goals (not the thoughts, behaviors, and goals of others). Your freedom, abilities, and energy are compromised when you take responsibility for (or try to change) others' thoughts, behaviors, and goals. You are unable to take care of every problem others have. If you aren't aware of your own limits, you may try to change others into how you believe they should be. This can result in feelings of resentment, selfishness, and judgment, instead of knowing the peace and love in your heart.
Empower yourself in your own life. Take control of your boundaries. If you try to control someone else's life, you will feel powerless and out of control. It may feel as though the other person is controlling you, which in turn can increase the temptation to control the other. Without self control and internal peace, a desire can arise to take power/control over other people, situations, or nature. If we try to control others, internal and external conflict may increase. This is seen when a person, group, church, or nation becomes out of control internally. In an effort to gain control, people often try to control the external, rather than admitting the internal is out of control.
When you try to control what you cannot control, it controls you.
The most effective way to create change in a relationship is through change in yourself. In a family and other relationship systems, it can be tempting to become focused on changing others (especially when the changes you want them to make would seem to bring more cooperation into a situation). If you invest time and energy into what you hope will change in the lives of others, there may be no energy left to care for yourself. Then you may ignore your own needs and abilities to improve your life. In doing this, you do not make use of your own power to change the system. Your power to improve relationships comes in taking care of yourself. Focus on yourself as the one you need to take care of. Invest your energy on the changes you want to make for yourself. Do not depend on changes you wish others would make.
There is power in self-care. It is your responsibility to care for your needs. This requires the ability to be assertive (see Communication Skills: Part 1). Assertiveness helps create the freedom to make decisions based on your needs. It frees you from depending on others to make changes in their lives. Assertive decisions may create new patterns in your relationships. Discovering your freedom to act by choice, rather than reacting to relationship systemic patterns, is important in creating healthier relationships. Being your best in a relationship requires self care.
Self respect is the opposite of selfish. Self respect acknowledges the responsibility for self care. Selfishness operates from fear, insecurity, irresponsibility, and belief in scarcity. Self care requires you to:
- slow down self criticism
- stop investing in efforts that fail
- stop talking and thinking about blame
- take time to set appropriate goals
- decide small steps toward your goals
- celebrate each successful small step
- write down small successes and lessons learned
- think about your personal definition of success
- discover solutions that are good for you
GIVE YOURSELF LOVE
- Mentally: set goals; know what you will and will not do for others; know you can handle the responses to your boundaries; learn (from life, reading, situations, meditating, interacting); be responsible for your thoughts, as they create your feelings
- Spiritually: meditate; pray; keep a spiritual journal; fellowship with people who grow your spiritual life; participate in spiritual services, ceremonies, celebrations; read; forgive
- Physically: exercise; eat well; sleep well; laugh often; pay attention to your body; set realistic daily physical goals
Emotionally: pay attention to what emotions you have each day; talk with others about emotions (yours and theirs); learn about emotions; notice that stronger emotions start with less intense emotions; be aware of thoughts that create your emotions; trust your emotions (but do not make decisions on emotions alone)
use your wisdom to decide how to use the information your emotions provide
- information from emotions, plus information from your mental abilities, can form solutions to problems
- use your wisdom to decide how to use the information your emotions provide
Self Care gives You:
- the expression/indication to others (and to yourself) you care about yourself
- lessons about yourself
- ways to accomplish your goals
- courage and strength to make positive changes in your life
- stability in relationships
- honesty with others
- better feelings about yourself
- awareness of your responsibility for your thoughts and behaviors
- self respect
- increased respect from others
- healthier relationships
- an example for others to be responsible for themselves
As you make life decisions, you must be wise about your roles and attitudes with yourself, with others, and with your environment. It may be difficult to determine the best role in a given relationship, as you may be in the habit of doing too much or too little. You need balance, as you take care of your own responsibilities, while helping others. Are you careful to give only out of love, to keep your life free of resentment? Are you honest about your own needs and boundaries?
Do you know when to say "No" to yourself and others? And when to say "Yes"? Do you know when to stop buying, stop trying, stop working, stop playing? Are you aware of your limits and when it is time to release the issue to the Divine, surrendering your personal agenda? Do you know when to say "Yes"? When to give until it hurts, when to try when it is only Divine strength fueling you to continue? Are you listening from Spirit, and being honest with yourself?
Boundaries frame things, to express what something is, what is in it, and what is not in it. Boundaries can protect what is inside. Relationship boundaries are indicators of where you end and where the other person begins (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, energetically, etc.). Healthy boundaries are thin enough to allow love to flow in and out. They can be strong enough to keep danger out.
Examples of Boundaries:
- Skin is a Boundary - Skin defines where your material self is. It clarifies this is your body and your responsibility. It can keep the healthy in and the unhealthy out.
