Healthy Boundaries

Living from Our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self
(Maintaining Healthy Boundaries)

When we talk about things like:

  • feeling “whole” “complete” or “enough”
  • having “good boundaries”
  • healthy separateness
  • being “grounded”
  • Sourcing ourselves from within
  • (etc.)

we’re actually describing the experience of living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self – of being in fundamental, essential connection with ourselves and with Life. Sometimes called our True Self, our Real Self, our Adult Self, our Organic Self, our Whole Self, our Essential Wholeness, — I also like to call this part of us our “Wise I” — etc., we may not always be connected to or even aware of our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, but it is always present within us, it cannot really be lost. We can only lose our sense of connection to it.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that not only doesn’t support us in staying connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, it teaches us values and habits that actively disconnect us from it. In addition to being criticized for having or expressing our feelings (being encouraged to numb or suppress our feelings), we’re taught to discount our own felt experience of things (“you can’t be hungry, you just ate!” “you can’t be cold, it’s roasting in here!”), to not have needs (not value and tend to our well-being), to put others’ needs/well-being before our own (“don’t be selfish!” “oh, you are so helpful and generous!”), to look to others for guidance about what’s best for us, and even to think that we can know what’s best for another person (giving unasked-for advice, looking down on others’ choices, being taught to judge rather than respect others’ choices that don’t work well for us) are just a few of the myriad, everyday ways we are taught to disconnect from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self.

It’s important to recognize that every one of these values and habits involves a violation of the healthy, life-honoring separateness that empowers us to experience and sustain our own wholeness. For this reason, I believe that our ability to maintain healthy boundaries and our ability to stay connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self are simply two aspects of the same essential, honoring connection we are meant to sustain with the Life within us.

All of us have experienced the peace, calm, clarity, wisdom, and gracious power that fill us when we’re connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries. We often have this experience in areas of our lives where we’ve developed some mastery, areas of our lives where we feel competent, assured, and at ease no matter what’s happening — even when something new or unexpected or unwanted comes up, and even when influential others disagree with us. When we’re standing in our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self we’re able to discern what to do, we feel at ease trying new things out, we feel comfortable standing for our own lived wisdom (a body-grounded, deeply felt/experienced knowledge, as opposed to mental/theoretical/just-talked-about ideas or concepts) while being willing to consider new perspectives or information (that are compatible with our authentic values). When our efforts don’t go the way we were hoping or expecting, we’re able to stay peaceful and present, to notice what’s happening, and to make effective adjustments without blaming or upset.

It’s when we’re connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries that we know we’re Already Enough and Already OK, just as we are (including all our “warts and farts and ugly parts”). In this place we feel whole and safe, even when we make mistakes or things outside of us aren’t necessarily going the way we’d prefer. In this place we can Experience how everything we need for the foundation of our life is available first of all from within us, and it is in this place that we’re able to discover how to nourish ourselves from that inner wealth. It’s also our connection to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self that enables us to discern in the moment how to “re-parent” the reactive parts of us that sometimes get stimulated, that weren’t sufficiently supported when we were young.

When we’re grounded in our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self/maintaining healthy boundaries, we’re able to hear someone else’s blame or attack (“deserved” or not) and not be upset by it, because in this place we’re completely clear about who we are and what is ours to be responsible for … or if we’re not clear, that lack of clarity doesn’t disturb us or lead us to take on others’ opinions or perspectives, but instead stimulates peaceful, balanced, responsible curiosity. We know we’re ok, we know we’re enough, even if we’ve made a big mistake.

When we’re maintaining healthy boundaries and are connected to our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, we’re free from the influence of past overwhelming experiences (traumas) or other kinds of disconnection, denial, or dissociation … even when parts of us are still stuck in those old experiences, beliefs, or defenses. That lovely, expansive experience of being able to hold everything within and around us with presence, awareness, and compassion, is what it feels like to have healthy boundaries and live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self.

When we’re maintaining healthy boundaries and living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, we aren’t moved to try to rescue people or take on responsibility for others’ feelings, well-being, or inner work. From this place we’re also able to discern when others are attempting to cross our boundaries (not maintaining their own healthy boundaries), and we’re able to say “no” to participating in that … even to the point of choosing to interrupt an interaction, have less frequent contact with them, or even change the form of our relationship with them* in light of our own current level of skill at maintaining our own healthy boundaries/connection with our own Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self when we’re around them. (Ironically, blaming others for our inability to maintain our own healthy boundaries/stay connected to our own Authentic Whole, Integrated Self is a sure sign that we’ve lost both of these!)

* (e.g., from “intimate partner” to “friend” or “acquaintance” or even, if necessary, to “someone I no longer associate with”)

When we’re living from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self we’re able to engage with others in a way that works — a way that not only supports us in staying connected to ourselves in this deep way and that is free from reactivity from us, but that also has a great capacity to hold others’ reactivity with compassion, and to make authentic choices that honor and support our well-being, regardless of what’s happening. In this place we recognize that discomfort is a sign that Life is inviting us closer, deeper, and that rather than avoiding pain or believing that something is wrong if things don’t always feel good or comfortable, we know that discomfort and even pain are Life’s way of inviting us into deeper, more nourishing, more authentic connection with ourselves, Life, and/or others.

Just as all of us have felt what it’s like to live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, all of us have the opportunity expand our capacity to live from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self in more and more moments of our day-to-day lives.

Cultivating our connection with our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self means familiarizing our thinking mind and our bodies – our mental noticing and our “felt sense” of our present-moment experience – with the signposts and sensations that indicate when we’re either connected or disconnected from it.

To support us in this practice, I’ve developed a list of some of the qualities that we experience when we’re disconnected from our Authentic, Whole, Integrated Self, and a list of some of the qualities that we experience when we’re connected with it.  To request a copy of the list, click here.

Please share your questions and experiences by leaving your comments below!

Blessings on us all,

Vika
Thriving Life

 

Leave a Reply