Compassion: a gift for you, a gift for the world!

A friend of mine posted on Facebook “What breeds compassion?”  I love this question.  If we are looking for compassion in our lives one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is what can I do to offer compassion.  First let’s define what compassion is and isn’t.  Compassion is empathy, listening, support, asking what you can do to help the person through action, words, touch or time.  Compassion is not feeling bad for someone, asking what they are doing wrong, trying to fix it for them or judging them.  When we show someone compassion we create a space for them to be in their truth without judgement and when we are shown compassion we can come to the table without defensiveness and can show compassion in return.

So many of us are feeling a lot of negative emotions right now- fear, loss, confusion and uncertainty.  How can we “breed compassion” in the midst of these emotions?  One step at a time!  Take the time to offer yourself compassion first, then others, then compassion to the thing or person that you are having difficulty with.

When we feel that we are receiving compassion when we feel seen, heard and loved.  So how do you feel those things?  Acknowledge what you are feeling and going through.  See yourself in your dynamic, full paradoxical self.  Ask yourself what you need to feel held and seen.  Do for yourself what will fill your cup and/ or seek out the people who support that for you.  When we are able to show ourselves compassion the compassion we show others becomes more authentic.  It can be hardest to show ourselves compassion because we often judge ourselves harder than anyone else can judge us.  Compassion is not loving someone because they are without fault, it is loving them in the full spectrum of who they are.  The wounded pieces of ourselves that can create our shortcomings are the pieces that need compassion the most.  How can you love your “unlovable” parts?  Compassion.

For many of us, showing others compassion is easier than showing compassion to ourselves.  Being compassionate to others gives them the platform to show up in an authentic and honest way.  Having compassion is not saying that they are perfect or that some unacceptable behaviors are ok. Rather, it is saying “I see you in your complex humanity and you are lovable, you are worthy”.  Imagine how this can transform shame.  When I am in a shame place I am not showing up to express my love or passion.  When I am in shame, I am judging myself so harshly that I fear being seen. When I am shown compassion in this place I become comfortable enough to look at this piece of me and transform it into something that can serve me and others.  I believe we are born love, out of love and into our expression of love.  This love is at the root of our desire for connection and when we show others compassion we are inviting a human connection as opposed to judgements that separate us.  Connection says we are alike; this is compassion.sunSHINE

The hardest things/people to show compassion to can be the things/people that we fear or possibly even hate.  How do we show compassion to the person who so completely lives in disregard to everything around them?  How do we show compassion to the things or people that do things that directly cause us harm?  Now this is a touchy subject.  I by no means believe that people should ever accept abuse or harmful behavior from someone under the guise of forgiveness or compassion.  For my own spirit and mental balance, I may hold compassion for that person.  In my early 20’s I spent 1 ½ years in an abusive relationship. For most of that time I held myself in shame which made excuses for my abuser.  Today I hold compassion for him in my heart.  I have not seen or spoken to him in 12 years but I know he is a wounded soul.  My compassion shows me that because he was raised in an extremely physically and sexually violent home he had no choice to learn these things as a child (which does not excuse him for not learning a different thing as an adult).  I have heard that he is still living the same life he was when I was with him.  He is miserable, self-hating, self-destructive and lost.  I don’t know if he will ever find love for or from others, yet I pray he will because just as you are part of me, he is part of me, we are all connected.  Through seeing the connections of everything we can find compassion for everything.  Through this compassion, I can look at my abuser and know that he acted out of fear and when I am in a place of fear I can also present from a place of anger.  The seeds are within all of us- we are all human.

When we are compassionate to ourselves, our loved ones and our “enemies” we open a healing within us that promotes healing and humanity in our relationships and the world.  I think of the saying “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and I think humanity is that chain.  Every link I help make stronger, the chain becomes stronger.  Every link I make weaker, the chain becomes weaker.  What do I want to do with my tools and abilities?  What differences can I make in my family, my relationships, the world, this chain of humanity?  What changes can I make within myself by using compassion?    My hope for the world is that you have compassion for yourself, that is the starting place of a true revolution!

