Boundaries: A Simple Guide

How to tell if your boundaries have been crossed:

  • You’re not comfortable with the situation.

e.g. A friend calls at 7pm and asks if they can come over for dinner. This causes you to feel uncomfortable emotionally and physically.

How to find what your boundaries are:

  • Ask yourself what you are comfortable with.

e.g. What if they didn’t come over tonight but we just spoke on the phone? Not comfortable with that either? Okay, how about if we just text tonight, and we catch up on the weekend? Perfect.

How to put your boundaries in place:

  • Tell the other person what you are not comfortable with (and maybe what you are comfortable with).

e.g. “Hey friend, thanks for the invitation! I don’t really feel like company tonight, but I don’t mind texting if you’d like to chat. Do you want to catch up this weekend?”

How to put your boundaries more firmly in place:

  • If the other person does not honour your boundaries, it is an opportunity for you to flex your boundary-placing muscles and get a little better at insisting your boundaries are respected.

e.g. Friend says “Can’t I just come over? I want to see you.”
You might say: “Hi friend, I still do not want company tonight. I like you and would like to spend time with you, however I am not willing to do so right now. If you are in need of company, perhaps there is someone else you can ask.”

  • This might go on for some time, because some people are not very well-practiced at respecting other people’s boundaries.
  • If all your attempts to enforce boundaries are ignored or violated, it is recommended you cut that person out of your life, because they are an asshat and you deserve better.

Finding my wings

When I was 12, I used to imagine that I had a pair of wings that nobody else could see. They were as tall as I was, the kind that rose to a peak just above my head and curved gracefully to a point near my ankles. These wings were feathered, white and pure. It never occurred to me to use them for flying; I just wore them about my shoulders like a cloak. I felt as if my feathery mantle was impervious to harm, and that I could tuck myself up in it and be completely safe. I also felt that I could flex my wings and move them about me, and even wrap them around those standing nearby.

In a recent update of Guild Wars, they released the wings from my childhood as wearable outfits for avatars. I couldn’t help but buy myself a pair, and I’ve started imagining they’re there again. It sounds ridiculous because they’re obviously not tangible, yet I found myself acting differently today, as if I really were striving to be worthy of wearing them. I’m not too sure why I wrote this, other than to say that they bring me both comfort and strength.

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A letter to my high school self

I think that there’s some kind of meme going around for giving advice to your high school self. I’ve written letters to future versions of myself, and but it’s been a long time since I’ve considered retrospective advice. So to my high school self, specifically my Year 8 self, I say this.


Man, high school can be a really hard place to be. You’re forced to spend time with people who don’t understand you, who you might not connect with, and who certainly don’t appreciate your attempts at poetry. (To be frank, your poetry is clumsy, but your heart is in the right place. If you practice who knows what will happen?) You’re more mature than most of the people around you, and they tease you because you’re different. It’s hard, I know, I’ve been there.

But by jove it gets better. People who are massive jerks to you right now will one day get down on one knee and ask for your forgiveness. They will grow up to be brave, mature young men who love their families and work hard at their jobs. Some of them will be assholes as long as you know them (or at least, as long as I’ve known them, 8 years down the track).

On that note, make more friends. It’s worth it. Share your life with people, go out of your way to spend time with them. Ask people how they are and for God’s sake care about the answer. I know it’s hard for you to connect with people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try, and you’ll be so surprised as the results. There are so many good men in your life that are worth knowing and loving. But also don’t be too bummed if you drift away from some of them, because you end up having a lot of good friends and companions anyway.

Speaking of friends, spend a little less time around Raiden and a little more time with everyone else. I know his approval means a lot to you, but loving and approving yourself will be much more valuable in the long run. In fact, I really encourage you to start writing affirmations and getting some positive inner-dialogue happening as early as you can. It will really make a difference to how you see yourself, and what you feel you’re capable of.

