The Picket Fence

I learnt about boundaries embarrassingly late in life.

Before then I didn’t know they were a thing.

I didn’t know it was OK to have needs and get those needs met. I didn’t know it was OK to decide what I would and would not take part in. I didn’t know I had the power to determine and live by my own set of values.

In short, I didn’t know that I was good enough and deserving of autonomy.

Physical boundaries are quite clear… we have locks on our front doors, we have a fence or wall around our garden. The physical world is visible and many people work in a world that’s purely visible (seeing is believing).

However, the more important boundaries by far are our mental, emotional and spiritual boundaries; the boundaries that are unseen. This is where we must do the work through thought and feeling (believing is seeing).

And the best analogy I ever heard for these unseen boundaries is the garden.

Visualise a garden, surrounded by a white picket fence. This fence is your boundary. Within it you can be vulnerable, be yourself, be whoever you are (not who you pretend to be).

You, and you alone have the power to open the gate. You can open the gate to let people and situations in, and you can open the gate to let people and situations out.

There are two key things to know about your garden:

  1. You set the rules. No question. Anyone who enters your garden abides by your rules.
  2. You choose who and what you let in. No question. If someone can’t behave by your rules in your garden, you gently let them out.

Now, this isn’t to say you shut down and block everyone out; you simply make sure you clearly communicate the rules of your garden and let people in and out based on those rules.

If they’re not willing to play, you can still talk with them, interact with them. But you do so over the fence. You stand inside your truth, inside your peace and allow the things you don’t want to be part of to occur outside that area.

You may be surprised when you look at who should and should not be in your garden. Your life partner or a parent may end up outside, someone you hardly know may be allowed in.

And remember, it’s flexible. You can let people in or out at any time as you build trust or find differences that can’t be reconciled to your satisfaction.

It’s an incredibly powerful visualisation. And it begins with two questions…

  1. What are the rules for my garden?
  2. Who do I need to allow in, or let out, and why?