After going retrograde from 9/9-11/13, Mars in Aries remains in a post-retrograde shadow phase thru the end of 2020. Translation– in English, please? The astrology supports boundary work, understanding what they are, how they feel in your body. I’ve been working with people on their boundaries. I had a series of dreams this week all about boundaries. My dreams featured boundary after boundary, in their messy, glorious and myriad forms. So, let’s talk about boundaries.
There are many types of boundaries. Like:
Boundaries of time– your sense of timing around what feels good and safe for this moment. This can change moment by moment.
Boundaries of space/awareness– literally, knowing where your consciousness is right now. What you are thinking about and resting your awareness upon. Are you present, or are you elsewhere?
Physical boundaries– your awareness of what’s inside you versus what’s outside. Skin holds your organs inside your body, for instance. Or, your body as distinct and separate from another’s.
Sexual boundaries – your awareness of sexual energy, and what you choose to do with yours.
Psychic boundaries – your special psychic extrasensory sensitivity to yours, others’ and collective and external energies.
Boundaries might alert us to them through: a prickly feeling on your skin. A dislike. A registering of dis-resonance with a person or an environment. Anxiety. Feeling unsafe. Nausea. Shooting pain. Anger. A dropped out feeling in the gut. And more…
The equivalent of a red flag, check-engine light, or low gas tank warning, it’s vital that you learn how you, and you specifically, are alerted to a boundary. Your signs will be personal. This first step, then, is to understand your particular signals and signs that you’ve reached an edge. Only you can know how and when YOU are alerted to a boundary. Your body is an excellent resource, here.
Next, what is it (that prickly feeling, shooting pain, nausea, triggering strong emotion) saying?
Finally, you must ask the all-important question: Now that I’ve recognized this, what do I need to DO about it?
Why do you need to do this? Your Ego relies on your very well-honed ability to listen and to act upon what you want and need, in any given situation, so that you know you are safe, secure and protected. If you do not, you will not feel safe, secure and protected. You can open yourself up to all kinds of crazy. How crazy? If you have a habit of dismissing your boundaries, pretty darn crazy.
Now, some of you won’t need to read beyond this point. Lucky, fortunate, you. You do this naturally. But some of us must work at it.
Because of my massive boundary work for myself, I’ve had the synchronicity of attracting a handful of clients who have come to me with a particular and confusing issue. They complained about being stalked, harassed, bullied, persecuted, by one person or many. Naturally, all of my clients felt extremely confused and afraid. At first, I genuinely doubted I could help these women! But quickly I noticed a pattern. All clients all had a habit of ignoring their Self-knowing. All had a dangerous habit of ignoring that little voice that said, “No. This is not right for me.” They heard the intuitive voice (we always do). They just persisted in willfully ignoring it.
How It Can Be Dangerous to Ignore Your Intuitive Knowing
In Follow the Moonlit Path I talked about a client named Marie. She hated the state in which she lived, and had for many years. She felt unsafe there, but she didn’t move out of state. Then, she started noticing weird things: half drunken milk she didn’t remember drinking left out on the counter (she lived alone). People ringing her doorbell… and when she’d go to answer it no one would be there. She moved one town over. “They” found her, there, too. Crazy, right? All of my clients with boundary issues are intimate with feeling crazy. Another client was bullied, for years, by people at her workplace and struggled to be believed by loved ones. Another attended a school where she felt persecuted during the entire time of her graduate work. All of these women identified their environments as dis-resonant for them, if not altogether toxic. Yet instead of drawing a line, honoring the Ego’s desire to be safe (not to mention happy!), they stayed put, out of fear. Fear of change, of being deported, of not having enough money…
And what followed was way too much trauma, pain and confusion.
The common denominator? Ignoring what I know to be true and right for me. Boundaries exist to keep us safe. But we must learn to listen to and honor them, otherwise they can’t do their job. I often use the glyph of the Sun as an example for the way we must respect our own inner listening and knowing. The Sun’s glyph is a circle around a dot. The dot is the I AM, the Self; the circle is the boundary. We must recognize, get really familiar and intimate with our boundary. It is what protects us. If we don’t honor our hard No’s, our firm edges, everything and anything can seep into our personal space. Similar to the way a runny egg white exists as a cushion to its yolk, we must respect our edge. Otherwise, the yolk (the Self) is unprotected and exposed to all kinds of calamity.
