As a therapist – slash – coach, boundaries come up a lot in the work that I do. Boundaries really come up a lot for all of us every day, whether we’re aware of them or not. A very common approach when dealing with boundaries is one of putting limits in place to protect oneself. Much of the talk about boundaries in self-development, coaching, and even therapy revolves around stopping something that may or may possibly hinder or negatively impact you.
To me, in order for boundaries to be a part of a healthy self-concept, a healthy lifestyle, we need to shift our perspective to one that isn’t focused on limitations, stopping things, keeping things out and protecting oneself. This all sounds very self-reliant, control-oriented, and of a fixed mindset. In fact, when we approach boundaries in this way, we’re coming from a place of scarcity and lack. We cannot build from a place of scarcity or lack. That would be like trying to erect a new house from a hole in the ground. (There’s a significant metaphor here, but we’ll explore that another time.)
As with all things, a healthy perspective and relationship with boundaries can really allow them to serve us, up level us and propel us toward the blessed life we want and deserve. I believe healthy boundaries are an essential part of the abundant life, a growth mindset, and fully living in our purpose and potential. However, the approach I’ve outlined above directly conflicts with this idea, doesn’t it?
So, how can we implement and embrace boundaries in our own lives, in a way that supports the core desires we have for that life?
It’s time we recognize the power in our words and how we associate with things on a deeper thought level than just what we see on a daily basis. If we are viewing boundaries as limitations and strict rules in our lives, that is what we will continue to perpetuation in life- limitations and rigid expectations. I don’t know about you, but that is not the life I believe I’m supposed to be living. I believe we are all designed to live a life of abundance and opportunity, growth and impact, potential and possibility. Therefore, we must change our language around things in order to impact their presence in our lives.
You may have heard the popular cliche, “where focus goes, energy flows.” This is often chalked up as a woo-woo belief, but I want to call our attention to neuroscience for a moment and remind us of the reticular activation system in our brain. For short, the RAS. Our RAS is a mechanism in every human brain responsible for creating a filter around what we are focusing on. It is a bundle of nerves that mediates the cross-over between sub/unconsciousness and consciousness. In other words, our tangible reality – what we see, feel, get, experience on a day to day basis – is a reflection of what we are thinking and believing internally, sometimes without being aware. Without getting too psycho-babbly on you, my point here is that if we do not have a solid understanding of our internal thought world, we will not have any control over what we experience in the world around us. Many of us are wandering around on autopilot because we have not taken the driver’s seat regarding our thought life. We can be in charge of our thoughts! We are designed as 3-part beings who can rise above our thoughts and feelings, and take agency in our lives. By this, I mean, we can manage and shift our thoughts, while accepting and learning from our feelings, to impact our behavior and the outcomes we experience. No one is exempt from this ability.
Why does the RAS come up in my approach to boundaries? Because if don’t have a clear understanding of what boundaries mean to us, then we don’t get a say in how they do or don’t show up for us. If we have a negative (limitations, strict rules, rigid expectations, dictations for status/approval) belief about boundaries, then even if we exercise boundaries, we’ll be less than thrilled with the outcomes. Those outcomes will reflect what we believe about boundaries and we’ll end up feeling limited, held back, as if we’re missing out or as if we can never do enough.
So, step one in establishing healthy boundaries for the life we desire is really to re-define boundaries for ourselves!
(p.s. This concept really goes for anything in our lives. If you’re dissatisfied with any outcome in your life, pause and take a deep dive look at how you associate with whatever that idea/concept in your life is, and how can you alter that association or belief system to better align with your desired outcomes?)
Boundaries are really a boundless topic. We could chat for days and still have loose ends to tie up, new ideas to explore, new experiences to consider. For now, I want to provide a simple, comprehensive definition of boundaries that can help us reshape the role they are or need to be playing in our lives.
Healthy boundaries can keep us moving toward our goals, allow us to impact others in positive ways, and keep us from getting hurt- emotionally and physically! When we’ve developed and continue to evaluate healthy boundaries in our lives, it’s a solid indication that we’ve developed a sense of internal stability and are acting from a place of confidence in who we really are. Further, when we come from a place of internal stability, acting on boundaries we have set in our own lives, we can be sure that our impact on the world around us is going to be one of positive example and inspiration. Ready for that definition?
Boundaries are the act of behaving, speaking, and deciding based
on a clear understanding of what is OK for us, and what is NOT OK for us.
Clear as mud? Awesome, stay tuned for more conversation about the real issues of life!
If you find this kind of discussion resonates with you and would like the opportunity to up-level your own life-living to come from a place of internal stability, confidence and true impact in this world, please visit here. I cannot wait to explore your transformation with you!