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Easy Steps to Setting Boundaries

Trauma and our upbringing can create porous boundaries. Healing these traumas is the best solution. But in the meantime, these simple tricks can help.

The key to creating and maintaining healthy boundaries is resolving trauma. When we experience trauma, we numb out and parts of our psyche disconnect in order for us to handle what happened. Resolving trauma means feeling it—remembering in a literal sense of the word: Bringing each dismembered part of your psyche back into the body so you can process the unfinished pain you hold inside.

Think of these traumas as bubbles inside of you. The bubbles can be big or small. They are unfelt, numbed out and taking up valuable space and using your precious energy to stay hidden. When we begin to notice these pockets, they often hurt–and our minds are afraid to be present with the pain. But as these numb spots begin to thaw, you relax the tension and inhabit these areas again—giving you more vitality and allowing you to become stronger and more centered.

Eventually, enough of the numbed out areas become vital, and you can easily stay in your body. This translates to solid and appropriate boundaries. When we are fully present and embodied, our protections are no longer necessary. We can feel the world around us, trust our instincts and no longer be overwhelmed or drained.

This process can take time—most of us have many layers of trauma, much of it from times we can’t consciously remember. This is why somatic therapy, such as MFR or Peter Levine’s work is so important—our body remembers, even when our minds don’t. We need to feel those areas again. This is how we come back fully to ourselves.

Because this doesn’t happen overnight, learning to take care of ourselves is vital.  We need to change habits and implement strategies to protect ourselves from constantly retriggering our traumas. This is where “boundary setting” comes into play. Yes, there will come a day when we know our boundaries instinctively again. But in the meantime, we need to intentionally set them.

If you feel overwhelmed or drained by being in the world, here are some things you can do.

Try these self-care techniques to feel more solid in the morning:

  • Get as centered as you can. Visualize your solar plexus strong and bright, like the sun. Feel your breath in your torso and down to your pelvis. Feel your energy right in the middle, extending equally to the back, the front and sides of your body. Notice this energy as a warm sensation of love. From the center, feel the solar plexus reach through the energy channels of your legs and into your feet. And from the center, see this strength support your heart and radiate out through your hands, open the throat and head.
  • Feel your boundaries. See your boundaries of your energy field, like a membrane surrounding you, a few feet around your body. Set the intention that this membrane knows how to let the nutrition in and the waste out and that it protects the vital parts of you from anything that doesn’t belong there. You can use sun salutations or qi gong to intentionally feel those edges, if that helps.
  • Feel your feet. Notice how they are rooted into the earth, and know that you are safe. Visualize the nutrients and support drawing up through your feet and legs, like water drawing up a plant, giving you what you need to naturally bloom.
  • Move and stretch and shake your body. This helps free up stuck and numb areas. Breathe into the numb or painful areas, just being present with them. This is also a great thing to do at the end of the day, after you’ve been around others if you feel you may have taken on some energy that isn’t yours.

Try to weave these ideas into your life:

  • Learn to say no. Say yes when the yes is really there. Say no when you feel aversion or hesitation. This requires practice tuning into what you really want, and being brave enough to say it.
  • Tell the truth. This is an expansion on learning to say no. It requires knowing what you want and need, saying it and standing strong in it. Sometimes this means saying something that might trigger someone else, and that requires bravery. And sometimes this practice shows you areas of your life that are not in integrity, so this may require making some changes.
  • Speak up. Tribalism is one of the most powerful forces out there. Belonging helps us feel less cut off from the love and connection of others. Even though this is important, don’t let it dim your light or invade your boundaries. So often, we stay quiet or keep ourselves small when we have something to say or we know something isn’t right. Speaking up not only helps us to shine, it can open the door for others to be brave and speak up too.

Sometimes we pick up energy, despite our best efforts. If this happens, there are a few easy things to do during the day or after a day of work or being around others:

  • Use the earth to clear your energy field: Take a shower and see it washing your aura clean. Take a sea salt bath, or a walk in nature. This helps find your center and keep you clear.
  • Intention: Ask your higher power to help remove anything that isn’t yours and to return any energy that you may have leaked out. Give the worries, stresses and energies over and let them go. You may even picture unloading them, like you’re emptying a backpack and laying it down. Trust that you can do this and you are more powerful than anything that has come into your field. Feel the relief.
  • Do an energy-clearing sweep: Breathe deeply into your belly. Exhale completely through the nose, then extra through the mouth. While your breath is empty, sweep your hand from the center of your solar plexus out to the sides. This helps clear out any empathic energy. Then take a few deep breaths, feeling your own energy fill this area.
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