Boundaries and Poisonous Stuff

January 18, 2019

Pretty much the first thing you do if you're interested in hiking or getting into local plants and animals is identifying the poisonous things around you. Here in New England, there aren't that many poisonous plants and animals, so it's not that hard. Still, this shit will hurt or kill you and you need to know what it is. 

In my coaching practice, I have a lot of people who seem completely clueless about personal boundaries. Like, what's healthy and what isn't, or even just the idea of having boundaries instead of being black holes for everyone else's feelings and problems. So the metaphor of poisonous plants and animals strikes me. If you see a patch of poison ivy or a black widow spider, you STAY THE FUCK AWAY. You don't say "Oh, maybe it just needs some love, and I can fix it." 

Somehow, maybe because we're not raised to have emotional intelligence or awareness,  we don't look out for ourselves in our everyday lives the same way. But it's not rocket science. Much of the time I've seen people having difficulty with boundaries it's not because other people come in, but because they step out to engage with stuff they shouldn't. For some reason we think that other people being involved negates our own autonomy, and despite our individualistic culture, we have a hard time respecting ourselves or understanding how to balance our needs with others. 

It's extremely important to create at least a simple catalog of what's safe and what isn't. You may not know what will make you happy or enlighten your soul, but it's not that hard to make a short list of what will hurt you.