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  • Lorraine Arnold

Buddying up with our Boundaries

Updated: Feb 6, 2021


The term 'boundaries' gets bandied around a lot. Sometimes, it helps to re-visit and re-evaluate what boundaries mean to us and to consider consciously cultivating healthier ones.


When our boundaries are crossed, we feel emotions ranging from violation through to deflation. When we cross other people's boundaries or break our own set of principles, we may feel deep remorse at one end through to a sweet oblivious nothing. Boundaries are not always obvious, like a fence between neighbours or separate dining tables in a restaurant. They can be subtle, nuanced, and complex. These latter boundaries - the energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual - are the misty ones that are worth illuminating and meditating on.


Knowing our edges creates entry points into a larger sense of time and space, regardless of how 'busy' or scheduled our lives are. Taking a larger multi-dimensional perspective means going beyond the physical and seeing the world through many layers.


In addition to using words, we communicate layers of our boundaries daily and in many ways. Some days we wear plain and muted clothes while we gather ourselves, camouflage, and take a reprieve from external life. Other times we wear pink flamingos dancing across our shirts or skirts with a desire to be open, fluid, and interactive. Sometimes we communicate our edges with the tone of our voice; a quiet, gentle voice might say I need some space today. One afternoon we might walk with our faces slightly lowered as we gently cocoon ourselves on the way to buy milk, and on another day, we might resolutely turn off our phones and computers to immerse ourselves in puzzles with our friends or family. We might activate the Boombox with a certain type of music that creates a pensive mood, or fill our vases with a particular shade of flowers. Boundaries can be everything; all kinds of textures, frequencies, colours, shapes, and sizes; fluid and flexible, porous, rigid, malleable, dense, light, black, and bright yellow.


Let's begin with energetic boundaries.How do we attune to the energy, how do we cultivate good energetic hygiene, and how can we take care of our leakages and spills?


To a degree, we each fluctuate in how we resonate in our moment-to-moment realities; for example, sometimes we are fast, sometimes slow, or motivated, flat, or peacefully grounded. Other times, there is a denseness about us that feels heavy and immovable. This is our frequency, our resonance, and at any moment, we can shift this through awareness and a multitude of approaches.


If we are resonating a certain way, and our boundaries are too porous, we can get into uncomfortable exchanges. For example, an experience of a quiet moment which is a little introverted, perhaps more reflective up against another's 'busy' moment, firing off questions or giving unsolicited advice, constantly chatting. In a room together for too long and without a break, can leave a person depleted; their energy short-circuited, and sometimes for days or weeks.


We can energetically pull at each another through worry or obsession, whether we are physically in the room, around the block, or on another continent. When we constantly worry about someone, we are 'cording' into them, depleting our energy and theirs. We can also deliberate about situations in extremely negative ways, unwittingly consuming our energy by attaching ourselves to problems. Or we might read something jarring, causing us to spill that discomfort all over our environment for the rest of the day. Whether it is a person or situation, or a place, we can leave our fields exposed to leakage or have our systems corded by others, even to those we love and who are well-intentioned. Holding people, places, or problems in higher resonance will have the opposite impact. Calling our energy back in and often will help wrap and gather ourselves back into our centre.


Attuning to the energy between people in a particular orbit is a matter of awareness. To understand the energy field in a group, it's worth reflecting on the different orbits to which we belong. Our groups are shaped by cultural narratives that extend beyond ethnicity. For example, varying cultures exist for the workplace, religion, school groups, sexuality, sports, spirituality, suburb, country, etc.


The quality of the space between people in a highly cerebral workplace might be a bit cooler, more logical, and cognitive, compared to the space between people in a hairdressing salon or beachside café where it might be more playful, 'closer,' warm, and feeling-oriented.


Our natural selves usually and eventually gravitate to those cultures where our energy field mostly resonates. We are fluid and flexible, and as we grow, evolve, or move through layers, our fields change shape and frequency. We may feel degrees of discomfort around existing groups or relationships to which we belong; feeling more off-balance. Having an awareness and taking personal responsibility at these levels helps us know our edges, stay in our lane or gravitate to towards healthier environments.


We can have experiences of feeling good or 'off' in a place if we pick up on an area's resonance. Built-up dense or light energy is something we can tune into if we bring a conscious awareness to it. Why am I experiencing this sudden sadness, anger, or incredible buoyancy? Is it mine, or is it sitting in this place, or someone else's? Perhaps some leftover energy from a previous trauma or conflict. If you are an empath, and are particularly psychic, these are the sorts of experiences you have, and often.


