The term “boundaries” gets thrown around a lot. That’s good, because it means it’s a concept that is gaining recognition and legitimacy. But what does it actually mean?
I was doing an Andean meditation exercise yesterday which gets you to close your eyes and imagine the thread of a spider’s web extending to all the people in your life, visualising all the faces past and present that make up your world. What it made me realise is just how many people that is. When you consider all the different spheres of your life, family, friends, work, school, university, all the jobs you’ve had, all the places you’ve lived….we are probably living in an age where we have never met so many people in a lifetime.
Imagine for a second that you applied the same rules of engagement with all of these people. How drained, exhausted and depleted you would feel.
How much we give of ourselves to the various people in our life is often something automatic, something we don’t think about consciously. But then we might walk away feeling angry or down, or we might develop a headache not long afterwards. Becoming aware of how our interactions leave us feeling is an important first step in re-drawing any boundaries that are not healthily delineated. The aim is to reach an understanding with yourself about what is ok and what isn’t to you.
Is it ok for you to listen to someone talk non-stop for twenty minutes and not be asked anything about you? Is it ok for you to talk non-stop for twenty minutes without asking anything about the other person? There may be times when either of these situations is fine and acceptable to you and the other person. But observe and see how often they occur and if any patterns come up.
We are living in a fast-paced world, especially in big cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Recognizing whether we are getting and giving nourishment or being depleted from our interactions is an important first step to creating caring connections in our lives, and feeling heard and understood.
And don’t forget it goes both ways.