Jack had a problem. He knew his relationships had more potential, but realizing that potential was another matter. Instead of expressing himself freely, Jack found himself withdrawing to maintain the peace or sometimes exploding in anger. Jack needed a more balanced approach, and though he didn’t know it yet, he was about to stumble upon the key to one of his life’s quests. He was about to learn how to Create Strong Boundaries.
As infants, we have no sense of boundaries. The distinction between self and other is something that has to be learned through experience. For many of us, that lack of clearly defined boundaries that started with our families persists for much longer—sometimes for an entire lifetime. When that happens, it’s generally because we have difficulty Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Relationships.
So what do you do in a case like that? You’ve got a boundary issue in your relationship but no way out. The person may be a relative, friend, or colleague, and you feel stuck. You might not like the way the person acts, but you don’t feel comfortable dealing with the situation. Somehow that person is breaking your rules, and you would have to break your own rules to make yourself heard. Or you’re just plain scared. The problem is that if you deny and suppress your emotions, the underlying patterns get lodged in your body and continually resurface in different forms throughout your life.
There is an answer, though. The Body-Psyche Guide to Inner Wisdom provides us with a key for interpreting the signals our bodies and minds regularly send us. In the process, it helps us to unlock the innate power and wisdom needed for Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Relationships—even with our parents. In the following story, we learn how one man, Jack, finally discovered that key in his quest for a more balanced approach to his relationships. In Jack’s case, it all started long ago, in his interaction with his dad…
Withdrawing for safety—From the time Jack was a little kid, he had to deal with a dad who constantly felt the need to make mean or inappropriate comments. As a little kid, Jack mostly just wanted to play, but to play he needed to feel safe. Since he was a lot smaller than his dad and not aggressive by nature, withdrawal made sense as a solution at the time. What Jack didn’t realize was that the pattern of withdrawal, which he now associated with safety and contentment (in the form of play), was getting lodged in his subconscious memory and his body, where it would come to govern his future actions and experiences.
Lashing out in anger—Unfortunately, what works for us as little kids doesn’t always keep working as we grow up and our goals evolve. Jack’s real desire was to make the situation with his dad stop, so when he became a teenager and his sense of power grew with his size, he started to swing in the opposite direction. If his dad’s behavior got to be too much, he’d explode in anger. That didn’t work, either. His dad just kept doing what he did, and Jack felt worse about himself. In the meantime, another pattern had been set, and it too would show up later in his life and contribute to a negative experience and eventual breakup with his girlfriend.
Balance and boundaries—Jack’s real issue was control—control over his own actions and eventually his own circumstances. But real control isn’t something you can force but something that comes from a place of awareness and choice. Denying your own or another person’s needs, thoughts, and feelings only results in more problems both now and down the road. That’s why neither withdrawal nor lashing out could work in the long run, since each was a form of denial in some way. Jack needed to learn how to Create Strong Boundaries. His dad’s behavior regularly crossed an uncomfortable line, so Jack’s withdrawing and lashing out were his way of trying to create boundaries in that relationship. But Jack needed a more centered, productive approach than the extreme reactions that had governed him in the past. The old patterns weren’t satisfying, and he wanted to learn how to express himself honestly and openly. He knew that he couldn’t control other people’s choices, but he could make his own, starting with the choice to explore his subconscious motives and patterns. He also knew that if he didn’t, those patterns would go right on controlling him.
Exploring a New Balance
Although the guided meditation used for Jack was spontaneously created for his specific situation, it’s based on the Body-Psyche Guide to Inner Wisdom, a predictable, consistent body-mind map that helps people understand their body-psyche messages and access their own healing. That means that anyone can use this and similar meditations for their personal growth. You can read more about The Body-Psyche Guide for boundaries and use the guided meditation, Create Strong Boundaries, yourself to strengthen your own boundaries.
Exploring a new body-psyche balance—In Jack’s case, he needed to experience a stronger, more balanced sense of self and a greater feeling of sovereignty over his choices. That meant finding a more centered, powerful Body-Psyche balance, so the meditation specifically explored the relationship between Jack’s body balance and his emotional experience. He found that tiny shifts backwards or forwards—starting from his feet and working his way up through different body parts—related directly to either withdrawal (backwards) or anger (forwards), which is a form action. He also found he was more comfortable withdrawing, so without judging either mode and by exploring the positive intentions of both, he was able to feel his way into a new stance—literally, a new way of standing and moving. From fear and anger, his inner experience started to shift to self-assertion, to standing up for himself and ultimately loving himself.
Physically and emotionally, these were new sensations for Jack, so the process was confusing and even disorienting at times. But Jack was learning that those sensations were a good sign—the sign that his awareness was opening up and that he was reconnecting with himself.
Most importantly, as he began to shed his old patterns, he came to realize that he had a choice in every aspect of his life. And from there, he began to get a sense of his own real power, both the power to choose and the innate power that exists in the body.
Changes in choice equal changes in experience—One of the by-products of that sense of power is that our experience of our relationships naturally becomes more balanced. We no longer need to run away or lash out to be comfortable or feel heard. And because we feel a greater sense of control over ourselves and our lives, it’s easier to see other people’s choices for what they are—their own choices. Feelings of frustration or powerlessness shift to feelings of strength, choice, understanding, and compassion. And what was once a scary situation becomes no big deal as our comfort zone expands. In Jack’s case, his evolving sense of self didn’t change his dad’s behavior, but it allowed him to see it for what it was—the habitual actions of someone who didn’t know how to process his own past wounds. Seeing his dad in a more balanced light also helped Jack to see his romantic relationships in a more balanced, compassionate light, since thos relationships had suffered from some of the same subconscious patterns. And because Jack, like most of us, is basically compassionate, he felt more in tune and happier with himself. He knew now that by exploring little shifts in balance and attitude, he could access the real, consistent power to bring his life in a new and positive direction.
Real compassion and openness begin with healthy boundaries—a healthy sense of self and others. It’s not so much what we experience as how we experience it that determines our reactions. Knowing that we can explore and choose those reactions is a big help, and guided meditations such as the Create Strong Boundaries guided meditation will show you how to make those changes for yourself. Like Jack, we will no longer need to cringe and withdraw or lash out in anger when other people do things we don’t like. Instead, we can express ourselves openly and compassionately, knowing that both we and they have a choice.