I’ve found myself having quite a few conversations lately about fear and boundaries. When we feel stuck, it is almost always because we are afraid. Sometimes of making the wrong decision or no decision at all or even the consequences of what feels like a good decision. It is about what has not happened yet but the real fear is about what we think that means about us. It is as if there is a huge wall right in front of us with a big graffitied message that only we can see.Messages about failure or shame or not being enough or safe or loved or accepted. I have no idea what is written on your wall, or you on mine. In fact sometimes we don’t even know ourselves because the idea of even looking at the writing is so frightening that we avoid it until circumstances force us to look.
I often talk about boundaries using a metaphor of putting up a fence or wall around a garden. Perhaps with a gate. A boundary is for you; it is defining your own safe healthy space at any given point in time. And the conditions for other people to come into that garden….or that will make you decide to close the gate. We often think that boundaries are about setting conditions for others’ behaviour, but their real heft is more about getting a clear focus on our own needs and accepting that the only behaviour we control is our own. We choose where the fence sits, how high it is and how the gate works.
It occurred to me yesterday that there are two sides to the fence or wall. The inside facing you is what is written on your own fear wall. The other side of the fence is the bit that others see and how they interpret it. The interesting addition in a coaching conversation is about how you choose to write new messages on your wall, how that might make your boundary lines move and whether your walls are keeping you healthy or trapped.
What is written on your wall about an issue that is bothering you? What do you think is written on the other side of the wall? And how is the current wall helping you?