 

Take Responsibility and Take Your Power Back

Responsibility is not a four letter word.  Really, it isn’t.  Taking responsibility means owning your power and stepping away from victim hood.  We all of ways of being that get in our way of making the choices that will help us get there, yet we are responsible for healing those parts of us in order to live the life we want.  If we want to take our power back it is up to us to do the work, to take the steps that will heal us, free us, and empower us to live the life we want.

It is important to identify the patterns we have created and the purposes they serve in our lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves continually “triggered” by someone’s actions.  This can be a wonderful opportunity to look at what is going on within us that is causing this reaction.  In all honesty, we do not create these patterns with the intention of being stuck.  Rather, they are created to keep us safe and in a familiar situation where we can be surrounded by the known instead of the unknown.  What are the patterns and what purpose do they serve?  Frequently, we find that these patterns do not serve the purpose for which they were intended. I use to always feel alone and I would never reach out for support when I needed it.  I continually found myself feeling rejected and unlovable.  When I did the work to look at this dynamic I discovered I kept myself isolated to not feel rejected or unlovable but there I was feeling that way.  This was self-defeating and a self-fulfilling paradigm that kept me stuck.  There I was in victim hood, struggling to find someone blame.  When we develop a way of being in order to keep us safe we find that we are not, in fact, safe.  We are simply in an unsafe situation that we have become accustomed to.

The next thing that will help us find our freedom is to take steps to heal the pain/trauma that prompted us to create the patterns in the first place.  This is not always easy.  Identifying these patterns and their root causes can be enough to make the changes that will transform our lives.  Other times there is deep long-term core work that we need to undergo in order to achieve the changes we are seeking.springofferwebsite

Long-term work does not mean postponing changes.  We ask ourselves, “What do I want to do differently?”  If you want freedom from a job or relationship or if you are seeking more fulfillment and connection in your life you need to create small steps.  This can feel risky!  Thoughts of failure, worthiness and ability can come up and block us from the path we have created.  This is where the old patterns emerge, trying to keep us in the rut we have been living in.

If you find yourself blocked, it is important to look at what emotions are blocking you and what behaviors are preventing you from moving forward.  Working through these blocks and behaviors are part of working through the trauma.  Keep working on it.  Freedom is just around the corner.

Through this healing process (I recommend working with a professional if you find you are having difficulty doing it on your own) you will find your power, you will find your ability to take responsibility for your actions, behaviors and emotions.  Your reactions to other people’s behaviors will no longer have the same effect on your well being.  You will find that your inner balance will be determined by you while other people’s actions will not influence your actions.  You will learn to detach from others and trust in your own inner knowledge.  One small step at a time you will find you can create the life that you have been striving for.

Begin today!  You are the one with all the power in your life.  You can choose now to take it back.  You can take responsibility for the dreams you have been wanting to achieve all your life.

Detaching With Love, Is Love

I was talking with a friend the other day and she mentioned how I love fiercely.  I love that!  Yes, I love fiercely.  I will fight, emotionally, spiritually, energetically for anyone I love.  Do you need someone to have your back?  I am there.  Do you need holding?  Got it!  I will love you fiercely!  Sometimes, when helping support someone they may choose to walk away.  At these times I still love fiercely but from a distance.  Sometimes I just need to let go of a person and their situation so they can follow the path that is meant for them.  Sometimes I just need to detach…with love.

My son, who I referred to in a blog recently, has chosen a path away from me.  I want to save him, I want to love him fiercely, I want to help him see how detrimental his choices are to the life he wants to lead.  In the other blog I talked about holding space for him and his process and being present for what is happening.  Since then he has made different and more detrimental choices and all I can do is let him know I am here and I love him.

It can be so hard to detach from someone.  We naturally want to fix the situation, love the person and get them to see things our way.  It is not your job to fix anyone, no matter how broken you may think they are.   I like to think of it as letting the person know that I love them and I need to love myself more.  So as I watch him from a distance I remind him I am here and I love him and I allow myself to not be enmeshed in his dysfunction.

