I did a podcast last week with psychotherapist Terri Cole. Do you know her?
She’s the author of Boundary Boss (which I highly recommend) and a powerful and insightful voice on social media and the web. She’s also a good friend. Terri’s husband, Vic Juhasz, is a great illustrator who did all the visual work on The Daily Pressfield.
That, in fact, was the main thrust of our podcast conversation.
But I noticed in the prep materials that Terri said she always asked guests, at the program’s end, the same question:
“Personally, what has been your most challenging boundary struggle and how did you overcome it?”
It turned out Terri didn’t ask the question that particular day, but the subject got me thinking. How would I answer?
When we think of boundary issues in the psychological sense, we’re usually referring to excessively intrusive words or actions between people—the boss who takes liberties with our time or our person, the spouse or lover whose comments always seem to undermine us, the loudmouth uncle who insists on ruining Thanksgiving.
But, I realized, my most challenging boundary issue isn’t with another person.
It’s with me.
It’s with that voice in my head that is constantly telling me I’m not good enough to tackle the project I’m about to begin, that it’s all been done before (and better than I’ll ever do it), that I’m too old/too young, overeducated/undereducated, etc., etc.
In other words, the voice of Resistance is the same in my head now as it was in 1974 (and no doubt the same in your head too.)
Thinking of this from Terri’s “boundary boss” perspective, I thought, “This is where DRAWING THE LINE is mandatory.”
This is where the real voice in my head has to say, “Listen, you! You do not have the right to say those things to me. You don’t have the right to use that tone. And you sure as hell don’t have the right to do it over and over … and never, never stop. Back off! Take your trash somewhere else, but don’t dump it on me!”
The struggle against our own self-sabotage, fear, self-doubt, tendency to procrastinate, perfectionism, etc, is really, I realized from Terri’s question, a boundary issue.
It’s a question of drawing the line. It’s about standing up for ourselves and protecting the best and most vulnerable parts of our psyches. “You, Voice in my Head, where do you get the nerve to say those things to me? And to say them in that arrogant, condescending tone of voice? Stop right now. I dismiss you. I am getting to work!”
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