Burglar Proofing Your Home: Benefits of Emotional Boundaries

imagesMost of us have learned to burglar proof our home. We lock our doors when we leave, close the windows, and we don’t invite random strangers off the street to come in and rummage through our possessions. But what about your emotional home, your personal  space? How often do you feel that someone has invaded your space and hijacked your emotions? All of us have friends,co-workers, or family members that may be invaders. They break in and take up space and create emotional havoc in our lives. People that after a conversation leave feeling better, while you’re left feeling robbed. You can’t always avoid them, and it may not be possible to cut them out of your life,but you can learn to protect your space in their presence.

We often mistake being vulnerable for being open or authentic. Being authentic doesn’t mean that everyone gets a free pass to all of you. It means being aware of the environment you’re in and the people you’re with, and choosing what or how much of your story you share. Your story, YOU, should be honored. Someone that does not honor you should not get a free pass to go mucking about in your emotional home. So what do you do? Start by creating clear personal boundaries.

When you don’t have clear boundaries you can feel walked over, twisted up, bent out of shape, powerless, paralyzed, bruised, or always on guard (in other words, you carry the world in your body and with it a lot tension and stress!). It can literally be a painful existence. When you have clear boundaries, others know how to be in relationship with you. They might not like it, they may not always agree with you, but they know what to expect and therefore how to move with you.

One of my favorite quotes is:
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”-Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quote because you wouldn’t let someone walk in your house with dirty feet, and yet so often we let our experience with another person walk through our minds leaving a trail of mess behind them for us to clean up. It’s important to protect your space and create emotional boundaries so that your home doesn’t get pillaged. How do you do that? Below are some practical tools to help protect your personal space before going into a stressful environment or as a means to take care of yourself if you feel like your space has been invaded:

Burglar Proofing Tools: Tools To Protect Your Space Prior To Or During Conflict.
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  • purple-hand-bullet Visualize Boundaries Exercise: Take a comfortable seat and deeply breathe in and out. Notice your feet on the floor, and how your body feels. Begin to imagine that your boundaries had physical qualities. Maybe it’s a big bubble, or maybe a brick wall. Notice what it feels like to experience your boundaries. Now begin to imagine yourself at your most comfortable space. Notice if your boundaries shift at all. Imagine yourself at school or work. Notice if your boundaries change in that environment. Imagine that anyone else’s negativity or emotions coming towards you are immediately deflected by your boundary. Bring yourself back to the present moment,again noticing if your boundaries shift. Notice how your body feels and if any emotions have come up during this exercise. Slowly blink your eyes open and begin to notice things you see around you. Practice makes perfect with visualization of boundaries. The more that you practice this exercise, the easier it is to increase your boundaries when you need more protection. (Courtesy Elizabeth Campbell)
  • purple-hand-bullet Focused Breath and Imagery: “During conflict, it is common to hold your breath or, especially if you are highly sensitive, to mirror the breathing pattern of the person with whom you are having a conflict. By returning to your own breath and deepening it, you can soothe and calm your nervous system and remind yourself you’re okay. If you feel your energetic space is being encroached upon in a conflict, take deep breaths and in the exhale, imagine your breath carrying you further away from the person to give you more space.” (Courtesy of Elizabeth Venart)
    Tools For After A Difficult Encounter:
  • purple-hand-bullet Shake Off The Stress: Small rhythmic movement help ease muscles and the nervous system. Shake out your hands, your shoulders, your hips, your legs, and your feet. Let your whole body shake and shimmy and let out your breathe in a big sigh. Imagine the negative energy shaking right off your body and getting soaked up by the ground. (Courtesy Brittiney George)
  • purple-hand-bullet Rinse Off The Stress: Water is a great energy conductor. Run water over your arms and hands. Imagine that you’re peeling an energetic glove off from your elbow to your fingertips and letting the negative energy or anxiety run right down the drain. This is a great exercise to do in the shower. Imagine that you’re washing of the anxiety or stress and letting it all run down the drain. (Courtesy Brittiney George)
  • purple-hand-bullet Music: Music is a great way to shift your energy. It not only lets you get out stress and anxiety vocally, but can help to move stuck energy in the body. Sing in your car; sing in your shower, sing anywhere you’re comfortable. It doesn’t have to sound pretty or even melodic, just put on your favorite song and let yourself sing!

Brittiney George, BS, CRS, ICI, CEIM, is a somatic therapist and teaching assistant at The Somatic Therapy Center. She is also a Movement Practitioner and teaches gentle, exploratory movement classes at The Resiliency Center in Flourtown, PA. She also co-leads Connection, Expression and Movement (CEM), a monthly workshop series focusing on bodymind integration. Brittiney helps her clients find their ground again when they feel thrown by life by tapping the wisdom of their bodies so they can live from their heart, speak their truth, reduce stress, and create new patterns of movement and choice in their life.