One of the important things of detaching with love is detachto remember that you have needs separate from the other person.  There may be times that detaching means you need to choose yourself over the other person.  Even though you may need to make that hard decision it does not mean that you don’t love them.  Detaching with love gives you the ability to love the person, not their behavior and allow them to take responsibility for their actions.

Sometimes the way you support the person you are detaching from may have financial and physical ramifications.  Remember, this is not your responsibility.  Your first responsibility is to yourself and whatever additional struggle the person may encounter is a direct result of their actions.  Separating yourself emotionally can help you recognize where their responsibility begins and yours ends.

I will not tell you that this is easy.  With my son, MY SON, I find myself wanting to save him from himself.  I continually remind myself that he is an individual with his own life and I know the lessons he learns from taking ownership of his actions will help him throughout his life.  As he walks away from his family I remind him that his family is here and he can choose something different whenever he chooses.

It is also important to remember that you cannot control anyone else’s behavior.  We all make our own choices and to change, an individual needs to make the choice to change for themselves otherwise a core change will not take place. Therefore, you need to know that you can only change yourself and the lessons you can learn through the process can be as transformative as the lessons the person you are detaching from has to learn.

If you are going through a situation that is challenging your ability to love yourself above others and get your own needs met, I encourage you to seek support that will help you find the tools to detach with love.

What can I do differently?

Recently I have been making a turn around a corner in my marriage.  Things aren’t perfect, I am not perfect, he IS NOT perfect. I have found that I am not getting all that I want out of the relationship and I have been focused on what he is not doing and what I want him to do differently.  It has been a few months of this and, in a way, I have felt lost in my focusing on what HE needs to do to make things better.  Suddenly, I realized that it is not him that I need to worry about changing, it is me1415821786232 that needs to find a new way to do things.

Almost 20 years ago after too many relationships with people that really did not have what I wanted I wrote a list of “prerequisites”, this list was 87 things that I wanted out of a person that I was with in a relationship.  After completing the list and reading it over I realized that these are the same things that I expected of myself and what I expected of friends.  It was an interesting thing to notice and I came to find that if I am coming to the table with these “prerequisites” I could ask for them in return and if I wasn’t offering those things then how could I expect someone else to offer them to me.  When I met my husband I was amazed at how easily, willingly and wonderfully he met all of my “prerequisites” and I came to find that he offered me so much more than what I had asked for.

After 13 years of marriage life has become more routine and we both have fallen into taking each other for granted.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things that he could change.  There are ways he can act sometimes that I am not ok with.  His side of the street is not clean and I have come to see that I need to worry about cleaning my side of the street before telling him about his side of the street.

So I am asking myself “What can I do different?”, “Am I offering the same things I am asking for?”.  You can’t force someone else to change and you can’t really make them do something they don’t want to do.  Each individual needs to make the choice to change.  So if I can’t make my husband change I need to look at what I can do.  I can take the first step.  I can reach out to him.  I can take the initiative to fix what isn’t working.  If I want more connection with him and I leave it to him then I may never get what I want.  If I take steps to increase connection I can reach my goal and both him and I will benefit from the connection.

I have also been asking myself how often I push myself out of my comfort zone to do something for him or for the relationship.  The answer (don’t tell anyone) is not very often.  As time has gone by I find myself being complacent in the upkeep and growing of the relationship.  I am luckier today than I was the day I met my husband and as we both insist on being human we will have struggles and every time I ask myself what I can do I am taking steps to our future and my own personal growth.

Here are 6 steps we can take to change dynamics in relationships:

  • Ask what can I do differently
  • Allow the other person to be their own individual.
  • Stretch out of my comfort zone.
  • Allow myself to be vulnerable.
  • Take ownership of my mistakes.
  • Always remember to come back to the center of love.

I want to be sure that I am clear that I am not talking about accepting and overlooking truly unacceptable behaviors.  I am talking about a relationship where there is a solid foundation of respect and love.   Also I apply this to all of my relationships and friendships.

What can you do differently today?  How can you be the change you want to see?  Take the leap, your happiness is waiting!

Choose Gratitude

As a life coach I am all about helping my clients transform their current life situations from what they are tolerating to what they are celebrating.  I mean really, don’t we all want to live a life that we celebrate fully and not just tolerate.

