Boundaries – Best practices and Feng Shui tips to overcome the challenges of setting and maintaining boundaries.
Too often times I don’t know I have a boundary until it has been crossed. Other times, I’ve inadvertently crossed someone else’s boundary and felt the “ouch” of being told to back off.
Boundaries are funny little walls that can feel prickly because we’ve seldom had someone role model how to hold ours or honor others. In spite of this, the more we exercise our boundaries, the greater ease we come to experience in all our relationships.
In my life, I’ve found areas where boundary issues come up again and again. In addition to some best practices for these, Feng Shui has a lot to offer someone looking to create and/or enforce their boundaries.
Pema Chodron coined the term, “Idiot Compassion” in her book, The Places that Scare You, and decisively nailed a big challenge in setting boundaries.
Idiot Compassion…“is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should say a definite ‘no.’ Compassion doesn’t imply only trying to be good. … There are times when the only way to bring down the barriers is to set barriers.”
The first part of letting go of Idiot Compassion is in my accepting that sometimes doing right by me will mean disappointing the other person.
It’s easy to let a boundary go soft in an effort to avoid conflict with someone. But what I’ve learned is that when I don’t speak up and share my truth, I end up watering seeds of bitterness and resentment.
And Then there’s that little word, “No!”
“‘No’ is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott
Can’t say, “No!”
Ever find it hard to say, “NO!”? Personally, I lean towards being a “yes” person. I could blame my Midwestern upbringing with the importance of being kind to everyone at any expense, but there’s a whole list of reason it’s hard to say, “no.”
- Flattered to be asked
- Don’t know who else could/would do it, or do it as quickly
- Afraid of missing out on something
- Just want to be polite
- Thinking I’ll have more time than I do
The problem with a knee-jerk “yes” response is the resentment that creeps in. It’s depleting to find myself exhausted at the end of the day doing for others while not taking care of myself. At some point the combination leads to an explosion that has cost me dear friendships.
Best Practice: Sivan Garr, an amazing spiritual teacher I had the honor of working with, once suggested I counter my “yes” tendency by responding to every request with a, “No!”
For one week, my response to anyone asking anything of me was to say, “no.” It was liberating! Of course, I could go back and say yes if I felt inspired. What it gave me, however, was a window of time to consider the full impact of what I was agreeing to do.
“If you put up with it, you’re going to get stuck with it.
Set your standards and don’t settle for less.” – Dr. Maraboli
Boundaries – Feng Shui Style
In Feng Shui, boundaries are easy to identify, and physical boundaries also support personal boundaries.
A tall fence clearly demarcates one’s property line – and decisively determines responsibility with neighbors. A home office with a door effectively separates work and home life. Each little boundaries in our home reflects deep personal boundaries that are being reinforced.
If you find you have a hard time setting and maintaining boundaries, look around your home to see how it is reflecting a “lack of boundaries”:
- If your work-life balance is crossing boundaries all the time, check to see if your work life is spilled out across your dining room table or other area rather than being in a self-contained bureau or desk?
- If your children know no boundaries, check to see if your children’s toy’s are in every room or kept within the boundaries of a specific room or zone in particular rooms?
- If you have clients coming to your home, do they have to march through personal space to get to your office? This will make it a challenge to keep personal and professional life separate.
- If relationships tend to spill drama into other areas of your life, check to see if you have doors that you never close, such as to your bedroom or closet or even bathroom?
- Is your TV right out in the open in your bedroom or is it inside a cabinet? If you’d like to keep your love life about love and not distracted by entertainment, try hiding the TV.
One of the biggest issue I find with boundaries when I’m doing a home consultation is when a “stay at home” spouse doesn’t have a room of their own. This prevents their having a place to relax and exploring their own creative expression. Designate a safe space away from other occupants of the house to “let down your hair”.
If you are feeling the need for stronger boundaries in your life, bring in organization and set clear boundaries physically. You’ll feel stronger and more confident, and you’ll end up with more love to give others as you define the safe space in which to love yourself.
Here’s to happy fences.