As women moving through divorce and forward into a new life, we hear a lot about maintaining healthy boundaries. The idea of boundaries always sounded so empowering to me, though I had no idea why they meant, probably because I never had any!
One day a wise woman offered a simple explanation. “Never walk into the North Wind with your coat held wide open.” As a native Minnesotan, I understood immediately!
If you do not protect yourself form the harsh wind, not only can you get physically ill, but you can become resentful and angry, “Why doesn’t this just stop?” You can become anxious and fearful, “Will this ever end?” And when frostbite sets in, you become numb and stop felling anything.
Many of us don’t realize our coat is open, or we don’t realize we have the power to wrap it around ourselves. This understanding grows the more we chose to make decisions in our own best interest. This was very difficult for me to learn. I was taught to value everyone else’s interests above my own, and if I didn’t, I was bing terribly selfish. What a surprise to learn that when I did what was best for me, it turned out to be the best for everyone around me.
I came to understand boundaries are not just for physical safety, but also for our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual integrity. When someone tells you how you should or shouldn’t feel, what you should or shouldn’t think, or how you should or shouldn’t connect with your Higher Power, it is a boundary issue.
Building, maintaining, and adjusting our boundaries is a life-long process, and one that will protect you from whatever the North Wind may blow your way. They are a loving gesture and a statement about your dignity.