Boundaries Versus Walls

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

As goddess energy awakens, we are starting to see more and more dialogue on how to have proper boundaries. What is missing in this dialogue, however, is an in-depth conversation as to what a boundary is in the first place, and what defines a boundary being healthy. I’ve even seen videos of well-known spiritual teachers who encourage NOT having boundaries; saying that having boundaries may keep helpful energy and interactions out as well as the unwanted ones. This is not only inaccurate, but dangerous. Everyone deserves what I call personal sovereignty, and this is even more important for empaths and people who are highly sensitive.

Boundaries are probably one of the most common themes that I teach and train around. From my standpoint, the confusion that surrounds this topic is an epidemic. Understanding what your own personal boundaries are and how to communicate those are one of the cornerstones of health and wellness on all levels; boundaries and how we implement them affects us on every level.

One of the most common misunderstandings is that boundaries are the same as walls. Because of this, folks may have boundaries that are too weak, or, in trying to have boundaries, accidentally build walls.

So, let’s define the difference between a boundary and a wall. Think of a boundary as a filter that you create. You decide what kind of energy or interaction is not helpful, and what kind is. The filter you create keeps the unhelpful “stuff” from affecting you, and lets the helpful interaction and energy through, much in the same way a coffee or tea filter keeps the grounds or herbs out of your water, while allowing the desired flavor and nutrients through.

A wall on the other hand, would be like trying to filter that same cup of coffee with a piece of grandma’s quilt; few if any grounds would get through, but neither would any of the desired flavor, nutrients, and maybe even the water itself would be completely absorbed, leaving you with a dry cup. Walls, just like that cup, can leave our hearts and lives feeling dry, unfulfilled, and incomplete.

So how do we know if we have boundaries, walls, or none at all? Put simply, walls isolate, boundaries extricate. If you feel isolated and not able to connect with others, chances are you may have a few walls that are boxing you in. If it seems that all of your relationships are draining, and/or you consistently feel obligated to show up in a certain way (difficulty saying “no,” for example), then creating some boundaries might be in order. When your relationships feel nourishing and you are able to cultivate relationships where you feel like you can be yourself, this is when we know we are in a balanced state where the boundaries are healthy.

Basics of Boundaries: There’s a reason why nearly every mystical tradition held “knowing thyself” as the very foundation of following a path that allows the mysteries of the Universe to unfold. Boundaries give us a sacred container for the sacredness of Self. When we don’t have boundaries, we become energetically, and perhaps even emotionally entangled with others; when this occurs, it becomes almost impossible to know thyself. Because of this, the first step is to define for yourself what kind of interactions help you feel empowered and which ones leave you feeling tired, moody, or alienated and lonely. Below are some questions that you can ask yourself that can help gain clarity on what kind of interactions you are wanting to filter out and what kind makes your cup runneth over.

  1. Are there certain circumstances or people where it is more difficult for me to say “no” then others? If so, who/what are they and why?

  2. If I have a fear of saying “no” in certain circumstances or with certain people, what is my hidden fear of doing so? Is what I am afraid of likely to actually happen?

  3. Am I comfortable in asking for support?

  4. Do I wait until I am in crisis or am absolutely sure I cannot do something on my own before I typically ask for assistance from others?

  5. How do I feel when I ask for help?

  6. How do I feel when others ask me for help?

  7. If I find what someone says or does as being offensive or belittling to me, am I willing to speak up for myself? If so, how do I communicate this?

  8. How do I know if someone is truly listening to me?

  9. How do others know if I am really listening to them?

  10. If I need someone’s undivided attention, am I willing to ask for it?

  11. (We live in a world of distraction) What would be some ways that I could respectfully verbalize my need to be listened to?

  12. Do others feel comfortable talking to me?If others feel comfortable talking with me, is it common for folks to require long stretches of my time without asking permission?

  13. If so, do I feel obligated to listen for as long as they are willing to talk? How might I respectfully respect my time and honor others as well?

  14. We teach people how to treat us, how am I teaching others how to treat me? List the patterns that are helpful and unhelpful:

Remember, our word is our wand. Healthy boundaries keep our energy centered. When they are in place, we feel more vital and strong. When we say what we mean and mean what we say, and can do so with grace instead of grit, we free ourselves and others.

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