This is the outline for the call Creating Safe and Healthy Boundaries which is a part of our Body Vitality Workshop as we focus on Body Safety with co-hosts Rick Wilkes and Cathy Vartuli. Team members can listen to the recording here.
In this teleclass recording we cover boundaries… and their importance for feeling safe and healthy.
- What is a boundary?
- Different types of boundaries.
- Boundary Violations
- Why is it so hard to set boundaries?
- Body Guidance: How does my body tell me someone’s crossed a boundary? (Exercises)
- Emotional Guidance: The ouch of anger.
- Having a “No”- How to set boundaries.
- How do I know my Boundary is Acceptable?
- Why you need a good “NO” before you can have an awe-inspiring “YES!!!”
- Enforcing Boundaries: How do I keep my body safe?
- Practicing boundaries.
- Disclaimer: Reconnecting with your body is wonderful. But it may bring up a lot of emotions at first. Remember to be responsible for your own safety. If too much is coming up, feel free to get off the call. Do some tapping, or whatever self-calming techniques you use. Get some one-on-one help if you need it. Grounding techniques from last week may be helpful.
What is a boundary?
“A boundary is any limit I need to honor so I can love or work with you without resentment and with integrity.” – Dr. David Gruder
- Something that indicates a border or limit.
- A separation between you and me.
- Examples of boundaries: Call before you come to my house, don’t pee in my pool, you can shake my hand but not fondle my breasts.
- Healthy boundaries let you know who you are as an individual and which needs, feelings, and thoughts are yours.
- Helps you decide what you will and will not do.
- Boundaries can feel different with various people and situations.
- Even if we have trouble hearing it, part of our mind and body is aware of how close we want to let someone get to us…on a physical, emotional, mental or energetic level.
- We are social animals. We generally like having contact with others.
- We can establish boundaries to make our interactions smoother and more comfortable and safe.
- Boundaries also help us know ourselves better.
Different Types of Boundaries
- Physical: Touch, closeness, physical safety
- Mental: I have the right to my opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, don’t deserve to be ridiculed for them (or made “wrong”) or coerced into thinking differently.
- Emotional: I have the right to my feelings. Not to be insulted or belittled or convinced that I don’t or shouldn’t feel the way I do. Can we take responsibility for our emotions and let others have responsibility for theirs? Do you know when a feeling is yours and when it belongs to someone else? (not always clear to some of us).
- Energetic: Overpowering energy, intention to dominate energetically, energy suckers, unwelcome penetrating energy.
- We have different boundaries with different people. Just think of borders to different countries. Some have very relaxed guards or no checks, some have barbed wire and machine guns.
- With a dearly loved person, we invite them deep into our emotional and physical space. We tend to be more willing to find a compromise that works for both people.
- With someone we meet once, our boundaries might be more rigid… and pushed out.
- We would not accept (generally) a waitress sitting down with us, and asking us intimate personal questions.
- Boundaries can be elastic, shifting to fit what we need at the time… as well as how strong and balanced or vulnerable we feel at the moment.
- If we didn’t learn how to change our boundaries and remain rigid/armored, it may be harder for us to protect ourselves or open up to others. As we’ll discuss later, if we understand our boundaries and why we have them, we have more flexibility.
More Boundary Violation Examples
- Unwanted physical contact
- Accepting gifts we don’t want
- “Giving” with the underlying intent to obligate
- Being sexual before we’re ready
- Pleasing others at our own expense
- Letting others say what is right or wrong for us, or letting them tell us what we MUST feel or believe
Why is it so hard to set boundaries?
- Because other people don’t want us to! They still operate from a hierarchial dominance model.
- Much of the world has yet to understand how healthy and wonderful good boundaries are.
- If we start setting boundaries, there will be shifts in our relationships, and some individuals who do not respect our boundaries may be asked to leave. Are you afraid to trust, or fearful of loosing a relationship?
- Fears of appearing self-centered, of hurting others, or having conflict, or feeling rejection.
- Tapping: Fear of setting boundaries.
