Stiffness in the body. An accumulation of thoughts. Unsure of where I stand within my own being.
This is what it feels like for me as a being in the modern world when I’ve ignored the need for solitude. As someone who naturally feels what others feel, I question if I need to shut off all technology and isolate myself. Then I hear my inner voice chime in, feeling like a stream of warm water washing over me, “All or nothing isn’t the solution - you need to create boundaries.”
A few years ago I had no idea what boundaries meant. This made work and relationships very difficult, draining and unpredictable. I would flip-flop depending on the day or situation, being too open or too closed. My only protection to try and meet my own needs was to block and push everyone away.
My life changed when I learned that a boundary is not a wall; it is a fence, and as the saying goes, "Good fences make good neighbors." Fences separate us in the sense that they give us the ability to connect and experience intimacy with others while maintaining proper self-care, unlike fixed and permanent walls. A good fence keeps openness and flexibility intact.
As I worked on restoring my fence I asked myself, “Where do I pick up other people’s worry and struggle? At which point in our interaction do I collect their story?”
In a moment, without my conscious awareness, everything becomes entangled. Mine to hold, mine to carry and mine to process. I would experience fatigue, depression, apathy, even physical illness as a result of becoming enmeshed with someone else.
If you don’t have a good fence in place, you can expect all kinds of visitors.
These people aren’t trespassing, you’re inviting them in through your own hurt, the tender places of past wounding.
Feeling strong emotions is a gift when used properly. It’s not about closing or shutting off the outside world, but creating the necessary structure and fences that will allow you to maintain your energy. Moving towards this mastery begins with taking personal responsibility.
Here are 3 ways to work towards greater self-mastery:
1. GET BACK TO WHERE YOU BELONG: This five letter word we all claim to hate, but know so well. I’m talking about D-R-A-M-A. As humans we gravitate towards it, like forbidden fruit. It can be comforting to ditch your own sensation and feel another. Other times taking on others emotions is not fun or interesting - it’s debilitating. If you can remain present enough to realize you’ve been swept away in emotion, then you can work on returning back to your body. Notice your breath, feel your feet and your own heartbeat. Say to yourself, “I belong in my body.” Often, many people who come to me are still feeling hooked to someone else. A cord cutting is an energetic process, (part of the negative energy removal session), to clear attachments that is keeping you from returning to your own center. It’s highly effective to release entanglements and build healthier connection with others.
2. PUT YOU FIRST: This is a tricky one, especially when your job or gift is helping others! Have you read it all before, but still struggle with plugging self-care techniques into your life? If you are going to adopt anything a meditation practice is one of the best tools to release feelings of overwhelm and come home to you. Having a daily practice to investigate what’s really going on in your inner world is vital if you’re in a position of holding space. Helping someone work through something and supporting them can only be done when we are in our heart. If we take on their pain, we cannot connect with our true selves and be of higher service.
3. EMPOWER THYSELF: I realized victimhood would never help me in creating fences, only excuses. I needed to learn who I was to know who I’m not, in a deeper sense. Empower Thyself is a two day course through a lineage-based mystery school that teaches you how to direct your energy and build a stronger capacity to face life’s challenges. I was initiated in 2012 and now have the authority to hand this down to others. For more information about upcoming Empower Thyself training and initiation here in San Francisco click here.