Boundaries and the Me/Not Me

Oct 05, 2023

Every student, no matter what the motivation behind their mystical search, must confront the issue of boundaries sooner or later. It is certainly true from my experience with my own search for freedom and transformation, and true of the experiences of my students. In order to thrive more fully, each one of us must understand what boundaries are.

When we think of boundaries, we think of borders and walls, limits of an area, or dividing lines. Presently, most of us consider personal boundaries to be limits we set on the way others behave toward us. When a certain line is crossed, we are violated in some way.

For us to understand boundaries fully from a transformational sense, we might consider what is me and what is not me. We work with sensation to understand what we are experiencing within ourselves and discern what is someone else’s energy and what is our own energy.

Empaths are constantly blurring boundaries and unable to tell “what is me and what is not me.”  They are rather porous, like sponges, taking on other people’s emotional states and energy patterns. HSPs (highly sensitive people) are also prey to other people’s and other place’s energies because they have no protective membrane, so to speak.

We don’t have to be empaths or HSPs to experience a lack of boundaries. In fact, it is a predominant aspect of lack of freedom and choice.

When we are constantly basing our decisions on what other people think and how they will view us, we have a lack of boundaries. When we are unable to say no, we have a lack of boundaries. When we are unable to use the power of our own voice to speak our minds, we have no boundaries. When we are chronically doubtful, shaky, or blocked, we have a lack of boundaries.

There are so many ways that having no boundary can manifest, from constantly needing to please others to being abused to not giving ourselves room for proper self-care. The myriad of symptoms is apparent in so many of us today.

So why is there such a preponderance of lack of boundary with each other and even within ourselves? Before we go into what it looks like to have no boundaries, we must look at what the seed cause of such a prevalent phenomenon is amongst so many people.

When we have no sense of authentic self and we operate from automatic patterns, we generally have no capacity to set boundaries or understand our actual needs. We act out of necessity to fulfill those false ideas of what should be, even if it doesn’t feel right. We sacrifice our needs in order to fulfill the illusion that if we please someone else, they will like us more, respect us more, or see us as kind, caring, thoughtful, good, or dutiful. This illusion is carried out so often that we do not see it within ourselves, yet we do feel the consequences often.

We are also taught as children about boundaries directly from our parents. When they exhibit clear and healthy boundaries with us, we learn to exert those boundaries for ourselves later in life. If we are not given healthy boundaries or not shown a good behavior model, we have no reference. We have no security. We are not free to be ourselves. This can often look like parents with no boundaries of their own!

The fact that most of us have been loved conditionally in some way or another means we have learned that to be loved we must conform to that person’s likes and dislikes. We get unconsciously trained very early in life and we act under the influence of that training with almost everyone until we wake up to what is really going on.

When we are not awake, we suffer in so many ways and instead of taking responsibility for that suffering, we blame it on others. This keeps us from having to confront our own lack of boundaries and to own our own actions.

We beat ourselves up and feel guilty when we don’t have boundaries. We suffer, not because someone has demanded something from us, but because we gave in to their demands when we really didn’t want to.

Another hallmark of boundarylessness is resentment.  We project the reasons for our suffering onto the other person.  We blame them for being pushy, demanding, needy, or manipulative, when in fact it is our inability to say no. 

Being a victim (self-pity) is also a hallmark of having no boundaries. Let’s face it, people and situations are never going to be how we want them to be.  People are never perfect and often their actions are unconscious and unintentional.  However, we most often see their actions as intentional and directed at us. They may be acting out their own unconscious automatic patterns that have little to do with us, but without insight, empathy, and boundaries, we take it all personally. 

Coming away feeling drained, both physically or energetically from an encounter with someone leaves us unable to spend time with them or to have healthy relationships. In fact, we may often come away feeling “bad," which puts a huge strain on the ability to have a relationship.

Giving away too many services for free, going overtime, and not allowing yourself to be compensated properly is yet another sign of a lack of boundaries.

Notice how your lack of boundary plays out. Be on the lookout for times when you feel resentful toward someone. Ask yourself how you are not presenting healthy boundaries in this scenario.

Notice in ways you put everyone else first at your own expense, disguising it as “being considerate.”

How do you accommodate other people when you really want to say no?

How often do you tolerate being treated poorly without leaving or communicating your feelings about it?

An excerpt from: Be Present: Reflections On The Way  by Molly Knight Forde


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