The conventional "wisdom" about boundaries is anything but wise. Also, a great deal of the way most people do boundaries is performative as hell. And, as you already know, I am all about dismantling performative anything.
I believe that to be kind, compassionate, true and free, boundaries need to be radically embodied. That is, they need to honor the needs of our body and also be rooted in our lived experience, our values, and what we hold most dear. And when boundaries rise from embodiment and from our truth and wisdom they feel so good! Even when they're hard and uncomfortable.
So, how is it that I came to do this work?
A few years ago, thanks to my beloved friend Jessica Vázquez, I met the wonderful and fiercely kind Randi Buckley. The way she approaches boundaries changed my life, so much so that I trained with her as a Certified Healthy Boundaries for Kind People Coach.
Jess introduced me to Randi's work because I shared how difficult I was finding it to set boundaries that best supported my wellbeing in my medical practice. From keeping hours that allowed for rest and replenishment to setting (and sticking to) fees that allowed me to meet my needs. And of course I struggled with boundaries in other areas too.
When I met Randi, even the word boundaries made me deeply uncomfortable. It was something I felt I sucked at, and none of the approaches I was familiar with made room for all of me. Often when I wanted to set a boundary I was caught in FOMO (fear of missing out) or FODO (fear of disappointing others). And when trying to communicate my boundaries I frequently found myself offering the longest explanations and apologizing. This often ended in me negotiating or yielding, and then feeling shame and resentment.
A few examples of my boundary challenges:
- Pushing myself physically to perform at a certain level (anywhere from not sleeping enough to pushing myself too far on my yoga mat);
- Saying yes to every request for my time and attention (both in my personal life and professionally) and then resenting family members and patients;
- Endlessly over-committing and then feeling guilty for not delivering the way I wanted to;
- Never asking for help.
This last one may seem interesting to you in a list of boundary challenges. The thing is, the extreme of rigidity (as in not letting something in) is also a sign of not having boundaries that best support us or that invite what we want into our lives. One of my favorite boundary metaphors - and there are many - is that boundaries are the scaffolding for our full life.
The first thing that made me fall in love with this approach to boundaries was that it started with me and my unique needs and personality - not with a list of what some expert deemed to be "healthy" boundaries. It was about showing up lovingly for myself and others. About discovering and honoring both my yes's and my no's.
I'll share one example. One of my values is generosity. And through the lens of this work I realized that many of the things I was doing in the name of generosity were anything but. Some of them appeared generous toward others, but they were not generous toward myself - and if generosity (or kindness, or compassion, or truth) doesn't include me, then it is not really generosity (or kindness, or...). I found that many of the things I did were my attempt to provide care or love, but they came at a great cost to me. Part of that cost was resentment. I came to see clearly that if part of the gift of care or love I was trying to give was resentment it was not much of a gift at all. The true gift, both to myself and to others, is for my yes or no to be radically embodied and aligned with my needs and values. It is to notice fear and experiences of unworthiness and offer myself compassion while I choose not to act from that fear or feeling of unworthiness. To instead ask: what would generosity do? What would fierce kindness do?
This work is all about choosing what is best for you at any given time. It is about learning to get comfortable with your needs and desires, and also with your fumblings. I will not say I am the boundary queen, that boundaries are not ever challenging for me, or anything of the sort. What I will say is that these days I feel pretty skilled and resourced with boundaries. Each day my asking voice is clearer, and in the words of Brené Brown, I can more often stand my ground without puffing or shrinking. And this can be true for you too.
Through our Radically Embodied Boundaries work together, you will:
- Redefine what boundaries mean to you so that they feel good, they serve you, honor your values, and offer you comfort.
- Create a container of concentric Fierce Kindness.
- Create a framework that you can always and forever turn to, to house and support your boundaries.
- Learn how to keep calm and stay the course when triggered. Cultivate and repair boundaries with yourself. Perhaps some that you didn’t know we’re in need of repair.
- Find your unique and specific tools for how to cultivate and tend to your boundaries.
- Learn to implement boundaries in all aspects of your life and how to articulate them to new folks and even to folks who aren’t used to you having them, while navigating backlash with grace.
- The Secret Language of Radically Embodied Boundaries- This isn’t about sugar-coating, patronizing, or inauthentic communication. It’s about speaking your truth in a way that comes from the heart and your embodied experience.
- Find your way back when you get lost, overwhelmed or confused, and transform toxic relationships with fierce kindness.
What can this look like for you?
- Lifting the weight of always "doing the right thing" for everyone else, at a cost to yourself, so that you can experience the freedom and joy of doing what is important and valuable to you, and making that your gift to the world.
- Feeling grounded and clear when standing up for something you believe in, instead of feeling paralyzed.
- Saying yes or no with grace and kindness, instead of aggressively.
- Break free from the spell, hold and gaslighting of narcissists and bullies. Even when they are your relatives.
- Learning to clearly, firmly and unapologetically ask for - and get - what you need.
- If you're a professional caregiver, making sure that your needs are met so that your clients / patients get the best version of you, and you can truly be there for them without feeling burdened or resentful. This allows for you to continue doing such important work for as long as you want to, instead of burning out.
If you are deeply longing for Radically Embodied Boundaries, schedule a mini-session to discover what they look like for you together.
I am also currently working on putting together a 4-month group program. If you want me to keep you posted about this and other offerings, subscribe to my newsletter.