Embodying Self-respect

“What do you do, if you’ve set a boundary, but it’s not respected?” one of the women in the Embodying Boundaries workshop asked. All the other heads in the room nodded, expectantly.

She had unsuccessfully tried to set a boundary with her husband, telling him she didn’t like his behavior, when a certain female friend came over to their house. But nothing had changed. The friend still flirted. Her husband still responded. Conflict still ensued.

As she talked a bit more, several of the women started to offer their ideas and suggestions. “Talk to your friend.” “Tell your husband again how much it bothers you.” “Socialize somewhere other than your home.” All reasonable suggestions, but the air in the room had become thick with defeat.

Thick with the history of boundaries that had not been respected.
Thick with the wishes that had been disregarded.
Thick with our ongoing struggle for self-worth.

I looked at the woman and asked her one question.

“Can you feel your lack of trust?”

And her body responded immediately with a huge rush of energy. It was irrelevant if she lacked trust with her friend, her husband or herself. The moment she recognized what she actually felt and agreed to feel it, something changed. The group took a collective breath, the air cleared, and everyone felt the ground underneath them again. We were back in reality.

In her attempt to be good, she had been denying her real experience. She had been denying herself. There was more work to be done now, to fully embody what she felt.

A moving practice
She started to move from a place of being good. She had a sweet, fixed smile on her face, her body was bent slightly forward in an effort to please, and her movements were unclear and undirected. I guided her to deepen this experience. To hold the smile more tightly, to move more vaguely, to bend a little more deeply. And as she did so, a familiar feeling of frustrated nervousness came to the surface, but she felt more stuck than before.

So I guided her to go a bit deeper. And she did. But still nothing was changing, and she was on the verge of become more vague. A place she knew all too well.

I touched her shoulder and asked her another question.

“Do you feel the hate in your body right now?”

And her body collapsed in without restraint. Heat rushed through her muscles. And her legs pushed fiercely toward the ground. “But I want to be noble,” she said. Her mind still trying to resist this uncomfortable truth.

So I guided her a bit more, to follow the flow of energy, and forget the name of the feeling. A feeling we were taught was bad. I guided her to simply feel the power in her body and let it nourish her muscles.

And she did.

Boundaries are felt
I don’t know the end of this particular story. I do know that by the end of the day, her movements had more muscle, her voice had more depth, her body had more presence.

She needed to pass a limitation that had been set a long time ago and forced her to deny what was true and real.

By courageously agreeing to do so, she gained back parts of herself that had been denied, quieted and disrespected along the way. She gained back a sense of self that would clearly hold what she wanted. She gained back respect.

Respect is in the body
If we do not respect ourselves, we cannot expect others to do so. It starts with us, not them. It starts in our bodies.

As we listen, uncover and feel what was not allowed when we were younger, we access a strength and clarity of who we are and what we want.

It is an act of respect. Self-respect. And from there, who knows how the world will respond.

Fall Workshop Tour
If you would like to learn more in depth about this topic and others, follow the link below for my upcoming tour schedule in Copenhagen, London, Byron Bay and Melbourne.

Workshop tour

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