Boundaries – April 2023.

We’ve just come back from yoga retreat, and what a blast! The theme of the retreat was your microbiome and one of the emotional states we explored while workshopping the biome was your personal boundaries. It makes sense. Your emotional boundaries reflect your microbiome boundary. How many times have you come across that sweet, anxious person, eager to please, can never say NO who coincidentally has lots of gut issues. Not always, but pretty common.

Think of your Life boundaries as a metaphor for the boundaries of Self. If there is a breach in any of your boundaries: physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, this will play out in your life and your body. With regards to the Biome, consider a leaky gut. What has stressed you for so long that the mucous lining of your gut has got thin and porous, and this barrier to your inner digestive world then allows undigested particles of food to enter your blood stream often causing a huge, negative immune response in the body? I would see the boundary of my gut as an analogy of my boundaries to the world and the people in it. Good boundaries will give you space to protect your energy and manage daily stress and relationships.

So why do some of us struggle to establish firm boundaries in our lives? A lot rests in childhood. If you didn’t have the space to express your separateness – separate emotions, separate opinions, separate realities or if you were engaged in family “groupthink” (WE do this, not that, WE don’t like those people, WE are this kind of family), you’ll struggle to develop your separate self. In this type of family enmeshment emotional lines blur with parents over invested in their children’s lives and almost constant contact between family members.  True closeness involves mutual sharing together with clear boundaries.

Your boundaries are also porous if you cringe at the word NO. You’ll feel guilt, shame and fear when you put yourself and your own needs over the wants of someone else. Wanting to be liked or avoiding conflict is normal, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of you own feelings.  

So where does one start? Start with your physical boundary, your personal space and personal contact.  Don’t tolerate anything that seems a violation of this space. Your emotional boundaries. Don’t tolerate intrusive verbal comments or feel pressured to overshare all your thoughts, beliefs and opinions with others. Your time. Does someone violate this resource by emotionally dumping or expect you to “fix them”?

Keeping boundaries is a skill and takes practice. Watch for guilt trips. Be prepared to be shamed and deemed selfish for establishing the boundary. If this boundary is important to you and your physical and mental health, then hang in there. Your boundaried, honest life is a metaphor for your healthy, happy biome! 

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