In the previous sensory balance post we began a two-part exploration of how the fourth of our four inner senses—belonging—helps us imbue our experiences with meaning. Here are my additional thoughts on the sense of belonging.
Relationships have been the greatest teachers in my life. While often they didn’t feel helpful at the time, in hindsight I can see that they provided the sacred space in which I received my most difficult lessons about the true meaning of healthy boundaries. They were the classroom in which I learned how to establish constructive limits for myself and how to recognize when my “desire to help” was not fueled by core energy of love but by fear in the form of anxiety, self-doubt, avoidance, or arrogance.
Across a variety of roles and venues—daughter, sister, parent, wife, mother, boss, subordinate, coach, friend—I had to be taught these lessons about respecting my own and others’ boundaries again and again before I began to see the light. These same advanced classes are the ones to which the Universe continues to invite me each day.
Don’t set your intention to develop more patience or better boundaries unless you are prepared to embrace the inevitable upheaval. We only become better at anything with practice. Practicing patience and boundaries requires doing so in difficult situations. It is the only way to get good at it.
I’ll share a few personal examples to illustrate. In the introduction to the Discovery Framework, I mentioned a couple of belonging-related hiccups I encountered on my way to writing this section of the book. These situations provided the latest in a series of ongoing moment-by-moment opportunities to deepen my own ability to live the framework, clarify my boundaries, and strengthen my commitment to my calling. They included two of my beloved cats being diagnosed with illnesses; my husband undergoing two surgeries in one month, with two more to come; and a rift in a long-term friendship.
So how did I fair? I remained on an even keel in handling the two cat-astrophes, demonstrating real progress in my ability to be fully present when I perceive my loved ones are in pain or danger. I didn’t even consider my past practice of spinning death horror stories in my head that would only serve to freak me out and block me from accessing my deepest wisdom. I embraced my responsibility for my cats’ diagnoses and care and continued chipping away at sculpting the framework chapters of this book. I remembered that all relationships are sent to us for a season and a reason. I practiced being here now, appreciating every moment life gives me with the furry family members I adore.
I also did fairly well with my husband’s surgeries, trying to be supportive (love) without being intrusive (fear). I freely admit to a few times when I stuck my nose in and pushed my approach over his (disrespect). The good news is that I noticed my slips quickly (curiosity), didn’t beat myself up (love, respect, and compassion), apologized voluntarily (love and respect), and shifted my focus back to writing the framework chapters, trusting Wilson to manage his own healthcare.
The rift in the friendship proved the greatest challenge of the three for me. I did a bit of obsessing, which distracted and blocked me from writing and other happy endeavors. But I also handled it, especially the fear, much more constructively than I have such situations in the past. I applied curiosity instead of judgment in assessing what my friend and I each contributed to the rift. Over a period of months, I made multiple attempts to repair it. When it became clear to me that reconciliation was not in the cards, I released all of it with love and light and firmly but lovingly closed the door. For me to have pushed the situation any further at the time would not have been loving, respectful, or compassionate to either of us.
With deep disappointments, this release process is often iterative. When the pain of such experiences resurfaces periodically, I try to resist distracting myself with eating to excess, shopping until I drop, or working harder and longer. I set my intention to embrace my feelings with curiosity and identify the opportunity for even deeper healing within me. Sometimes there’s an aspect for which I bear responsibility that I’ve not fully accepted. Other times there’s an element of my friend’s responsibility that I’m still trying to carry. I focus my energy on embracing my own lessons and completely detaching from my friend’s lessons because, frankly, they are none of my business. I have enough on my own plate at all times to keep me constructively occupied. I remind myself that we each did the best we could with the wisdom we gave ourselves access to at the time. I foster genuine gratitude for the growth our relationship has offered me and release both of us into the loving arms of the Universe to move forward on our individual paths.
I am genuinely grateful for the advanced class in boundary setting and the opportunity to share it here (yet another silver lining). In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1 (The Message version) tells us, “… there is a right time to everything on earth.” The Tao rules of engagement for right relationships express this principle as, “When you come, we welcome you. When you stay, we do not hold on to you. When you leave, we do not pursue you.”
If the Universe feels my friend and I still have unfinished business, It will reopen the door when the time is right. If not, the time may have come for us to move on permanently because we are meant to learn our remaining life lessons through other situations and relationships. One way or another, we’re going to keep being offered the lessons until we learn them. The longer it takes, the tougher the lessons get. As we say in the practice of Reiki, “May I learn my lessons quickly and gently and help others do so as well.”