Boundaries, ah… the tough, tough boundaries which are necessary to set in order to live freely in making choices, not for others, but rather, for ourselves. Boundaries are crucial, and in the past I did not understand the radical importance of boundaries. I felt selfish and not generous when I would put boundaries up within interpersonal relationships. I was so caught up in the worry of disappointing someone due to a choice I was making for myself, and scared to cause pain if I decided to do something that perhaps did not include someone or may potentially offend them. I’ve come to realize this as not selfish, but rather, enlightened self interest.

The fear of upsetting people comes down to people pleasing. This fear can manifest itself into our lives and cause a lack of freedom of expression, choice, or decision. All of a sudden we take our own personal freedom and we give this away to another human being because we are scared. We are fearful of their reaction, their perspective, or their feelings.

We cannot stop someone’s reaction, but we can work on our own. We can also work on containing the freedom we have, and make sure the choices we are making are:

1. healthy 2. honest 3. safe 4. causing to harm to another or self

If our choices are based upon all of these elements, then we should be able to make the choice for OURSELVES and not out of fear of how someone will react.

Let’s take for example, you live with a roommate and you feel like going to eat dinner alone. Perhaps this roommate doesn’t have any plans. You may start to anticipate your roommate’s feelings to be hurt, mad, or upset if you do not invite them to dinner. You decide to go out with this person due to your fear of disappointing or causing a reaction. What you have done is now given your freedom to another person and they have made your choice for you. How could you approach this situation and feel good about following through on your freedom? You explain in a mature and kind way such as, “I’ve had a long and stressful week, and as much as I enjoy hanging out with you, I just need time for myself to relax and rejuvenate alone.” You then let it go. You let that person react how they may and you let their reaction go. You release. You have been kind, honest, and respectful in expressing yourself and you move forward. This is enlightened self interest.

If you make choices based on the fear of how someone will react, then you will be making choices for other people your entire life. That can take a toll on your personal freedom, your personal decisions, and your profound moments of self expression. Those moments, those molecules, and those significant rays from your divine soul make up the individual you ARE. If you start to take your freedoms away, you cannot truly be your authentic self. Freedom is a significant part of living a genuine life. Your soul, your heart, your body, mind, and spirit rely on freedom. Open up your wings and start shedding your baggage because, Zen Birdies, very very soon it will be time to fly.