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(4 minute read)
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Back to back meetings, my butt sore from sitting, this was my weekday. oftentimes I start and end the day late, lacking the energy or motivation to create anything within it.
Left and right on Instagram and Twitter I am reminded by these imaginary experts that don’t even know I exist of my boundaries. The alleged “reason” I’m tired and lacking motivation is because I don’t have boundaries around my time and energy. Not only do the “experts” say this, but this is the “instant solution” that I hear suggested from my coachees, peers, and friends.
Yet, not once have I ever told someone else “you need to set up boundaries”. Why?
Because the way we talk about boundaries sucks.
We rarely talk about the reality of boundaries, about how they never truly solve our challenges because they are generic strategies someone else offered us. We are never told that having boundaries is not a switch that we can turn on and off. So where does this leave us?
This leaves us putting up an arbitrary fence around our time and energy, saying no to meetings after 4pm or clients that pay less than what we are worth. We stand by that fence, so long as we have the energy to do so. That fence prevents anything we believe is keeping us from our best life out and keeping us centered… or so we think.
Say I set up a boundary to not take any meetings before 10am and after 4pm. (I did this…for real.) That ensures that I am protecting my time, but what happens, imaginary IG experts, when I am in back to back meetings within that time because others can’t get any other time with me? What does it mean when I’m still tired and unmotivated? (Hence the opening paragraph.)
This boundary had me blaming the meetings for my problems instead of truly getting to what I need, right now, as I am. It was a stand in for something deeper that I needed to develop.
The benefit of a boundary is that it protects you, your sanity to an extent. It makes you feel like you are protecting the precious parts. The issue though, is that it does take into account you in this moment, on this day, in this setting. By not centering us and instead “protecting”, it prevent us from receiving the gifts coming our way because we can’t even see them. It prevents us from focusing on what we want instead of what we don’t.
And here’s the truth: Boundaries don’t always serve us because they aren’t truly about us; they center what we are blaming for what we don’t desire instead of centering us.
Every moment is different, we are different in every moment, so how can we expect to uphold something so strong without centering ourselves and what we actually desire?
Instead of boundaries, we need to build our inner authority.
Inner authority is the ability to act with our present inner truth. It is the act of listening to yourself, your needs and desires to move in a way that prioritizes that truth over what we are blaming (or are told is the blame). Instead of being a rule we have, it puts us back into the seat of the creator of our lives and allows us to be more responsive to our needs. By putting you back on that throne, it’s an honoring of you as a complex human that is worthy of being listened to.
So instead of that 10am - 4pm boundary, I now ask on Sundays what do I need this week knowing what is ahead? If it’s a day off because I have lower energy, then I make space for that. Before offering times for a meeting, I look at my calendar and ask what is the best set up for me to have space to listen to myself?
There’s no need for boundaries when you are intentionally asking yourself: what is going to serve me right now and move with that answer as your authority.
That inner authority isn’t something that is built overnight, nor is it something that we can receive from someone else and plug in. It is a practice that starts small and incrementally like all good, effortless practices in life.
For me it started with asking myself, do I really want this coffee or would something nourish me better this morning? Now it’s asking myself deeper questions: what are the things I truly want to work on? What are the yeses that I am willing to give out today so I am motivated and energized to create?
You may decide to keep boundaries up and start to build that inner authority too.
By beginning small, we naturally build the muscle of inner authority that supports our version of a fulfilling life.
So, where are you going to begin?
(psst: you can reply or comment on the link above to let me know!)
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"Standard English… is the language of conquest and domination; in the United States, it is the mask which hides the loss of so many tongues, all those sounds of diverse, native communities we will never hear...we create the ruptured, broken, unruly speech of the vernacular... There, in that location, we make English do what we want it to do. We take the oppressor’s language and turn it against itself. We make our words a counter-hegemonic speech, liberating ourselves in language.” -bell hooks taught me. & more here.