Boundaries and Spirituality

I used to feel guilty setting boundaries. Boundaries are the lines we put around ourselves for our own comfort. When others do not respect these boundaries, we boot them from our lives. For example, “You must treat me with respect to be in my life”; “You are an adult and you must act like one to be in my life”; “I’ve asked you to stay out of my business and if you can’t you must get out of my life”; “You must take responsibility for your own actions or you cannot be in my life”, “You must follow the company’s rules or be fired”, etc.

When I was growing up, what I learned from my mother (what I was teaching myself) was how to be an emotional rescuer. When I embarked on a spiritual path my lack of boundaries became even worse. For some reason I equated being spiritual with being a doormat. Naturally I attracted other adults who were looking to be rescued. I found their neediness to be such a drag on my energy that I didn’t care to be around most people. I was angry and irritated much of the time. Of course the problem was me. I didn’t set and enforce boundaries because I felt I was supposed to “save” others. I was taking responsibility for them.

The Course teaches us that we are responsible only for our own salvation. Because of my previous learning it took many, many, many years for me to become comfortable with this. The guilt was tremendous. But the Holy Spirit taught me that my mistake was not in building boundaries but in taking responsibility for others. Others belong to the Holy Spirit, not to me. When I turned people over to the Holy Spirit an amazing thing happened – I developed boundaries without guilt and the “needy ones” faded from my life. The irony is that since I learned to detach from others’ egos by seeing the Holy Spirit in them I don’t need the boundaries as much!


I’ve noticed a propensity in others on a spiritual path to make the same mistake. Perhaps I attract them because of my own past experience. The ego loves extremes and some people will read what I just wrote and think they should never help others. Not at all. I help those the Holy Spirit guides me to help and I do it without effort because it is really the Holy Spirit Who helps them through me. And I know that that makes me truly helpful.

www.acimmentor.com

Comments

jacomina said…
My daughter often has some very cruel and hateful words for me ie, "I have no respect for you".

When she's "sorry" it seems I've lost all resolve to have a boundary and forgive her. Why? Because I think she is reflecting back to me a very important message which is I have no respect for myself. She is right.
I should probably thank her for this insight rather than dismiss it and call her behaviour inappropriate. Isnt it just me projecting on my own child my own guilt and fear? Maybe I'm the abuser? what do you think?
I ask because the boundary issue is the bain of my life. I have enough understanding now that I dont take responsibility for other's neediness or save them but still I'm a doormat.

Jacomina
ACIM Mentor said…
You do not project what others say and do but the meaning that you see in what they say and do. If you do not see meaning you are not projecting. You will not feel an emotional charge. But if you have an emotional charge you are projecting meaning. You may believe what they say (i.e., "I am not worthy of respect") or there may be another reason their words scare you ("If she doesn't respect me she will leave me.") So you have to look at what you think about what she says. When you have resolved your own issues you will be able to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way. It must be painful for you" and put responsibility for her feelings where they belong - on her. Remember, she is only responding to her own projections onto you.
jacomina said…
Sooooo. when she says "I have no respect for you", I notice she does have alot of emotion. Can I assume she's projecting feelings of unworthiness on to me? Is this what your last sentence meant when you wrote, "she is only responding to her own projections onto you?"

I am honestly trying to understand how I feel when I hear her state this kind of thing.
Confused for sure. Pain for her as well.
I have asked the Holy Spirit to intervene and lead me into the solution to this "problem".

Thanks Liz
ACIM Mentor said…
Oh, I have no idea what she's projecting onto you. It could be many things. It's something to do with her story for herself.
jacomina said…
Very good. Very clear.

I have asked the Holy Spirit to use this situation to teach me Truth. And that I am willing to see the Truth. What can I expect now?
ACIM Mentor said…
Oh, don't expect, Jacomina! Expectations close your mind. Instead, keep your mind open and trust that the answer has been given and that you will receive the answer when you are open to it.
jacomina said…
HaHa! How many times have I read that we must expect! Your post is the exact opposite of conventional wisdom.
You state the following 4 requirements:

1)Keep your mind open
2)Trust that the answer has been given
3)Trust that I will receive, when....4)I keep my mind open
No problem. And no expectations.
just grateful as ever jacomina

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