Great power comes from boundaries.

For the longest time, I created boundaries to protect myself from anything and everything. Everything that I thought I was effectively walling out prevented me from experiencing any depth with positive emotion. Therefore, my life functioned as a gigantic stress reaction to everything and I was pretty pissed off about being cut off from people. Little did I know, that was my fault despite any tragedy that occurred throughout my younger years.

There’s something liberating in tearing down walls…but without true vulnerability and actually exposing yourself to the world, you still hide behind one of the greatest masks there are. Being truly seen is a scary scary thing, but it’s also the source of great strength and will give you the ability to move forward in your relationships and in your life. Without this though, you will find yourself experiencing the same thing over and over again until you have a major life event that literally forces you to be seen. It’s the easiest thing in the world to fake it. Seriously. Anyone can do it. Hell, I was a master of disguise for the longest time. Oh boy was I good at it. But when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, you suffer more and more and more…the longer the mask stays on.

Your soul is convulsing every single second you put on your mask.

It doesn’t want that. In fact, you probably know better than anyone that you want that mask off. But it’s safe…so safe. It’s easy to slap on and you don’t have to worry about being seen for the not so great sides of yourself. You will continue to create shallow friendships with others because they only see what is on the surface. But once someone who is vulnerable starts to get deep with you – intimidation rises, you get nervous, you start to freak out and you push that person away hard because you know what is coming. In truth, what you fear has already happened…you’ve been seen…exposed…and yet still loved? There must be something wrong? How could that be? How could I still be loved as imperfectly perfect when I can’t even love myself this way?

I’ve been there…I’ve been on both ends and I can tell you that every single time it’s a pretty interesting experience.

This is where I change gears slightly.

Saying all of what I just did about vulnerability, there’s also incredible strength in producing positive boundaries for yourself. A long long time ago, someone once said to me…if you don’t know where you are going then any path will take you there. What that really means is…no idea of a direction…no destination. As time has gone on, my belief system about goals has changed significantly, but I have not stopped dreaming. In fact, I dream now more than ever. The only difference is, I spend a whole lot less time hashing out plans and ways to get there and spend a hell of a lot more time actually doing stuff. The place where I’m headed…I know deep down inside…will not be the source of my happiness. So that is me taking the oars out of my boat and just being happy in the present. The place where I am headed is a deep deep expression of my greatest purpose that just happens to exist in the future. It’s something I would really enjoy doing…that’s it.

So the boundaries start manifesting themselves around things that I know that are not good for me. However, they are also created when I know that there are things, people, and situations out there that do not have my best interest in mind and really cannot be part of this story. These boundaries exist not out of fear, but rather…out of a sense of gut…a knowing…that tells me I shouldn’t be spending my time in certain places. That’s a tough feeling to explain…but in the end it’s what I know is true within myself.

If you haven’t noticed lately, I’ve been saying (at least I’ve picked up on this) a lot of different things followed by “I can’t really explain this or it’s hard to put words to this idea” because I am getting into some feelings that have never been felt before. Maybe one day as my vocabulary expands I’ll be able to eloquently state what these feelings are, but that’s not today.

The point is, if you fail to have any boundaries for yourself, especially in this tricky world (often nasty) then you are going to get smacked around, thrown off course and rocked out of your boat constantly. I am all for being open, honest, and flexible in situations…but I do draw lines in the sand and when those boundaries are getting pushed up on…I am not afraid to speak my mind. It takes a lot for me to get pushed to that point…not because I have paper thin walls, but because I’ve gone through a lot of crap in my life and I have had my world expanded by what’s possible from people – so my reference points of “how bad is this?” really are put on a huge scale haha.

Boundaries are not a horrible thing to have. Create some positive ones for yourself and know what you are willing to take. If you aren’t willing to take something, stand up for yourself. Have no fear in speaking your mind and saying what you need to say. Don’t come from a place of hate…come from a place of compassion and love for yourself.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project