It is not clear who coined this gem of a statement, Brene Brown uses it in “Dare to Lead,” as a way for us to look at how we think and the narratives that we shape around the circumstances of our lives. This is the first step in developing an effective boundary. Having a healthy boundary process (yes, process) is essential to living relationally. In RLT, we speak and educate about boundaries in very practical terms. Before we do that though, I think a few definitions are important. Most importantly, the difference between a boundary and a limit.
Boundary- a psychological process that allows you to both protect yourself effectively from the outside world and contain yourself so that your “stuff” doesn’t get to the outside world and those people around us.
Limit- an actual term that you set. Clear and Succinct.
A great way to think about boundaries is to think of them as “skin” for the psyche. What would happen if we didn’t have skin to cover our bodies? We would get all kinds of junk in our bodies. We would get snagged on all sorts of random things. Our insides would fall out, creating all kinds of grossness. But thankfully we have our skin to both PROTECT and CONTAIN us. Notice the all caps- it’s important.
First, “What story am I telling myself about what is going on?” Is it a fact (something most people would agree on) or is it an interpretation (one person’s take on the situation).
Then for the PROTECTIVE boundary ask –
Is this true for me?
Is this mine to take on?
Is this something I need to hear?
For the CONTAINING boundary ask-
Is this something I need to say or express?
“Do I need to manage my own emotions around this before I put it on anyone else?” or “Am I dealing or dumping?”
A few important things to remember is that boundaries can be both too rigid and too permeable. It is referred to as a process, because it is a constant awareness of yourself and the other person. You have to have very thick rigid boundaries with some people (a bully) and others you need to be more open and flexible (a trusted friend).
What we have seen during this session…
People often don’t think or realize they have the ability to mentally shield themselves from things that are happening. The boundary exercise is a game changer for most people, it is a practical way to begin practicing how not to react to everything.