Friday, August 17, 2007

Where are my boundaries?

You might remember that Ian and I went to a Skills for Healing retreat at the end of June. You might also remember that by the end I was very frustrated with the group and that I was questioning whether or not I'd return to Hopespring - I'd certainly had enough of Hopespring people at that point.

Since then, I've stayed away from Hopespring (except for the Young Women's Group) until today, when I went to a workshop exploring ideas from the retreat. We were talking about being a whole person and how to accomplish changes we might want to make. Each person decided what "being whole" meant for them and what they would like to change to be more whole. I consider myself to be pretty well-rounded and whole but I do have issues with anger and anxiety that I'd like to change.

Basically, the process is that once you figure out what you want to do, you figure out what you need to do to get there. We were told to set priorities, make choices, and set boundaries.

This naturally led into a discussion about boundaries. This was the most useful part of the workshop for me. They said that boundaries "are a system of limits that enhances your ability to have a sense of self". The facilitator also talked about how boundaries can be rigid, flexible, or very loose. Flexible boundaries can change a bit with a given situation but don't disappear; loose boundaries may not exist or may disappear often; and rigid boundaries are not at all flexible.

The facilitator said that flexible boundaries are the healthiest to have. Rigid boundaries don't allow the person to change in response to a changing situation. Loose boundaries often mean that the person has no sense of self.

When I was younger, I had very, very loose boundaries. I allowed people to treat me badly and I made a number of choices that were quite stupid. I didn't recognize that it was possible to be with a person and not be with them all the time (this is where boundaries between two people mesh, and it's not healthy because neither of the people has a complete sense of self on their own). Over time, I've learned to develop boundaries but I'm still pretty bad at it; I tend to make mine rigid and unyielding at first.

I have learned that making rigid boundaries this can hurt other people unnecessarily, in part because the way I conveyed the boundaries was hurtful and in part because rigid boundaries don't show respect for the other person. In setting rigid boundaries, I was saying that I didn't respect the other person enough to allow them to be themselves; they had to behave as I wanted them to and that's not allowing the other person to be themselves. I am learning to develop flexible boundaries, but it'll take time.

No comments: