Boundaries (Part Two, Meat)

(Part One.)

Pace: “The Usual Error is assuming other people are just like you.”
Kyeli: “...And we all do it all the time and it’s totally okay.”

Hello there, faithful citizens of Earth! It’s soooo muddy here!

The Boundaries workshop was my first opportunity to re-attend a Usual Error session. I’m going to quote some of my older notes from the first time I attended, because they were originally posted privately. Since then we’ve all discovered the benefits of workshop notes (and liveblogging, hell!) so this makes a lot more sense. ;}

Larissa came to this workshop to get video of everything, and I think the Boundaries workshop is a great workshop to record—there’s just something about it that really resonates with me. I think it does that because I sometimes have problems with setting healthy boundaries…!

Kyeli described boundaries as a circle you set around yourself. The outer edges are your boundaries; between you and that outer edge exist your comfort zone, and your responsibilities. Everything inside that circle is Your Stuff. Everything outside that circle is Someone Else’s Stuff. It’s where you feel familiar and comfortable, and where it is your responsibility to get your needs met. (Some of you are already noticing that I’m overflowing into Ethical Slut material here—I didn’t do it on purpose, and it’s really interesting.) You can set and reset these boundaries as you so choose—if you find out that you didn’t get it quite right the first time, it’s completely okay to change your mind and adjust as necessary. Sometimes figuring out how to adjust them can be tricky, but once you’ve found the sweet spot, and held firm, it’s really, really good. So much better than fluctuating constantly. And it just occurred to me to compare boundaries to blood sugar. If only I knew a little more about blood sugar. Huh.

So! That reminds me of something I didn’t really take notes on—that if we set our boundaries too tightly or too loosely, they tend to fluctuate dramatically when met with too much discord. For instance, if we set our boundaries too loosely, taking care of everyone else’s stuff, we’re going to hit a brick wall and burn out—and suddenly our boundaries will be upset, paranoid, and very tight. The fluxing is what seems to happen when we haven’t found our proper, healthy boundaries yet. It sounds exactly like what Christiane Northrup described about blood sugar—if your blood sugar levels aren’t healthy, they will go up and down and make you crazy. (And apparently, that’s what happens to most of us… but I still don’t quite understand it completely.)

(Interlude: Holy shit! That Northrup book is not even fourteen bucks now! It used to be twenty! And it’s a huuuugeass book, holy crap! The urge now to buy a copy for everyone I know is unbearable, and my bank account still won’t support it… but dude! Price change! Yowzah!)

I actually wonder if many things are like that—moderation gets you stability, but excess results in fluctuation. There are a lot of directions I could go with that. Something to think about.

Being a big girl! (Or boy!)

The part of this I have the easiest time relating to is the concept that I have to be able to trust that a person will speak up if there’s a problem, if they’re feeling something I need to know—their stuff is their stuff. It’s not my stuff. Plenty of people don’t speak up, we know this… but if we don’t trust them to, if we don’t expect them to, they’ll never learn that they should. They need to be a big boy, or a big girl, and take care of themselves by making sure other people have the information that allows them to help! By expecting this of them… we are giving them authority over themselves! (Even if they don’t want it, ha ha ha!)

When we talked about being a big boy (or big girl), we also talked a little bit about cultural social boundaries. This is something I’d like to explore a little more, but I’m not sure where to go with it just yet. Suggestions?

In keeping healthy boundaries, it’s best to treat others as though their boundaries are healthy, too. I really like this concept and want to implement it, but it is often very challenging to get going. I have a feeling, though, that once you do it a few times… it gets easier. Because to be perfectly honest, as we also talked about at the workshop, unhealthy boundaries are manipulative. I’m making you take care of me, my stuff, or I’m taking control of you, your stuff, and taking away your opportunity to control it yourself, even to learn to control it yourself. We want to trust others to take care of themselves… and trust ourselves to take care of ourselves. Important, important.

The Myth of Boxes! (Or something like that.)

To be FIERCE is to maintain firm, healthy boundaries. To be FIERCE is to be assertive in taking care of yourself. If I can find some construction paper, I may cut out big page-sized letters and pin FIERCE to my office wall…

Some things we talked about in regards to fierceness: There are buzz-phrases that scare us away from being fierce. “Bitch” is one of them. “PMS” is another. I used to feel constantly that when someone realized I had PMS, it instantly invalidated everything I was feeling. I used to try to hide that it was that time of the month during important conversations, lest the other person realize what was going on and, in one fell swoop, make all my communication attempts worthless. It was very frustrating. I don’t feel that way quite as much now, but it’s important to remember that PMS doesn’t invalidate feelings—it just intensifies them, or puts you more in touch with them. They’re not wrong. They’re still very right and very valid. (Christiane Northrup talks about that, too!)

In business, I am often afraid that my fierceness will be met with verbal violence—because I am afraid that my fierceness will be interpreted from the beginning as violence. I’m starting to get over that, because some people do get it, and resume healthy boundary-keeping. I have also realized that the people who don’t get it… are the ones I don’t want to work with anyway. And that’s very, very interesting.

There is a lot to be said for the Usual Error as applicable to business, and I’m going to explore that later. (It really fits into my Plan for World Domination, that’s for sure!)

Axe 4 Wat U Need / No 1 Can Read Ur Mind

Yeah. It is that obvious. It’s obnoxiously obvious. I can’t believe more people don’t automatically get this.

This is the myth about the prince, the one on the white horse that appears out of nowhere and solves all your problems. He comes and he knows so well exactly what you want and what you need, that you don’t even need to communicate! Haha! (I think Pace said that last bit. It gave me glee.)

Of course, this person… if he exists… is completely taking away your opportunity to learn to take care of yourself, and to ask for what you need. In Somebody’s Perfect World, this would be great. But here, on planet Us, we usually aren’t dealing with psychics and we must ask for what we need if we expect to have some chance of receiving it.

There’s a corollary myth that asking cheapens it. And… dude… that’s so wrong.

I admit to you now that I have often been struck with the fear of asking, because I “shouldn’t have to”, or something crazy like that. But if I don’t ask, I won’t get it. And getting what I need is more important than this insane stuckness that happens when I don’t ask. Sometimes… I’m still stuck. But I think when that happens… I haven’t quite pinned down what I actually need. So I’m working on that part.

Kylie: “You’re not green. He can say you’re green all day but you’re not.”

This comes right back to the realization that any other person exists to us as a very limited model. We can understand some things—over time, many things—about a person, but ultimately we are still filling in the blanks with our own experience, with familiar bits. So someone saying things about you... that you’re green, for instance… probably doesn’t really know you. At least, not enough to know you’re probably people-colored like the rest of us! He can’t give you a better assessment of you than you can. And he can talk all day, but he’s still just sticking pins in a little doll that looks like you, his idea of you, his representation of what he believes you are. He’s sticking pins in something that seems like you… with many, many pieces filled in from his limited mental model of you. He’s not sticking pins in you.

So unless you believe in voodoo…

Okay. Right. (I haven’t told you guys about the voodoo car yet… my god. I’d almost forgotten.)

This idea makes such a difference to me, because I often take someone’s words (or ranting) to heart when there’s no point in doing so. I second-guess and blame myself, blah blah blah. It’s very silly, and this idea flips a switch in my brain—especially the part about the voodoo doll—that makes it all better for a little bit. More signs for my office.

We live in a world built from our own concepts, our own imagining. Everything else, everyone else, is a reflection of our own selves in some way. It’s alarmingly, fabulously like dreaming, where we are everyone and everything else in the dream. This needs more exploration as well.

Whew! I think we’re going to need a Part Three…

(Part Three.)

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