In order to manifest your greatest potential, it is necessary to have effective boundaries—to know where you begin and end; to do what you wish to do and not what you believe is expected of you (something that often creates resentment); to give with real love and not because giving is expected. In coaching, I sometimes encounter what I call “common boundary myths” among my clients. Do any of these ideas seem familiar to you? Myth #1: If I set boundaries, I will hurt others. If you set boundaries, you may fear that your limits will hurt someone else, particularly someone who seems to really need you. For example, let’s say a friend needs you to do a favor for her—but this favor greatly impacts your plans for free time which you have very little of and desperately need for your own balance. You are kind to this friend and often help her. In reality, appropriate boundaries don’t control or hurt anyone. Saying no to this person who is responsible for getting her own needs met really doesn’t hurt her. She may have to seek elsewhere to have her needs met, but the question is more for you: Are you okay not being the one who is rescuing or helping her? Are you okay not being the one who is needed? Often, poor boundaries result when a person has a need to feel needed or to be a rescuer of others. Myth #2: If I set boundaries, I am being selfish. One of my clients indicated that she had a deep-seated fear of being selfish, of being interested in her own concerns over those of others. Her mother had instilled in her a belief that putting herself last was important if she wished to be loving and kind. Interestingly, having appropriate boundaries actually increases our ability to care for others. When we give with full awareness and conscious choice, we value ourselves and the other person in the process. We make a choice to give because it is what we want to do, not what we believe we must do. If a lack of boundaries causes us to mismanage our own energy, our own soul, then saying no is an important way to protect ourselves and each other. Myth #3: If I set boundaries, I may be rejected. Often we participate in “people pleasing” as a way to be loved. We may fear that we are not nice enough and that, as a result, someone may reject or leave us. This can create a false presence in that we are presenting one way and yet feeling another. We may even end up feeling resentful. Having good boundaries with others is a necessary and natural component in all effective relationships.
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The Birth of the Program
In my role as a business communications trainer and coach for more than twenty years, I had met many people, particularly women, who felt that their lives were fragmented and laden with heavy responsibilities. There was always more to do than possible, and balance was simply a concept but never a real possibility. So I began to design a program that I thought would provide others with a practical opportunity to create greater balance in their lives.
In trying to understand the meaning of the heart in my vision, I was led to the concept of heart consciousness and the works of Dr. Dean Ornish and the HeartMath Institute, among others. Repeatedly, the research suggested that the heart has a unique intelligence unto itself. I understood that when people accessed their heart intelligence, they were able to achieve greater life balance.
In 1998, I introduced the first "Leading from the Heart" program for women. This 8-week program became an evolutionary process, which guided and continues to guide, both women and men to greater life consciousness and a deeper understanding of themselves. To date, more than 500 people have taken the program, and over a 1,000 have become clients of Heartliving consciousness.
Welcome to Heartliving!
Cynthia’s Inspiring Story
My desire to empower others through heart-consciousness began with a trip to Bosnia in April 1997. I was one of thousands participating in an evening vigil for peace in St. James' Church in Medjugorje.
The church, which holds 3,000 people, was so packed that every inch of space was taken with a person kneeling or standing. People from over 18 different countries had gathered. As I knelt on the marble floor in the back of the church, the leader asked us to pray.
As we were praying, a vision came to me of an old crone, wearing a dark cloak. Her shoulders were bent, but from the opening in the front of her cloak, I could see that she had a multi-layered heart from which people were leaping. They of all nationalities and emotions—old, young, angry, joyful, and all leaping from the old woman's heart. It was an incredibly powerful image that I will never forget.
Exploring the Meaning
While the meaning of this vision was not readily apparent to me, I knew that it would ultimately be life changing.
At the time of the trip, I was an administrative director at Old Dominion University, locked in an extremely work-intensive job. My sister had initially informed me that she would be taking a trip to Bosnia to pray for world peace. I had thought that I might be able to support her by helping with finances. Unexpectedly, she asked me to go with her. Even though my life was incredibly busy and my administrative job full of heavy responsibilities that were hard to delegate, I knew that this was an opportunity that I must take. It would allow me to step out of my current lifestyle and do some much-needed soul searching. I had so many questions: What am I doing with my life? Why am I here? What contribution could I be making?
Upon returning to Norfolk, I spent many hours meditating on the heart vision. Within a month, I knew that I would leave my university position and that my new work would include working with others, initially women, to authentically express themselves in a safe, healing environment.