How to Set Boundaries

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Boundaries and freedom can coexist, don’t think that they are opposites. You must not feel that if you set boundaries you will find yourself trapped and unable to go out and see the world.

You might also find that setting boundaries or limits will make you very unpopular with people who are used to abusing your kindness, your helpfulness, your availability. And no one wants to be unpopular.

But you see, if you don’t set boundaries, you are really trapped. You are trapped in other people’s wills and decisions, you are trapped in dynamics that you didn’t set yourself, you are trapped inside the belief that you are floating, randomly, and that you make no decisions whatsoever regarding what can or cannot happen in your world and in your life.

Imagine boundaries as a precious wall of protection. You are a treasure, a priceless one, and one that deserves to be looked after. Why then, should you allow the continuous and neverending pillaging of your soul resources?

I am not saying nobody is allowed inside the castle, what I’m saying is that you decide who gets to enter, you decide who gets to stay, and you decide who has to leave. And also, if you look very carefully, there are windows that look outside, there is a gate, there is a bridge over the moat. You also get to go out and see whatever there is to be seen.

You need to decide what it is that you want in your life and what you don’t. You need to open your eyes and your ears to that your Inner Voice is telling you. What gives you joy and pleasure, what gives you pain.

Open the doors completely to pleasure, to beauty, to joy, to light. The things, the people, the words, the situations that bring you expansiveness and growth should be allowed to enter to the deepest places of your heart and make home there. Welcome them, call them, ask them to stay.

But pay attention to whatever causes you pain, discomfort or sorrow. This is where you need to make some brave decisions.

Many things can cause us pain. Losses, death, the passing of time can be at the roots of many sorrowful or debilitating emotions. But some of those losses are part of you, they inform you, and you cannot just erase them, as if nothing had happened. These are the sad but powerful emotions that you need to explore, whenever you are ready, and you have to learn to accomodate them inside your soul, as parts of who you are, and live in peace with them. This is not easy, but it needs to be done.

Problem is, sometimes what hurts us are external influences that, in many cases, we have allowed to enter and loot whatever they find in their wake. These external influences are generally people around us, who for one reason or another, we have allowed to trespass and destroy.

We could be talking about a family member, or a partner or lover, a friend or acquaintance, or even your children. We sometimes tend to have the mistaken idea that allowing these people to do as they please with us will keep them nearer, that they will not leave us, or judge us. Perhaps you allow them to mistreat you out of a feeling of guilt, or of the role your are supposed to be playing in your family. Maybe you have always considered yourself to be weak, or a pushover, and you are so used to this role that you can’t imagine how it could be otherwise.

At times we want to believe that people around us should behave in a morally or ethically correct way because that’s what we would do, or what we think all people should adhere to, and this is not the case. In many cases, people who sense your vulnerability or your more peaceful demeanor will take advantage of it to get something. And if you are able to see what is happening, you don’t respond because you think that this would make you lower yourself to their level. You don’t want to argue, you don’t want to fight. So you take the higher moral ground, but still allow them to hurt you again and again, and you lose, little by little, your self-respect.

Perhaps you hurt this person long ago. Or you did something that, to this day, makes you feel really guilty. Or maybe you have even forgot why you feel guilty. Sometimes this guilt is archetypal, you carry guilt that spans many generations of your ancestors, or your culture, or your gender or race. It might not even be guilt, but a deep feeling of doom, of being trapped in a certain cycle from which you cannot break free. Sometimes you might not even be able to identify what this cycle is. And thus you perpetuate it.

You probably feel pushed over and over, with no direction but the one that others impose on you. You might feel you are so weak, that you deserve this treatment, these feelings, this powerlessness.

Please, I want you to look inside. Maybe it will be hard to do so at the beginning, but please try. Try to find the light inside of you, your goodness, your wisdom, your knowledge, your skills, your strengths. They are there, if you look. Believe me. And once you have seen them, believe me too, you will understand why they are so precious, so important, so necessary for this world.

Once you discover these invaluable gifts, you can’t do anything but protect them. These gifts you have inside are not yours to keep, they are yours to share. But to share them you must nurture them, protect them, make them grow, like flowers. And you just don’t let anyone enter your house, your garden, and take your most prized possessions.

You will gradually get better and better at setting boundaries with other people when you realize the immense beauty residing in you. That’s a promise.

Tomorrow, some specific strategies to go about this in real life.

Love and blessings!

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