When we once believed that the world was flat, we assumed we would fall off the edge of the earth because that was how far we thought our boundaries were. What a surprise when we discovered other peoples, other cultures, other ways of life. At first, we are suspicious of anything different until we understand it. The more we understand a situation the further our boundaries can extend because we know we are not going to fall off the edge. We heal ourselves through understanding.
Boundaries are important because they give us a sense of security. As a child we were given boundaries to keep us safe. “Don’t touch the hot stove, look both ways before you cross the street, fasten your seatbelt!” All these boundaries were designed to keep us out of harm’s way until we learned to discern for ourselves. But if we don’t understand why we are given boundaries we may rebel. If we rebel enough, we create struggle in our lives. Struggle equals tension and stress. Once we understand the why of the boundaries, we can relax and life becomes joyous and fun.
Setting healthy boundaries is self-respect. It is recognizing where our energy ends and another’s begins. It means being loyal to ourselves. If we are always trying to please other people, our boundaries are wishy washy. This is when we feel taken advantage of or stripped of our identity. Sometimes we turn to authority figures for a creed or set of standards to follow. This makes us feel safe because we know how to answer all the questions and what point of view to take. But if we truly want to expand, we need to decide for ourselves what makes us happy, healthy and productive.
Try a little exercise for a week. Every evening, create a little “to do” list for the next day. After you make the list, review it and ask yourself, “What on the list am I doing for me today?” Put those things that you are doing for yourself at the top of the list, mark them ‘Top Priorities Today’ and do them first. Initially you may feel guilty, but after a week you might find that you are more productive, energized and enthusiastic than ever before. And guess what? This rubs off on the people around you.
Another way that boundaries can work against us is by self-imposed limitations. “I don’t have enough money, I am not smart enough, I don’t have time, I am too tired”. You get the picture. Every time we say that to ourselves, we are reinforcing false limitations. Every invention started with an idea and a person. Some inventions have never reached fruition and others have. The difference was someone declaring, ‘I can do that!’ If we think we can, we can, and if we think we can’t, we can’t. We are right in both cases.
Many of those limitations come from early programming. Our parents, our church, our school may have imposed a set of guidelines for how to do certain things. But if those guidelines did not fit with our feelings, we may have rebelled causing friction. So we become programmed to think inside the box. However, we can reprogram ourselves and see how beautiful we really are. Maybe try a different approach. Instead of analyzing and dissecting every decision, trust your first impression, your gut feelings, and your hunches. Often these are flashes of brilliance, but if we don’t act on them, we end up going back to our old habits.
Yes, we do need boundaries, and we can create healthy boundaries with positive thinking, inner authority and self-respect. There is no limit to how far we can expand our state of consciousness.