Boundaries: A Three-Phase Process in Spiritual Healing

Author’s Note:  I offer this article with the deepest gratitude to the many souls I have encountered who have contributed to my learning around boundaries—most of whom have no idea who they are.  And to the great teachings of A Course in Miracles that push me to go all the way to healing through boundaries.

Not long ago a potential client reminded me of my need to better understand boundaries.  She was a repeat boundary buster.  In our first encounter she called in great distress, desperate to connect with a bodyworker who could help her live more peacefully.  I was not able to return her call until the evening (read my private time).  Her mind was racing and overflowing tangents as she spoke.  She was drawn to the lofty “intangibles” massage therapy offers—quiet, serenity, peace of mind.  I spent a good 30 minutes talking with her about what she was looking for and allowing her to share her thoughts.  I recommended a Sacred Lomi session and offered my next available appointments—either the next morning or the following week.  She booked her session for the next day.  I emailed directions immediately.  And the next morning, a couple of hours before we were to start, I received a cancellation email from her noting that she would call in a few days to reschedule.  In all that time on the phone we had not discussed my 24 hour cancellation policy, which is standard in the world of massage therapy.  She never called.

Graphic Cup OverflowingFast forward 5 months.  The same potential client left me a similar, urgent message.  Repeat of above procedure—long phone discussion bearing a strong resemblance to counseling to set the appointment, with a follow-up email.  I waived my usual requirement of partial prepayment for session #1 with brand-new clients (that this very person helped me realize I needed!) because of her issues with PayPal.  This time I took care to mention my 24 hour cancellation policy.  And the next day I received her timely cancellation via email.

You know this person—the pattern is archetypal and the modern name for it is “Clueless.”  My potential client is your friend who always changes or backs out of plans at the last minute.  Your brother-in-law who talks with you at length about his problems, but never follows your good advice.  Your neighbor who talks so fast and furious it’s a feat to break in just to mumble that you have to be on your way now.  That guy or gal you had one date with who thought it meant you were exclusive.  Your coworker who borrows five bucks and never remembers to pay it back when they actually have money.  That person at church who asks detailed questions related to your line of work as though professional consultation is free and you’re delighted to give answers without background information, in three minutes or less.  We’re talking about people with poorly developed personal boundaries.

Back to my potential client.  It was time for me to practice good boundaries.  My heart knows this person needs help.  Helping people with their issues, messy or otherwise, is my chosen life work.  If the Holy Spirit delivers her to my doorstep, I will love her like I love all my clients and help her to the best of my abilities.  But for now, she is not my client.  I send my prayers of peace, love, light and healing and recognize her for the child of God that she is, but I will not jump through blazing hoops to try to make her receive the help SHE knows she needs.  Why?  Because she’s in conflict about healing (she’s attracted to it, but hasn’t chosen it) and her boundaries are poor and she is unaware.  This is a recipe for difficult relations of all kinds.  People with poor boundaries can suck you dry.  It is essential for my effective functioning as a healer to keep my cup overflowing—to make sure that I have an abundance of good to share.  You can’t give away what you don’t have.  One prerequisite for a cup overflowing is an upright cup that doesn’t leak—in other words, effective personal boundaries.

New World/New Convention

We new world/new Atlantis contemporaries seem deficient in the practice and understanding of personal boundaries.  This is partly because we have rarely witnessed good examples in our families of origin.  In the old country of the past much of the work of boundaries was done by cultural tradition.  Customs were practiced to keep score and maintain the collective good of the community.  Personal boundaries were more the domain of men; women and children were treated more like property with little need of boundaries.

One simple example: if you came to my home you would be given the “royal treatment” of an honored guest.  When I went to your home at some other time this treatment would be reciprocated, ensuring a function of a boundary—equivalent sharing not unbalanced by one taking but not giving.  If traditional customs were not followed, feelings would be hurt and trouble would ensue.

