Barks & Boundaries

“So let me get this straight,” I said, “you think someone is supposed to let go of their boundary so you don’t have to feel controlled or respect where they stand? I found her perspective curious. She was learning about the concept of boundaries and was comfortable respecting them when she chose to (which isn’t what a boundary is about)

True, boundaries can be used as license, to manipulate or control, but then they’re not really boundaries, are they. They’re license, manipulation and control. Learning the difference is our growth curve for thriving.

And thriving, nourishing more life, is always the point.

Rachel, a client, was adamant about not having boundaries. She didn’t want to let anyone down—clients or family. Meanwhile, she was exhausted, unhappy, and frustrated with health concerns from all the stress, even though the money was rolling in. Who was she letting down? Herself. Her life force, her joy, is way too valuable for that.

My neighbor has two white Pomeranian dogs. Hana and Momo, Vietnamese names. Momo is smaller and a complete love bug that runs to me for hugs and kisses every time I walk by on my run. Hana, the larger and the younger of the pair, is very guarded. She would bark viciously at me not letting me near her.

I wanted to earn her trust as well as dissolve my fear.

Our first bridge of agreement is she would smell my hand for all of one or two seconds, then resume the position to bite my head off if she could reach it. Over the weeks and months, I could touch her a little when she would randomly choose before her sharp shrill would startle me again and she went back to barking, narrowly missing a nip of my fingers. No tail wagging. A little more time and she would bark, but her tail was wagging. Still dissonance, but none the less success!

Eventually I was allowed to touch her for longer periods of time until now she comes up to be petted and sits down for the occasion. She’s not done until she’s done. With Momo I can move quickly. With Hana, I move and stand up slowly. Momo gives quick bursts of love and is all over me, then gone. With Hana I earned it and she loves to linger and soak it in. How rewarding.

Hana, too, has boundaries, spoken in barks and kisses, and eye contact that tell me I’m doing just right.

Personal boundaries is one of those psychobabble terms that somehow we lived without for centuries, then voilà, it gave us a way of describing an important element of identity, integrity with ourselves and others, and our values for navigating thriving relationships in every aspect of our lives, especially the relationship we have with ourselves.

They can range from how we govern our time and share our space (or how we allow others to infringe on it), to simple yes and no, to whether we will eat garlic. Essentially, we’re communicating our boundaries in every moment implicitly or explicitly, like setting our sail for the current direction of the wind.

More importantly, boundaries are frameworks of possibility to help us navigate our joy, our life energy, existing to create more life for you, not less.They are meant to lead us to more freedom and possibility as trust is established. You can reach the edge of a cliff and think there is nowhere to go. Or realize the possibility that waits on the ocean before you.

If your boundaries aren’t helping you thrive and create the life you love, or you find yourself violating the boundaries of others, it’s important to transform the energy of your past holding you in perspectives that no longer match who you are capable of becoming—more of you. When you successfully set and respect your own boundaries as well as those of others, they become a flow of your life, opening your heart to more and vibrant relationships.

It’s like opening a door to find an entire new universe waiting for you, closing doors that enervate — in business, the way you take care of yourself, relationships, finances – and opening doors that energize, providing internal resources to create even more in all those areas.

If you’re not prepared to listen for and respect boundaries as well as develop your own, it’s like having faucets of energy turned on and dispersing without discretion, or sucking other people’s energy instead of being a life-giving force. People experience the drain financially, physically, emotionally, creatively… you get the idea.

Boundaries are a sense of self and mutual respect that become part of the flow of who you are, filling you up, living in awareness, and dancing in your own skin with others dancing in their own skin. The frameworks of possibility they provide help us learn from our past, so that we are not doomed to repeat it and instead are creating frameworks of possibility into a new future.

 They’re in your future already. Go.
~Shelley Hawkins

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