In my previous blog post titled Membrane/Boundary Work & Mother Earth’s Healing Power, I shared some background about membranes and communication systems in nature and in humans and then described a win-win process we can use to heal ourselves and nature around us. Now I want to talk about boundary keeping and give some more exercises.
Like all organisms, we have boundaries. In the best of circumstances, we try to take in foods and other things that are good for us and be around people that treat us well, and stay away from poisons and things and people that are harmful to us or that make us feel unsafe. However many children grow up without being taught that they have boundaries and have a natural right to protect themselves. Some grow up being taught that they have a right to get what they want at the expense of other people’s boundaries. They bully, hurt, threaten or cheat others regularly. Some people feel they can do whatever they want to the Earth around them and have no responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth. Children don’t start out as bullies, abusers, or destroyers of the environment. They learn it by not being taught how to live better. We can and must change this. In a future post I’ll speak about ways to work with children on boundaries and safety.
First let’s talk about human interpersonal boundaries. For those of us who are learning to assert our right to healthy boundaries it can often help to seek the support of good friends and experts who teach about boundaries. Good teachers, counselors and coaches teach these skills to children and adults. For many the first step is to make sure we are safe.
If you are in an abusive relationship or someone you love is in that position, get help NOW. Don’t wait until something worse happens. Go to a professional for assistance and summon the courage to tell the truth about what’s happening. If someone has told you to keep a secret it’s because they know what they are doing is wrong. No one has the right to abuse, threaten or hurt you. There are support groups for people whose boundaries have been violated and who need support. Look on the Internet in your county and you’ll find them.
Sometimes people feel we don’t really deserve to have our boundaries. That is learned from childhood and it is NEVER right. People who love us can still violate our boundaries. We have to insist they stop. A medicine worker could help you seek deeper Spiritual understanding of your boundary history.
EXERCISE: ROPE CIRCLE – ESTABLISHING & HEALING OUR MEMBRANES/BOUNDARIES
I recommend you go to my blog post on The Path to Peace Part Two on Boundary Keeping and read that if you haven’t done so. Do the exercise in it. Then do the following exercise with a friend or loved one.
Sit and visualize yourself having a membrane or boundary circle around you as big as you like. You can use a piece of yarn or rope on the floor in a circle around you if that helps you to visualize it. You are alone in that circle and say to yourself, “I have a right to have my boundary” and “I choose who I let into my boundary, it is my choice.”
How does that feel? Acknowledge to yourself that sometimes your boundary has been violated or challenged in the past. Say to yourself, “No more, I have a right to my boundary.”
If feelings come up you can tell your friend and write them down or seek help from a professional. You can also read my blog post on Working with Big Feelings.
Say to yourself, “I will learn to tell people respectfully but firmly, ‘this is my boundary and I want you to honor that’.” (Get in touch with me if you would like to be a part of a class working on these issues.) Then go to blog post: Membrane/Boundary Work Part Three.
© Jerry Allen 2016
About the author – I hold a masters in public health education from UC Berkeley and a masters in counseling psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. I’ve been a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since 1991, and am certified in Somatic Experiencing. I began my medicine man training in my first vision quest in 1973. I was initiated as a medicine man under the training and supervision of Theresa Dintino. I studied Aikido for 30 years and received 3 black belts. I live and practice in Oregon and Sebastopol, and enjoy playing music, tending our apple orchard, and spending time with my two wonderful children.
Jerry Allen, LMFT, SEP, MPH, Anishinaabe Mashkikiiwinini (Medicine Man)
Gratitude Way Medicine Man Counseling & Coaching – firstname.lastname@example.org