Healthy boundaries make for healthy relationships. Martial arts master Theresa Byrne shows you when and how to set them.
I’ll trust you until you give me a reason not to. And I will trust as far as I’m comfortable and not a stitch further.
—My own personal boundary rule after years of training, missed steps, and lessons.
I’m a defense instructor and black belt. I sell safety. Protection is my game. And over the past 15+ years I have honestly taught more people the strategies and tactics they need to set and maintain healthy relationship boundaries than any combination of super sweet Ninja moves that work best for self-defense. I’ve even studied a wide range of martial arts to ensure I have the best available tools in my system to teach boundaries to my students and clients. But why?
Because there’s one art of self-defense that outweighs all others. One move, one system, one style that has proven priceless time and time again.
And that art is setting boundaries, because boundaries are the best tools you can use to protect yourself. Period.
Sure the cool martial arts and defense moves are powerful and fun, but the truth is that boundaries matter most.
A FaceBook post from someone I admire and follow, Darrin Bentley, entrepreneur/founder of the Big Wig Nation Podcast (where he interviews successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders), stopped me in my tracks. With Darrin’s permission I share his post:
I’m a SUPER trusting person always looking for (and believing in) the good in others.
Even when I used to be a cynical bastard, I still always trusted.
I’ll always give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, this has come back to bite me on the ass more times then I can count.
You would think I’d learn.
At times, I’ve even went against the one thing no one should EVER go against, your gut.
Abraham Lincoln said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I would rather trust and be disappointed then distrust and be miserable all the time.”
That makes a hell of a lot of sense … but it still hurts when you get screwed over.
Trusting others is an amazing quality!
Being able to open your heart, your time, your energy, you compassion, your support, or even your home can create a wonderful foundation and connection. Connection is one of the most basic human needs and one of the most fulfilling. We want to connect. We want to find our tribe. We want to enjoy co-empowered friendships/relationships. And I am not here to suggest that we never trust others, in fact trust offers us something wonderful and magnificent in return: connection.
For many men, it can take years of unprogramming the “Manly-Man Syndrome” to reach the place where they are comfortable with trust, vulnerability, and openness. In honoring that, it would seem a shame to have them shut that quality down because they’ve been burned!
The same is true for women who have learned how to “toughen up” their armor to make it in this world. I firmly believe that love and compassion have the power to change the planet, and learning to trust is one way to get there.
But the issue isn’t trust itself. The issue is: how can we learn who to trust? And how can we learn to listen to our own body’s signals or intuition when it comes to trusting someone or not? Many of us find it confusing to figure out when to trust others and when to draw boundaries.
This is one of life’s big lessons, and if you don’t get it, you’ll keep getting the chance to learn it. The universe is generous that way, and you’ll fall over and over until this lesson is no longer a tripwire. You’ll still have to set boundaries, but you won’t find it as difficult or disheartening.
Here are the first seven lessons to becoming a black belt in setting relationship boundaries.
- Trust as much as you can or want; boundaries are fluid. Try this rule of thumb, “I’ll trust you until you give me a reason not to.”
- If you need to set a boundary with someone, or even move away from them: do it and let it go. Do not hold onto your story and question yourself around it. Set the boundary; hold the boundary.
- Develop the ability to be open and trust others—to a certain point. I teach the space bubble tool. You choose who gets into your space (or your life), and that can change over time. Facebook has an ‘unfriend’ button, and your phone has a ‘block’ feature for a reason. If you do have to cut ties with someone, try not to go back and question your decision (see #2).
- Know your red flags. It could be as simple as “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
- Boundaries set up a virtual wall, much like a physical structure. When I teach kids, I tell them, “Think of your boundaries like the moat around your castle. You can let others play at your castle unless you don’t like that they’re there. Then you can set up a moat. Or have a moat and invite whomever you’d like to cross the drawbridge.”
- One way to know you need a boundary is when you feel uncomfortable around someone. Learn to trust your discomfort. Other emotions that serve as alerts are: feeling drained, confused, nervous, unsure, insecure, or unsafe. I also teach people to be alert to “drama triangles.” Your emotions are signals—listen to them.
- A firm boundary will help you to keep what’s great about you inside: your energy, your heart, your caring, your trust, your love, and your ability to be empathetic and compassionate and do whatever you came here to do. All of that exists inside of you and must be protected. Boundaries keep the negative out, and the positive in.
Next week in Part 2 I’ll share some boundary setting how to’s and red flags to watch out for. In the meantime, for more information on the importance of setting healthy boundaries, please check out this video by Counselor Carl. He’s like the Bob Ross of relationships—his soothing, mellow voice will paint pretty pictures of boundaries instead of white fluffy clouds.
And Darrin? What did he learn anything from the experience that made him share? I’ll let him tell you.
Did I learn anything?
Well, as I’ve always been a VERY open kind of person, I was reminded by posting this how important it is to never change that.
I don’t always post about some of the things I struggle with…but maybe need to a bit more
By opening up and seeing others share their thoughts after experiencing similar situations, it’s really helpful.
It’s helpful for me and it’s helpful for others.
Great to know I’m not alone.
Btw, this might sound ignorant (what is that definition of lunacy again?) but I know I’ll do it again. Can’t help it, it’s just me.
The moment I try to stop and hold back, I’m limiting.
Maybe that sounds stupid (maybe not). I do need to focus on building stronger boundaries. I’ll let ya know how that works out.