Why Boundaries Can Sometimes Feel Hard
Boundaries can feel tough sometimes. The seemingly simple things like saying yes to a night out when really your whole body is longing for a bath, candles and an early night with the kittens (maybe that last bit is just me). To the things that hold a greater ‘charge’ like staying in a relationship that is no longer right or financial boundaries.
Boundaries are often positioned as keeping people out of your life.
And to some degree they may be.
But from a physiological perspective this is really a defensive fight response.
It is about us feeling this, expressing this, and feeling our aliveness and sense of agency.
So, the struggle with boundaries may often be because we have a blocked fight response. And if ‘fight’ seems too strong a word then instead bring to mind an image of a furry kitten giving off a little hiss to tell you they don’t want a belly tickled and you will get the picture.
In this sense as with any somatic work this is less about reason or meaning making but more about liberating our animal bodies desire to embody our fight response.
When we do this, we start to sense a greater sense of vitality.
A greater sense of power.
And when we begin embodying and sensing our own power, we give off a resonance of our own innate power.
It’s a wow feeling. Trust me.
I make no excuses for saying power here. It is my belief that we shy away from power because of the misuse of power. I do not refer to this. I mean the type of power that is our inherent personal agency.
When we give off our own sense of personal agency and power we also give a resonant permission slip for others to do the same — from an ideological perspective it is my belief that this is part of the medicine and alchemy of change that is needed to deconstruct and reconstruct some of our current social structures that area heavily biased towards domination.
What fascinates me and something I see all the time is also the seemingly paradoxical phenomena that when we learn to express our fight response this often leads to a greater opening to life and to others. Because we know we are safe to open — because we know we have the agency to express boundaries.
A few reasons a fight response may be blocked…
In truth there are many reasons ranging from personal trauma history to systemic conditioning, especially with women, and I can only touch on a few here, but here are a few I work with often in my own private practice.
This can range from birth trauma to sexual attack. Any time when our whole system may have been in overwhelm. There is often a freeze but underneath freeze is the fight or flight energy that arises as part of the threat response cycle. If we didn’t have a chance to complete that cycle our fight response may be blocked.
If our emotional states are not recognised and met as little ones this is known as a lack of attunement. In this sense we may begin to couple the idea of being angry or rage as being bad or something we cannot contain.
Oppression can lead to a blocked fight response and affects many communities and can be debilitating. For some this includes a separation from anger, power, and movement (all hallmarks of blocked fight response).
On a systemic level many women have coupled the idea of fight response with violence. How often are we told what ‘good girls’ we should be? And as much conscious parenting as there is (hooray) it is still part of our cultural container and hard to escape.
For this reason the more women doing the work the more our daughters of tomorrow can be the next generation of warrior women.
Another way I see this often is with clients on a spiritual path and there is some association that fight is anger or not all love and light. Yawn. I am so over this bypassing that happens in this arena. It is not only damaging, it can lead to toxic health issues.
I work with this on an individual level with the folk I work with day in day out, we work through times of unexpressed fight response for a variety of shock trauma and developmental reasons. And I don’t mind telling you that when we reach the point where this is expressed my whole-body sings in celebration for this for them.
As I say these are just a few of the root causes but in reality there can be a myriad of reasons and every person in individual and will undoubtedly experience this in their own unique way.
One thing is for sure, we need our fight response. Just as we need any other nervous system response.
Our physiological patterns are a doorway into our humanity.
And in that sense this work is truly Holy.
So go easy on yourself if boundaries feel hard but get to notice what is happening in your body when you approach boundaries or saying yes or no.
And if you feel a no but don’t know how to say it maybe take some time to yourself to embody that little kitty with their teeth showing.
If you want to learn more about this, get in touch with your own animal body then I invite you to sign up to my new container for women that will be launching in a couple of months.