Last week I started an exploration for WHY boundaries are SO important in any kind of healing work. Today I want to dive deeper.
Now let's dive into some practical ways you can set boundaries in your work so as to be the most ethical and supportive you can be.
Boundaries Are Love:
All this to say:
If you are a person who shares things on the internet, please know that it's ok to set boundaries. It is ETHICAL to set boundaries - so that you do not traumatize YOURSELF via taking on more than you are able to hold or process via constantly consuming the traumas of others, and so that you don't traumatize others who are coming to you that you can't actually hold in a therapeutic and therefore safe for trauma processing container. Boundaries are good for EVERYONE - and that's how reality works. As above so below. As within so without. You aren't abandoning people by setting clear boundaries. You are actually refusing to cause more harm.
Below are some boundaries I'm setting/have set. Perhaps they can help support you in finding that best serves the people who are coming to you and you as a person.
Being truly loving does NOT equal:
- Allowing people to use your platform to hate, berate, disparage or spread hate speech about anyone or anything. People are FULLY allowed to hold their opinions about the world, and to share those opinions and theories on THEIR platforms - but you don't have to offer them a space on YOUR platform if what they are saying feels off for YOU. You do not owe anyone YOUR platform. It's ok to delete comments that are clearly harmful to you or others. That are disrespectful. That you feel weird about. They are free again to share on their spaces. This isn't censorship - again you can't stop them from posting anywhere else - this is keeping YOUR space sacred.
- Having to cater to each person that comes into your sphere. You are allowed to not answers messages. To not answer questions. To not give individualized explanations for your teaching so that people know how it applies to them specifically - you are allowed to let people figure things out for themselves. If they are not willing to do that, it’s not your job to spoon feed. If questions and deeper explorations interest you - great! If you WANT to engage in conversation, go and do! Learn. Grow. Expand. But again, you don't HAVE to spoon feed or explain. People can and will figure things out if they want to - and this is usually BETTER for them and their learning process anyway.
- Having no boundaries. You are allowed to set rules for how and where people interact with you and what you will and will not engage with. When you will engage. How much energy you will expend engaging. You do not owe the world all of you all the time - and with our computers and phones that give us all constant access to one another - this can be a hard boundary to set - but it’s important. Really step back and consider how much you can give to this online world WITHOUT depleting YOURSELF. Without losing touch with your reality. With your people. With your life. Don't push past that - again we are all one and when you work from depletion you aren't doing anyone any favors. It's better to say no than to give from an empty cup. People may get upset and that's ok.
- Having to take hate from others. There is a HUGE difference between a debate/constructive feedback/asking clarifying questions and projection/attack/character assassination/someone who simply WANT’S to see the worst in you. Learning the difference between these things is critical. It's not unloving to block and delete when someone is simply there to offload their pain. You don't have to hate or make an enemy them. I know you FEEL them and want to help. But again, there are times and places where we simply don't have the power to make things better for others. Send love. Send resources. But don't get in the mud.
- Having to be a perfect love for someone. Again, if people want one on one loving attention from you - that is a totally different situation than demanding that you have long, drawn out conversations/read huge comments/explain yourself and your choices/go through an emotional process with someone purely because they showed up and demanded it of you. It's not your job to emotionally labor with people. If you are offering tools and suggestions for people to use ON THEIR OWN, and people want one on one support for how to apply those tools to their life, they can pay you for that, or you can let them know how to find someone who can do that with them - but that your intention is to offer tools for how they can do this work FOR THEMSELVES. If they are demanding more OR expecting you to show up FOR THEM in a therapeutic way - this isn't your role. There is a big difference between you blocking someone who is just in a pain spiral that you are not responsible for, and going to their page and telling them how wrong or horrible or sick or whatever they are. It IS loving to simply walk away from someone who is in attack/defense mode. That is the MOST loving thing to do in that situation. You are not their therapist or family member. You are not responsible for them. If people can’t be civil in their expression of pain and process - so as to make it safe for YOU to journey with them - you are under no obligation to stay in there.
- Having to explain or justify your boundaries. You can delete, block, say no, not reply - and you don’t have to explain yourself. This isn’t hate again - this is you simply witnessing that there is a no win situation on your hands and that’s not your responsibility.
- Take 'feedback' on how you express as a person. Again you are under no obligation to look how people want you to look, speak how they want you to speak, dress how they want you to dress or to live in any way that serves THEIR definition of how YOU/people ‘should be’. You are under no obligation to explain your life choices. People can assume and judge and that’s fine. If people really want to learn they will. If they just want to criticize your way of being - that’s not your work. If they are seeing a seeming hypocrisy between how you are living and what you are preaching of COURSE look inside and see if it’s true. If it is, that’s a great learning opportunity for you! If not, you still don’t have to explain or convince, ever. You are allowed to live your life and make your choices and express how you feel best so long as it’s not causing harm to others. And if it is, that’s again your work not for someone to come and tell you about without your asking anyway. YOU are allowed to say ‘I didn’t ask for feedback about this part of my life thank you.’ And walk away.
Often times the MOST loving thing to do with people who are in deep trauma/projection/pain is to walk away.
I’ve seen in myself that often times engaging only serves to enflame things because I don’t know enough about them and haven’t established a SAFE and FAMILIAR coaching/therapeutic environment with which to actually walk someone through something anyway. Again, when people come guns a blazing or with their trauma all out of display demanding your time and energy - they are in a deeply triggered and vulnerable space. It's actually very UNLOVING to try to work them through it because YOU are NOT a safe space for THEM. You have not established the trust that needs to be there for someone to be held properly to walk through their pain. It’s just going to be re-traumatizing for both of you. I know it can feel really cold to walk away, but often times this is the LEAST of the evils that can be done. This is why therapeutic environments exist as they do and why people get training.
Offer your offerings generally, and let people figure them out for themselves. Don’t try to be a therapist to everyone - it’s not a safe thing for ANYONE. We all deserve love, and often times the most loving thing we can do is walk away so as not to cause more damage and not to BE collateral damage. People are hurting, but we have to recognize where our power is to support integration and where it’s simply not our place.
You’re not responsible for others. Take constructive feedback, have conversations with people, answers messages - just do so with good clear boundaries and a knowing that you don’t have to let people bleed on you. Ever. Being out on social media is NOT the same thing as INVITING people to tell you everything about themselves and demand that you give them a healing session. Saying no is healthy for everyone.
I’m learning to.