Universal traditions, customs and conventions no longer exist in the culturally diverse United States, nor do the old models serve us well in today’s fast-paced, highly mobile, casual, self-oriented society.  Our parents were steeped in the old conventions, and not able to teach us what they did not know.  What we have now is a new convention—a nascent understanding and practice of personal boundaries.  We’re toddlers, learning how to do the boundary thing.

Boundaries are What?

Personal boundaries are to protect and honor important parts of our lives amidst relationships.  Like skin, they protect our delicate working parts underneath.  They are defined by us to communicate what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior from others.  Just as a fence protects our property from unwanted intruders, so do personal boundaries protect our selves.

Each of us is responsible for determining and maintaining the boundaries for our whole selves.  This means physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual boundaries practiced in all areas of our lives, from intimate to social to professional to transient relationships.  We’ll get the most challenging workout in relationships of longer duration—intimate partners, family members, friends, coworkers, bosses, clients, professionals from whom we seek services, neighbors and our social circle.  The practice of boundaries in transient relationships may be largely physical—primarily the avoidance of situations that we have identified as unpleasant, contrary to our values or unrewarding.  We might choose not to be in the crabby cashier’s checkout line, for example, or not to buy from particular sellers, not to walk near a panhandler, not to watch a certain TV program or read a certain magazine, not to eat at a certain restaurant, etc.

Discernment, introspection and sensitivity are key to healthy boundaries.  We have to listen to ourselves well enough to discern our bottom lines of what does and does not work for us.  And we have to be sensitive to the experience of others to avoid trampling their boundaries.

For a short boundary self-assessment visit:

Boundary Self-Assessment

A Basic Map of Boundaries

There are several areas of our lives to nurture with boundaries.  When we’re healthy we’ll also respect these boundaries of others, and manifest respectful behavior.

Time – These days time seems especially valuable.  Most of us feel the time crunch—we’re doing SO much that it feels like we rarely have enough time to spend on what’s really important.  Yet time is often what we least protect through effective boundaries.  Do you have relatives or friends who drop by unexpectedly?  Do you expect to be able to just drop in?  How many meetings are you required to attend?  Do you have family, friends, co-workers, employees or clients who demand your time in unreasonable ways or amounts?  Do you expect people in your life to drop everything and give their time to you whenever you decide that you need it?  Are you mired in tasks that could just as well be completed by someone else?  Do you have trouble saying no to requests for your time?  These are examples of time boundary violations.

Emotions – Our emotions are valuable signals about ourselves and our environment.  They can also be a sacred expression of our love and life purpose.  We should be open in the emotional realm, yet protected because it is sacred.  People in our lives may say or do hurtful things (often unintentional) that can trigger old emotional traumas, upset us and tempt us to close our hearts.  It is a certainty that at some point, someone has been thoughtless or made hurtful remarks or comments.  These are examples of violations of our emotional boundaries.  Since we teach people how to treat us through our actions and reactions, it is important to maintain emotional boundaries and not simply allow others reign.  However, feelings of hurt due to someone’s comments or actions also indicate the need for personal healing work for which we alone are responsible.  (See my articles under “Forgiveness.”)

Energy – Our energy is the well-spring from which we function, the cup that is overflowing or empty.  This energy can be pooled from many sources:  time alone, inspirational reading, prayer, meditation, time in nature, yoga, tai chi, activities that invigorate, play time, humor, etc.  When the behaviors of others rob us of energy or our access to the ways we rebuild it (invade privacy, create turmoil and distractions, make unreasonable demands, etc.), we are less likely to function effectively.

Values/Areas of Personal Importance – These personally-defined areas of importance in our lives benefit from effective boundaries.  In fact they often cease to exist in our lives UNLESS we establish boundaries.  Your personal values—the things in life most important to you—include ideals, spiritual beliefs and practices, faith, dietary practices, needs such as the right to choose, exercise, sleep, be quiet, be alone, be light-hearted, just be, spend time with those close to you, keep distance from that you choose not to participate in, etc.  In what areas of your life do you need to repair or establish boundaries?