What if making the shift from tolerating to celebrating was as easy as gratitude?  Well, it is!

A lot of people talk about gratitude and being grateful for the good things and it can be hard to let this carry over to difficult things.  The deeper gifts of gratitude come when you can take a situation that can be seen as negative and find the gold within it.

When I was around fifteen years old my family discovered that one of my aunts had a disease that my grandmother also suffered from.  Up until that point my family was fragmented and some of my fathers’ siblings had gone off in separate directions.  When my aunt got sick my family come back together.  The thought process was, we need to support each other and find a way to make sure this illness doesn’t continue to affect our family.

When confronted with this terrible disease we all had a choice, stay separate and alone or come together. In choosing to come together our family grew closer and more loving with each other.  We started supporting and loving each other on more and deeper levels.  We shifted from despair over the disease, to gratitude for the love and support of family.

Tabundhe point of the story is to give an example that we can choose how we perceive things so that we are left feeling grateful instead of depressed or let down.  In this situation I have found the ability to be thankful for this disease that gave me my family an opportunity to support, be supported and know that I have a place to go home.

There are some things that you can’t change, like other people, but you can still be grateful for them anyway.   Sometimes my favorite things are the things that challenge me.  Yes it is great when things are easy and just flow but those things don’t help me grow.  My teenage twin sons on the other hand are neither easy nor simple.  It is HARD!  I am so grateful for the difficulty there.  I continually have the opportunity to dive deeper into my understanding and practice of compassion.  I get to improve my ability to let go and look at the bigger picture.  Whatever it is that I learn from parenting 17 year old twin boys, I find that I am growing and continually becoming a better person.  How could I not be grateful?

What thing in your life are you just tolerating?  What is the one thing in your life that you wish would change?  How can your perspective of this change so that it is transformed into a different situation?  What are you grateful for in this situation?  What have you learned?  How have you grown?  How are you better because of this?

If you can look at something and see what you get out of it before looking at what it may take away from you are on the road to living a life that you are celebrating.  So, I want to challenge you.  Can you look at every situation in your life and find 3 things to be grateful for in each instance?

Celebrate today for all that it is!  You are here, you get to…

 

Allowing and … allowing.

There is a pattern that I have seen a lot lately that relates to so many of our troubles today.  A pattern of not allowing others to be where and who they are.  I see so much fear and anger; so much judgement and confusion.  It seems that many people think that instead of allowing, the answer is to get rid of the people places and things that cause them any discomfort or challenge them to stretch and grow.

This realization started with watching a friend of mine “unfriend” people one at a time because they were questioning or disagreeing with her.  I thought it was interesting to watch her perspective and over reaction (my perspective) to someone asking something as simple as “Why are you doing that?”  I thought about how, if I practiced that in my life, I would quickly be alone with no one to challenge me and also no one to love me.

What if we practiced allowing?  What if we allowed someone to question us without taking offense?  What if we allowed someone to pray in their way, without being right or wrong?  WHAT IF we took our feelings of offense, hurt or fear and looked at how we could grow as individuals through the experience?

There are so many things that influence our reactions to any given situation.   Sometimes our own reaction isn’t understandable to even ourselves.  There have been times when I have wondered why I got so angry with my partner, my kids or a friend.  My reactions are never based 100% on what is going on at the moment.  There is always my pesky perception that gets in the way of seeing things in an unbiased way.

So how can I get out of my way so that my reactions are a reflection of reality instead of a reflection of my perspective?

I need to take ownership in the situation. What is my responsibility in this situation?  What is my part?  How did my actions contribute to things unfolding in this way?  It is so easy to talk about what someone else did while it can be so difficult to open up to vulnerability and allow myself and others to see where I have fallen short.  So I need to recognize where my actions have contributed to the situation and look at how my history/perspective has effected how I am seeing the situation.  There has been more than one occasion where my partner says something to me and because of old stories I interpret what he says in an offensive way that he did not intend.  And what do I do!?  I react as if I have been attacked!  HOW DARE HE!!!!!!!!  This does not happen as often as it used to.  We are both improving in our ability to not project onto each other, but old habits die hard.

