Self awareness and boundaries


n- bound-a-ry plr. bound-a-ries

Definition: Something that indicates a border or limit. The border or limit so indicated.

We seek to communicate with each other. To find a place, a common place, where we can genuinely communicate and touch one another. There is a natural boundary between you and me. A boundary between me and all that is not-me. A boundary between you and all that is not-you.

Only by crossing this boundary, can we truly meet. In this place the you and I merge into a new “we”. We both change and grow and a new boundary is created between the “we” and the “not-we”.

This “we” will naturally flow and grow unless one, or both of the you and me that makes up the “we” seek the security of the known and predictable. If we insist on holding tightly to preconceptions, prejudices and fear the unknown, then the boundary between you and me remains impervious.

Each of us moves about and has our being in relation to our environment. There is a boundary that separates the inside from the outside. There is our self and there is also all that which is other than our self. There is the me and the not-me. There is also an ever-changing boundary that separates the me from the not-me.

Our egos end where the environment begins. When we desire that which is in the environment but lack the inner support and constitution necessary to fulfill the desire, we often try to manipulate and control the environment. Instead of flowing naturally, this artificial manipulation frustrates because real contact necessarily depends on a sincere spirit.

In a myriad of ways every moment, I either identify with and am attracted to, or disassociate from and am repulsed by that outside myself. When we consider the uniqueness of each individual, it is easy to see how rare genuine contact can be.

Let’s take the simplest of examples involving say….blueberries. I like blueberries. I desire blueberries. So I choose to take those blueberries over there (outside the boundary of me) and bring them into me. It is my desire and within my means and inclination to make the blueberries a part of me. I venture beyond the boundary of me into the not-me to fulfill this need, this desire. Now the previously not-me blueberries have joined me. The blueberries and me are now “we”. In a natural manner, I had to genuinely like blueberries in order to desire to make them “like me” or “as me” or a part of me.

There is the experience inside me; in here. I also observe the experience of that outside me; over there. If my sense of me is disturbed, damaged or has never been allowed to mature, then I may feel lack. At that time something outside of me but clearly not-me, may become so strong in my need to fill the void, that my compromised sense of self takes it to actually be me. I seek to find my missing identity in this not-me. It may be a career. Money. A group. A person.

Sometimes one can identify so strongly with this “not me” that one can take it to be “me”, even though the above mentioned can never be me, like say a blueberry can.

All is seemingly well, until circumstances cause one to lose this career, this money, this group or this person. The identification is (was) so strong, that there is no longer any me left. There is no identity.

We have all observed those individuals who are seemingly without boundaries. I am not referring to the fluid ego boundary of the healthy person but rather one who during the vulnerable development and maturation of the self, had their still fragile boundary violated and crossed with force. This violation can so shake the burgeoning sense of self that the boundary between what is them and what is not-them becomes fragmented and distorted.

Being unable to help but resent this violation, it is empowered and keeps that which is not-them alive. Unconsciously ingesting and now holding something that is not-them as if it were part of them, they will desperately seek to find satisfaction outside themselves. A subconscious pursuit begins to find completion in others who have been violated themselves. Seeking to join the “not-them” inside with the “not-them” inside others only results in the coupling of two who are not themselves, often with tragic results and heartbreak.

Difficulties can also arise when the inner self is compromised by multiple boundaries created within. “These parts of me I like and accept; these parts I don’t and reject”. During this split, one may disown or repress feelings and thoughts but they will eventually surface elsewhere like the dream state and in behavior where awareness is otherwise dimmed. Genuine contact between those who are fragmented in this manner is extremely difficult and the resulting impact is seen in the disharmony all around us. Just look. Just listen.

Inside. Outside. Boundary between. Inside is support, comfort and familiarity. Outside is strangeness, risk and insecurity. There must always be boundaries by necessity. Differentiating. Attraction to and repelling from. Like me and not like-me. A constant need to venture beyond one’s boundary to meet needs. To breathe. To satisfy. To complete. To fulfill. It is the very flow of life.

With courage and trust, each of us can choose to let another completely inside our boundaries. The beauty of such honest contact can create a oneness of unspeakable joy.

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