Negotiating Space: Inside and Outside
Today, I wanted to explore the relationship between anxiety, and personal boundaries.
Sometimes, when we are unclear about our personal boundaries, or the boundaries of the people with whom we are interacting, it can generate tremendous anxiety.
In my work, it's supremely important to realize that our boundaries evolve out of a playful exploration of our environments and our inner responses to these environments, which is first and foremost organized by the body. Those “signals” or felt experiences are then translated into “feelings,” which we then cognitively organize into thoughts and beliefs about the environment and our responses to it.
Thus, in order to build a robust and useful vocabulary for boundaries, we must access the body, our creativity, and cognitive reframing (which are the three pillars of my unique approach for working with attachment wounding, called The MacWilliam Method™).
If you have ever wondered…
- Whose feelings get prioritized in a relationship, and when?
- What is the right and wrong way to set boundaries in a relationship?
- How do I know when my needs are too "needy"?
- How much do I give up what I want because it conflicts with what my partner wants in service of the relationship?
- When is it okay to prioritize myself?
- How do I know what I really want versus what my partner wants?
- How much sex and physical affection is normal?
- How do I know if my feelings are real?
It is likely that boundaries have been a struggle for you, and created a lot of anxiety.
The Goal for Today's Activity...
In today's exercise, we address this concept of boundaries from the outside, in. With clarity of boundaries, comes increasing security and decreasing feelings of anxiety.
We begin by looking at the physical characteristics and boundaries of the environment and personal spaces that you inhabit the most, and illustrate this by drawing a blueprint of your home.
Then we draw a representation of how you relationally experience and inhabit the spaces between you and the people in your home.
Then we draw a representation of how you inhabit the and experience the space within yourself!
We also continue to build up on our visual vocabulary by using line, color and shape to illustrate the emotional boundaries and limitations we experience in our physical, relational, and inner spaces.
Today's activity is intended to afford you some clarity by addressing this in a very concrete, hands-on manner.
What to Be Aware of...
Taking responsibility for our feelings doesn’t mean that others don’t have an influence over our feelings. Or that those individuals shouldn’t be held accountable for the impact of their behaviors (particularly if they are hurtful and mean spirited).
Given that, each partner is responsible for the degree to which they allow the other’s influence to affect them, and what actions they might take as a result of that influence. This involves establishing clarity of intention, expectations, and/or boundaries, which stems from being in alignment with our own source energy.
- For example, a boundary response begins as an internal feeling: “I don’t like feeling disrespected.”
- Then we tend to draw a boundary line, or create a rule for ourselves, surrounding our conditions: “I refuse to let anyone disrespect me.”
- Which then becomes an expectation: “I expect to be respected in my relationships.”
When we fear the influence of others, or of being too influential over others (emotionally or otherwise), it's usually because we distrust ourselves, are unclear about our boundaries, and/or underestimate or overestimate our own power.
In other words, we violate our own rules and begin compromising our own expectations. And we are more vulnerable to this when we feel disconnected from what truly makes us powerful--and that is access to our own True Self, or Source energy. If that is the case, anxiety often results.
Supplies You Will Need...
- Pen or pencil
- Colored utensils (markers, crayons, colored pencils, or pastels will do)
- Paper or sketchbook
- Draw a blueprint of your home.
- Draw a representation of how you relationally experience and inhabit the spaces between you and the people in your home.
- Draw a representation of how you inhabit the and experience the space within yourself!
- Be sure to watch the video for further detail!
If you struggle to define your own emotional boundaries, here are 7 journal prompts to help you…
- In order to feel safe emotionally, I need...
- I feel the most unsafe in relationships when...
- I feel the most excited and connected when...
- I am the most attracted to...
- I am the least attracted to...
- I would describe my relationship to my own emotions as...
- I would like my relationship to my own emotions to be...
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