Do You Have Healthy Boundaries?

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or to the future are certainly to miss the present.”
                  -John F. Kennedy

I have a vision of being out at a pool, keeping cool, letting the sun slightly bake my skin and bathe my body in good old vitamin D; sounds good to me. How much skin do I expose? Do I need to let it all hang out? Do I have some protection? And, if I am a bit shy, maybe I don’t want to wear a small two piece or bikini. What are my boundaries here? 

This is such a small thing to be concerned about, but it is something we do concern ourselves with; especially in July. If we think about it, in various ways, we concern ourselves with our boundaries much of the time. How much time should I spend in the sun, how much time should I spend with my children, how much space do I need, how much time alone do I need without getting grouchy, and so on. These are daily questions we concern ourselves with. Other questions we ask are, how do I think about this idea when my friend and colleague thinks differently, or my family thinks differently? Who am I, and what are my boundaries are issues that we confront in us daily. 

One of the things I do with me and with  my patients, is to ask, does this make me feel fuller and better, or does this hurt me or diminish me or keep me the same? In fact, with every question that comes up in my life, I frequently ask myself those questions. Another thing I do is to step back, give myself some personal space, and take in all my senses, and then feel the answer in my gut.

Do you know that we make more neuro transmitters in our gut than we do in our brain? As we are developing in the womb, the same cells and tissue that compose our brain tissue separate and many of those cells move to the area that is soon to be our stomach, digestive organs and intestines. We actually make more neuro transmitters in that area than we do in our brain. So, yes, we feel in our stomach and around our umbilical cord. This is why when we are frightened we get a feeling of butterflies in our stomach. This is why when we hear bad news or when we know we need to do something that we are frightened to do, we feel it in the pit of our stomachs. 

Sometimes I know that something is the right thing for me to do or say at the time because of the uncomfortable feeling I get in my gut. And, just the opposite also occurs. When someone is in my personal space, or when I feel invaded or pushed by someone, I also get an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. In this latter case, the feeling is slightly different than the uncomfortable feeling I get when I know I need to do or say something. That feeling is uncomfortable, but with a knowing that it is right; it makes me feel fuller and better to do or say this thing.  When I am invaded, the feeling is more to push away from it and that it feels wrong. Then I ask myself the key question; does this make me better or keep me the same?

I have a friend, who when she isn’t sure what to do, she asks herself a different question. She asks the question, “If I don’t do this, would I later regret not doing it? “

I am speaking of outer boundaries and internal boundaries, from the mundane, to the greater questions. Each mundane action builds on itself and makes us stronger. As we contemplate our boundaries, we are working and dealing in the present time. We are not mired in the past; we are moving and building towards our future. If we were to make decisions which make us feel smaller or the same, then we can know this is something that we have yet to resolve inside of us and we are still feeling compelled by something in the past in making those decisions. The devil is in the details. As we continue our work to know us and our boundaries, we build lives full of health, vitality and wholeness.

Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:

The exercise I am about to suggest here is one I find fun, but not necessarily easy. I am sure by now you can guess where this exercise is going.

At the end of the day, take out a pen and paper and write down questions you have had throughout the day. What would have happened if I said that, should I have done that instead, is this right job offer, and is this right thing for me to do, and so on. 

Beside each question that came up in the day, ask yourself; as I said that does that make me or the other person better, worse, or the same?

In other words, ask yourself if this makes you better, fuller, more, or if you don’t say it or don’t do it would you regret it after each question you had from the day.

After you have written these questions and answers down, read through your day with this new lens. Do this every day for a week, and see what happens inside of you and what kind of feeling you have in your gut.

I find this very helpful, and hope you do too to live a life of love, connection, wholeness and vitality!

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