Recently, I've been thinking about protection - emotional, spiritual, energetic. Its come up for me personally in my life, and also for many of the women I work with in herbal medicine, which isn't surprising given that when we are sapped and drained of our emotional and spiritual energy, often our bodies respond by letting us know energetically. I find that many women cope for long periods of time, even years, with emotionally draining situations and relationships, and unfortunately become very good at it, because they have innate strength and stamina, however it is being directed outwards instead of inwards. Protecting ourselves takes a great deal of strength as well, but with a much happier and healthier result. So where do we start?
I have spent a good portion of my adult life tackling a difficult family relationship, only to find that it has gotten to a place where I must now focus my energy on protecting myself from its negative effects. I have tried, in all the ways I know how, to make the situation work for me, and I have finally come to a place where I had to look the relationship squarely in the eye. I think I had been avoiding doing that for some time, because I was afraid of what I might see.
See the truth. It took mustering up the courage, which I did slowly and steadily, to finally look at this relationship for what it was and how it affected me. I think prior to doing this, it was actually easier to look at the illusion of what I wished it was, rather than its truth. The truth hasn't been easy - it hurts, but without it, I don't think I could have moved forward with healing.
Set your boundaries. Once I knew what I was facing, I had to decide what my personal boundaries where. For me, this was the step in which I set the intention to be open hearted, but clear on what I would and would not accept from this relationship. This step takes a certain fierceness and committment, which again, are not always easy. But once I went looking for those traits inside myself, I was surprised to find them.
Protect yourself. Just because we do hard emotional work, it doesn't always mean we can affect change in others. Despite my own best efforts to be honest and truthful and communicate clear boundaries, I have still found myself in positions where I must protect myself from negative situations and people. Protecting yourself can take many forms - speaking up, getting support, or replacing those negative situations or relationships with joyful, nourishing ones.
Fill your well. I have come to find that the best form of protection is maintaining a full well so that I have the energy and stamina to work through those first two steps. I think they have come to be the most important aspects of emotional protection. When we are nourished in a sacred, soulful way in our everyday lives - through community, health, healing and spiritual support - we have what it takes to face the truth and meet it with our own boundaries in place. We are then able to protect ourselves and our hearts.