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  • Writer's pictureGavin Conochie

Being More Embodied Helps You Have Better Boundaries

I'm finally admitting to myself how deeply uncomfortable I can be with setting boundaries. Being over-available was one of the primary ways I gained approval and acceptance as a child. It set up a pattern for life that meant the only way I knew how to find relief from the sense of over-responsibility I experienced around others was to physically remove or isolate myself. Or I would dissociate, check out of my body so I didn't have to be with the overwhelm.

The message I carried inside was that I could not be around others and still be myself. Other people – whose needs and expectations automatically superseded my own – were not safe to be with for too long. Others represented a threat to my sense of self.

It's important to remember that boundaries are not just there to keep others out. They are also there to keep ourselves in, to give us a sense of containment. It is through the containing boundary that we hold on to our sense of self and maintain our feeling of integrity. Often, this feeling of being able to hold on to our ‘container' is what is lacking in our interactions with others.

Also important to remember is that a boundary can be a meeting place – the place in which you and I encounter one another. It is one of the ways in which we make ourselves visible to one another. If we never let our edges be seen – our needs, our desires, our ‘no' - it's very hard for anyone (including us at times) to get a sense of who we really are.

Ironically, this may make it more likely that someone, not seeing the line in the sand we have oh-so-quietly drawn, will be more likely to overstep.

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