By LaKesha N. Legree, MD
Part 4 in the “My Exodus” series
In part 3 of this series entitled “My Exodus”, we discussed how to identify clutter from our past that was obstructing the view towards discovering who we are individually and what our true purpose is within this one lifetime that we have been so graciously given. We went into detail by outlining how to become more introspective and intimate with oneself to accomplish the journey of self-discovery (IN-TO-ME-I-SEE). To review, here are some action items you can take to dive into the depths of your being. The goal, is to discover what your simplistic, supernatural, spiritual purpose is on this Earth. When you discover your purpose, and start walking in that purpose, joy and happiness will surely follow. Ask yourself the following:
- What ideas, concepts, beliefs or behaviors have you carried forward from your past that perhaps your present adult self does not agree with nor understand nor know its origin?
- What are your core values?
- What are your priorities?
- Is the aforementioned aligned with each other? If not, why is that?
Once we have gotten to the core of who we are, what we value and what our purpose is, we must protect that self-discovery by creating healthy boundaries around it. We must also recognize that our purpose is always evolving and therefor requires frequent adjustments. In other words, we are to remain in tuned with who we are once self-discovery has already taken place. So, how do we go about doing all of this? Let’s take it step by step:
Step 1: Recognize exactly what a boundary is and what it represents. Boundaries are what defines who we are and who we are not. Understand that boundaries help to define what is internal. Without this clear definition then we are easily swayed by our past and by those around us. Sound familiar? What are you holding on to that you need to let go of?
Step 2: Recognize that there are 3 types of boundaries: physical, mental and emotional. (We will focus on the latter two.) Mental boundaries give you the freedom to have your own thoughts and opinions. Emotional boundaries help you to deal with your own emotions and disengage yourself from the harmful and manipulative emotions of others.
Step 3: Recognize that developing boundaries is a fluid process. It is an ongoing process that begins to develop in childhood. This initial developmental stage is crucial because it is where our character is formed. Going back to our past helps us to develop our present and subsequently ensure a better future for ourselves and our mental well-being.
Step 4: Recognize that there is always safety in the truth
What happens when we do not have boundaries or when we are lackadaisical with the boundaries we have created? We end up struggling with the control, pressure and demands of others. So, you passively comply but inwardly resent. Why even have boundaries if you do not value yourself enough to maintain them? In essence, you are merely conveying to the world and to yourself that someone else’s needs and wants trump that of your own. In most cases if that is not a child or a parent then this is a real issue. But, even that is arguable.
In summary, how does having boundaries correlate to living authentically? “You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want” (Margaret Young). Just as developing and maintaining boundaries is a fluid process, so is living authentically. Authenticity is a practice. It is a conscious choice of how we want to live. We must choose to show up, be honest with ourselves and secondarily with those around us. Finally, we must choose to be proud of who we are and subsequently allow our true selves to be seen. Hiding part of oneself takes more energy than being transparent. Hiding oneself takes a lot of mental and emotional energy and can lead to a disengagement from everything. Inauthenticity can lead to intrusive thoughts, distress and distractibility. This collectively may lead to stress, anxiety and clinical depression.
So, which will you choose? Will you choose to mindfully practice upholding the boundaries that you have created that are unique to you that help identify who you are but more importantly who you are not? Will you choose to take stock of those boundaries daily and make necessary, fluid adjustments as life calls you to do so? Or, will you choose to live according to what other people perceive you to be or even tell you that you should be? Life is about choices. Boundaries are about choices. Authentic living is about choices. If you take some quiet time to marinate over this, you will find that there is a common thread amongst all these choices. That common thread is YOU. Choosing YOU. Putting YOU first. Letting go of living according to who you think you are supposed to be based upon external forces and instead, choosing to embrace who YOU know yourself to be on the inside.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.” (E.E.Cummings)