Secrets of happy couples: Exploring Boundaries Part 3

photo ©Alban Sublet– all rights reserved

What are boundaries guarding anyway, and how do you define and explore your own boundaries in a relationship?

Boundaries guard our rights, according to the book Eastern Body Western Mind (Anodea Judith), our rights are closely connected to our chakra system and auric field, which makes sense if we think of it as the invisible extension to our physical body, towards which boundaries are generally accepted (most legal and social systems recognise that no one is allowed to touch or hurt our physical body without our consent).

Knowing those rights is the first step towards exploring what is needed to grant them to ourselves, communicating this to others will then take a form of subtle or not so subtle dialogue.

Our basic rights

1. The right to have (ownership) and the right to be physically safe.

If we are considering a relationship with our child, the child needs to have its space, its bed, its own things, in order to experience a healthy sense of ownership.

Another way to view this right is our right to feel safe, our right to guard our body and not be physically uncomfortable or endangered in our surroundings.

2. The right to feel

What feelings have you learned are not acceptable? Anger, sadness or maybe fear?

When you acknowledge your right to feel your feelings, all of them, you can start choosing ways of expressing them without stepping on someone else’s rights.

According to the book “Boundaries in Marriage”, if we are on the receiving end of these heavy emotions, we need to realise that we do not have the right to demand that someone not get angry at us for instance, however we can make it clear as to the type of action we are willing to take so we get out of their space.

When this conversation is made at a time where feelings are not fired up, an agreement can be reached without giving the other person a feeling of rejection. Which also brings us to the next right…

3. The right to act and the right to make free choices

Many of us restrict their right to act out of fear of making someone unhappy, which turns them into resentful and grumpy partners, children and friends. What this person is initially avoiding, is a confrontation. For these people, every time they tried to act from their own power they were made to feel guilty and bad.

Start with noting down the times where you were deliberately acting against your will and beliefs, the times we you said yes when you really meant no, you will start to see the impact this avoidance strategy is having on your life.

4. The right to love and be loved

We may not notice the possibilities for exchanging love in our life, with people, animals, plants, strangers. The minute we realise that loving others is a right that we need to be able to exercise, we will express it.

5. The right to speak and hear the truth

If we grew up with lies, even those white parental lies that were supposed to make the world a more friendly place (like mum and dad are not really fighting or no your foot is not hurting), we would have grown used to this boundary being broken. Speaking our truth without demanding that the other see it as “The Truth” will broaden the opportunity for a less judgemental interaction and allow a safe space for truthful interactions.

This right also includes our right to express who we are, in our words, career choices, or even the colors we wear.

6. The right to see, dream and think, the right to see beautiful things

We have learned to shut down our dreams, and became our own parents as grownups, rejecting our hopes or growing wary of them. This right also includes the right to see beauty in our surroundings, so it includes that your neighbours keep their front year well kept.

7. The right to our beliefs

Communities that don’t allow for freedom of belief, don’t recognise that the act of interfering in this holy connection in itself, confuses the relationship with our creator which should be chosen freely.

Where do we go from here?

Reading about your rights is not enough, you will need to explore them for yourself to understand what each of those rights personally mean to you.

Does the right to own mean that you feel violated when someone touches your stuff, or when someone doesn’t ask for permission first?

How do you express the right to act in your own life, are you allowing someone to decide what you do or how you do something, do you intrude on someone else’s right to act out of fear of their autonomy? Do you allow people to use you out of a fear of being rejected?

Do you give yourself the right to intrude on someone else’s right to believe with a set of judgements about
right and wrong?

Give this a try, and let me know if it changes your relationships.

I have recently written an article on Empowered wellness magazine on Body Image and Boundaries, which talks about how weak boundaries affect our weight and suggests practical exercises on dealing with it. Check it out HERE.