Why Can’t I Choose Me?
Learn how to stand in your value and hold authentic boundaries
The purpose of boundaries is to support you in being the authority in your life, to be at choice and to experience peace with the decisions that you make about your life.
Being the authority in your life rests upon your commitment to your authenticity. After all, how can you be an authority in your life if you are hiding your true self or living inside a fantasy? Here is where the higher meaning of boundaries comes into play.
You mine the gold of your authenticity by discovering who you really are and then living inside and from your value and your worth.
If you lose bling jewelry you don’t worry, it’s just cheap baubles. If you wear a solid gold necklace you make sure there’s a safety catch. You won’t lose it because you protect what you value. If you are hiding your true self it is like going out into the world as a bauble, fun but not of value.
You start with mining the gold, which is your authenticity. Ask questions such as:
What matters to me?
What do I value?
What is important to me?
What do I want to contribute?
What is my true voice and purpose in life?
When you have the answers to these questions you have found the precious gold of your authenticity and the foundation upon which to create your life. Boundaries are what you will put in place to protect and honor this foundation.
The strength or weakness of your boundaries will be a reflection of how willing and able you are to hold true to what you said is most important to you, and to how committed you are to creating the life that you want to live.
Interestingly enough, it is your female brain that will trigger many challenges for you in holding to your boundaries.
A woman’s brain is literally hardwired for connection. Go back to hunter gatherer days when a woman’s very survival was dependent on her connection to her tribe of women. It could mean death for her and her children to be ousted from the group. Getting along and pleasing others was essential. You no longer live in a hunter gatherer society, but your brain is still wired as-if you were. What happens when your modern life conflicts with your not so modern brain?
Any perceived break in connection between you and another person (disappointment, upset, withdrawal, etc.) triggers the stress response. An alarm goes off inside you telling you something is wrong. In many cases you can recognize nothing is actually wrong and your body calms down.
But what if you are an Emotional Caretaker™? Then what happens? The feeling or belief that you are responsible for other people’s emotions kicks in and literally doubles your stress load. Instead of a mild experience of stress you receive an overwhelming experience. Your body floods with anxiety and it feels like a big emergency that you are responsible for handling.
When you’re in emergency mode your body and brain are focused on one thing only – handling the emergency, whether the emergency is real or imagined. As an Emotional Caretaker, you become “other focused.” You focus on the other person, what he or she needs and you do whatever it takes to meet those needs. Your sole objective is to relieve the stress created from the emergency. As soon as the other person is “OK” then you are OK. Emergency over.
The problem lies in the fact that most of the time it’s not an emergency and you just redirected all of your time and energy to someone else. You lost your center and your boundaries, and in the process, you derailed your priorities.
When you are “self-focused” in a healthy way, you stay connected to who you are and what is important to you.
Your objective is to take care of yourself and your priorities while also caring about the other person. This is boundaries in action.
The key question then is this; how do you reconnect to yourself in the middle of a stressful moment so that you can be “self-focused” and hold to your authenticity and your boundaries?
The answer is, go to your heart. In those moments when you become overwhelmed, the only thing that will restore you to yourself is heart coherence. (To learn how to get coherent, click here.)
Shifting out of stress and into a state of coherence allows you to remember who you are and what is important to you. You continue to activate a state of coherence so you can stay connected to yourself and your commitment to your own foundation in life. Then and only then can you step into the moment with the other person and hold your boundaries …your points of view, your priorities, your values and take actions that reflect your commitment to yourself and your care for the other person.
It all starts with your heart and your ability to access your heart’s intelligence (click here to learn about heart intelligence). You become empowered to choose yourself, let other people handle their own emotions and enjoy the freedom to create the life you want to live. It’s a process. You learn overtime and it becomes easier with practice.
Begin by establishing your foundation as discussed above. Once you know what is truly important to you your next step is to learn how to recognize when something you care about is at risk. The “alarm” alerting you will always be your feelings. Something will feel “not quite right.” You must develop the habit of paying attention to, and honoring your feelings. They bring information to you that may be important.
To help you get started I am sharing with you the 5 Steps for Effective Boundaries that I created many years ago for the women in my women’s groups. Take your time with each step. You can spend several weeks on step #1 alone. It’s all about you getting to know and support you!
The 5 Steps for Making Effective Boundaries™
Be aware of how you are feeling (your feelings aren’t right or wrong)
Accept all your feelings unconditionally (love yourself no matter what you feel)
Express your feelings, when you choose to (only talk if you want to)
Act on your feelings, when you choose to (permission to align with what’s important to you)
Honor boundaries made by other people (detach from other’s choices as you keep loving them)