Navigating subtle energy exchanges calls us to be more and more aware of our inner experiences in relation to our surroundings, and to take responsibility for ourselves in a multi-dimensional way.


So how do we cultivate good energetic boundaries?

There is a multitude of approaches to maintain energy hygiene. In addition to attuning to our resonance in a moment-by-moment way (what am I experiencing in this moment?), a call to clear murky energy and return all our spilled out energy is helpful. Consciously releasing energy that feels sticky is often enough. Sometimes, to really nudge it out, we might take a shower, have an Epsom salt bath, go for a run, dance, put our feet on the earth or jump in the ocean—other approaches range from prayer and meditation to orgonites, and a whole lot in between. A great practice to develop is to clear yourself often, in whatever form that works for you. Various remnants, leftover debris, and sparks of the day can hang off us despite our best efforts at keeping good boundaries, so a regular energetic cleanse can take care of that.


Let's take a look at physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries.


Physical boundaries


We carry an expectation around how our family or friends will treat our 'things' or our place if they borrow from us or visit. If the length of stay or treatment of our things pendulates out of our tolerance bandwidth, we feel varying degrees of violation, upset, and feeling off. Knowing where our edges are and having the courage to own and communicate them can help us take responsibility. Sometimes, it's hard to see our limits until we get closer to the edges, and often it's a matter of feeling into and massaging them as we navigate our day-to-day terrains.


Sexual and domestic abuse are severe violations of physical boundaries. As a collective, we are continually working towards building healthier narratives around what is and what is not ok.


Mental body and mental boundaries


We each have the right to our thoughts, value systems, and principles. When we devalue another's beliefs or values, we are violating their boundaries. It is almost impossible that everyone around us will agree with everything we think and believe. More than ever, we are surrounded by different belief systems in the collective human mind grid. While globally, we unify over a focus on saving humanity from its threat or spin of Covid, there is a whole lot of trampling on each other's beliefs and opinions in spectacular ways.


Our responses to the mental onslaught have been diverse. Some of us have built new boundaries to create some inner sanctity, taking a peek through the curtains of our minds from time to time. Some have dialled down the intensity by watching less news or no news, reduced time on social media, de-friended groups or lifelong friends, or steered away from intense Covid related conversations. Some are guns blazing, fighting from both sides, activists on the mind grid battlefield. Some are pendulating between the two or have their heads firmly in the comfort of the warm sand.


Our global mind grid is currently in overdrive, and our mental health is more and more at the forefront. Understanding that we are part of the collective unconscious reminds us to take extra care mentally. Taking everyday moments to check in regularly on our thoughts and internal dialogue is essential.


Another example around crossing mental boundaries includes obsessive thoughts about someone or something or a situation from the past. Identifying this is happening is a start. Doing something to heal the imbalance, in whatever way works for you, is the next step, whether that be, for example, in the form of talking therapy, journalling, writing a letter, or creating a mantra.


Gaslighting is a mental boundary violation. Having your sanity constantly questioned is unhealthy and dangerous. Again, identifying that this is happening is the first step, followed by healing the imbalance, in a way that works best for you.


The emotional body and emotional boundaries


One of the pathways to recognising our emotional boundaries is being particularly clear on our feelings. We circle around ourselves often enough to get clues to some of our deeper patterns. When we pay enough attention to our emotional body and our moment-by-moment emotional needs, we can create healthier ways of being in the world.


A simple check-in: where am I sitting in the range of feeling good to feeling off? How can I stay in my lane without sacrificing my emotional space or hijacking another's? It helps to remember that intimate and authentic relating does not have to be at a cost that is emotionally draining, irritating, or hurtful.


Specific patterns expressed through archetypes, such as wounded child, saboteur, know-it-all, or victim, keep us relating in habitually unhealthy ways. Useful clues around what archetypes might be cleverly steering our wheels can be found in our language. What words do we use (in our minds and with others), and what tone of voice? For example, we can check in to watch for victim language, control language, and woe-is-me archetypal patterns. What lies beneath, and how can I heal this imbalance? How often are we complaining or searching for fault? Is there a part of me sucking the life-force out of someone? Or vice-versa? Bringing awareness to the part of ourselves that needs to control or tends to please others for love and acceptance is a healthy approach to stay in our centre without sacrificing our own emotional needs.


