Have you ever talked to someone many times and yet still have no sense of who they are? Or maybe you have had a 5 minute conversation with someone else and you would invite them to your next birthday party – right there and then?
The lights are on but nobody’s home
The weird part is that the ‘who are they’ person is not just a certain personality type ie. shy – they may be loud but you still come away none the wiser. Same goes for the ‘forever friends in the first 5 minutes’ person – they may be quiet but you get a strong sense of who they are. I think that might be the clue we are looking for – they have a strong sense of who they are too.
I have never considered myself an ‘in crowd’ type of person – more of ‘toe in’ but certainly not more than a digit or two. Maybe because of this I am fascinated by why some people are have a magnetic quality about them. Now I am older my discernment for what I want to be ‘in’ has certainly grown. One difference now is that I am much slower to discount my first impressions because they are most often made up of non-verbal clues that are on the money in the long run and I know I have been ‘sweet talked’ into going against my better judgement in the past.
Shifting through these observations, like a gold-miner with a sieve hunting for nuggets of meaning, I came up with the idea that:
‘It’s all about boundaries. If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe from the outside world, you don’t feel safe showing yourself to the outside world’.
I believe we need ‘boundary holding’ skills to have a strong sense of who we are and feel safe to show our true selves to the world. Why would we have a skills gap in creating and maintaining boundaries? Did our parents model good boundary holding within and without the family for you to learn from? Did they respect your boundaries or lecture you for hours disregarding your feelings?
Boundaries 101 – skill gap
Before we dive headlong down the ‘all my problems are my parents fault’ victim slippery slide let’s just call it a skills gap. The old adage that ‘a child is raised by a village’ seldom applies anymore, so we don’t always have access to someone with high emotional intelligence that can teach us the ABC’s of emotional literacy such a maintaining loving boundaries. No wonder parenting can come as a bit of shock… (sure did for me!).
If we want to close this skills gap we best have a look at the ways we can hold our boundaries. Let’s think kings, queens, knights and castles. We can use swords and spears (picture opinionated delivery of strong words that attack others for their conflicting points of view) or a moat (energetic equivalent of living like a hermit keeping everyone away aka dissociation or ignore dissenters). The last alternative is to calmly hold our ground on issues that are important to us with equanimity – not making anyone wrong if they don’t agree yet not rolling on our backs with our ideals in the air at the slightest sign of conflict.
Throw a shrimp on the bbq mate
I am lucky enough to have some really kind and compassionate people who give me a safe space to practice loving boundaries. In turn this gives me confidence to show my true self to the world but sometimes I still squirm like a shrimp on a bbq when I meet opposition, criticism or even incongruent behaviour (say one thing – do any other).
My stuff or yours?
Some of the best advice I ever heard was ‘what other people think of me is none of my business’ – this is not an open ticket to be an arse but rather a reminder that often the issues they have with me is their ‘stuff’, not mine. If I worry too much about the opinion of others they I am living ‘outside in’ rather than ‘inside out’ ie. I am prioritising how I may be perceived over how I feel.
I invite you to live in full colour with a laser light show and music blasting – no one else can fill your space like you do! Clear boundaries create a safe zone for your to be yourself and calmly choose what we want in our lives and happily say ‘that’s not me’ when something doesn’t fit – no guilt, no shame, now worries!
Please share with your friends as they may need some boundary skills and a reminder to shine brightly for all they are worth too.