Conscious boundaries


We live behind fences and walls. We build these to keep people out, to keep animals in, to demarcate our living space. A fence, a wall is a cultural statement of mine versus yours.  Invitation or permission will allow you passage through a gate of sorts to the others side. Usually there is agreement, sometimes not.  Imagine the difference between the unsolicited door knocking salesman versus your dinner guests arriving for the evening.

The social setting of our man made boundaries exists throughout society, culture and history.  What I invite you to do this week is work with the concept and idea of fences and walls. I would like to start with their existence and ask you to notice what you see. Take a walk in your neighbourhood. Notice what people have on their property. Notice the functionality, design, appearance.  Notice to what extent people have simply a decorative fence versus a fortress size cement rendered brick wall.  It is all there.  Consider the use of fences and walls as you travel from the city to the country. What changes? What do you notice?

Ok so enough research. Enough observation of our cultural architecture.  

Well consider this...What is a wall or a fence but a boundary, right?

So now I would like to take the metaphor to you. We surround ourselves with walls and fences. We build these as boundaries around ourselves. They work for us and against us depending on the origin and motivation for building.  

Let’s look at your life in terms of what walls and fences you have built around you.  This is not so easy. We don’t see the physicality of our barriers. We show them through our behaviours and actions. We maintain them with our thoughts and ideas.  From the origination of a feeling and thought to an expression of your way of being we can all see the fences and walls you erect in your life.

Just like real fences and walls there are useful purposes for their existence. In this case we are talking about conscious boundaries. We all need conscious boundaries. It is when these are compromised that we often suffer on many levels. We compromise who we are to others, we give in, we let others trample over us, take advantage of us. With the absence of conscious boundaries there is no discernment of what is right or not right for us.

Much like real fences and walls our boundaries are as unique as we are. They also match and reflect where we are in our life. If we are going through a particularly sensitive or tough time then we might block out a lot more than usual. If we are in a good patch, feeling confident, riding the waves of success, we may relax a bit more.

Here is what matters.  Conscious boundaries are important. We keep a sense of our self and stand true to this. We maintain self alignment by not letting other people or experiences around us affect us as much. We stand strong and resilient.

The absence of boundaries will possibly lead to us taking on other people’s issues as our own, doing too much, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. We become like sponges.

Now the trick is to create conscious boundaries in our life by imagining what they could be like. I do this. I do this because it is my way of helping my mind deal with what happens in the world. I imagine myself surrounded in a big bubble of light. I see myself protected and safe. At the same time I imagine that if I encounter anything that is positive and loving that I will be open to engage with this experience. Likewise if I encounter something negative and draining I  aim to keep a healthy distance. I build my boundaries to do just this. In my imagination I make my boundaries intelligent enough to sense when I will be ok and when I will not.

Now sometimes things get through and I feel a bit messed up. Just like the fence or the wall needs a repair so do my boundaries. My own self awareness of my sense of self and what is working for me helps me know when to do some maintenance and self repair. Sometimes I simply need to take time out. Other times I need reflection. And other times I need a recharge of energy from others that I like to be with. I also notice when I let my defences down and when I don’t.  So after learning I go to the next experience better prepared.

Now consider what conscious boundaries you are creating in your world. How are you going about your day? How are you with friends, family, colleagues?  It is time to take stock and align yourself with what supports you and detach from that which does not.


Jenn Shallvey