Heart of the Matter: Setting boundaries

So, what is a boundary? It could be defined as a hard no (a line you are not okay with crossing, ever, so do not even ask) or a soft no (a line you are not okay with crossing right now, but might be later).

Whichever rings true for you, it is important to be clear that whatever the boundary is, it is yours to maintain. This is applicable to time inside and outside of the bedroom; boundaries exist in many different areas of our lives.

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If you think you do not have boundaries, I guarantee that you do. Boundaries can include not allowing smoking inside of your home, having only monogamous relationships, not being interested in having sex this afternoon or even not allowing anyone to punch you in the face. Any of these can be hard or soft boundaries and there is no right or wrong; it all depends on you as an individual.

I recently had an experience with my partner where I crossed my own boundary. I talked myself into doing something beyond my boundaries in that moment and it sent me into an emotional tailspin of anger, shame and total confusion. The whole reaction was directed inward because I am the one responsible for my boundaries.
My partner did not make me do anything, force me or even attempt to change my mind, not even in the slightest way. I did it all by myself with my own inner monologue.

I learned how to endure things that did not feel good throughout the earlier years of my life, so sometimes it takes me a bit longer to realize I have a boundary, and then even longer to enforce it. But, hey, it is a work in progress.

Even though I give my clients lots of room to grow their awareness around this very edge, sometimes I forget to give myself the same growing space. We really can be our own worst enemy, can’t we?

So what happens when we cross our own boundaries? There are so many different options.

Shame and anger are totally appropriate and expected reactions when we make these kinds of mistakes, but that does not mean we cannot pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and learn from it by being more aware of our boundaries in the future.
And, of course, a generous offering of self-forgiveness helps, because we are humans doing human things, and that sometimes means causing ourselves pain and discomfort.

Niseema Emery is a certified intimacy and relationship coach in Powell River.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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