- As children most of us were discouraged from setting boundaries with parents, teachers, and others in authority. If we haven’t practiced them, it may feel uncomfortable at first. It’s ok! Even if no one taught you to tie your shoes when you were little, you can still learn now. And probably faster.
- Resistance may have made mom or dad angry, so we learned to give in. It was safer then. We can tap on our specific fears of setting boundaries.
- Tapping: “Even though I am still a child, or at least I feel like one when I try to sent a boundary with someone in authority, I choose to honor and respect my own limits.”
- Some of us may not feel we deserve boundaries (question of self worth).
- “I would feel guilty if I said no”. Often old lessons taught by parents or teachers. Guilt is used to manipulate us because it’s easier if we did what they say without knowing our limits and what is a yes for us.
- “Duty” or “responsibility” are often words we use to force ourselves to do things that cross our boundaries. Have to spend all my time working or taking care of family, or I’ll feel guilty.
- Tapping: Even though I would feel guilty…
- “It’s safer to be quiet and not complain”. Another childhood lesson. May be true now with people we’ve attracted into our lives.
- We are often told that “nice” people would always help. Many of these people are afraid of being alone or feel their only worth is in doing. If you have fears about this- tap!!!
- If we get our self worth from pleasing others- it’s much harder to set boundaries.
- Our boundaries may not have been respected in the past- parent or loved one or friend blaming us and making us feel guilty that we “hurt” them or “didn’t trust” them or that we “owe” them. May have been threats of or actual physical violence.
- I don’t want to notice what’s happening- it’s too painful. I have to know what I want in order to set a boundary. Maybe I won’t get it.
- Tapping: Even though I won’t get what I want, I’m open to the possibility of having healthy boundaries.
- Most people have areas where they have trouble setting boundaries.
- They may easily say no to strangers, but can’t say no to a spouse or boss. Or vice versa. Do some tapping on the reasons behind that.
- Explicit discussion of boundaries is uncomfortable for the vast majority of humans. (share on forum or team call for help on this).
- I think setting clear boundaries requires learning to trust yourself to handle the other persons reaction and to trust the other person to be open to hearing something. As I’ve “practiced” and enacted more healthy boundaries with people who can hear them and respect them, it gets easier. And I realized that I don’t want people who can’t honor my boundaries in my life.
- There is often a fear of intimacy that is involved in the process of setting boundaries. Intimacy means sharing what you think, believe, want, and feel. Clearly stating your boundaries to someone who can hear you is a very intimate act. You are showing what you care about and “exposing” your truth to another human being. We can avoid true intimacy by ignoring our own boundaries as other run over them, or by having hard fast boundaries that don’t change in any situation. Rather like wearing armor. It is a way to hide.
- Tapping: Even though I REFUSE to let people get close to me because it isn’t safe, I deeply and completely accept myself anyway!
- As you get better at knowing your boundaries, you will have a good idea what is a YES for you before it happens. This makes it easier and easier to have clear boundaries and to respond in the moment with clear lines.
Body Guidance on Boundaries
- Listening to what your body is telling you about its limits, preferences, safe feelings, and fears.
- Take a deep breath.
- Remember a time when you felt very safe and respected. How does your body feel? Warm, relaxed, open? Each person is different. This is your body’s “language” for… This is GOOD.
- Take a deep breath.
- Next, remember a time someone really crossed your boundaries in a big way (start tapping if you need to). How does your body feel now? Tension, closed, tight? This is your body’s language for… This is NOT GOOD… really bad, feels dangerous.
- Take a deep breath.
- Remember a situation where someone disrespected you on a more minor level. Maybe they were late and didn’t bother to call, or took credit for something you did. Notice your body. These feelings are your body’s way of communicating a quieter displeasure.
- Practice these a few more times with different events to get more tuned to your body’s language.
Emotional Guidance on Boundaries
- A boundary is the simplest, cleanest form of anger that exists. It is “no” and “ouch.”
- A boundary also is the simplest form of well-being that exists. It is “yes,” and “aaahh/yum.”
