Danielle LaPorte, international speaker, poet, and author of the newly released White Hot Truth, writes about establishing healthy boundaries that protect your well-being and bring you joy.
The day I sent a text to a former partner that said, “Please stay off my property,” my hands were shaking. But I knew it was a big leap toward self-respect. And sanity. And my power. Setting boundaries is challenging for most people. It’s especially tough for women who are trying to live holistic lives—be kind, work on forgiveness, use eco—friendly lipstick, get to yoga, and keep it positive.
At some point in your life, creating boundaries might feel like the most hard-core inner work that you’ve ever been forced to do. You might worry about being cut out of the will, or blocked from your big dream, or that lies will get circulated about you—by the people on the other side of your new boundaries. That they might hurl “I knew it!” projections at you: “I knew you were cold. I knew you were unreliable. I knew you were capable of this.” And all you need to say in return is, “Yes. Yes, I am capable of this—this radical thing called having standards.”
Setting healthy boundaries take some practice. And there’s a difference between creating some smart limitations for the people in your life, and going crazy warrior passive aggressive defensive with the folks you want to be more respectful of you. Boundaries aren’t the same as barriers. Whereas boundaries are proactively on the offense, barriers are hyperactively on the defense.
Think of it this way: Boundaries are like a fence with a gate—the energy can come and go and you have space to roam freely and privately behind the fence. You can make it a white picket fence or something more … electric. It’s your fence. The point is you feel safe and more peaceful.
Barriers are like a heavy shield that you have to drag around with you all of the time, ready to defend yourself from attacks, but leaving the rest of yourself unprotected. It’s not very peaceful. Being on guard all the time is anxiety-inducing. You expend your energy, and then you wait for the next attack, hoping it doesn’t happen. You can’t relax in that position. You’re still focused entirely on whatever you’re trying to protect yourself from.
Upholding boundaries takes some practice. You might go a bit overboard until you get the hang of it. You put locks on the doors and get a guard dog when all you had to do was say, “I need to cancel lunch.” You might quit the committee when all you needed to do was Skype into meetings instead of making the long commute. Or maybe your first iteration of boundaries is way too flimsy (hopefulness is a hard habit to break)—and you realize that you’re maxed out and need to clear your calendar for six months. And get a guard dog.
Here’s the thing: Your boundaries might indeed hurt someone. You may offend someone. You may break someone’s heart, and your heart will break for them. You will—and this is very counter to the general New Age vibe—create disharmony. But when you let people take advantage of you, when you ignore the mismatch between their actions and their words, when you let someone call you things that you are not, you are disrespecting your Truth. That is the ultimate disharmony. And no true good can come of it.
Because your boundaries protect your well-being and joy, you will have more love— and patience and understanding to give when you choose. When you’re present, you’ll be really present. You won’t be emotionally shut down. You’ll emotionally clear—crystal clear. When you respect your valuable time, when you listen to what your body tells you, when you create space for peace in your life—you are in harmony with your soul.
You want to be kind, loving, and harmonious? Of course, you do. Then respect your ideals. Look up to yourself. Raise your standards for love, and the universe will meet you there.