So, what can I do to identify what is story and what is reality?

Here are the steps I take to identify what is mine, and where I can adjust in order to respond, not react, from a more centered reality:

I ask myself:

What is real here?  What are the actual words the person used, not necessarily the words I interpreted?

How am I feeling in this moment?

Does this situation remind me of something from my past?

When have I felt this way before?swansun

If, through asking myself these questions, I come to the conclusion that this was hurtful, based on the reality of what is happening at this time, then I will respond to the situation that is before me.

Maybe I can ask the other person:

Was it your intention to….?

Can you re-word what you said so that I can
understand better?

How can we make changes to move forward?

Sometimes one of the best things that can come out of this type of situation, is to find out that the entire problem is based on my own shortcomings.  Now I have the opportunity to:

Repair any harm I may have done.

Look at where I can still grow into a better person.

Elevate myself and people around me.

Learn something new that I can take into my coaching career to help others.

There are also times when I realize, “Wow, this is not my circus; those are not my monkeys”.  When I do find that the difficulty of the situation is not within me then I am presented with, yet again, another opportunity:

How can I be of service?

How can I take my offended ego out of the situation?

How can I come from a place of compassion?

Where might I be able to grow and help the other person grow also?

Taking my ego out of the situation is never easy, but it is a beautiful way to practice being in touch with my divinity and allowing others to be where they are and allowing myself to be where I am!

I guess what this all comes down to is look within, look without and offer compassion.

Sending you LOVE and JOY and ALLOWING!

Make time for hot Chocolate!

I tend to get myself in situations where I am going and going and going!  When I begin a project, class, organization or job I tend to go full force.  I move so fast and get so much accomplished that I frequently find myself in a situation where I suddenly find I am hitting my head against a wall, exhausted, burnt out and finally realizing that I have not bothered to listen to my spirit or body to know what I am needing at the moment.

STOP!!!!!!  I have recently began a new practice.  I stop.  Genius isn’t it?  This is not very difficult or complicated and I am not sure why it took so long to figure out but it did.  I stop, every day.  I ask myself what I need.  Sometimes I need to meditate, do yoga, chat with a friend, play a mindless game on my phone, journal, blog…whatever.  I listen to what I need and I do it for at least 30 minutes.  It is amazing how useful this can be for me.  A simple 30 minutes of not tasking.  The interesting thing is that when I take that time to do what I need to do I end up being more productive with my tasks and I don’t end up in the burn out zone.

hc

When I got married my aunt gave me a blessing of “Make time for hot chocolate”.  My husband and I have been pretty good at practicing that in our relationship and during my last burn ou
t I realized that I do not do the same for myself.  So I thought I would share this with you.  Make time for hot chocolate.

It can be difficult to make time for self-care.  There are so many things that are waiting to be done, laundry, dishes, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping, kids homework, sleep, exercise, write an e-mail, social media, mow the lawn, return a call…..  IS THE LIST EVER DONE!!!!?????  Sometimes we get in the mindset that self-care has to be some big grandiose event.  It does not.  Light a candle, sit for 5 minutes and have a cup of tea, take a bubble bath, breath, write a gratitude list, go for a walk, wear a special article of clothing, make a special “alter” in your home, paint your nails, go to bed early, write a poem. All these things can be self-care.  The important thing isn’t what you are doing but the intention with which you do it.

Build in time in your life where you do things for you.  Follow your passions, feed your soul a little bit every day.  There will always be time for the tasks we “have to” do and we will always have to make time for the things we want to do.  Give yourself the gift of relaxation and enjoyment.  There is not time like the present.  Make time for hot chocolate!

The importance of looking at your shadows and learning to shine through them

In spiritual communities there is a lot of talk about “Love and Light”, “energy work” and being positive.  These are all extremely important things.  It is important for us, as individuals, to be able to see all the wonderful things in our lives and have a sense of gratitude.  It is important to be aware of our energy and find ways to have compassion for others and ourselves.  But what about the things that block us?  Some say that we need to only focus on the positive and when we give space to the things that block us or cause us pain we are, in a sense, counteracting any positive thoughts or feelings that we may be having.  Debbie Ford wrote a book about this called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.  Like her, I happen to think that looking at the things that block us or the things that are “negative” can be a pathway to the light.

