Many years ago I encountered a boundary issue with a friend. The experience was upsetting to both of us and while it did not permanently damage our friendship, it was big enough that it got my attention.
Naturally, I blamed him for failing to recognize my boundaries and my response seemed disproportionate to the circumstances. We both felt betrayed.
After dissecting in my own mind what happened, and feeling righteously upset, it dawned on me that my sense of betrayal was one of self betrayal. I had failed to honor my own boundaries because I didn’t know what they were.
It was a revelation that left me euphoric because I knew the root of the problem lay with me and that to know and honor my boundaries was my responsibility, not anyone else’s.
I found a short length of barbed wire and kept it on my altar where I could see it everyday as a reminder, until one day I no longer needed a piece of barbed wire to remind me of my own boundaries.
Setting Emotional Boundaries
In my client work, the issue of boundaries is a recurring theme. Here I introduce the concept of being “unfuc*kwithable.”
To be unfuc*withable is to have the confidence and inner strength to know and respect your own boundaries; to know where you end and another person begins, what works and what doesn’t work. It’s the ability to say no when you mean no, and yes when you mean yes—wholeheartedly. It’s being secure enough in your sense of self-worth to not be attached to the opinions and judgments of others. To be unwilling to side with anyone’s misperceptions of you, including your own. Ultimately, it’s to know who you are and to look for the truth in any situation.
Unfukwithable is a state of being that allows you to approach life with a sense of security, grounded resilience, and unshakeable optimism—and you don’t have to be an ashole about it.
That’s a tall order for any of us, but one we can aspire to.
Setting Boundaries in Relationships
Here are a few practical things to bear in mind on the way to being unfuc*withable:
- Be responsible and protect your energy, your time, and your space, both physical and psychic. No one can do this for you.
- Pay attention to the people and the activities that consume more time and energy than you have or are willing to give.
- Notice the energy of those who enter and leave your space and whether you want more or less of that energy around you.
- Be vigilant for anything that disturbs peace of mind, robs you of joy, and drains you of vital life force.
Protecting Your Psychic Space
Just as the physical space around you can be measured, your psychic space is a “field” that surrounds you. This space is composed your awareness, feelings, physical energy, and includes the presence of others.
The physical environment around you is filled with energy and you are at the center of it.
Be aware of what’s happening in your space and who’s in your field. Notice how their energy affects your energy. Does their presence bring you up or pull you down? Do you feel compelled to move toward them or away?
Pay attention to energy leaks and what drains you of energy. For example:
- Someone rambles on a Zoom call, you feel stuck, and see no way out short of getting off the call.
- A friend calls on the phone and unloads a story that you didn’t want to hear and who didn’t ask for your time to tell it.
- You interact with an acquaintance and a drama unfolds between you that you don’t what to be part of.
- A family member has a crisis who thinks it requires your attention “right now.”
- Conversations you feel obligated to have that you may not be obligated to have.
- You fill in the white space on your calendar with low priority things because you think it’s “free” time.
- You get “hooked” by gossip, complaining, and whining, and you feel frustrated.
Be aware and be firm, especially with yourself. Value yourself, your time and your energy. Do not hesitate to excuse yourself from situations that suck your energy, your life force.
Remember that you have no obligation participate in anything that does not support your higher purpose, which means knowing what your higher purpose is. If you believe you don’t have a choice, maybe it’s time to reexamine your choices.
Your most precious resource is your life energy. Healthy boundaries help you to devote your time and energy to what matters most.
Your time is limited—it’s a finite resource—and you decide how to spend it.
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