Are Your Boundaries Clear?
These days, with the challenge of COVID 19, many people at home and at work have encountered relationship challenges. At work, layoffs mean that few people have to do more. Many have lost their jobs entirely, and there is a lot of fear about personal safety, family safety and the future. At home, people have been living and often working in close quarters, often resulting in relationship challenges. I’m a business coach who includes relationship coaching with horses as part of my work with both private individuals and business owners with their teams. During this highly stressful time, finding emotional balance is both a challenge and an opportunity. I have noticed lately during the sessions with my clients and the horses that boundary setting is an issue that keeps coming up. Horses provide a great opportunity to see where you stand with your boundaries.
How Horses Can Help
The horse is considered a facilitator of this work and is free of equipment. There is no riding involved. The opportunity is to engage with the horse in a way that establishes the person as a leader. Horses naturally look for a leader. The leader of a horse herd is the one with the most acute ability to sense danger coming and alert the herd to move to safety. This is because horses are prey animals. To survive, they have to sense the danger before it appears. This is a great metaphor for human leaders as well, which is why horses can be so helpful in showing you where you stand as a leader. For humans, the focus can be more than survival since we are not prey animals. Horses recognize leadership qualities in us that draws them to us like authenticity, trustworthiness, clarity, focus and presence. They have the ability to reflect back to the participant what the horse senses about their leadership abilities. One important aspect of self-leadership is boundary setting.
Does the Space You Occupy Feel Good to You?
Often when I ask a client how they are with their boundaries, they respond that they establish their boundaries fairly well. As they engage with the horse, boundary setting is one of the basic skills to be developed. The client is often surprised at their lack of willingness to establish a clear boundary with the horse, Exploring this with the horse illuminates more of what is going on with the client’s personal and work relationships. My clients often admit during the session that they really didn’t want to sent the horse away, even though they had some discomfort with the horse being too close for example.
Are you comfortable in the space you occupy, (your home, your workplace, your interactions with others, etc.) ? When you are uncomfortable, are you willing to “clear your space?” Clearing your space is a great way to set a boundary. With a horse, clearing your space means making it clear to the horse how far away from you the horse needs to be for your to feel comfortable. That could be 2 feet, 10 feet or more. It all depends on the person and what feels good to them. How often do we allow people in our ‘space’ when we don’t like how that feels? Do we take steps to feel better? Or do we just tolerate it?
Every person has a right to feel good in the space they occupy. Before you can set a boundary, you need clarity about who belongs in your space and who doesn’t. That kind of clarity comes from tuning in to your instinctual center more than your brain. Your gut (instinctual center) is where that wisdom can be found. It takes focus and attention to find those answers. But they are there and can be found with some attention to what feels ok with you and what doesn’t. Once you have the clarity, then comes the challenge of having the courage to express what you want to the other or taking some action of your own that feels better.