When Personal Boundaries Fail

by | Jul 12, 2007 | AncientYogi

It’s common knowledge that living with some personal boundaries is supposed to be a good thing.

The notion is simple enough:

Establish and adhere to imaginary internal fences in order to protect yourself from being overwhelmed, assaulted or otherwise forced to react to those situations which you do not want to react to. On the face of it, establishing a few personal “fences” in your life sounds like a good and healthy thing to do. After all, it places some control on your actions as well as those actions you will tolerate from others.

There is however a problem with all those “lines in the sand” you are supposed to draw in order to control your personal universe. They are not static. The internal barriers you have erected are not fixed in place the same way the fence in your backyard is set into the ground. Your internal barriers are much more complicated.

Iets call one of those complicating factors “The Boundary Effect”.

When unchecked, an internal barrier you established at some point (even for a good and healthy reason) can become an unexpected shackle that acts and reacts with other internal barriers to literally freeze your ability to think, feel and act freely.

When you are unable to think, feel and act freely, your life becomes regimented, predictable and “small”. So small that there is very little room left for passion, new interests, new relationships or new adventures.

Understanding The Boundary Effect.

To illustrate the phenomenon of “The Boundary Effect” I’m going to use an extreme example:

Lets’ say you establish a personal boundary to not walk in front of a moving car. This is a no-brainer! It could be a matter or life or death. Once the new boundary is established your inner “radar” always alerts you to the sound of an oncoming car. You immediately and unconsciously react to that sound. More often than not, you are aware that you are not in any danger so your “radar” reassures your safety.

This is how a healthy personal boundary is supposed to work.

It protects us. But what happens over time when you have established (or others have established in you) many boundaries covering a wide variety of possible situations?

We are born with two primary fears: The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. This means we learn every fear, uncertainty and doubt we ever experience. It also means that we have to learn and establish all of the boundaries which rule our day to day lives.

Now imagine that all of these boundaries (which are now established as a part of our psyche) are the notes on a piano. The piano has a foot control called a damper. The damper is a felt bar that lets the strings continue to sound after you actually strike the piano key. Take your foot off of the damper pedal and the piano strings immediately stop sounding.

A piano has eighty-eight keys which correspond to eighty-eight different notes. If you were to hold down the damper pedal with your foot and then strike one piano key, you would hear that note plus every other note on the piano which has a similar vibration to the single note you played.

This is called “sympathetic vibration”

Sympathetic vibration also takes place inside you, with your personal boundaries! So much so, that over time you may no longer be able to discern which boundary is actually the one being triggered (like the single note you press on the piano). This happens when the phenomenon of “The Boundary Effect” has overtaken and neutralized the positive aspects of setting personal boundaries.

Stated simply: “The Boundary Effect” causes an emotional reaction inside you which is no longer triggered by a single personal boundary.

Your emotional reaction is caused by the sympathetic vibration of several (often not related to the situation at hand) boundaries. This causes fears, uncertainties and doubts to occur which have little or nothing to do with the situation…yet exert intense control over how you react to that situation.

“The Boundary Effect” if left unchecked, continues to grow over time and will create a fear, uncertainty and doubt reaction to even using your imagination. Thinking, feeling and imagining now act to trigger “The Boundary Effect”.

This makes you not want to “go there” with your thinking, feeling and imagining.

For all intents and purposes, your life and your choices become fewer and fewer. You naturally want to avoid those things which trigger “The Boundary Effect”and make you feel uncomfortable. Which over time can amount to so many different things you might find yourself experiencing chronic fatigue and depression!

“Can’t, not, no, I’m not interested, I don’t know what I want”, all become familiar responses to anything new.

Why does this happen?

“The Boundary Effect” is very much a phantom emotion.

You feel its effects long before you actually confront the life situation which perpetuated the establishment of the original barrier. Remember: We humans always seek the path of least resistance.

The problem is that “The Boundary Effect” creates a path of least (emotional) resistance that makes us fearful of anything new.

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