This Is Not a Test
Originally published November 23 2017
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. ~ Brené Brown
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. — James A. Garfield
We’ve had many truths exposed these past few weeks with the explosion of #metoo and a multitude of people coming out about the sexual abuse/harassment/assault they have experienced, particularly at the hands of someone who had power or authority over them in some way. Although shocking and beyond unpleasant to admit to as a society, this is a liberating, learning and healing moment and is best not filled with hate and vengeance.
Whether or not you have encountered such situations directly — on either side of the equation — there are ways we can all think about what’s happening and how we can apply it to our lives, because at the root of this issue is the concept of boundaries, which is something everyone deals with on many levels, not just sexual.
As whole, complete adults, one of the most important things we can do for our mental, emotional and physical health is know who we are and where, when or how we may or may not be compromised at the least, or invaded and violated at the worst. We can then find a way to assert or protect ourselves with integrity; doing so is an essential demonstration of self-love and self-care and can have many manifestations, in all aspects of our lives.
The more subtle example is when someone crosses the boundaries of what you have determined to be your needs regarding your time and energy. As I say in every one of my talks and to all of my clients, your time and your energy is your most precious resource — so how are you using it, and/or how might you be letting others abuse or “steal” it from you?
We live in the School of Life and therefore there are tests — stresses and strains to help mold and shape us into who we are; they are the means by which we can uncover what is true for us. To give meaning and definition to our existence we need resistance, we need friction, we need to be challenged from time to time. We can then know ourselves even better and strengthen the core muscle of who we are. We become more integrated and we heal. So yes, others will test our boundaries, but tests are the grit of life and what ultimately inform us about our deepest sense of selves, create our reality and help us to grow and evolve.
When tested, you need to stand up for yourself, but first you need to know who that self is: What defines you? What makes you you? What constitutes your self-preservation? This is where boundaries come in. If someone is not respectful of them or your time and energy, you must be OK with walking away, you need to be OK with saying NO and dealing with the consequences. I realize this is easier said than done, especially when other factors like fear, intimidation, blackmail and/or violence are part of the equation. I am talking about having a baseline of self-worth and self-respect, that, when developed, can actually act as a preventive measure so that those types of situations will become less likely to occur because of your stronger internal foundation that then resonates as a more empowered external, and hence, immune vibration.
Anything you are going through is an opportunity for growth and healing for you and the other parties involved, depending on how each one relates to the process. What are you currently being confronted with? Is there something you need to change or something you need to defend?
This means it’s a time to stretch your muscles and question yourself — take an honest look at your behavior, beliefs and choices. How malleable can you be? Some things are not meant to be malleable if you have worked on them over time. Some things are, in fact, meant to be impermeable.
But this is not about being rigid — it’s about knowing your core values and taking a stand for them when necessary. It’s about not letting anyone question you or convince you otherwise after you’ve already explored/seen/experienced evidence and come to a conclusion, keeping in mind that perhaps there is room for growth, change, adjustment, or another point of view. Take some time to reflect, but if you are clear with yourself and you’ve done conscious work and have experience that proved to be true, then you are just being tested to see if you will unapologetically stand in that truth. This forms the foundation of who you are and cannot be shaken.
From microcosm to macrocosm, it’s important to know what is or isn’t acceptable to YOU — whether in your personal or professional relationships or in relation to the world and culture at large — and not be influenced by who is the loudest, meanest, most patronizing, or anyone trying to make it seem like you are unreasonable or crazy just because you are not going along with the crowd.
We are living in extraordinary times, and with social media our lives are now magnified, exaggerated, distorted and accelerated, so it is even more crucial that we know who we are and not be swayed by or swept up in the currents of the day. We have to find the balance between our individuality, relationships and the group mentality; when not to overstep; how to protect; and when to stretch our boundaries. And to understand that some things, like love, compassion and empathy know no boundaries.
Need a little help preparing for any upcoming exams or pop quizzes? Give me a buzz and I’ll be the tutor to provide the drills, exercises and shifts you need to find the strength to handle whatever life throws your way to see what you’re made of!
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