Challenging our Healthy Boundaries

We are living in a time of prevailing disconnection. Our whole system – political, economical, and societal is colluding that this is the hole we fall into. And falling we are.

Our homes, our money, our legal structures and our psyches have become entrenched in and shaped into a separated, often cold, and mostly barren wasteland of what our actual DNA is programmed for. This may be no news for some of you reading this. However, I have found myself in a place recently questioning not only this poor excuse of a reality (I’ve been questioning this since I came out the womb, so that’s not new) but I am also questioning the way I have been colluding with it and how the more ‘conscious’ pathways I have chosen have ironically been part of what has led me to this very place of disconnect.

I have learnt, like many people I know, to use Non Violent Communication (NVC) in order to make requests. I have learnt that one of my needs (apparently) is having space – my own space – to ‘do’ spiritual practice, to write poetry, to be with nature and to rest. It is true that these things are important for my well being – I get tired easily and experience overwhelm quite quickly so it means I need to stay aware of how much time I spend with others and what I choose to do with my time. I know I need alone time to support my spirit and soul work, which is extremely important to me and how I can then be in service to others. But that’s not all I need in order to function well in this world.

That’s also a big part of this culture of learning to live more consciously – knowing what our needs are, acknowledging them and then naming and/or requesting something in order that they may get met – without the expectation that they will. All very mature, helpful and tidy isn’t it? Yes, this way of operating can be immensely useful and without this inner tracking and skill we can get into a mess with ourselves and with others – I, for one, am only too familiar with what that looks like and am always in a learning process.

What I’ve been tracking lately, however, is how this need in me for space and how this same need in others has resulted in a fairly disconnected version of reality ~ the same one that I’d suggest our system wants us to collude with. We’ve got so good at creating ‘healthy boundaries’ that they’ve become unhealthy. We’ve become disconnected and separate. Our homes have become precious and our personal space even more so.

I have my little home that’s in a rural place and I have a pretty busy life. This means that spending meaningful, connective time with people has, so far, needed to be planned by e-mail, often two weeks in advance, sometimes more. This means there is no longer spontaneity, no just knocking on each others’ doors and coming in for a cuppa. I notice that if there is a knock on the door I am surprised and a little nervous that this visitor could interrupt the oh-so-important flow of my day and all the things I have to do on my endless list. Similarly, I notice how I hesitate to knock on the door of my neighbour for fear of invading their private space.

When people visit each other these days generally there is a formality to it; You come to my home and I make you tea, or food, or both. If I need to get the washing in then I do it and the visitor waits or watches.  I have sometimes helped friends hang out the washing when I’m visiting them and I believe we have both appreciated this way of connecting.

Here’s my proposal: what if we decided to challenge this and let ourselves get a bit more ‘blurry’ with our boundaries? What if we went round to each others homes as we were passing by and rather than being ‘the guest’, we made ourselves at home; we made our own cup of tea, helped our friend with what they were doing (if it was that kind of thing – washing up, hanging washing, fixing the bathroom door as examples). What if we challenged ourselves on the preciousness of our space? (and our time for that matter).

As far as I’m aware, most indigenous, earth-based people live in spaces that are shared with quite a few others (most often other family members). They are in and out of each others’ space all the time. In fact, they don’t have their own, personal space. It’s not even something they can comprehend. They simply have never experienced it, therefore, their psyches develop in a different way to ours and their understanding of how the world is is a direct response to that physical experience. Many of these people don’t understand the concept of ‘secrets’ – keeping things hidden from each other. I’ve heard it said that for some indigenous folks of the US there is no need for agreements around ‘confidentiality’ because when someone in the community has a problem it’s for everyone to ‘bring them back in’. It’s the responsibility of the whole community. They would never consider doing it alone.

I will suggest here that we function best when we have more than one (probably quite a few) people to engage with, especially if those people are good listeners, ask good questions and have our best interest at heart. As well as this, when there are a few people with all their diverse expressions in our sphere we have more potential to express our diverse selves within those relationships. This brings health, aliveness and almost certainly a broader sense of our wholeness. Quite simply, it supports our mental, emotional, physical and psycho-spiritual well being. It is a fact that being around others supports our immune system to stay strong and allows for better sleep – alleviating our singular need to be on alert in case a predator comes in the night.

There’s so much more to say on this need for the company of others but the main thread for me here is to invite you to see if you and your friends and neighbours are open to an experiment to re-learn how to be spontaneous with each other and each others’ space, to get a bit less afraid of interrupting their day whilst being willing to accept a ‘not right now’ if it really isn’t the right moment. And if you’re passing by my place, go ahead, knock on the door! The kettle will be waiting for you………