Setting Limits is an act of Love
After years of providing services to clients around the world throughout each week –fitting more and more people into an already crammed schedule; providing weekend events three weeks out of each month; leading international retreats, creating new programs, books and CD’s – and doing it while navigating divorce and living as a single mother and trying to stay healthy…..I found myself out of balance and consistently feeling like I was letting people down who were asking for more. Is that true? No.
As Oriah Mountain Dreamer states boldly in her poem The Invitation, “It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.” She reminds us that the story is never true. Its just that – a story. It represents a flood of thoughts and emotional responses to what is, all wrapped in beliefs about what we should or should not be or do. Like me, she is urging us to stop betraying ourselves and arise into our soul’s truth.
How do we do this?
Before you Act, Pause
1. Practice pausing before you respond. Each time your habits urge you to say yes to a request for help — no matter how big or small, STOP. Breathe into your body deeply and elongate your exhale. Ask yourself “Does it serve my highest good to say yes?”
2. Notice. As you pause and ask, notice. Refrain from judging what shows up. How do you feel inside when you contemplate going forth in the direction of habit? Pay attention to the sensations in your heart, your gut. Are you expansive, open, inspired to act? Are you feeling tight, cold or prickly on your skin? Intuitively, expansion equates with “yes”…..tightness, resistance equates with “no”.
3. Compassionate understanding; no judgment. Know that your mind prefers habit. Your mind is formed through indoctrination of thought, belief and patterns to which it was repeatedly exposed as you formed your identity. It is not the eternal you. So it is going to prefer that you do what you think you SHOULD do. When a “should” arises – recognize it as a belief that is not founded in a higher truth, reflecting an internalized perception of what is right and wrong for you and others. Acting from the internalized thought “I should….” is a self-shaming mantra that alienates you from your soul’s truth and purpose. Don’t judge this. Everyone has adapted to this human conditioning. Choose, instead, to free yourself from it.
4. Appreciate and Act on the true YES or NO. As you breathe through the practice of pausing, tuning into your deepest responses to what serves you and compassionately witness the thoughts that may counter this truth, appreciate your ability to witness. The awareness that you are not your mind or conditioning, that you can pause and know what is truly in your highest good is a milestone in living free. Appreciate your true power to know and act; and then act according to that higher truth.
5. Witness the outcome. Act with confidence on your truth and notice the results in your body, your emotions, your mental state and the lives of others. Every time you say “yes” from this deep knowing, your intuition expands aka your SOUL gets stronger in this realm and will be reflected in a growing harmony, equanimity and balance. Those who are used to your habits may not like your new found choices but your empowered examples will promote wellness in everything around you. You see, when you choose from your this innate truth – Soul Wisdom – everyone benefits. When you truly need to assist another, you and they will become empowered through that kind of service. But all help given from a place of “should” or belief that the other is incapable in any way, breeds the internalized lie of powerlessness within them and you. Soul Truth empowers all life. Always. Without exception.
A portion from my poem, Coming Home (by Lori Lipten) states:
I am here to serve
Whispers the voice of sacred creation
I am here to notice
Speaks the depth of all knowing
I am here to awaken
Speaks the ancestors of wisdom
I am here to love
Setting limits by discovering your inner truth and acting on it is an act of love. When you act from love, you awaken. And your awakening serves the highest good of all concerned.