Boundary Violations

What does a boundary violation feel like?  The bottom line is uncomfortable.  We may feel invaded, put upon, pushed, squeezed, misunderstood, taken advantage of, disturbed, bothered, frustrated, angry, powerless or helpless.  Having major boundary violators in my family of origin I may be more sensitive, but boundary violations feel to me like the biggest destructive force in relationships of all kinds, short of abuse.

I define “abuse” as a wide range of actions and behaviors toward another that undermine that being physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically and/or spiritually, usually for the purpose of control.  Abuse includes acts of violence, physical harm, sexual exploitation, bullying, frequent derision, habitual criticism, “playing with a person’s head”, and any form of intended psychological harm.  Abuse always involves a boundary violation, but a boundary violation is not necessarily abuse.  Abuse is often conscious on the part of the abuser, but can also be understood as unintentional due to limitations in the abuser’s insight, understanding and current ability to behave differently.  An abuser is doing what he or she knows how to do in the moment.  But that doesn’t mean we should just take it.

Unfortunately a common, major boundary violation is not taking “no” for an answer.  This often stems from a profound lack of experience with boundaries, probably related to the trauma of being controlled or having inadequate boundaries with one or both parents.  The inability to take “no” for an answer is frequently coupled with a sense of deep offense when others attempt to set boundaries with the boundary buster.  Boundaries are seen as negative, equated with quirky, unreasonable demands, a lack of love or even punishment.  Usually, nothing could be further from the truth.  The establishment and enforcement of boundaries is often, at its heart, an attempt to SAVE a relationship under strain.

Separation is All About Boundaries

We may be able to identify a lack of good boundary education in our upbringing, but our problems with boundaries are not our parents’ fault.  Boundary issues represent something bigger.  They are the visible tip of an iceberg—beneath the surface lurks the deeper, soul-level issue of separation, largely unconscious, that constructs this world and drives its practices.  Boundaries are about the basic tenets of the idea of separation:

  • Since I am separate from All That Is, I am in danger and I am in need.
  • I have interests separate from yours, and my interests are more important than yours.

Boundaries are based on the idea of competition.  I have inside knowledge (which may be unconscious) that I’m trying to “get” from you, so I expect that you are trying to “get” from me, and one of us is going to lose.  Perceiving our separation, I am willing to sacrifice your interests for what I perceive (wrongly) as my safety.  I protect myself from you and your competing interests with my boundaries.

All that said, the conscious work of healing the soul issue of separation takes place in this world in the workshop of worldly issues, including the boundary problems in our lives.  The solution isn’t to banish boundaries.  Rather it is to work with them.

Boundaries, Healing and Forgiveness

I notice that I resist applying the practice of forgiveness to repeated boundary transgressions.  Forgiveness in this area seems more difficult than other kinds of forgiveness, even though I know that there is no “order of difficulty” in the miracle of forgiveness.  In other words, when I am truly willing to forgive, the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the matter cease to matter.  Still, due to numerous triggers, my forgiveness process in this area seems to require more mental and emotional gymnastics, higher backflips, bigger gyrations, more rubbery contortions and more practice.  Discord on the boundary front feels more demanding and draining than “ordinary” discord, which is a comparative piece of cake.  Boundary violations are challenging to me, and, as far as I have witnessed, many others.

Often boundary education is directed toward those who have none, so challenged that they resemble doormats.  Correction can seem to create temporary monsters of  “no, no, no” and “me, me, me.”  So it is important to note up front that having boundaries does not imply that it is healthy or advised to bulldoze others with our long lists of “wants” and “needs.”  It’s not about declaring “I am what I am, I want what I want, and if you don’t like it, go. . . write a country hit  about your sad life of disappointment!”  Boundaries are not for controlling others.  They’re for physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual elbow room—for healing.  Their purpose is to keep everything loose enough to work and safe enough to allow healing.