You know the saying about two sides to every coin, well for me a coin is light and shadow.  Carl Jung described the shadow self as being the part of self that we deny or cover up because it is in some way unacceptable to us.  Have you ever said “I will never be like…” and then you find yourself doing the same things you vowed to never do.  This is shadow.  The biggest example of this in my life was saying I would never be like one of my parents and then when I had children all was well for a while until it wasn’t. I have caught myself being like my parent more times than I would like to count.  Repeatedly I have found myself talking to my children in a manner that I am not proud of. Saying I would never be like that wasn’t enough, focusing on the light was not enough. I needed to take a look at the roots of my actions and words, where they came from and what I was trying to get from my behaviors.  I had to ask myself “what did that energy want?”

Through looking at the roots of my behaviors, which was looking into my shadow self, I was able to take that part of me, heal it, and continue to grow in a direction that was better for not only me but for my children too.  Because I was willing to look at my shadows I was able to become the mother my children deserved.  Looking at your shadow does not mean taking on guilt or shame.  It means acknowledging your actions and thoughts, asking what it is that the behavior wanted and working together with the “energy” of that to find a way to transform it into energy that would serve and support you instead of harm you and pull you down.

Shadow Work® is a tool created by Cliff Barry, based on Jungian psychology, which talks about shadow as the things that we have put into a bag to be hidden from society as a result of messages we receive about parts of us not being good enough or acceptable.  What if these same parts were the pieces that contained our light?  What if there was a gift to the world that we had within ourselves that we were told was wrong and we hid it away?  This is why it is so important to look in the bag and pull out those pieces, shine them up for the world to see.  I like to think of these pieces as parts of ourselves that we have had to cut off (deny), in order to fit into the box that we have been told we should be in.  Eventually we will come to a place where we want to get out of the box and live more fully.  How can we do that when we no longer have all our pieces?

We become a full functioning human being one step at a time!  We look at the pieces we have denied, one at a time.  When I was young I received the message that I was not worthy of support and I was all alone. So a piece of me that I cut off was “need” and I went through my life taking care of myself and not letting anyone support me in any way.  I got to the point where I didn’t know how to receive help or even ask for it in a way that was clear.  This perpetuated my story of being alone and not supported which left me with another story about not being worthy.  To figure out how to invite “need” back into my life I had to get VULNERABLE.  I had to put myself out there in a clear way of asking for support.  I had to open up to the possibility that I may be rejected and that some people would not be willing to be there for me.  I remember having a conversation with a friend where I told her that I needed her to be there for me and she reflected back to me that over the 15 years of our friend ship she had tried repeatedly to be there for me but I continually said I was fine and was not transparent with my needs, which left her no room to show up for me in the way I desperately wanted her to be there.  Again this was a way that I was not clear in order to perpetuate my story.  So, years later, here I am, being vulnerable and open in my life and receiving help and support when I am willing to reach out and ask for it.  Is it that simple?  Yes it is that simple!  Even though the healing process can be painful,  I am more of a complete human being now than I have ever been.

It is our light that we put in shadow, it is our life force and our humanity that suffers.  Through reclaiming all the pieces that we have denied they no longer seep out in destructive ways blocking us from the life that we have dreamed of living.  This is my work.  I am so grateful to have the ability to work with amazing people in order to help them reclaim their pieces so they can live more fully.  My business motto is “FIND INSPIRATION AND FULFILLMENT IN YOUR LIFE THROUGH: LOVING DEEPER, SHINING BRIGHTER AND CONNECTING MORE FULLY!” This is what happens when you reclaim all of your pieces even the pieces that you never knew were missing.

I invite you to fulfill your dreams, look in the bag, get out of the box, create the life you were born to have.  You are worth it and the world needs your light.  SHINE THROUGH YOUR SHADOWS!

