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Day 14. What’s Bothering You?

You have got to start getting clear on what does and doesn’t work for you. Part of this is about using past experiences, especially patterns, to help you get a sense of what isn’t working, part of it is about recognising your values, and part of it is about learning to understand your emotions and using them to guide you. You will get lessons on all of this.

Where we go wrong with the past is when we use it as a permanent statement of the future. We treat it is as being a definitive indicator of what is going to continue to happen.

Your past experiences, frustrations, sadness and fears provide clues and insights about what does and doesn’t work for you. When you treat these as permanent statements instead of an ever-evolving personal encyclopaedia of your boundaries, as well as learning moments and experiences that you can evolve out of through learning and healing, you miss an invaluable opportunity. It also means that you remain open to experiencing variations of these experiences in the same way.

Think about past experiences that have been a great source of anger, resentment, frustration, fear and sadness, and that have affected your emotional, mental, physical or spiritual wellbeing. Using what you have learned so far on the course, can you identify the specific boundary issues in these situations?

Some clues:

  • What makes/made you angry?
  • What makes you feel like a child?
  • Have you been putting up with anything unfair and unreasonable?
  • Is there anything that someone else kept insisting that they had the right to do, but that just didn’t feel right for you and it ended up compromising your wellbeing?
  • Is there anything unfair and unreasonable that you’ve encountered in the past that you either already knew was unfair and unreasonable or you didn’t, but now you do?
  • What is a sore point for you that triggers old feelings? e.g. You previously had a bad experience of being gossiped about by a partner’s friends so now you feel defensive about a current partner’s friendships. This represents recognising the boundary that you will not remain with a partner who is disloyal and that you will not silence you in future if and when a partner’s friends cross the line.
  • Where have you felt disappointed in you for not acting on your behalf? What does your younger self wish it had done differently? What was a younger version of you scared of doing that in retrospect, you realise is necessary should you ever be in that situation again in the future?
  • If you’ve erupted at someone, what caused you to feel like you were going over the edge or that you couldn’t hold it in?
  • Where have you sidelined you, your needs and your values? Family relationships, work, friends, romantic? If you know that you did something in an effort to try to show somebody something or to try to get them to do something, the ‘why’ gives you a clue about where you need to be boundaried?
  • Where do you expect people to make concessions? What is it on your end that you’re trying to avoid doing?
  • What do you hope people will change about themselves or make you the exception to the rule? What are you ignoring about their behaviour or trying to right the wrongs of the past about? What is this leaving you open to?

This information, along with the patterns you’ve identified through journaling, form your personal encyclopaedia of what does and doesn’t work for you. There are patterns to what you’ve experienced. Anything that seems to have increased in intensity (pain) or frequency, is a variation of the same lesson trying to make itself known. Once you recognise what bothers you, you start to acknowledge not only your present self but those younger versions of you that you are still carrying an emotional charge about.


JOURNALING: Spend about 8 minutes writing about what bothered you. What was the request, or what did they do? You can spend longer but 8 minutes is the ideal minimum as after 6 minutes you start getting into your subconscious.

1 – What is upsetting about it, and why?
2 – What’s behind the surface reason? Often what we feel angry about is a cover for what we’re truly annoyed about? Did the incident remind you of something? What do you infer about what they’ve asked you or are doing? What do you take it to mean about you?
3 – Is there an unexpressed need, expectation or desire? Have you hoarded your feelings, needs, etc., and now you’re fit to burst?
4 – If you do/don’t comply, how will you feel? If you do/don’t have an active response to their behaviour, how will you feel?
5 – What, if any, are the options that will lift you out of these feelings? Try to locate the possibility that you think isn’t an option as that’s likely to be the healthy boundaries option that you fear.
Can you find a solution you can both live with?
What is it that you want the other party to do differently?
Is there anything that you need to address to minimise feeling bad? e.g. Have you said/thought anything about you that has lowered your feelings and mood?
6 – If you do/don’t agree to the request, how will you feel about them and the state of your relationship? How will you feel if they respect/ignore your position?
7 – Lay it down: What’s the deal? What’s the deal-breaker (non-negotiable)? What are you OK with (in a positive way)?

TASK: Depending on the way you work and take in information, either summarise what you’ve learned here on a one-sheeter that you can easily reference or if you quite like a mix of summary and detail, get a small notebook and make it into a mini encyclopaedia. You can add images, highlight certain words and patterns and even add things that you need to think, say or do to be boundaried. You can also do it alphabetically like an actual encyclopaedia, and it’s a work in progress that you can develop over time. Handy tip – leave the first page blank and use it as a contents page. Make sure you number each of the pages so that it’s easier to do this.

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