3 Responsibilities of Personal Boundaries

In the area of personal boundaries we are responsible for three aims that can seem at odds:

  1. Determining our boundary in any given situation.  A lack of boundaries can drain our energy and distract us from fulfilling our purpose, as well as severely hinder our relationships. Boundaries are fluid; they will change with circumstance.  What works for me today may not work tomorrow; what works for me with one person may not work with another.  Most notably, our boundaries will change as we heal.
  2. Teaching others how to treat us – communicating what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Practicing forgiveness and personal healing when we feel we’ve been hurt or transgressed by others.

At first glance the third aim may seem contradictory, but it can be practiced at the same time as the first two.  We can ask for what we prefer without being attached to receiving it and reacting with judgment when we don’t.  If we succeed in bypassing judgment, then we have laid down our defenses and are smack in the practice of forgiveness.

If I defend myself I am attacked.

But in defenselessness I will be strong,

and I will learn what my defenses hide.

(A Course in Miracles [ACIM] Workbook Lesson 135)

Learning what our defenses hide is the centerpiece of healing.  Even with healing and the practice of forgiveness as our priority, maintaining clear, healthy boundaries is critical to the practical matter of living our purpose and creating a fulfilling life. . . .  Until it isn’t any more.

In defenselessness my safety lies. . . .

Attack, defense; defense, attack, become the circles of the hours and the days which bind the mind in heavy bands of steel with iron overlaid, returning but to start again. There seems to be no break nor ending in the ever-tightening grip of imprisonment upon the mind. Defenses are the costliest of all the prices which the ego would exact. In them lies madness in a form so grim that hope of sanity but seems to be an idle dream beyond the possible.

The sense of threat the world encourages is so much deeper, and so far beyond the frenzy and intensity of which you can conceive that you have no idea of all the devastation it has wrought. You are its slave. You know not what you do in fear of it. You do not understand how much you have been made to sacrifice, who feel its iron grip upon your heart.

You do not realize what you have done to sabotage the holy peace of God by your defensiveness. For you behold the Son of God [humanity] as but a victim to attack by fantasies, by dreams, and by illusions he has made; yet helpless in their presence, needful only of defense by still more fantasies and dreams, by which illusions of his safety comfort him.

Defenselessness is strength. It testifies to recognition of the Christ in you. Perhaps you will recall the course maintains that choice is always made between His strength and your own weakness as apart from Him. Defenselessness can never be attacked, because it recognizes strength so great attack is folly, or a silly game a tired child might play when he becomes too sleepy to remember what he wants.

Defensiveness is weakness. . . . We will not play such childish games today. For our true purpose is to save the world, and we would not exchange for foolishness the endless joy our function offers us. . . .

We look past dreams today, and recognize that we need no defense because we are created unassailable. . . Be still a moment, and in silence think how holy is your purpose, how secure you rest, untouchable within its light.

(ACIM Workbook Lesson 153, emphasis mine)

Boundaries, Healing and the Spiritual Practice of Forgiveness

The Three Phases of Personal Boundaries:

I.     Judgment and Separation
II.   Transitional:  Discernment, Forgiveness and Healing

  1. Eye of the Storm – Safe Container for Healing
  2. GOD – Good Orderly Direction – Error Correction
    a.  Discerning Our Boundaries
    b.  Learning How to Teach Others
    c.  Feedback for Boundary Busters

III.  Complete Forgiveness and Oneness

Judgment and Separation

A boundary can be either a judgment or a discernment in action—an attitude coupled with an action in response to something that has occurred or might occur.  If someone has a habit of calling me a derogatory name, for example, I might implement a boundary of avoiding conversations with him, avoiding him socially or avoiding him altogether.  First I formulate a discernment (I don’t like being called that name) and then I respond with an action (avoidance).  It is fully possible to bypass the judgment (a negative attitude toward the person who calls me the derogatory name), but often when we set boundaries we do not tease the judgment out of the act.  Learning to isolate and remove the judgment is part of our healing process.  Judgment always produces separation.

