Knowing your limits is key to resilience

click the image to watch this weeks video about “pushing against” to create space for ourselves.

Foundational embodiment supports better boundaries so you can make the most out of catastrophe

Have you ever been the recipient of personal catastrophic news? I’m not talking about the collective disasters we all face. I mean personal loss of something or someone that you have a direct, physical relationship with. How do we navigate our way through that kind of grief while being in the flow of life?

Those extreme moments can be dreadful, but also humming with energy. A certain fierce clarity can arise about who we are, what is most important to us, and what we are most grateful for.

Decisions that we used to struggle with suddenly become very clear. Deep desires and deep resources that may have been fuzzy to us spring into focus, even as we feel unhinged by grief. We discover new layers of vulnerability, resilience, and love.

These moments require awareness, support, and often profound effort on our part just to show up and be present. We experience resilience and discover limits in the same breath. This week’s post and video, therefor, is about one more element of creating healthy boundaries that I’ll be exploring in my upcoming workshop: yielding into contact, leverage, and pushing.

“A baby can set a boundary as he or she pushes hands against a parent to gain greater distance, or the baby can say “no” by pushing away a spoonful of applesauce. We cannot push without something to push against. As a baby pushes against, she is simultaneously able to experience separating from while including the other.”
– Ruella Frank, Six Fundamental Movements, from The First Year and the Rest of Your Life

I want to live such moments to the fullest. All of my boundary making skills, acquired slowly through quiet and ongoing practice, make it possible to channel energies that might overwhelm me otherwise. The extremity of the situation pushes me to express deep desires and needs that I’d normally keep to myself.

Several people I know have recently received diagnoses of cancer. I learn by witnessing how they navigate the challenges of treatment, communicate with friends and loved ones, and radiate enthusiasm for work or other wonderful diversions and distractions that provide just the right energy and rhythm needed on any given day.

It’s ok to talk about the truth of the catastrophe… but not all the time. You can let people know what’s going on, you can carve out much needed solitude, and yet the reality is life keeps flowing forward. I mean, just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time, or that you can’t have a shitty day, or that you have to stay “present” all the time.

Watching TV can be a super skillful embodiment activity sometimes! Even when the world is on fire. We are often more resilient than we think if we stop judging ourselves for having limits and boundaries.

There’s a subtle balancing act between staying with our feelings… and staying in reality. Between shutting down and opening up. Between feeling our grief and walking down the street without falling into a pothole.

If we pathologize any of these states, chances are we will end up judging ourselves and coming up short. That’s a total waste of precious time and energy. Instead, we can get curious. We can flow between states of attentiveness or distraction and allow ourselves to close and open and close like an anemone.

It’s so much healthier for us and those we love if we can admit when we are “cooked,” or cry out for help when we need it without shame.

Intense and upsetting events usually happen, of course, when we feel least equipped to deal with them. Sometimes we really do need to let things fall apart. Maybe that’s already happened to you more than once. What if there were skills you could learn now when things aren’t so extreme?

Sometimes…a mysterious and wonderful resilience arises. You don’t think you can deal with what’s happening, but you discover you can. Let’s move away from self-improvement and towards acceptance as the ground for our being. Just “to be” can be the basic foundation for doing what is needed in this world, for being part of the community of life. Just to be who we are is enough.

If you would like to learn foundational skills for feeling and enlivening your body, loving it as it is, and knowing your limits, come to the Better Boundaries Workshop on July 25th.

Leave a Comment