Dormats and Dictators: finding the space in between through setting healthy boundaries.

This week I have had the privilege of setting many boundaries with people: boundaries for myself, my partner and my children.  It is not always easy to set boundaries.  Sometimes we don’t know how the boundaries will be received.  Sometimes we might feel self-doubt or incapable of setting boundaries in a healthy way.  The self-questioning can be debilitating.  Will the other person be mad at us?  Will they respect our boundaries?  Are we being needy or demanding?  Am I speaking in a loving way?  Is this my stuff and I just need to get over it?  Can I just ignore it and hope it goes away?!

Making boundaries may feel uncomfortable AND I have faith that you are capable of doing it.  I believe that setting a boundary with a loved one, whether they are friend or family, is a gift to yourself and the person you are making a boundary with.  From my experience I have learned that when I feel the need to make a boundary but DON’T, I begin to get resentful and I continually get let down and/or hurt.  This can lead to rifts in relationships that I actually care about which can add another level of hurt and disappointment.  When I DO make a boundary I give myself and the other person the chance to get both our needs met and take steps forward in our relationship which can lead to a deeper connection, respect and trust.

The first thing I do when embarking on the process of setting a boundary is getting clear with myself, of where I want the boundary to be.  I may ask myself: what is it that I don’t want in this relationship?  What is it that I want to make room for?  What was the specific behavior that hurt or offended me?

It is important to be clear with yourself so that you will be able to be clear with the other person exactly what it is you are asking for.  When building a house the contractor does not go into the building phase until they have a detailed and specific architectural plan.  If they try to build the structure without clear plans they will not know where the walls go, where the windows belong or where to place the doors to let things in.  Also, when you are clear it is easier to communicate your needs to others.

Next, I clarify with myself how I feel about the situation that has instigated the boundary.  Do I feel hurt?  Am I mad? What am I mad at?  Am I sad or feeling let down?  Do I feel insecure about our relationship?  I look at where I can own my feelings.  How is my emotional reaction rooted in past experiences that have nothing to do with this situation?  Do I frequently react this way?  Is it more about me or the other person?  There may be times when you need to set a boundary that is centered in your own issues.

e.g.  I know you are in a new relationship that you are really excited about and I am happy for you but I am really heart broken right now since Joe and broke up 2 days ago.  Can you please not come to me with that stuff right now?  I want to celebrate that with you and I will let you know when I am ready.

In this example it is not that someone else did something wrong it is about where I am at that time.

I proceed to planning out what I want to say, how I want to say it and how I can say it in a way that will not cause more harm than healing.  I use “I” statements (I feel hurt by this and I need you to talk to me in a more respectful way.  Are you open to hearing me when I bring this to your attention?).  I own my part.  I stay away from shaming and blaming.

Then I have the conversation.  I state my boundaries clearly and firmly.  I like to think about a warrior drawing a line in the sand with a sword.  I am not a crazy sword wielding maniac whipping a sword around and harming people.  I am calm making the line, the barrier, the boundary.  I may also leave myself room to explain to the person that I am making the boundary because I love this person.

Lastly, I stay open to a dialogue with the person where I can hear where they were coming from or their feedback about the boundary.  The other person might not be able to accept the boundary, so I may need to renegotiate to something that will be acceptable to both of us.  It is possible to compromise a boundary without compromising yourself.  There is the possibility that the person may be acting out in a way that you don’t like in response to something that you are doing.  If you attempt to make a boundary and the person has excuses or says they are responding that particular way because of something you are doing the opportunity for both of you to make a boundary becomes available.  The compromise may mean that there is a particular thing that you can’t do with that person or there is a way where your interactions may need to be limited or maybe a boundary needs to be set up on both sides.  It could look like this.

“You’re right. I do act that way when we hang out in big groups.  In the future can we have a word or signal we can give each other so we can both be aware when we are crossing each other’s boundaries?”

This gives both people the ability to get their needs met and boundaries respected so the relationship can continue without shaming/blaming the person or ending the relationship.

As with most things, when we are honest and coming from a place of love, chances are we are going to come out in a better place than where we went in.