Some boundaries are discernments AND judgments in action—for example:  presenting a social veneer or keeping “company manners” with new people.  The discernment is “I don’t know this person and can’t predict their responses,” and the judgment is “so I better be careful.”  The action is keeping my guard up and not being completely honest about who I am and my experience in the moment.  Yes, this is social convention.  The grease that keeps social situations running smoothly is boundaries.

Discerning Our Boundaries

How do we determine our boundaries?  Michael Mirdad cuts through the confusion that many feel with this simple recommendation:  ask yourself, “What can I afford?”  In other words, we consciously stretch our boundaries without knocking ourselves off balance.

Screening phone calls with “Caller ID” can be both discernment and judgment in action.  My experience with blocked numbers and phone calls at certain times of day (discernment) results in my not answering and allowing the call to go to voicemail (action).  Sometimes my judgments surface—it’s a hotel number and it’s 10:00 p.m.—and I feel a twinge of anger (which, within the confines of mind, has the same separation value as rage) over the thought that the person on the other end didn’t bother to look at my website (which is clearly professional and non-sexual) and is calling for sexual services disguised as “massage.”  When I let go of this judgment and practice forgiveness, the “annoying” phone call becomes part of my healing.  I still don’t pick up the phone.  Not yet.  Someday I may see a purpose in talking to that late night caller—some purpose beyond noticing my inner reaction and applying forgiveness when it is called for.  For now, like most of us acquainted with boundaries, I believe keeping my boundaries protects my “rights” and keeps me “sane” enough to choose love much of the time.

I am affected only by my thoughts.  (ACIM Workbook Lesson 338)

Discernment, Forgiveness and Healing

The concept of boundaries has crept stealthily onto the spiritual path from the healing path. As I see it, the mastery of healthy and effective boundaries is a phase in the healing process—apparently a long phase.  As a part of healing, boundaries are also part of progression on the spiritual path.  The spiritual and healing paths are braided together like strands of DNA, crossing back and forth and back and forth, impossible to disentangle.  Lack of progress on one path will ultimately limit progress on the other.

Boundaries are phases I and II in the healing process. Boundaries are necessary until we have healed enough (become adept enough at forgiveness and secure enough in our belief that we truly ARE children of God) not to be upset and thrown off course by people being their unhealed selves around us.  In communion with God—when we are fully conscious of Oneness, our connection to and safety within God—we will live in a state of open, perpetual, unconditional love practicing instant forgiveness and not need boundaries to protect ourselves. But in any state short of communion with God we may need boundaries to maintain our current level of mental, energetic, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

I have no cause for anger or for fear, for You surround me.

And in every need that I perceive, Your grace suffices me.

(ACIM Workbook Lesson 348)

Boundaries are a tool for our own healing.  They’re like the eye of a hurricane, a patch of calm amidst a storm.  But the storm is a “storm” because of our perception, our thoughts.  A boundary is like a cast on a broken leg—it creates a space for healing free from turmoil—a safe container. As long as the bone is broken, the cast is an absolute necessity to keep the healing ends together and prevent further injury. But when the bone has knitted together again the cast must be removed. There is nothing natural about the cast and it is, in fact, an impediment to the ultimate free and joyful life.

Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light;

the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself.

And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created

as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love,

completely His, completely one with Him.

(ACIM Workbook, Part II, Section 12. “What is the Ego?“)

Complete Forgiveness and Oneness

Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is, asserts that boundaries are an act of selfishness. This concurs with my understanding of the Course, which teaches “complete” forgiveness.  “Complete” means knowing that there is nothing to forgive. We have not achieved complete forgiveness until our thoughts and behavior are unaffected by our past in any way.  Our progress (or lack thereof) is especially apparent in our “difficult” relationships. I do not suggest that we all let go of our boundaries right now.  We need the safe container of boundaries as we heal, as we prepare to practice the level of complete forgiveness. However, the simple presence of our boundaries is an indication that we are not yet practicing forgiveness completely, and that we also need to know.  The Course constantly calls us to let go of illusion.

