Boundaries. Some people consider them to be like "rules"... made to be broken. However, honouring yourself enough to set and "hold" your own boundaries is a sign of emotional maturity and self-love.
I've chosen to write about boundaries in this blog as this is something that has become very present for me in the last couple of weeks. I have had an operation, where the 'boundary' of my physical being was blurred for a while, as the surgeon made my insides 'out'. (An extreme crossing of boundaries if ever there was one!)
I am pleased to say that I am healing very well, fast, happily and only experiencing intermittent and small amounts of pain as my internal and external incisions from this specific boundary crossing exercise, heal. I do know that some of my other boundaries in life have that have been crossed have taken much longer to heal and some indeed do, from time to time, still cause me some pain.
I have a preference for writing in a particular way, in a way that uplifts and encourages rather than bemoans and asks others to "join in" on the negative train to nowhere, it's a train that is very easy to board and one that can be hard to alight from so today I want to write about boundaries, what they are, why we need them, what it means to set them and two more of my most recent experiences with them.
What are Boundaries?
A boundary defines the area between "self" and "other". And as such can be "fraught" with misunderstanding. It appears that the sorting of "what's me" and "what's not me" can be a bit of a landmine when it comes to our relationships, self-understanding and our sense of belonging and wholeness. It is the "management" of this at an Organisational level that I was involved with in my previous corporate career (and I've got scars from that too!)
But on a personal level (and let's face it, everything is personal): we each only have our own unique filter of the world through which we see and measure everything by, as a "true" guide. It is an absolute truth that no one can see or experience the world in exactly the same way that we can. Whilst one can try really, really hard to see the world through someone else's eyes, (and I do not wish to underplay the value of empathy and compassion), each of us do not have the same experiences and the life learnings that can take what we see and experience and then interpret that "data" in the exactly same way. Even members of the same family who may have in fact had very similar life experiences, can see life and situations and the interpretations of these very, VERY differently. It is through our own unique lens and filter that we see and experience our own, unique worlds. In fact the diversity of these experiences and lenses is what makes up such a rich tapestry for our friendships and travelling experiences.
I am 'dancing' all over the subject of boundaries as I write about this, a bit like a butterfly flitting between this and that, but what I really want to get to is two very recent experiences I have had about boundaries and their affect.
As I said earlier, I recently had an operation and I have been very blessed that my Mother came to stay with me and help me for a few days. I didn't know that Mum actually had "in mind" when she was leaving, until it was well, actually time for her to leave. I enjoyed our time together so much and her help was amazing and I'm actually quite thankful for the operation that it gave us the opportunity to spend some special moments and conversations together.
It's taken my Mum practically her whole life to be able to set and hold a boundary. She used to "feel bad" about expressing what she wanted, needed or desired to do and so when she expressed these things, if you were on the receiving end it would feel well actually, quite horrible. Because it was, it was a manipulation of sorts as what was being communicated was never clear as it was always disguised under something else, so as "not to upset anyone" (i.e. so she would be able to try to avoid "feeling bad"). (Which of course, no irony, it made everyone else feel bad because what was expressed would just feel "so weird and murky".)
But something happened the other day that absolutely enlightened my heart. When Mum first mentioned about going home she said something weird about medical tests, blah, blah. And it was really weird as I knew she hadn't made an appointment for what she needed to do yet. I didn't say anything. But later that same day she was able to honour, respect and love herself enough to truly express what her boundary was. "I'm going to go home tonight because I want to go to Pilates in the morning". That simple. And why was I so happy? Because my 70-something mother gets so much relief from her arthritis, happiness and fitness from her Pilates and she knows how important this is to her own quality of life. So she has set a boundary around it. For without it, other things and her experience of life gets 'tainted'. So this was a boundary she was holding to. And it felt fabulous that she expressed this so clearly to me. She didn't have to then go into a long explanation as to why and the benefit of pilates and what happens if she doesn't go (this would be an unnecessary justification and would really just be another 'mask' for feeling bad about setting the boundary). She already knows that I know how she feels about her Pilates classes and the benefit she receives from them.