Words create Boundaries - Using words to improve communication is a way of caring for yourself. Healthy communication can improve relationships, create increased expressions of love, and be a vehicle for openness and honesty. Improved communication allows deep connections between people to grow. When you communicate who you are to others, you become more of who you want to be.
- Saying "No" is a word boundary. It lets people know you are separate from them and you are in control of yourself. The clearer you are about saying "Yes" and "No", the more people will know where your boundaries are. They will learn more about you.
To say "No":
- Say "No". You may want to give a reason, or not.
- Use "I statements", not "You statements. (see Communication Skills: Part 1)
- Acknowledge the other person's point of view. (see Communication Skills: Part 1)
- Be persistent, without being rude, angry, or loud.
- Be sympathetic.
- Don't give advice.
- Exit (the room, the phone call, etc) if needed to end the interaction.
- Unspoken rules are Boundaries - In a family, it is healthy to verbalize unspoken rules, identifying which rules are healthy and which are not. For example, a rule may be that no one tells anyone outside the family there is an alcohol problem inside the family. This rule may have been made prior to the realization that it is not a healthy boundary. People may automatically follow the rule as a habit. But once it is spoken, a decision can be made to change it and support a new pattern.
- Truth creates clear Boundaries - Be honest with yourself and others about who you are. Truth and clarity about your boundaries allow you to reinforce boundaries. You will be confident about where your boundaries are. If you are not honest, you confuse the boundaries around you, and others are not be able to identify and respect your boundaries.
- Geographical distance can create a Boundary - Physically leaving a situation may help you to reinforce and maintain a boundary. You may use this tool to give yourself a break or to get away from danger. Removing yourself from a situation will also cause the other person to experience a change in the relationship which may lead them to change. In an abusive relationship (physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive), at times the only way to show the other person your boundaries are real is by creating geographical distance.
- Time can be a Boundary - Setting time aside for yourself is important. Doing this signals to yourself and others when it is, and is not, best for them to be a part of your time.
- Emotional distance can be a Boundary - This boundary can be used to guard your heart. Based on factors in relationships (e.g., emotional safety, trust, familiarity, cohesion, respect, understanding, etc.), you can decide what level of emotional distance is best for you. This boundary must be based on wisdom and not fear. If the boundary is based on fear, it may lack strength and be vulnerable to manipulation, abuse, confusion, and anxiety.
Other people can help with Boundaries. A support group, a trusted friend, or a therapist can help you clarify and stay within boundaries. Healthy relationships help you keep boundaries. These relationships are critical for support when you are faced with relationships which challenge your boundaries.
Consequences enforce Boundaries. When people disrespect your boundaries, consequences let them know your boundaries are real and are to be honored. Examples of consequences are: "I am leaving this conversation. When you calm down, I will be available to resume discussion about this issue;" another is "If you do not keep your job, I will not help you with money."
Within the Boundaries you set is YOU. There is no way to describe the infinite You developing inside your boundaries. In each moment, you blossom and grow from the inside out. Thus, identifying and communicating who you are to others is your ever-unfolding expression of love to the world.
Inside your Boundaries you experience:
- Your Feelings - They are yours. Other people cannot take them from you. Your feelings are your responsibility. No one else gets credit, and no one else is to blame. It is up to you to protect them. You can change your feelings by changing your thoughts, actions, or environment. You are not obligated to explain or justify feelings...they just are. If someone insists you don't or shouldn't feel the way you do, realize this is like someone telling you not to have a physical sensation you have.
- Your Attitudes and Beliefs - These are yours to be responsible for, to develop, to change, and to keep. You are responsible for how you act on your attitudes and beliefs. Others are not responsible for your attitudes and beliefs, nor are they responsible for how you express them.
- Your Behaviors and Responsibilities - If others take on your responsibilities, or if they overstep your boundaries, consequences will occur. Likewise, if you invade another's boundaries, or try to take over/control responsibilities that are not yours, consequences will occur. Consequences naturally enforce healthy boundaries. When you try to squelch consequences, you may be depriving yourself, or someone else, of an important lesson. Consequences that are squelched will grow and reappear later.
- Your Choices - You are in control of your choices. Boundaries become blurred when people are not honest about choices or do not take responsibility them.
- Your Values - You develop your own values. As your heart and mind take in information, your values blossom. It is important to value who you are and the outcomes in your life. It is nice to be accepted and liked by others. It is more important to value being honest and true to yourself above being liked and accepted by others who may not value who you are.
Your Thoughts - Your thoughts are your responsibility. It is important to listen to what others say. Then decide what to agree with, what to disagree with, and what to hold as unknown until there is further information. It is your right to reevaluate thoughts, and to make changes, as you decide what thoughts are best for you.
Some thoughts are unhealthy for your body and your emotions. For example:
- thoughts which create anger or anxiety may effect your physical and emotional health
- thinking anxious thoughts at night can interrupt sleep
- thoughts of worry can drain energy and decrease the strength of the immune system.