- When our boundaries are being ignored, or we’re not enforcing them we may feel angry or resentful. We might also become disconnected or feel disempowered. You might feel like a victim or invisible, some people feel smothered or like they have nothing that is “theirs” or private.
- You can’t ignore a boundary without paying a price.
- Other people ignoring our boundaries is NOT what causes us to get angry. We get angry when we do not gracefully and compassionately honor our own boundaries (whether with or without the other person’s cooperation).
- This is because our boundaries can only be as clear and as strong as our support for our own wants, limits, choices, and values.
- Learning to recognize and gracefully honor your boundaries (BEFORE your anger starts escalating) is an excellent anger-prevention tool, and an excellent way to also prevent fear, depression, or feelings of invasion!
- Our emotions are a guidance system. EFT can help to make sure that the guidance we are getting is not exaggerated by times in the past where we had boundaries, and we did not respect them (and neither did anyone else).
- If you find yourself angry, resentful or complaining- look for a boundary that needs to be set.
- Most people don’t recognize that resentment, fear, depression, anger, or becoming tyrannical are all clues that they have an unrecognized boundary.
- Developing the ability to recognize when a boundary is necessary if you are to begin moving into fuller integrity with yourself and into more authentic collaboration with others.
Having a “No”: How to set boundaries
- How do I say no?
- Only need to set one boundary at a time.
- Start with something easy, something with low emotional charge.
- For example: Ask a friend to please call if they’re going to be more than 10 minutes late. Can even practice with a friend who is never late, who is respectful of your boundaries.
- Build up your confidence. Notice when someone respects your boundary and thank them if it’s appropriate.
- Take baby steps with trusted friends.
- Role play with your tapping buddy.
- Ask someone with good boundaries to give you feedback on your boundary and suggest how they might approach it.
- Can start by saying this is difficult for you, or that your nervous, being open sometimes helps.
- Ask them to hear you out.
- Share as clearly as you can. When ____ happens, I feel ____. or It’s important that to me that you not do ____ around me/to me any more.
- If they can’t comply, ask yourself if you’re willing to compromise somewhat or not at all.
- Set your intensity levels as appropriate. Immediate, life-threatening issues are “louder” than a lower consequence violation.
- Think about why you want the boundary. If you know what your intention is, why it is important, it is easier to communicate and ask for.
- It is up to us to set these boundaries and the different ways we can honor them and still feel good inside.
- We recommended starting simple. We can start slow as well.
- When we meet someone, we can have more solid boundaries, and then as caring and trust grows, we can open up more.
- Boundaries shift and change even over the course of the day. (I feel like being touched is ok now, but it may not be in a few hours).
- We may find old boundaries no longer apply (call before coming over isn’t useful if your living together) and new ones come into existence.
- Boundaries are about what you will allow and what you won’t tolerate. They show that you know you are worthy of self respect. Deserve respect from others. Tap on your issues of not deserving boundaries.
- It helps to be very clear about what you want and why. “I no longer want to discuss politics with you because the way you respond makes me feel uncomfortable.” Try to share without blaming. See if they will agree or not. If they don’t, let them know what the consequences are. “If you discuss politics around me, I will leave.”
- Don’t make threats you don’t mean “If you do, I will never speak to you again” unless it’s true.
- If we set boundaries out of love, “I respect both of us enough to let you know what’s important to me”, it can open up the relationship.
- Boundaries are not punishments.
- If you have trouble saying no to someone, tell them you need to think about it. It can give you time to be clear on what is a YES for you.
- If someone is directing anger at me, I follow my gut. That can be to leave. That can be to hold up a hand and say, “Enough!” That can be to recognize that no one gets angry unless it feels better to them than the disempowerment / guilt / shame they would feel as the alternative.
- Wherever you are, you are. Just accept yourself and your reaction to it.
- You don’t NEED to apologize for setting a boundary.
- Tap on feelings of guilt, shame, anticipation of a negative response, or embarrassment for stating your needs and enforcing boundaries.