[The Holy Spirit] will teach you to remember always that forgiveness is NOT loss,

BUT YOUR SALVATION. And that, in COMPLETE forgiveness,

in which you recognize that there is nothing to forgive,

YOU are absolved completely.

(ACIM Urtext T 15 I 2, “The Holy Instant and Real Relationships”)

If we only talk about practicing boundaries in daily life we do a grave disservice to healing because we’re only talking about a portion of the process.  With this approach we are pretending that a wound with a scab is fully healed.  We fall into the old psychoanalytical trap of blaming everything on “mother” and never finding peace and happiness because our continual rehashing of the past binds us to the mother we can’t control and the traumatic past with her that is over.  Boundaries are for physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual elbow room for healing, and healing is never about getting other people to conform to our wishes.

A Course in Miracles seems to be addressing boundaries in this passage:

RECOGNIZE WHAT DOES NOT MATTER,

and if your brothers ask you for something “outrageous,”

do it BECAUSE it does not matter.

Refuse, and your OPPOSITION establishes that it DOES matter to you.

It is only you, therefore, who have MADE the request outrageous,

for nothing can BE asked OF you, and EVERY request of a brother is FOR you.

Why would you insist in DENYING him?

For to do so is to deny yourself, and impoverish both.

HE is asking for salvation, as YOU are. Poverty is of the ego, and never of God.

No “outrageous” request CAN be made

of one who recognizes what is valuable,

and wants to accept nothing else.

(ACIM Urtext, T 11 D 4)

I understand that this boundary-negating behavior is asked of those of us who are ready to affirm and accept Oneness.  Although it involves action, the important part is the state of mind.  We are advised to “recognize what does not matter.”  Our doing becomes meaningful when we understand that what we do does not matter and so release our attachment to controlling what we do.  Whether you ask me to give you a back rub or hand over the contents of my wallet is immaterial in a made-up world—your request is for me, for my healing and for my remembrance of who I am, who you are and how we are One.

Truth will correct all errors in my mind.

I am mistaken when I think I can be hurt in any way.

I am God’s Son, whose Self rests safely in the Mind of God.

(ACIM Workbook Lesson 119)

Boundaries are part of our healing process, the process of reclaiming our wholeness.  Boundaries function like a scab on a wound, protecting the delicate damaged tissue underneath while it knits together enough to STAY together without a protective barrier.  While we are practicing forgiveness and changing our minds about separation we need boundaries to help keep us on track and not spiral back into victimhood and resentment.  But a time will come when we not only do NOT need boundaries any longer, but believing and acting as though we need them will hold us back from wholeness.  One little problem—how do we know when that time has come?

Peace

Peace.  It’s all about peace.  If I can’t feel peace unless I fulfill all the “outrageous” requests made of me, I need more healing before I’m ready to let go of my boundaries.  If I can’t feel peace unless I block all the “outrageous” requests made of me, I need more healing before I’m ready to let go of my boundaries.  If I’m needing to bust other people’s boundaries to “get” my peace, I need more healing before I’m ready to let go of my boundaries, and will most likely need to develop my own healthy boundaries in order to understand everyone else’s.  But when I can peacefully contemplate fulfilling the “outrageous” requests made of me from an organic place of knowing that it truly doesn’t matter because there is no separation, then I am ready to start the process of letting go of my boundaries.

Today I learn the law of love; that what I give my brother is my gift to me.

. . . he whom I forgive will give me gifts beyond the worth of anything on earth.

Let my forgiven brothers fill my store with Heaven’s treasures,

which alone are real. Thus is the law of love fulfilled.

