Healthy boundaries can protect us physically and emotionally. Once again, nature plays this out in a very visible and simple fashion; Watching my horses interact I can see them enforce their personal boundaries without hesitation. Just like us, each horse has a personal preference for space and they are not afraid to ask for that space within the herd to feel safe.
So why is it we sometimes have a difficult time with this? Why will we put ourselves into a stressful or dangerous situation even though we feel our personal boundaries are being challenged?
Most often, especially for women, our intuition and intellect get overridden by our emotions. We can be programmed for this override from life experiences (Family influences, for instance can be a subconscious driver). That can be a dangerous thing.
Did you know, that women who fell prey to an attacker in an elevator later admitted they had a “gut” feeling that they should have vacated the elevator? When they were later interviewed and asked why they did not step off, the majority of them confessed, in essence, that they were afraid to hurt the man’s feelings.
This was a total stranger, and yet if you are honest, some of you reading this could admit you would be tempted to feel the same way in that situation. This is where thinking must override emotions and, if we are clear on our boundaries, it’s easier to make the decisions that could keep us from harm, and make them quickly!
What about emotional safety?
That’s an example of physical safety, but what about emotional safety? There are so many examples that could demonstrate this, but I’ll volunteer one of my emotional boundaries in social settings: I avoid gossip. I learned early on how much emotional drama could be driven from a gossip conversation. Even if I stay silent, I am still participating by listening, and thus I am partly responsible for any misunderstandings or derogatory actions that can escalate from that type of talk. So, to protect myself emotionally, I will literally interrupt the gossip, and excuse myself. Simple, but I feel safe!
The horses in my herd show no hesitation about enforcing their boundaries. They are extremely efficient in the use of their energy, and so they spend none worrying about the possibility of hurting another horse’s feelings!
Think of our reservoir of energy…
If we think of our emotional energy as a reservoir that is full at the top of each day, we would do well to picture how efficiently we could use our energy in our day! After all, once it’s depleted, it’s gone. Ever get the “grumpies”, feel short-tempered or just blown-out exhausted at the end of a day? That’s depleted!
Personally, I’d rather budget my energy to positive things and those conversations and people that lift me up and result in a feeling of abundance. Please, in no way consider this an endorsement for lack of compassion or empathy… that is part of what makes us magnificently human. But, where our physical or emotional safety is in jeopardy then we need to take action to stay safe. No hesitation. Think like a horse.
See the coordinating video from Sandra Dee!
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