I just listened to a Ted Talk on the subject of boundaries, my favorite topic, and the speaker, Sarri Gilman, opened with this: we are all in the middle of our life story, and our story is shaped by what we say yes to and what we say no to.
That is one of the most basic truths about life that I’ve ever heard.
Think about it for a second.
Our life is actually made up of what we say yes to and what we say no to.
It sounds so simple, and yet, it is very complex. We go unconscious – asleep at the wheel – so often around choices and decisions we make.
We live as if we “have to” do the things we have said yes to, and that we “can’t” do the things we have said no to, but we don’t take ownership of the fact that we choose to say yes or no.
I’ve been saying for many years to clients that if we only used boundaries as the lens through which to look at their lives, their journey, their struggles in relationship and their progress in personal growth and happiness, we’d have enough to work on for a lifetime and a reliable, trustworthy guide at that.
I admit that it is not easy at all to wake up to the idea that we do, in fact, have the choice to create our lives with our yeses and our noes. We live in a world that programs us from day one to be good little boys and girls, follow rules, and to not be too different. Our families, schools, churches and temples, communities and social groups certainly give us strong messages of what we should do and not do. What we should feel and not feel. What we should think and not think.
It is radical, in fact, to wake up to how we move through the world with our boundaries. Because most people don’t. Most people are slaves to unconscious boundaries, or the lack thereof.
We can blame society for making us slaves. And it certainly deserves that blame. But, instead of blame, we can wake up to the fact of the slave master and learn to say no, rather than go unconscious and allow it to overtake our lives.
This topic can venture into the sociological and political arenas immediately, and, although those are the underlying culprit, for the purposes in this writing, we will keep it to the personally psychological and interpersonal realm.
Saying yes and saying no shapes our lives. When we look at when it is hard for us to say yes and when it is hard for us to say no, we have our path to clarity and peace lined up for us to walk, including pitfalls and hurdles and cliffs. The path gets easier as we walk it and learn.
It takes practice.
We need to develop good running circuitry that flows with clear connection between our brains, bodies and minds. We come equipped with very good sensors for what is right and wrong for us. We need to learn to listen, allowing the information to flow and do its job of guiding us.
I have created a tool to help people zone in on moments of decision around boundary setting. It is called the POD Method. Below is a piece of the pod.
Tips for Conscious Boundaries
- Notice moments when your body – which never lies – tells you No
- Listen to that No for a moment, and think about what it is saying NO to
- Notice moments when your body – which never lifes – tells you Yes
- Listen to that Yes for a moment, and think about what it is saying Yes to
- Take time before you commit to a Yes or a No. You can usually get back to a person with your answer
If we only practice taking a moment to notice our instant perceptions and body responses to situations, we go a long way to learning what we need and how to take care of ourselves and shape our lives to fit more of our needs getting met.
To learn more about my work with boundaries, please contact me.