Boundaries are an integral part of the dance of love...Learn how to channel your inner courage and self-love to set healthy boundaries and create deeper bonds with the ones you love.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”
It may seem conflicting to build closeness by means of setting boundaries. I mean after all, isn’t a boundary a demarcation of where I end and you begin? Isn’t it a place that actually separates us one from another? From one perspective it’s certainly a defining mark. Nevertheless, it’s a defining mark that beckons for respect from another. It is an allowance on our part for another, to afford them space to respect our boundary, that creates the dance of love. Having healthy boundaries actually enhances the quality and quantity of the relational energy between two people.
Indeed, setting a boundary takes a degree of vulnerability which Brené Brown, shame researcher, author & lecturer speaks to in her quote above. She identifies the courage needed in loving ourselves, that dares us to set boundaries even when we’re afraid another will leave us, reject us, or not respect our boundaries. Courage is the job of the solar plexus chakra, which governs self-concern and the degree of personal self regard we have in any moment. Show me a healthy solar plexus chakra and I will show you someone who is poised to act despite having any apprehension, is confident and has little issue saying “no” and knows how to set a boundary. However, without the balanced energy of a healthy heart chakra, your intent to set a boundary can evaporate in the actions of either giving up, pushing away or giving away your power by neglecting boundary setting altogether.
No one likes feeling vulnerable, but unless you have loving-allowance and fortitude for yourself and another, there’s no way for you to experience the depth of closeness that comes from having someone authentically step in to respect and honor your boundary. Waiting patiently is difficult for someone with an under-activated solar plexus chakra because it implies risking being rejected, minimized, misunderstood or abandoned and it would take courage (activated solar plexus chakra) to weather that. If your solar plexus chakra (degree of personal self regard) is under-activated (or triggered into an angry form of overactivation), you’ll have a hard time setting a boundary and asking for a need to be met. That’s why in my last article, the first step to creating the relationship you deserve is valuing your “Self”.
So what do Ms. Brown’s words mean in terms of using your chakrals' energies to set boundaries? What’s the best way to shift your chakral energy and to upgrade your boundary setting? These are the basic steps I’ve used to improve my personal relationship satisfaction levels through healthy boundary setting.
1. Neutralize a triggered state and stop relating to what you don’t want: Whether I was triggered into an angry state of an over activated solar plexus chakra manifesting in an angry “pushing away” behavior, or triggered into an under-activated state manifesting as sadness or grief, both triggered reactive states, made me unavailable to identify what it was that I actually wanted, because I was in relationship to something I didn’t want. Have you ever been so triggered that all you can talk about is what you didn’t like and how you don’t want things to be? You’ll be handicapped in setting a healthy boundary if you remain in a triggered state. Neutralize your triggered state (clearing the solar plexus chakra) by practicing rhythmic breathing or by using this Mettamercy Meditation to neutralize & de-attach from the triggered state.
2. Think clearly about how you would like to feel instead: In order to do that, you’ll have to slow down from a triggered state and open your heart chakra which will further empty the congested solar plexus chakra. When your heart chakra is open you will begin to rest in how you’d like to feel instead. To open your heart chakra, send focused blessing energy to the world or those who you know who are in need, while practicing slow deep breathing. This will put you in the flow of love-energy and your state will shift, allowing you to see clearly how you’d like to feel, instead. Remember, boundary setting has nothing to do with controlling someone’s behavior. Your job is to identify what it is that you want & ask your partner to hear you & respect your boundary.
3. Be direct in setting your boundary. Be both clear and flexible in what you will require, to allow someone else the practice of stepping in, to the degree they are comfortable. Sometimes that degree may still not meet all of your needs, but if you can be flexible & direct, it allows for your partner to hear you & to meet you where they are able to meet you. For example: ME: “I’d feel better if you prepped for our evening together in a way that lets me feel like you are participating in, “US”. I experience your over-working mindset that leaves me feeling like I’m slaving in the kitchen to get dinner going for us, while you do nothing for the energy of “US”. His response, “Well I understand but I just have too much work to do, to help you in the kitchen.” He thought I meant I wanted him to help me in the kitchen, but I just wanted his presence. I realized all I needed was a sign of him being mindful I was cooking and that he was transitioning out of ‘home-office mode’. So I came up with setting the boundary, “If you simply turn the den lights on, as the dinner hour approaches, it will let me know you are mindful of our evening together and I will feel better about cooking dinner for us both.” He was fine with meeting that boundary. I was able to stay in my heart while setting my boundaries and this gave him a chance to meet me.
4. Be prepared to take care of your own needs when the answer is no, in a way that still holds space for connection. Part of healthy boundary setting is accountability. How will you take care of yourself when a boundary is crossed or not acknowledged? When an agreed upon, established boundary is crossed, what will be the result for the other person and how will you respond? I have had my share of nights (although few) sleeping in the guest room, when my boundaries were not respected. I’ve had to move my focus into my own life and take care of my own needs while leaving my partner to be in his own space with his own reflections on what just happened. I needed that and the relationship energy needed that, because when your boundaries are ignored or violated it can leave you feeling at a loss, and you’ll need the space to fill yourself up with self-love & compassion to come back to the table to negotiate a restoration.
The art of setting boundaries is closely related to the idea of negotiation & the concept of relational restoration & how we negotiate getting our needs met is at the essence of boundary setting. For now, I leave you with these steps so that you can practice:
1) Loving your Self and valuing YOU-courageously get vulnerable & set boundaries
2) Getting clear on what you want so that you ask for that, instead of focusing on what you don’t want
3) Practice holding yourself and another accountable to build stronger boundaries & a stronger sense of self.
Next time we’ll talk about negotiating the energetic exchange that happens between partners, to improve your negotiation and repair skills for when things don’t go as you wish. Thanks for being in the arena with me, since relational intimacy isn’t always a walk in the park. Wishing you every success in boundary setting & creating the relationship you deserve!