(ACIM Workbook Lesson 344)

Feedback for Boundary Busters

Another way to frame boundaries would be to say that they’re a defense against the “getting” behaviors of others.  And that view illuminates how boundaries can be part of the healing we offer the world.  When I stop another engaged in rampant “getting” behavior, I’m providing that person an opportunity to heal.  A pause in “getting” behavior is an off ramp from the cycle of addiction to outside sources—the belief that there are needs outside of oneself beyond the reach of the grace of God.

You may notice some interesting reactions in others when you implement boundaries.  Those who are stuck in self-negating beliefs that make healthy boundaries impossible may judge you or run the other way.  Some with poorly developed boundaries may become angry, yet oddly attracted to you.  In other words, they may be resistant and drawn to healthy boundaries at the same time.  Those who already have some boundary skills may mirror you and become more adept.  And those who love you and already know all about boundaries will say, “It’s about time!”  But if you are implementing or enforcing your boundaries abusively you are sure to encounter resistance, even from those with healthy boundaries.

When a brother behaves insanely,

you can heal him ONLY by perceiving the SANITY in him.

(ACIM Urtext T9 B2)

Learning How to Teach Others

The people in our lives who have not yet mastered the art of personal boundaries (including ourselves) need our compassionate understanding.  For our own spiritual well-being, we need to forgive them.  And for the good of all concerned we need to not dance at the ends of their strings until we are ready to believe there are no strings.  Instead we provide a living example through the practice of our own healthy boundaries.  The foundation of this practice, both incoming and outgoing, is our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of  each individual, the profound and equal value of all the children of God.  You and I are equally worthy of time, respect, safety, freedom and love.  Our healthy boundaries help make this ideal manifest.  Remember the practice of healthy boundaries is not about absolutes.  It’s a dance, an ebb and flow response to the orbits of heavenly bodies around us.

There is complete forgiveness here,

for there is no desire to exclude ANYONE from your completion,

in sudden recognition of the value of his part in it.

In the protection of YOUR wholeness, all are invited and made welcome.

And you understand that YOUR completion is God’s,

Whose only need is to have you Be complete.

For your completion MAKES you His, in YOUR awareness.

And here it is that you experience yourself as you were created,

AND AS YOU ARE.

(Urtext, T 15 I 1, “The Holy Instant and Real Relationships”)

Because I too am amidst my own healing process, I am tempted to judge my potential client as likely to undermine my effectiveness by violating my boundaries.  It is easy to see her process as inconvenient and too difficult to deal with.  But if I let it go at that I am missing a golden opportunity to get closer to the very goal I’m trying to reach and protect with my precious boundaries—healing, wholeness and Oneness.  So I take a breath, give thanks, bless her and let it go, open to the idea that she may be my client one day.

The three phases of personal boundaries are not linear.  As we progress in our understanding of ourselves and in our practice of forgiveness we will likely notice that we employ boundaries at all three levels, mostly in the second, transitional “healing” level.  Everything in this world can be worked in the positive (toward Oneness) or the negative (toward separation) except complete forgiveness.  Boundaries illustrate this principle very clearly.

Born of separation, boundaries CAN be used with judgment to perpetuate separation.  These are the boundaries applied harshly, rigidly and/or punitively from a judgmental frame of mind.  This may be effective at keeping things away, but it is not healthy.  There is no lack of this kind of boundary practice in our world, and many people pass through this phase as they develop healthy, effective boundaries.

Boundaries applied in the spirit of forgiveness offer healing to both the boundary setter (a safe place to heal and be) and the boundary buster (non-judgmental feedback about behaviors that are motivated by “getting” instead of love).

Finally, at the highest spiritual level, we demonstrate that we cannot be hurt and that God can be trusted when we allow our boundaries to fall away and accept all aspects of life as it comes, choosing love with each step along the way.