- You can get better and better at setting boundaries, just like any other skill. Start simple, give yourself a break, and learn as you go.
How do I know my Boundary is Acceptable?
- As human beings, we do have the right to set boundaries and consequences. So do other people. So do governments.
- Whether a boundary is acceptable to others around you will vary.
- How right does it feel to you?
- Ask yourself, “Is it reasonable?”
- An even better question is “how well does this boundary function for you?”
- Does it help you feel safe, while allowing you to move comfortably through life?
- If your boundary is to never stand near someone who is wearing green, you may spend a lot of energy and time making sure it doesn’t get crossed. You can ask: “why do I have this boundary?” and “is it really useful to me?”
- Perhaps you were once hurt by someone wearing green (I was once hit by a white car, hated white cars for awhile after that, wouldn’t park near one, etc). Tapping might help you shift the unconscious boundary that was set by the trauma to something more useful (and less overreactive).
- If your boundary is to never allow someone to abuse a child in your presence, you might feel really comfortable with it. Even if it takes considerable energy and time… and even physical risk.
- Being consciously aware of what our boundaries are… and how far we’re willing to go to protect them…gives us more power. More flexibility.
- If we are conscious of our boundaries in areas where our life isn’t quite as smooth and easy as we’d like it to be, we can choose whether we do tapping on the emotions around them, examine them deeper, and decide what is right for us.
If I don’t have a good NO, I can’t have a healthy YES…
- Imagine someone asking you to do something. If you can’t say NO, and you KNOW IT, then even if you’d otherwise love to do it, you won’t FEEL your own freedom of choice.
- Example: Handsome, charming guy takes a woman out on a date to a nice restaurant, then dancing. They have a wonderful time. BUT if she “could never say NO” if a man “invested that much” then even if she says YES… to a kiss… it won’t FEEL to her as delicious as if she COULD have that same experience and feel NO obligation at all to let him into her physically.
- Example: Your child asks you for M-O-N-E-Y. If you cannot imagine saying NO to him, or would feel GUILTY AS SIN if you did, then even if you want to give the money, it will not FEEL like a true gift from the heart.
- Tapping: Even though I can’t say no…
Enforcing Boundaries: How do I keep my body safe?
- People will often test boundaries we set… unconsciously or intentionally.
- A major difficulty is that people have little experience recognizing or stating or enforcing boundaries in a healthy way. We’re not sure how to!
- Some of the reasons we have trouble honoring and communicating OUR boundaries:
- Sense of being misunderstood or criticized.
- They are going to be defensive.
- Afraid we’ll lose something (friendship, love, cooperation, status, respect, etc.)
- They’ll ignore us… and that will hurt worse… or raise the stakes
- The person may not be able to do what we are asking.
- How do I respect your boundaries and still stay true to me? (Discussion of how boundaries define a relationship.)
- If we are confident that we deserve respect, and are firm that we will enforce them, people will back off.
- If we are uncertain, hesitant, “will you still love me if I say this”… people will push back to maintain status quo, or agree then ignore.
- If everyone was in a happy, secure, SANE place, asking people to respect our boundaries would be pretty easy. They would probably hear us and be glad to comply.
- They may or may not agree with everything, but they will generally offer a different possible solution (looking for a YES-YES), agree not to cross your boundaries, or at least leave you alone.
- It’s harder when people are scared, fearful, or angry. When they are in primitive brain, they are often grasping for anything that will give them relief. They have a harder time listening to our needs, to not running over us on their way to perceived safety / survival.
- Someone in primitive brain may feel threatened or attacked, no matter how carefully we state our boundaries. It helps if we can recognize their fear (harder when we’re nervous about setting the boundary, afraid of losing the relationship).
- We still have the right to say “No”. We can choose not to set a strong boundary at the particular moment someone is very upset, if the issue is not time sensitive.
- How can we set good boundaries with someone in fear?
- We can offer some comfort… remind the person of the things we appreciate about them. Let them know that setting the boundary is to help strengthen the relationship. (Remember the definition… “A boundary is any limit I need to honor so I can love or work with you without resentment and with integrity.”)
