Fences Around the Heart

— by Fiona Coward —

If we want to focus on our emotional wellbeing, we need to create boundaries.

In a meeting the other day, someone stepped on a boundary I didn't know I had. I puzzled for ages over the powerful emotions that came up for me before I realised it was all about boundaries – something I haven't been very good at setting.

Healthy boundaries are the key to emotional wellbeing. In a chaotic world that demands our attention and drains on our energy, it's hard for us to slow down and take the time to make sure we feel safe, respected and valued.

Where to even begin?

Imagine boundaries as beautiful fences we put up around our hearts and souls, rather a warning sign instead of building a brick wall. They're our guides to figuring out what feels right in our relationships, conversations, and personal space. It's like letting in the breeze and sunshine, while still having a barrier so we don't get trampled on.

Setting boundaries is an art form. Often, there is guilt or shame when we need to say no. But remember, these emotions often stem from our conditioning that nudges us to always say yes, out of fear of letting others down or being rejected. We can acknowledge these feelings without giving them power over us.

Each boundary we set is an affirmation of self-care and self-respect. Choosing ourselves isn't an act of selfishness; it's a declaration of our own worth and an investment in our own happiness.

Here are three strategies to get started.

Start with Self Awareness

The key is to identify what emotions are being triggered in a particular situation. In my meeting, I felt anger, confusion and a desire to explain myself (people pleasing). Other emotions could be frustration, feeling overwhelmed by the situation, resentment and even tearfulness.

Reflect on the emotions you felt and what they were really about. What was the underlying reason for the discomfort? Was it not being seen or heard? Was it feeling devalued?

When practicing self-awareness to establish boundaries, you might experience reflection and clarity. These feelings come from taking the time to understand your emotions, needs, and personal limits. You may experience a mix of calmness and insight as you identify what situations make you uncomfortable and do not align with your values.

From here, you are able to step into empowerment, clarity, a sense of control and understanding of what is not acceptable to your well-being.

Practice Clear Communication

This is difficult for many of us and can trigger a lot of anxiety around fear of confrontation or rejection, or uncertainty about expressing our needs. It takes practice to find ways of confidently communicating what is acceptable or non-acceptable behaviour towards us. However, setting boundaries requires clear and assertive communication.

Express your boundaries in a firm and straightforward manner. Using "I" statements avoids sounding accusatory. For instance, instead of saying, "You always make me feel uncomfortable," try saying, "I feel uncomfortable when certain topics are discussed." Be honest and specific about what you're comfortable with and what you're not.

As you practice clear communication to assert your boundaries, you may feel a surge of assertiveness and empowerment. These emotions arise from honouring and protecting your true self.

Learn to say 'No"

Saying "no" can be challenging, but it's an essential part of setting boundaries. Practice saying "no" without over-explaining or feeling guilty. Remember that you have the right to decline requests or situations that don't align with your priorities or well-being. You don't need to offer a lengthy excuse; a simple, polite decline suffices. Over time, you'll find it empowering to prioritise your own needs.

For weeks after my AHA moment, I went through scenarios of how I would deal with the same situation if it arose. I knew I needed to practice my responses.

Learning to say "no" is a significant step in boundary-setting, and it often brings feelings of empowerment and liberation. This is when you finally realise you have the power to prioritise yourself. Saying "no" allows you to protect your energy and invest it in things that truly matter to you. Over time, embracing these feelings will strengthen your sense of self-worth and control over your destiny.

Need help?

Learning to set boundaries is a gradual process, and it's okay to start small. As you become more practiced, you'll gain more confidence in nurturing your emotional well-being.

As always, Bodytalk is here to guide you and help you release emotional triggers and beliefs that prevent you from creating the fences to protect your mind, heart and spirit.

Until next time,

Fiona Coward - BodyTalk Practitioner

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