This summer I’ve been taking a really fun Adult Beginner’s Hip Hop dance class. Sometimes I watch the instructor and I think, “Hmmm, OK, I get that”. But when it’s our turn to do it, it surprises me every time to see how much my body struggles with it. “Whoa, wait, I don’t speak this language!” After a bit of practice I finally have it down, except I lose it again when we do it as part of a sequence! I don’t know why I would underestimate how hard it is. I probably looked at the word “Beginner’s” and forgot that it’s still a “class”, where you have to learn. I’d be proud of myself to have kept in time and done about 60% of the choreography, even if you can’t tell it’s hip hop.
So doing boundaries is very much like learning a new dance for me. You’ll try it and repeat and it wouldn’t look right. But with enough practice, I believe, it will become second nature. It really won’t be as fun as dancing, sorry to break that to you. But it should allow you to have more fun in life.
On Day 6 of 14 Days of Love, I did the whole routine: defending a boundary that I hadn’t set before, and then actually setting it.
One thing about having someone close, like a family member, cross a boundary is that they most likely had good intentions. My Fear voice, who tells me to not say anything because “they’re only trying to help”, is right about that part. After I, essentially, shooed the family member away, I began to doubt if I’d done the right thing or if I just made a mess. It was an easy moment to give in to the voice of shame, who was running at me shouting “Look what you’ve done now! Told you you shouldn’t have said anything at all!” But I’m learning to listen to the other voice. She held my head in both hands and said, “Hey, come figure with me how we can have this boundary without hurting the family member. Guilt and Shame are coming after us but ignore them, let’s focus.” I believe her name is Love.
Love and my brain made a great team. I admitted that the family member had a (semi-valid) good intention and I would address that by letting them know what course of action would have been okay with me. I admitted to myself that I am responsible too, as I had never communicated this boundary before.
In half an hour, when I saw the family member again, I was able to do set my boundary without being accusing, defensive or critical. In fact, I have a new found sense of respect for them. Before, when I kept to myself when they crossed my boundary, I had begun resenting them and labelling them negatively for it. But now, the decision to communicate my boundary requires me to respect them enough to allow for the possibility that they might actually be able and willing to respect my boundary.