- Be clear about why it is important to you. It also helps them remember the boundary.
- By using EFT and other methods to stay “calm and confident… no matter what!” we make it far less likely that someone will even consider challenging our boundaries. And it will make it easier to quietly say, “No, please stop that” if needed.
- We can be at a party where everyone is doing drugs, and no one offers any to us… because we have an energetically consistent boundary. (Now, if you start feeling “left out,” that “no drugs” boundary will begin the feel shakey, and others around you will respond to that. All boundaries work this way.)
- If someone won’t stop, it helps to know what the consequences might be. For some people, it might be that you don’t go to that environment with them again. For others, it might be that you no longer interact with them. If it’s a one-time event, walk away.
- If you’re not sure what the consequences might be, it’s ok to say: “I need to think about it.”
- If the other person demands you “compromise”, see what’s a “YES” for you and follow through.
- Sometimes people will use guilt to try to stop you from setting a boundary. “Don’t I have any say in this relationship? What about me? Don’t you care?” They do get to set their own boundaries. But they don’t get to set yours.
- Boundaries set with love actually strengthen the relationship. They let both people know where they stand and what is ok. Comfort and ease allow open communication. The act of setting a boundary can be very intimate and loving.
- Be energetic if needed. OUCH! It’s ok to show your anger if needed. Turning up the volume is a prove way to enforce your boundary (even if it’s not optimal).
- How can we enforce our boundaries if someone isn’t listening?
- Can’t always leave “forever” (co-worker, family member we’re not willing to kick out of our life).
- The consequences have to ones that you are willing to follow-through on (otherwise, they are empty threats and will FEEL that way energetically).
- Choose consequences with attention to their appropriateness (and tap on any sense of “overreaction” or “UNDERreaction” you are noticing).
- It’s appropriate to be willing to do more to protect some boundaries than others.
- Example: If someone crosses a physical boundary by touching us inappropriately, consequences should include the possibility of bringing in an authority figure (boss, HR, police, brute squad).
- If another driver flips you off and calls you stupid, you might be more willing to let it pass, especially if you feel that he will drive off and offer no further insults or threats.
- We get to choose when/how to take next steps to enforce a boundary. Do so based on what is a YES for you.
- Think of a place you’d like to have better boundaries. Start simple.
- Imagine yourself setting the boundary.
- What do you think the person would say? If it’s distressful, tap on the reaction you imagine.
- Go back and start again.
- Keep practicing until it feels good or at least neutral, no matter how “they” might react.
The detailed outline for our first call on Body YES and Body NO: Learning to Listen to the Body’s Intuitive, Intelligent Guidance can be found here:
The second call covered The Vibrational Scale: A Guide to Understand and Improving Your Vibrational Trend. A detailed 6-level Vibrational Scale (an evolution of the one proposed by Abraham-Hicks) can be found along with the call outline on the Thriving Now website at:
Our intention with the Body Vitality Workshop is to help you…
- develop an amazing relationship with your body…
- help it feel surprisingly safe, calm, and confident…
- listen to and follow its intuitive guidance…
- consciously direct its vibrational trend towards total well-being…
- and delight in the pleasures of food, movement, and touch in healthy and balanced ways.
It doesn’t matter if you’re over-, under- or at your perfect weight, hate the pains in your back, think you don’t have enough muscles, feel clumsy, or your nose is funny….
We’ll focus on developing practical body guidance, feeling safe in your body, appreciating and accepting where you are (as hard as that can be sometimes), and removing blocks to moving forward towards a more powerful, healthy, vital body. We’ll have specific calls on eating for the body’s needs… and for its pleasure! We’ll also use EFT to bring relief to pain and suffering… and bring more fluid movement to your body from your head to your toes.
In the members-only forum we’ll have ongoing discussions on each of these topics… as well as mutual support and encouragement to guide this process.
If you would like to participate in this workshop and bring increased vitality and power to your body, become a team member.