Warning signs that your boundaries may need tending

Creative people are often sensitive critters, who long to be alone on the one hand, and to connect on a deep level with others on the other.

This can bring about all sorts of inner and outer conflicts!

I’ve identified, for me, that friendships, family relationships and romantic partnerships work best with a healthy level of boundaries.  Creative people, in order to thrive, need room to move and explore our inner landscape on our own terms.  This can often conflict with our need to be close to other people.

Intimacy is also key, but if you’re always being dragged into other people’s energy, you may need to do some work.

Like everything, boundaries aren’t about other people.

I realised this when I spent years trying to ‘set boundaries’ for people around me, often with a lot of anger or fear mixed up in the action, whilst doing no work at all on myself.

Untitled-1In the end I realised:  It is only possible to open your heart fully when it is fully protected (click to Tweet this)

Signs that your boundaries need some tending, and some ideas to work on if these are happening to you:

1) Your creative time being interrupted by family members or partners, often leading to conflict or bitterness.

This is a hugely common issue for us creative people!  If you are trying to work in common areas of your home, this may be adding to the problem.  If at all possible, set up a workspace in a different room, tell your family you will be unavailable for a set period of time and go there.  Alternatively, find a friendly cafe or library to work in away from home!  You may, if you have the funds, want to look into a studio space away from your home, too.

2) ‘Feeling other people feelings’ a lot.

Creative people are often highly empathetic, but if you’re often feeling things which are ‘not your own’ this is a sign your boundaries are not supporting you!

In any emotionally charged situation, always focus on YOU first. There’s a real temptation to make a difficult situation about the other person. If you think about this, this response is all about not setting boundaries – you’re letting their energy into your space before you’ve even dealt with your own feelings. Instead, tend to your emotional responses first, give yourself what you need (love, time, space, a walk, some journalling time….) before you turn any energy to the other person.

You may also find it helps to visualise a boundary around you when you’re in group situations.  I always picture a silvery bubble!  Practices like ‘showering away energy’, ‘cutting the cords’ or smudging may also help.

3) Emotional drama being a common feature of your connections with others.

This can be a real sign that you are letting other people’s emotional states guide your own.

The first question to ask yourself is:  What are you getting from the drama?   If you are getting something you need from a situation, it can be very hard to change things.  If drama is getting you attention or validation, or acting as a distraction against the real work you need to do, then spend some time examining this in your journal.

4) A tendency to withdraw from social situations for extended periods of time in order to recoup your own emotional space

Although alone time is a wonderful thing, if you are avoiding most social contact and making excuses not to go out, chances are you don’t feel safe around other people.

5) Constantly referring to ‘experts’, other creatives or friends and family for opinions on your creative life or work.

This indicates that you’ve allowed what other people think to become more important than your own wisdom.  It can be tempting to hand our power over to people who seem to have it more together than we do, but this never works out in the long run.

6) Having very few friends, not making any new friends for a long time or relying solely on a romantic partner or family member for friendship.

By the time folks reach middle age, often we’ve withdrawn from intimacy entirely because we’re so desperate for our own space.  We may have experienced betrayal, petty nonsense and countless other things at the hands of friends and find it hard to make new ones.

The solution is to allow different levels of friendship in our lives.  Not all friends have to be super close.  Coffee buddies, art-gallery-going chums, walking partners and fellow book lovers can all give us good connections within the safety of a shared hobby or activity.  Deeper friendship can, if it wants to, develop from there.

Another idea to try is ‘single serving friends’ (an idea from the film ‘Fight Club’).  Practice talking more openly than you would with friendly strangers in situations where you won’t be expected to ‘follow up’ and continue the friendship.

Again, more permanent friendships can arise from these encounters, but it’s good to start off with no expectations.

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