You know how sometimes a podcast or video will strike a chord with you? Well, Shahida Arabi’s YouTube channel, Self-Care Haven, banged a gong in my head today with the topic of “How to Become a Kickass, Empowered Empath in a World of Toxic People.”
For me, the jury’s still out on the concept of being an empath. I’m still puzzling over whether that’s a thing and also whether it applies to me. I think I’m more co-dependent, but growing up in my mom’s household also taught me that a person needs firm, inviolable walls sometimes to maintain sanity. So, naturally, I loved Shahida’s suggestion in this vid about finding at least 10 sacred boundaries for me.
I almost pulled the car over just so I could wrap my mind around that wonderful concept without distraction. (Instead, I just turned off the video until I got to the office so I could indulge my racing mind.)
So what are mine? What are the delineations around me that I define and enforce, despite someone else’s desire to intrude? I made a list and have found that I’m surprisingly black-and-white about some things. I’m mostly a gray-zone person, but some things just don’t fly with me. I think it comes from being around my no-boundaries mother and my (loving but very, very needy) husband.
It’s very, very hard for me to honor my boundaries, because I grew up with uncertainties and negative feedback from family about my worthiness as a person. At times, I’m too porous. Other times, I have a 10-foot-tall brick wall with razor wire rolled along the top edges. Discernment. I’m working on it.
The first step is definition about what matters to me. Next is deciding if that’s healthy. After that, I’ll be enforcing my limits. Here goes my first draft. I noticed that a lot are about basic respect, courtesy, and a distaste for manipulations.
My 10+ Sacred Boundaries
- I don’t tolerate “gotcha” games, big or small. I will call you on it, probably mock you gently with a little humor at first, speak more firmly later on, and then finally limit or stop my interactions with you, if you persist. How far you want to take this is up to you. My boundary on this will not change. [Clarification: I’ve been asked what is a “gotcha game.” It’s hard to define. The person who plays a gotcha game is sort of lying in wait for someone to make a mistake and then crowing with delight and a smirk and calling the other person out on it. Like someone who notices there is leather trim on an old jacket a novice vegan wears, and bringing it up publicly as a “joke” but really to embarrass the person. Or like when your spouse asks you how you’re doing on your diet and you say not bad, and then he tells you, “Oh, by the way, I picked up the little bit of trash there was in the car. Including the Snickers wrapper.” He wants you to know that HE knows you’ve blown your diet. Pisses me off to the rafters every single time. Makes me want to say, “Oh, thanks. Did you put it in the ‘none of your fucking business’ trash can?” It sounds really petty of me when I describe this, but the effect is cumulative.]
- I mind my own finances, always. Exceptions have always, always, ALWAYS burned me.
- I don’t allow others to dig in my purse, browse my phone, or nose around in my home without my express advance permission. Rude! (Exception: I love for people to look at my books; it starts discussions.)
- I decide if you’re invited into my home. Your decision to show up without checking in advance is irritating. (I probably already have my bra off and am in my jammies. Or I’m getting up off the sofa where I was watching videos or napping. Or maybe I haven’t put away the folded clothes yet and I’ll have to clear off a spot on the sofa for you. Forgiveable in some cases, but it’s disrespectful of my space. Egregious or repeated violations will considerably chill our relationship.
- I will thoughtfully consider private or respectful public criticisms. I will disregard rude public or harsh private criticisms because they are punitive, not about guidance toward being a better me. Talk to me with courtesy and discretion, and you won’t find a more humble or receptive person anywhere else.
- Passive-aggressive tactics are not tolerated. Again, I will quietly and calmly but directly call you out on this. And I will work around you in the future.
- I am 100% the owner of any decisions about my bodily health and integrity. Your opinions are just that … yours. Not mine.
- Don’t interrupt me or talk over me. Just don’t. I listen carefully (and at length) to others, and I expect the same respect. My opinion is, “Oh, pardon me for talking while you were interrupting.” My actions are likely to be a thin smile that doesn’t reach my eyes, a marked lack of interest in my response, and then a quick exit … if I’m not feeling confrontational.
- I am 100% in charge of my own bodily presentation/style, whether that applies to my actual body or my garb. Externally, that includes clothing, shoes, eyeglasses, jewelry, hair, nails, or cosmetics. Feel free to make different choices for yourself or to disapprove of me … silently.
- I will intervene and also speak up when I can safely do so if another person is in danger; I won’t stand by.
- I will interrupt and report abuse of another person, and I will stay with that person in a protective role until help comes. I won’t let my fear of disapproval, social censure, or the abuser’s wrath stop me from doing the right thing. This is not “having a hero complex”; this is called being a decent human being.
- I require at least a half-hour’s “down” time, quiet and alone and uninterrupted, after work and again before bed. I *need* some quiet time to nourish myself. This doesn’t count as quiet time if someone breezes in and out of the room, calls out to me through the door, etc.
- I take responsibility for my mistakes. I expect the same from others.
- I take two hours in the morning to get ready, from bed to bath to makeup to clothes to breakfast to car, and I don’t apologize for enjoying the quiet, slow pace of my morning routines.
- I will eat a diet that is healthy and has enough variety and “zing” to appeal to me. I am tired of compromising my preferences to accommodate the bland preferences of others. If that means having different meals for people in the house, so be it.
- I determine my stance on religion and politics (atheist and liberal) regardless of where I live (in my native Bible Belt South, currently). I respect the fact that other people have different paths, and I won’t intrude on your beliefs as long as they don’t leave their footprints on me or others.
What are YOUR sacred boundaries?