Give Yourself the Gift of Boundaries

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I recently read the healthiest people are those who set and maintain healthy boundaries both for themselves and with others.

Interesting.

Boundaries are really just limits, right?  Limits we set for ourselves: “Am I going to eat another Oreo?” Or perhaps, “It’s okay for you to call me a loser. I’m good with that.”  “Oh, and you don’t need to listen to me when I talk because I really don’t matter.” Ouch.  Boundaries are the invisible fences we build around ourselves that marks what is okay and what is not.

This whole boundary thing can be a bit of a head scratcher unless, of course, you won the parent lottery at birth and arrived into a family where boundaries were implemented clearly.  You were treated with love and respect from the word “go” and so healthy boundaries became a part of how you operate.

But let’s say you were yelled at by your parents when you were young.  Or criticized.  Or ignored.  Your parents meant well.  They wanted you to learn but the method was flawed.  So you grew and moved out into the world where you treat yourself with the same harshness.  You are critical of you.  You ignore you.  You may even tolerate this from others.  Why wouldn’t you?  This is what you experienced as normal.  These become your standard, in other words, these become your boundaries.

And so we start the process of recognizing what limits nurture us and which ones squash us down.  The litmus test to hold in your head is the question “Is this choice/action GOOD FOR ME?”  Apply it to EVERY THING…even the actions of others, which of course we don’t control.  But we do control our own choices and responses.  We can let others know what we are willing to do or not do.  BAM!  Instant empowerment.

Easy?  No.  Effective?  Yes.

Make yourself the shining star of your own life.  Like new parents do with their precious baby, who they abundantly adore.  They cherish.  They celebrate.  They pour their time and energy into this beautiful little peanut with such tremendous love and care.  Raise your standards for yourself to this level, the love level.  Show your crazy amazing self how wonderful you are through your actions and the boundaries you set.

What is it my dear friend that will pick you up and make you feel “worth it”???  Because this can only come from within you.  It is our job to set and maintain these parameters for ourselves.

Next post, I will share a few of my favorite ways to Build Better Boundaries.

The Gateway to Calm

 

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Have you ever been working on a problem when you realize the answer was completely obvious?

Several years ago, I remember standing in the parking lot of Sentry squinting from the sun. I felt the heat on my legs from the dark pavement below me, just another hot Wisconsin day. I pressed the button on my key fab to open the car door and there was nothing. No beep. No click. No latch releasing. The fab battery was dead. My stomach hollowed out as I thought about my ice cream melting while I waited for someone to come help me. Who could I call? Then it occurred to me, I could open the car door with the key! Duh! Instant relief and smiles of silliness appear, I think, “Oh yeah, I have a key, that’s funny!”

When it comes to stress and emotions, our breath is very much like my car key on the hot summer day. We always, always, always have it with us but we forget to use it.

Breathing is the ONLY function we can do both voluntarily and involuntarily. It connects the body and the mind making it THE gateway for greater calm and mental focus.

Simple breathing exercises have the power to;

  • ground us in the moment, from scattered to centered
  • change our physiology, from tense to relaxed
  • give us a sense of control, a positive focal point

The plain act of drawing in air and slowly releasing it back to the environment can be healing.

If you are pissed off and want to think more clearly, breathe.
If you are sad and want to release it, blow it out.
If you are revved up and stressed, yep, slow and deep to the rescue.

But don’t take my word for it, practice for yourself. Shift your focus. Try letting the thoughts go for a small piece of time and let the body become the target of your attention. Notice the breath you breathe forever flowing like a faithful stream of life-giving water, in and out.

Controlling the breath leads to a shift in our state of being. Explore counting as you breathe. For example, 5 seconds in, pause, 5 seconds out, pause. This creates mental focus. Or if you seek greater relaxation, extend the out breath. Changing the pace of our breath creates changes in how we feel and/or the tone of our thinking. You may be amazed by how quickly you can notice a difference.

It’s our biology and crazy effective. The more we practice, the more it becomes available to us.

Pause and say hello to yourself a few times through out the day with a minute of fully attentive breaths. It’s okay to do it while you drive or while you shower. Give yourself permission to multitask if you need to. Just make it a habit to breathe consciously and this incredible gentle giant will show up when you need it most to carry you through the muddiest of mud puddles.

 

A Quick Hello…

 

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Miss Charlie Barley

When my dog Charlie feels really safe and relaxed, she rolls onto her back and puts her paws in the air. Her front feet bend like the small arms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex while her back legs splay open shamelessly. She shows her full belly as if to say, “Pet me.” People often squeal with delight and coo softly as they move to her and scratch her chest. She responds with a tail wagging, the universal sign of pure happiness.

In these moments, Charlie drops her normal doggie defenses and opens up to receive. She makes herself vulnerable. She holds no fear, no embarrassment, no worry. Somehow this raw exposure hooks people in and pulls them closer.

This blog is a place of sharing openly and connecting, in other words, the human equivalent of belly exposure and love scratches.

I am driven to share what I love; mindfulness, self-care, and emotional skills. We are all passionate about something,right? Mental health and well being just happen to be what get me excited. My jam. My flow. My North Star. Some people like airplanes, others like food, I get captivated by the invisible world in our heads and hearts.

How we think, what we feel, these form our foundation, our reality. We create it. We build the platform for a fulfilling life with awareness, information and practice. What could be more enticing than that?  Well ok, maybe a few things;)

Let’s begin…