The path to self-love involves taking responsibility for our own emotions, because if we’re not showing up for ourselves we can feel like our self-worth depends on the whims of others. By taking the helm we can start to re-address the balance.
Emotional responsibility is a major factor in self-love, self-worth and self-care.
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, She Holds The Bowl, 2017
In terms of Shadow work Fear is the granddaddy of them all. All our Shadows boil down to Fear – fear of failure, of not feeling accepted or good enough, fear that we’ll be judged, fear of what’s different… fear of owning our greatness and shining our light out into the world.
Fear doesn’t want to be caught; it keeps on shifting and changing. It’s slippery, a quicksilver eel. You think you’ve healed and then it presents a new challenge. But maybe Fear doesn’t have to be the enemy.
Like any Shadow Fear has lessons and challenges for us. Becoming more aware of Fear and what it’s challenges are may help to quieten it’s voice.
There are genuinely things in this world to fear, and in that respect Fear seeks to protect us. Other things we fear are there to challenge us. Fear, at its heart, in its most loving aspect, wants us to grow. When a fear is faced it can lead to tremendous potential and growth, showing us we are capable of more than we ever believed possible.
Shadow work is uncovering the diamond in the rough,
then implementing what you’ve learned
to reveal the unique beauty
– the faceted diamond within –
that is your true Self.
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, She Holds The Bowl, 2017
Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help to build up a better idea of what your boundaries are, and what constitutes a crossed boundary, or a boundary pusher/ crosser.
I would suggest categorising the answers into level of importance. Try using the traffic light system – amber is an advanced warning, red is a no-no. You then need to decide how many ambers constitute a bigger warning, and how many reds make up a more serious warning.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or expert; these are questions I’ve formulated for myself to try and help me identify, create and build stronger, healthier boundaries. I share them here so they may provide food for thought.
Note: I refer mainly to friendships and attachments that are not family- or partner-based in this article. Although the sentiment of allowing people their privacy stands, in terms of partnerships or family relationships I do understand that other factors need to be taken into account. This article is also not referring to those with mental health or anxiety conditions that have an unhealthy insular effect. This article refers to personal inclinations and boundaries in people who generally prefer more privacy or may be more socially introverted.
When taking responsibility for setting and creating healthy boundaries it is also important to learn how to respect the boundaries of others. If someone is a private person they may not feel comfortable opening up to you, or else they may be willing to share so much and nothing further. Please try to respect this need, even if you wish to know more. It is not deception to keep things private, nor is it necessarily a reflection on you as a person.
When set healthily, boundaries serve to keep us protected, and also to keep a hold on our integrity. If a person does not wish to open up further then allow them their space. Don’t try to tell them they’re too closed off just because you may have a more open boundary style, or just because they won’t tell you all you want to know. Unless someone is actively evading or deliberately withholding information, it is not your place to push for an answer. People have many good reasons for not revealing all, or for not talking about certain subjects.
The Autumn Equinox (22nd September) is a time of change, as we leave Summer and enter the dark half of the year. It is also a liminal time, where the boundaries between worlds (the human and Other worlds) are said to be thin. It’s a time of winding down, bringing in the harvest and preparing for the arrival of Winter.
This week I am focusing on Boundaries. As we come into the Equinox it’s a time of reflection, and traditionally looking at what is important and going to help you survive Winter. This means ‘stocking up’ on the things that are good for you. It is also about letting go of things that aren’t, as anything that wastes easily is of no use in the depths of Winter. Our ancestors had to prioritise meats, crops and harvests that would get them through even the coldest conditions.
In our own lives this can translate into looking at self-care priorities, but since Equinoxes are about weaker boundaries between worlds they are also useful points to take stock of our own boundaries, and those of others around us.
Generally we are encouraged to be accepting of people, so we put up with behaviours that are not healthy because we are taught that being accepting is the same as being compassionate. Being accepting of someone’s inappropriate behaviour is not the same as being compassionate. Being compassionate still allows you to accept or love the person for who they are, but it also allows you your own boundaries, does not condone others’ poor behaviours, and allows you to gently but firmly say, “I care about you but I do not have to accept/ put up with this.”
Sometimes a relationship comes into our lives and it can leave you wondering, “What on earth can I learn from this?”
I looked deeper into a friendship that ended earlier this year to find the lessons within. I turned it into a self-respect manifesto to remind myself of my needs, values and boundaries. I hope it can provide inspiration for others to do the same.
This week has been different, in that a lot of it has been about inner healing, self-discovery and things that have inspired me. To change things up a bit I thought I’d express this in a kind of ‘doodle diary’ of all those things I’m grateful for from this week.