Self-Protection and Healthy Boundaries

I apologise for the radio silence on the meditation challenge. Life events have overtaken the priority to document. But it is ongoing and mostly very successful 😉

I have just had another very powerful lesson. Or wake-up call, if you will.

It always amazes (and, after the event, sometimes a long time after the event, amuses) me, the way the universe throws at you precisely the lesson you need.

The lesson today is healthy boundaries.

I have endured yet another  round of bullying by email. This one has been sustained for three days so far. Now, if this were someone with whom I had a mere passing acquaintance, I would not have allowed it to drag out for as long as it has or to affect me as emotionally as it has. I would simply have walked away. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, on any subject, including me. However, I do not have to endure those opinions being foisted upon me. As I have said before, and more than once, if the person next to you keeps punching you in the face… walk away! (Of course, there will then be plenty of conjecture and judgement about your motivations for walking away, but this, again, is opinion. It need affect you no more than the original attempt at  abuse).

Okay, that’s clear, then? Receive abuse – walk away.

Simple.

But what if the abuser is someone you love? Someone who for a long time was close to you, whose opinion you used to hold in high regard, whose love for you was an important part of your own life? This is where the real test lies. And this is not a coincidence either. In the same way that it is very easy to be a person of integrity if you never move from your armchair, it is easy to walk away from someone who holds no personal importance to you. An abusive acquaintance is easy to shake off. An abusive loved one can have you hanging on far longer than you should, allowing yourself to be subjected to far more than you should – it feels too much like giving up, and anyway, shouldn’t love conquer all? – with the ultimate danger of being emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted and damaged. Your spirit requires protection, and your human being clings to an unreality. The human part of you finds it enormously difficult to detach from the dream. Because hoping that systematic abuse will change with words is pie-in-the-sky. An inability to accept reality can only bring suffering. We all know it deep down.

(And on top of that, as an important aside, where dehumanisation occurs, there can be no hope.)

There are several lessons I have been gifted over the past few years, and when I use the word gifted, I mean it sincerely. The process of learning has been inordinately difficult, and painful, but the lesson itself has set me free. Every time.

These are they (and regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with them):

1. What you think of me is none of my business.

Opinion.

It means nothing.

Nothing at all.

Whether the opinion is good or bad. After all, isn’t it a little ridiculous to attach importance to bad opinion and disbelieve good opinion? Or vice versa? It is not important what others think of you. What is important is what you know of yourself. If that is firmly rooted in truth and reality, then all other opinion is utterly irrelevant.

2. Nobody can protect you but yourself.

Your boundaries are important. They must be strong enough to keep the negativity out, but porous enough to let the love in. It is important to examine them carefully:

Are your boundaries so weak that you will let anyone who chooses walk all over you? Then you need to redraw them. And self-love is the only way. If you love and respect yourself enough, you will disallow the abuse. A useful exercise here is to ask yourself how you would feel if someone were behaving this way towards a child, perhaps your own child. You would not allow it to happen, would you? So why would you let it happen to you? You – your precious spirit, your gentle inner core – are just as in need of looking after as anyone else. Don’t just say it, believe it. Feel it.

Are your boundaries so strong that you will not let anyone or anything in? You do not let negativity into your life, but you do not let love in either? Then you need to tackle your fear. Why are you afraid to let anyone in? Only you can answer that, but until you do, you will continue to feel lonely, afraid and joyless.  It is not easy. It takes faith. And the first requirement is faith in yourself and your ability to protect yourself if the walls are more permeable.

Healthy boundaries can help end unhappiness and suffering.

Sometimes, asserting a healthy boundary can be terribly simple. It can take a conversation, during which you (calmly and without evaluation) explain that you are uncomfortable with a situation or behaviour. It is not acceptable to you. With luck, you will be heard, the relationship adjusted and the healthier for it.

“I don’t like it that you keep punching me in the face.”
“Oh god! Sorry! I didn’t think. I’ll stop.”

Everybody happy.

But sometimes, it isn’t that simple. You can put the puppy back on the mat a thousand times, but to no avail. This kind of exchange usually ends something like this:

“I don’t like it that you keep punching me in the face.”
*punch*
“But I’m doing it because I love you.”
*punch*

I have quoted Wayne Dyer before, and he is by no means the only person to have voiced this belief, to which I adhere strongly and with personal experience to support it. If you cannot say no *within* a relationship, you may have to say no *to* the relationship. It is not failure. It is putting yourself before the abuse. Put like that, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Sometimes, with deep regret and sadness, the only option is to walk away.

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