Excessive or long text messages, phone calls, and emails can violate boundaries. What type of access do people have to my private space? Are these constant messages exhausting me? Is someone's barrage of questions or highly cognitive ways of relating choking the oxygen between us, leaving others too intimidated to say anything, wanting to run or withdraw?


Ghosting is a violation of emotional boundaries; when we withdraw from people and don't return messages or are inconsistent in our relationships, we are hurting the other. Taking responsibility for our responses helps develop firm boundaries, and when we choose to stay in relation and let people hurt us, we are in turn, hurting ourselves and being porous (too nice or too needy) with our boundaries. Often, there is a grieving process involved when the nature of our relationships shifts. Sometimes, it's worth reviewing if any loose boundaries exist as a way to block out impending grief and loss.


Spiritual boundaries


How do we honour our own and others' values, spiritual beliefs, and ways of life, whatever form that takes? An example of crossing someone else's spiritual boundary would be disrespecting their deeply held belief system around death or marriage rituals. While one person might want to party and celebrate a loved one's death, another may wish to solemnly reflect and express the ceremony in a deeply traditional way. Respecting both expressions of mourning is important. While grief is universal, mourning varies across traditions, religions, and cultures. Feeling devalued or belittled for our spiritual way of life is a violation of our spiritual boundaries.


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Having scratched at the surface of energetic, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual boundaries, what can we do to cultivate healthier ones?


How do I know what boundaries to set?

Talking through and journalling is a great way to begin to mould your boundaries. Conscious reflection gives perspective and clarity; asking your mind, body, heart, and soul what they need.


What does my body want to say to me / need?

What does my mind want to say to me / need?

What does my heart want to say to me / need?

What does my soul want to say to me / need?


When do I know when my more nuanced boundaries are crossed?

Sometimes it can take a sense of overwhelm, frustration, feeling off, or depletion, before we realise where we begin and where we end. Other times sudden rage might catch fire inside if our boundaries have been strained by the weight of our continual kindness and empathy for the other at the cost of our needs. Perhaps we have been walking on eggshells around someone for too long. These are all triggers and signposts that metaphorically communicate a need to shift and massage the contours of ourselves. Remember to flick on an attitude of compassion towards self and others as you process, change, or establish boundaries.


Can my boundaries be too rigid?

The problem with boundaries that are too rigid and wrapped around immovable value systems, whether self-created or inherited (or a combination), means we can miss out on good experiences or forging new meaning in life. Too rigid boundaries can result in living a 'storied' self, with the risk of missing your own story. It's a bit like planting a shrub in a pot with no possibility of ever being allowed to grow into a bigger pot or be in a different place, where a change of light might enrich and re-shape it.


Does being 'boundaried' become habitual?

Healthy boundaries are like cultivating any good habit. It takes practice and a large dose of compassion for oneself and others when we get it wrong, which we do. The trick is to recognise and catch a boundary before we are too tired and overwhelmed by life to address it at all. Powering down, re-evaluating, and powering back up is a good practice to visit.


At what point do I block or end a relationship?

We all have a right to healthy relationships (family, friends, colleagues, or otherwise), and we all have a responsibility to maintain healthy ways of relating. Sometimes, stronger boundaries are needed to stop ancient archetypal patterns from being played out. While they might feel awkward and hard-lined, to begin with, these are the ones that are most essential for safety on all levels - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and energetically. Nothing is set in concrete, and over time, these may shift and evolve.


Will my boundaries trigger other people?

Sometimes setting boundaries will upset the apple cart and we may feel tempted to go back or rescue the other party. A good perspective to consider is that each person has a right and autonomy to use their triggers as a healing and in their own way. Sometimes leftover remnants can hang around us until we do some kind of clearing, whichever form that takes. As mentioned earlier, energetic hygiene, talking therapy, journalling, and many other approaches can help process the leftover 'debris'.

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The idea of cultivating healthy boundaries is multi-faceted; it includes knowing ourselves well, having good interpersonal awareness, and being curious and open to attuning to energy. Sometimes we are more 'self and other' aware, and other times we pendulate to varying degrees. It's helpful to remember that the business of boundary building is a practice, and there will be times where we are off the mark. It's also worth remembering our humanness; we cross boundaries, and have our boundaries crossed. The practice of building good boundaries helps cultivate deeper internal peace, and a stronger sense of self, especially in the most chaotic and challenging of times.


Lorraine Arnold

Psychotherapy &

Metaphysical healing

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Lorrainearnoldtherapy.com.au

M: 0413 244 200




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