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.
Your breathing patterns reflect your engagement with your world. As a certified Breathwork practitioner, I was trained to evaluate a person’s breathing patterns, understanding that the “in-breath” is considered “our will” (our connection with life) and the “out-breath” (or exhale) is considered to represent our relationship to God’s will (the process of surrendering and letting go). Interestingly when a person is anxious or trying to control life, he or she typically has a short exhale pattern.
Throughout the day, check in with your breathing. Is it shallow and tight? Are you tense, angry, anxious, or relaxed? If so, it is most likely reflected in your breathing. You might even be holding your breath as a way not to feel your emotions, particularly if they are negative.
Your breathing serves to connect you with yourself and others, so that not breathing fully can be an unconscious defense mechanism for disconnecting from emotions you’d rather not feel. Even though shallow breathing can lessen your ability to feel your emotions, it can also repress them so that you create a pressure cooker of emotions internally, creating dis-ease in the body.
To promote better health:
- Check in with your breathing periodically throughout the day. Are you taking short, shallow breaths or is your breathing deep and relaxed?
- Decide what you have going on emotionally and how does your breathing at that moment might reflect this?
- If you realize that your breathing is shallow, take deeper breaths and check in with how you are feeling.
- Are you able to expand the lower abdomen as you breathe in, opening the lower chakras with the breath? (A chakra is an energy center in the body. My energy medicine teacher, Caroline Myss, suggested that all disease originates in blockages in the first 3 chakras.)
With every inhalation, mentally reinforce that you are opening your body to a healthy flow of energy. The dance of your breathing will tell you much about your relationship to life!
Tremendous power exists in the present moment, and there are three magic words I use in my coaching to remind you that today is a new day and therefore new possibilities exist. You don’t have to drag your history along with you! Watch this video to learn more.