With Peace and Love,

Mira Carroll

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Comments
8 Responses to “Boundaries: A Three-Phase Process in Spiritual Healing”
  1. Dear Carol,

    . . . a very interesting, well-written (as always), well-thought out article, well worth reading. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Now I know why I cherish alone time and am not overly involved socially (although I treasure quality time/connecting – however short – with other people).  My boundaries, especially feelings, are paper thin (emphatic water sign — Cancer/Scorpio), but I can say “no” — whenever necessary, thank God. 

    Today I was glancing through the Kryon book titled The Journey Home and came across a section extolling the virtues of humor (another talent you possess), how elevating humor is, very good for the soul, and a special gift humans have that animals don’t possess.

    Wishing you peace and joy now and always,

    Love and a hug, Lynne

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    • miracarroll says:

      Dear Lynne,

      Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful sharing. I see beauty in what I have experienced as your lucid emotional boundaries–I think of the translucent chameleons often seen at night. I’m talking about a transparent quality–what you see is what you get–that is ALSO sensitive to surroundings. It’s a receptive energy. Empathy is palpable in you. And your ability to say “no” with love keeps you in integrity with your path and in good shape to walk it.

      Leapin’ lizards, I wish I could think of something funny to say right now!

      Love and Light ~ Mira

      Like

  2. martiwrites says:

    There are many layers to this article and will take a while to digest. The piece that I find most interesting at this moment is the energy boundary. Lately I’ve been exploring those situations where an alarm goes off and walls go up with no justifiable “outside” reason. Instinctively. I know it has to do with someone encroaching on my space energetically, but I am working on understanding it better, on how to finesse how I respond. Right now, I’m a little heavy handed in my response, and since many people aren’t consciously aware of the dynamic, my response is very obvious. Since they are generally neither inclined nor ready to really look within and understand why, they only know that I am treating them differently than I treat others, but can’t put their finger on why. THAT’s the part I’m working on refining.

    PS: I operate a college ed center, and am sort of a quasi counselor/aunty to about 50 – 100 students of all ages who wander through. That’s why my comment is so specific about “they.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • miracarroll says:

      Mahalo, Marti, for diving into this article. My first thought is that you are not required to provide an explanation or rationale for your boundaries. I am also aware that, for me, a boundary can express harshly when I am conflicted about whether or not I’m “allowed” the boundary, whether it’s reasonable, whether I’m making the right decision, whether it is consistent with my desire to be loving. When I am conflicted in this way, I become angry that the person or action “put” me in the conflicted state, forgetting that others can’t “put” me in any state. My impulse then is to set a boundary quickly from that place of discomfort, which can often come off as harsh. When I step back and remember that I am entitled to the boundaries I feel I need—now, in THIS moment—I can let go of anger and the boundary I set, as well as the manner in which I set it, is more gentle and clear. Much more. For me this process still takes time and space—I do not manage to do it on the fly 100% of the time.

      Another thought is that there is a perfection to how things play out. If I am making my way through the world in a boundary-busting way, I am likely to meet a similar level of resistance, which will help me awaken. In this world, it may be necessary to batter the wall hundreds of times with the ram before the gentle push crumbles it.

      At about the same time you were writing this, I was writing down my “word” for 2015. The word is “gentle.” I will to become more gentle this year, to refine all my responses into more gentle responses. I can follow the example of my cat, Onyx. Formerly known as “Onyx the Feral Cat,” he is one powerful bag of feline muscle, claws and teeth. He could rip my face off if he wanted to. But he has never directed anything but gentleness toward me, even when I’m doing or attempting that which he does NOT prefer at the moment (Gently, of course. In fact, Onyx elicits gentleness from me, and can instantly help me become gentle when my current emotions oppose gentleness). When Onyx doesn’t like what’s going on, he simply retreats.

      Power choosing gentleness. Like mature fire—glowing embers. That which is to be transformed disappears into ash gently, almost imperceptibly.

      This is a process I don’t expect to complete in a year! But I am so happy to have you join me on the path of gentleness. ❤ ❤ ❤

      Like

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