Conditioning Teaches Us Bad Boundary Habits
If you are in the habit of ignoring your boundaries, say, you are a compassionate and understanding person who has learned to put understanding others shortcomings above your own desires and needs… If, in childhood, you were taught to put everyone else’s needs first, your boundaries were repeatedly denied, overlooked, trespassed…or perhaps you were punished or ignored when you put your foot down and said “No,” you have strong conditioning against forming healthy boundaries.
It’s imperative to recognize this. It’s not your fault! People say, “Ugh, I know I have a hard time with boundaries. I just don’t listen to them.” Yes. But you were taught to do that. You were taught to favor that compassion muscle of yours, and to under-utilize the boundary muscle you do have (but haven’t been using) because you were taught to ignore/deny your Self.
This can change. Your habit of ignoring yourself formed because once it was safer to be fuzzy and deferential to others than to draw a hard line for you. Trust me, I know this song and dance. I wasn’t allowed to say No as a child; my boundaries and agency were not honored. This is why it has become so imperative for me to learn about boundaries. Stuff gets REAL when you need to learn such a core lesson. Every single time I ignore that voice that tells me No, this does not feel right for me…certain calamity follows. That’s how I’ve known how important it is for me to learn about boundaries; I get the one-two punch every time I ignore my inner knowing.
I have many stories but one that stands out involves traveling in South America with my husband. John really wanted me to attend a business dinner with his friends. I did not want to go. I was tired, we both were. We fought about it. I went anyway. The dinner dragged on and on in that way European dinners often feel to Americans. At one point I got inexplicably angry, so much so that I had to excuse myself to the restroom and calm down. Later, I recognized that was the exact moment my boundary said: “Enough is enough. You need to go home now.” But I didn’t. What happened the next day was typical for boundary-ignoring; my husband and I both got really sick and remained so for the rest of the trip. When my Intuitive Self knew everyone was overextended and we needed to go, my back went up. Anger, even if it’s out of context and doesn’t “make sense,” is a major check engine light for me.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries, Simplified
Boundaries, the whole subject of them: how to lovingly set them, how to know what feels truly right, when to bend versus when to practice a hard NO, even understanding where your edges are and what those feel like, can feel so darn complicated, confusing and overwhelming for someone who has been conditioned to NOT have them. Here’s a way to break it down.
In a nutshell: Boundaries always alert you to what your Soul truthfully wants to be doing… who it wants to be with, where it wants to be doing this thing, what it wants to be thinking about or focusing upon… at any given moment.
Boundaries tell you what you really and truly want, and honoring what you want will always protect you. Period. End of story.
Therefore, when it comes to boundaries the only question you need to ask is: What do I TRULY WANT right now?
For many, this question leads directly into an inner conflict between the Self and Fear, or the Self and Conditioning, or the Self and the many arguments of the Mind (fear, really). At this point you do have to dig a little deeper than you have been — to get passed the thick layers of conditioning, the Mind’s objections, or the fear of what will happen if you really do let yourself do what you want.
It can feel scary to listen to yourself, to honor yourself, to listen to your Soul’s bottom line Truth, if you’ve been punished or hurt for doing so before. It can feel scary to put yourself first, if you’ve been taught this is wrong and it will cause you pain.
Yet this work is so worth it. Trust me. This, right here, is the beginning of safety, of self-trust, of the kind of confidence and self-honoring and authenticity born of awareness and presence to what’s True for this unique being you are.
How About No?
I remember once reading a tip about how to create boundaries when you’ve struggled to do so. “No” is a difficult word for many of us to say and use, especially if you were conditioned to put others first, or you were not allowed to say it- as is often the case with sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Culturally and socially “No” also has a negative connotation for most of us.
The advice was this: instead of regretfully apologizing for your No, say No with the celebratory enthusiasm of a YES! NO!!! I cannot do this thing! (with big smile, happy energy) Truly, smiles all around for me and you, because I’m celebrating my ability to draw a boundary which is huge positive growth. Around this time, I came across this great sweatshirt, pictured. I immediately bought it.
Like the word “No” written and worn over the heart, your No is deeply loving and self-honoring.
Your boundaries are messages from your Soul. Your Soul only has your happiness at heart.
Listen to your heart.
Such exquisite inner listening relies on your self-honesty and commitment to listening to what you know, see and feel. No matter where your edge is surrounding what feels right and what feels wrong to have healthy boundaries you must commit to inner listening and honoring what you hear. To have healthy boundaries: you must feel that edge, know that edge, and be honest that it’s there.
‘Tis the (astrological) season to strengthen your boundary muscle.
You can do this.