- Some thoughts are unhealthy for your body and your emotions. For example:
To Worry About the Future,
Or to Resent the Past,
Is to Steal the Power of NOW!
- Your Desires - To set solid boundaries, be clear about your desires (your needs, wants, and goals). These are a part of who you are, and they are not to be minimized or taken lightly. They are truths about you. These truths will grow and change with you. Respect yourself and your desires. This is your responsibility; it is not a luxury.
- Your Love - Your Love grows from your clarity and honesty about who you are. At your core, you are a unique version of Divine Love. It is your responsibility to protect your heart, so it is healthy to give Love unconditionally. If you are not stable in your boundaries, it may seem that fear is a necessary alternative for protection. Fear creates the illusion that Love has to be limited and conditional. Fear creates an illusion of protection that isolates and weakens anything depending on it. Fear is useless as a boundary. Fear clouds Love's Truths, and it blocks Love from flowing freely to and through you.
A Rosebud Opens Into The Sun's Light.
I Blossom Into Love's Light.
As I Shine Who I Truly Am, I Am Loved.
Others Cannot Love What They Do Not Know Of Me.
You cannot give what you do not have. You must love and care for yourself, or you will not be in a position to give love and care freely to others. It is your responsibility to know when and how to care for yourself. If you have been using your energy to care for others and not care for yourself, you may feel overwhelmed and depleted. This can lead you to resenting and blaming others, which will further deplete you. If your past behavior taught others you are willing to be depleted, they may be confused and have a difficult time adjusting when your behavior changes. It may take others time to believe your self care is your responsibility and your priority. In healthy relationships, others will learn to respect your self care and boundaries.
It is difficult for some people to understand boundaries. People who have been invaded by others (their bodies, minds, emotions, or time) in traumatic ways may find it difficult to understand their body, mind, time, behavior, emotions are theirs. It also may be difficult for them to embrace their right and responsibility to protect themselves and have boundaries. They may find it difficult to know the freedom of creating their life in ways that are congruent with who they are in their hearts. It may be difficult for them to respect your right and responsibility to your own boundaries. As you clarify your boundaries, you may notice others develop irritation or anger. Some may try to force you to defend your boundaries. You may even discover some people will cut off connections with you to avoid their discomfort with boundaries. This is their boundary for now; respect their decision to have distance from you.
Expressing a boundary, and feeling uncomfortable, is better than hiding your true self and feeling resentful, confused, or overwhelmed.
There are many reasons it can be difficult to express Boundaries:
- expressing boundaries requires assertiveness
- you don't want anyone angry with you
- you don't want someone to try to argue with you
- you think you owe someone an explanation and you don't have one (you Do Not owe anyone an explanation for your boundaries)
- you don't want the other person to express their boundaries
To express Boundaries, tell yourself:
- if others get angry with me, I can handle it
- it takes two to argue
- I don't have to explain
- the respect of others may increase, as I consistently respect and express my boundaries
Outcomes of respecting and expressing personal Boundaries:
- others know how you define yourself
- others know you respect yourself enough to take care of yourself
- you set realistic goals and limits
- others don't take you for granted
- others take you seriously
- others respect your opinion
- you experience less burnout, anxiety, resentment, irritability, depression, and physical symptoms
- you become more aware and honest about yourself
- others understand you more
- you are less misunderstood
- your trust in yourself increases
The goal of expressing boundaries is for others to better know your boundaries; not to get them to like your boundaries.
Outcomes of NOT respecting and expressing personal Boundaries:
- your self definition gets confused with the agenda others have for you
- you wonder who you are
- others take you for granted
- you act in unrealistic ways, misleading others, creating confusion
- you become overextended, anxious, resentful, and guilty
- you develop physical symptoms
Without healthy boundaries, protection is gone. Fear and confusion may increase, creating misunderstanding and a skewed sense of truth. This limits expressions of love and promotes isolation, pain, and internal chaos. Decisions become judgmental and oppressive. When fear is given control of one’s mind, love and respect become conditional, selfish, and without power. Your power will seem to dissolve, and force will evolve in its place. There is a lack of self control. The most heinous behaviors of mankind were based on fear's ability to create illusions about others.
What is the benefit of being in the midst of uncomfortable situations that require boundaries?
- The more your love is required to sustain you, the more you learn love is able to sustain you!
- Love grows stronger, as it is required to dissipate the discomfort within.
- Your heart gets better at controlling its emotional temperature. Emotions will not escalate as much when acclimated to new elevations in the environment.
- Discernment is strengthened and trusted. What is not in alignment with love is not allowed to cross the boundary.
- Intentions are clarified.
- You trust love; you have less emotional drama; and you enjoy a peaceful and calm presence.
- Love contains soothing energy to help maintain emotional balance.
- Love is given and received with clarity.