Such a little thing (seemingly) but I was so PROUD of my Mum that she did this. Because when someone 'steps up' and clearly draws, states or expresses their boundary of what is important to them, it is empowering! It feels GOOD! Much better than a murky attempt at trying to make others feel good when you are scared to put your own foot forward in the direction in which you, yourself would like to go.
This happened a few days ago. I just called Mum to let her know that I am writing this blog and that she is featuring in it but she didn't have time to talk as she was just leaving (today's) Pilate's class and she will call me when she gets home. Who is this woman and where has she been all my life?
I am so proud of her. So this brings me to my next little story of Boundaries. And this is just as close to home for me.
I pour my heart, soul and creativity into Mystic Mermaid's Facebook page through a variety of posters and motivational quotes that I create for my page. I am inspired by my daily life at the beach, being in my studio making jewellery, the love I have for my animals and the beauty in the world around and within me.
I spend countless hours (it would be up to the "days" mark now) and a lot of money on purchasing images from stock libraries and fonts from the original designers so that I have the copyright to be able to use these in my posters in whichever way I wish to and that the original artist is compensated for their work or effort. I am very passionate about this.
Please don't slice my Boundary
So when I see one of my posters that I may have put two or even more hours of my time into, "cropped" so that the "Mystic Mermaid" that I put on the bottom of the poster has been removed. I feel like my creative boundary has been truly crossed. I recently experienced this on a poster that I made, where I have created the entire poster and I purchased the licence for the photo, the image and the fonts. So the whole thing is completely "mine" and they have cropped it and removed "Mystic Mermaid" from the bottom. Why do I care? Because this is a boundary that I have set. "It's not okay to remove my Trademark from my work".
I LOVE people sharing my posts from my page, Mystic Mermaid, it is what Facebook is designed for. It is how things grow there, it is only through liking, sharing and commenting that posts actually are given the opportunity to show up in people's newsfeed. It is actually not designed so that people can download, edit your work (particularly removing your watermark or name!) and then re-post onto their own page as if they might have made it themselves. Where's the "social networking" in this act?
I know you are probably curious so I thought I would show you that which I refer to. Here is my original poster (on the left) and the poster that they had re-posted, after editing, on the right...
Please note that I have absolutely no ill-will against the individual who did this. I am hoping that they just didn't know better but that now I have privately messaged them and told them that this wasn't OK that they will simply apologise and not do it again (to me, or anyone else). Unfortunately they said sorry but then disappeared from my page (I hope they shall return) so this is a bit sad as deep down I suggest that they actually knew they were doing the wrong thing and now don't want anything to do with the person who has called them on it. But, In the words of Maya Angelou
When you know better, you do better.
Empowered at the front line
When you stand your boundary, and it's not about getting ready for a 'fight', it's about being willing to stand and hold your boundary, to stand behind what you want and to freely express it. There is something so intrinsically authentic about this space. It feels clean, good and pure. You are expressing your needs in the most honest way I can think of. And when we communicate from this space we empower ourselves and others. We step up into our own space and "own it" and every time we do an act such as this, we are encouraging others to do the same. As more and more empowered individuals "meet" each other at their boundaries, respectfully and honourably, I can only believe that we are in for a happier, more fulfilled way of be-ing.
I think the best example I can give of "boundary management" is the ocean. Where the shore and the Ocean kiss and this brings me to one of my favourite quotes, which I've made into a Facebook poster and put the link to here so you can click on it and share it on Facebook too!
I hope you have enjoyed this musing and that you have a great month ahead defining, setting and honouring boundaries.
With Much Love and an Ocean of Blessings
ps: If you've enjoyed this please do pop on over to Facebook and leave a comment on the page, I would absolutely LOVE your feedback!!
pps: Thanks so much Mumsy, for all that you are and all that you do.