Today sees your hostess discussing boundaries. It’s been on my mind a fair bit this last week, ever since my weekend immersion in a conscious kink workshop to be fair, but beyond that, something I’ve been reflecting on beyond that most obvious reason.
Boundaries are something we should all naturally foster only it’s not quite that simple is it? If we’ve been abused or violated in our formative years our sense of holding good, clear boundaries may be diminished and is often something we really have to work at. If our self esteem is poor, we may be inclined to allow more than is good for us to pass our very permeable no-go line. If we’ve been hurt, our boundaries may be too rigid, forged more from armour than from a healthy knowing of what we desire to let in, and if we’ve been conditioned by the strong opinions of those closest to us, then we may know that something does or does not feel right for us, but feel confusion when that doesn’t fit with those conditioned responses.
Some kinds of conditioning are easier to spot than others, however just because it’s obvious, that doesn’t mean it will have any more or less impact on our lives as we confront what doesn’t work for us. It can be tough to break free from generational or societal boundaries which have been placed upon us when we come to realise something isn’t sitting right with us. For most of us, religion, sex, gender, class and culture are where our greatest boundary challenges lie. Self awareness is the thing that will save us – radical, deep and lasting self knowing. Knowing who you are will save you a whole lot of heartache and suffering, and being willing to remain open to change will also help!
I’ve seen a lot of people challenged lately – challenged in their inner worlds, challenged to hold their centre in the midst of turbulence and confusion, and challenged by their exterior circumstances too. The way to deal with that from where I’m sitting seems to be to really keep our boundaries strong whilst holding our hearts open at the same time…paradox? Not at all – a saving grace in fact! But what happens when we have no idea what those boundaries are, why we have them, or have no consistency in maintaining them? We become like ships on a stormy sea at the mercy of the tides and the winds; rudderless, without a map and confused, in fact it’s fair to say we’re not even steering our own ship any more.
So how do we find and maintain healthy boundaries? We practice, and sex, relationship and intimacy are one fantastic place to practice all of this stuff! Any relationship will do this for us, some more than others, but rather than enter into them all waiting until your boundaries are royally tested, why not get some practice in beforehand.
One of the best places to explore this I’ve ever come across is in fetish and kink spaces where the invisible needs to be made visible fast, and so negotiating boundaries clearly and openly is crucial. Without this, violations easily happen and this is where trauma sets in, however most of us have been traumatised around boundaries for years without even knowing how or why.
At my recent kink weekend, one of the key exercises was the ‘yes/no/maybe’ game. In this game, you get to practice setting your boundaries with another person by exploring clearly a range of possibilities to may want to try out. Staying open, you just get to trust your natural instincts and respond a partner you’re paired up with in the moment – it may sound like this – ‘yes, keep going’ ‘maybe….but not like that’ or a ‘no, that’s a definite no for me’, and if you’re with a person (or you’re the person) who can’t find their/your no, then how can you trust their/your yes?
So boundaries emerge from exploration and openness, self love and trust, integrity and self awareness. They don’t usually emerge in a healthy way from conditioning and fear, ignorance or shame, guilt or repression, so it makes sense that these aren’t the places where you will be able to find and hold yours in any way that is likely to bring you lasting contentment and peace of mind.
Ok, not everyone will want to get kinky to find their boundaries (boo!) but however you decide to find yours, just be sure you are supported, you trust the people you explore with, and you see those people emulating the kind of healthy boundaries you aspire to.
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