Thank you for reading my articles here. If any piece resonates with you, I encourage you to share your reactions, as they will likely resonate with other readers, too. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Much Love and Many Blessings, Alice
Friday, July 22, 2011
Honoring our boundaries while serving
Many of us were raised to be pleasers. For some of us, we also have the innate personality that makes us highly sensitive to not disappointing others. Pleasing others is the subconscious programming many of us internalize that creates martyrdom and self-abandonment. We ignore our own needs and desires, do what causes us discomfort or even pain, all in the name of wanting to make someone else happy. We tell ourselves that we’re being of service. However, being of service doesn’t require us to abandon ourselves. We can still serve authentically without having to dishonor our boundaries.
This past week really made me come face to face with the above. No matter how many years I’ve already spent excavating the learned rules of how to behave and what to do since I was a kid, deeper layers of forgotten “should”s still sneak up on me every now and then. It’s just like what I wrote in my book: Old beliefs and programming are like layers of an onion. Until we peel away the outer layers, the deeper ones can’t be exposed. That’s why, releasing old subconscious programming is a process. The good news is that when old rules come up, we have the opportunities to release them--that is, as long as we have the consciousness to recognize and accept the opportunities.
I mentioned in last week’s article that I was going to a wedding as the Maid of Honor. The wedding turned out to be absolutely beautiful, and the bride was ecstatic to have her fairytale come true. It was very special to be part of this experience. Especially during the ceremony, I couldn’t keep my eyes dry. I’m thoroughly thrilled for the couple.
With all that said, for me personally, the evening did not end on a high note. The culprit? The dreaded bouquet toss. I knew it was part of the program, but it never dawned on me that I’d be required to participate in it. The DJ repeatedly and obnoxiously declared into the microphone my single status, refuting my personal claim, as if he had the right to do so. When I didn’t budge, I was personally escorted to join a group of women who, too, wished they could find a place to hide. It was utterly humiliating. I was grossly unprepared for that moment, and couldn’t lift myself from the humiliation.
That experience was hard to stomach for several reasons. First, and most importantly, although my legal marital status is single, I haven’t been single in a long time. (That’s a whole different article altogether!) To be forced to accept an attribution with which I don’t identify deeply violated my personal liberties. Besides, in principle, I have real difficulties with the antiquated ritual of lining up a bunch of single women to catch a bouquet. Is that really fun or necessary? For whom? That’s why, when I got married in 2002, I skipped this part of the program to spare my single friends of truly unnecessary embarrassment.
I could continue licking my wounds of having been publicly humiliated. However, as with all experiences that are hard to swallow, they are opportunities to let go of that which no longer serves us. In this case, the first forgotten old belief that needed to go surrounds the social judgments around being a legally single woman in her 40s. This is clearly a bigger social issue that could be debated till the cows come home. Personally, though, what matters is that I know my own Truth in my heart. When I regained grounding in this awareness, it became clear that the humiliation I felt was only a judgment, a really harsh one notwithstanding. By letting this judgment go, I release the feelings of humiliation.
The bigger lesson from this experience is a reminder to honor my boundaries while wanting to serve. I had made it my mission since accepting the role of Maid of Honor to give the bride what she wanted. I could have held firm about not joining in the bouquet toss had I been in the right level of consciousness. No one could force me to do anything I didn’t wish to accept. Ultimately, I yielded to a ritual with which I personally disagree at multiple levels, because I forgot to represent my rights and boundaries. I abandoned myself in that moment, all in the name of not wanting to mar the auspicious occasion for my dear friend. She would have completely understood my position had I simply explained it. Under any circumstance, it’s always my responsibility to tend to my own boundaries, lest I give my power away, by grudgingly yielding to external expectations and “should”s.
In closing, this article wasn’t easy to write, as it’s deeply personal. However, when I took it into meditation this morning as to whether to write this piece, I got crystal clear guidance to remain authentic. Just as I was directed to share a lot of myself in my book, continuing to share authentically what I learn from working through struggles of my lower human self remains a key part of my calling to serve. I hope you can take my story as a case study for looking at difficult human experiences with a higher consciousness--and for being open to harvesting the gifts they bear. Namaste.