When things are super tough, and pay close attention to this one, remember that you are not alone. It may feel like no one can understand the tortured anguish of your soul, but people seriously do. In fact, there are people who are kind of paid to understand what you’re going through, and it’s so so healthy to talk to them and share your experiences. Seriously. I cannot stress enough how easy it is to reach out to someone and make your life easier.

Well little dude, that’s all the advice I have for you right now. But if you only remember one thing from my letter, let it be this: the greatest gift you can give others is to be yourself, your true self. You’ll light up people’s lives, and you’ll know happiness like you’ve never dreamed. Oh and be grateful for as much as you can as often as you can, that’s like super important. Peace out.

-X

Lessons from Taxi Drivers

This morning on the way to the airport I met the loveliest man. He is a taxi driver who has lived in Australia for 17 years but originally hails from Iraq. We talked of little things, but he uplifted me with his conversation and his kindness. Every word he said carried his gratitude and joy at his circumstances. He praised the weather for something different, celebrated the 4am start because he could choose his own hours, he forgave drunkards and thieves who tried to offend him. He spoke of his travels, and how Perth is his favourite place in the world, where he once witnessed strangers stopping to jacklift a broken car. In Iraq, they would have just been killed and their car stolen. He praised the existence of the welfare system, where elderly citizens get wages from the government and have a superannuation so that they won’t starve and die without family support. We parted as friends and I wished him the best.

Unfortunately he dropped me off at the wrong terminal (due largely to my lack of specificity). I caught another taxi to the right location, and the driver was a harsh juxtaposition. His strong Australian accent barbed me as he complained about other drivers, the internet speed on his phone, the road design and the airport layout. He was polite enough in exchanging jokes, but his attitude was condescending and he capitalised on the mistakes of others.

I would rather be like the first man, grateful for the air I breathe and the sky I see. More and more I think that the greatest happiness is appreciating what you have.

At my worst

I was going to write a post starting with “When I’m at my best, I’m… and when I’m at my worst, I’m…” when I realised I’d already written it. It is as perfect as the day I wrote it almost a year ago. And I’m so glad I read it, because it continues to inspire and give me hope.

Xin's Weald

When I’m at my best, I am truly amazing. I am loving and generous and joyful and resilient and beautiful and strong and hopeful and kind and patient and so forth. I have many excellent qualities which I love about myself, and I hope it is not arrogant of me to declare them publicly. I am an amazing human being, a wonderful person who inspires others and changes things around me in a way that create more joy, love, kindness, acceptance and hope. At least, this seems to be the case a lot of the time.

But when I’m at my worst… The slightest challenge can overwhelm me. I struggle to care about anyone other than myself. I can scarecely muster the strength to look someone in the eyes, and if I attempt a smile (as I did on a walk a few minutes ago) it is a piteous twitching…

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100 Happy Days Challenge

A little while ago I completed the 100 Happy Days Challenge. The idea of the challenge was to post a picture of something that made you happy to social media, or if you didn’t want to publicise it you could email it to the Foundation privately. “Cool idea,” I thought, “But not really something I’m interested in.”

Then I opened the website and the first thing it said was “Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? You don’t have time for this, right?”

And they were right on the money. Somewhere deep down, my attitude was reflecting the idea that I had more important things to do than express happiness. In a way, I was saying I was “too busy to be happy”. How crazy is that, right? I mean, if you can’t be happy now, when can you be? Sometimes no matter what’s going on in life, we just have to take a moment to smell the roses. (Especially when we think we’re too busy).

I decided to post my photos on facebook, using my phone to take the photo and uploading it with the hashtag #100happydays. I was really excited to do it, and I made the resolution to take photos of both objects and experiences that brought me joy in every day life. It did get a little uninspiring after I’d been doing it for a while, but I’d made a public commitment so I kept up with it. And do you know what I learned?

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Life is full of things that make you happy. I resolved never to photograph the same subject twice, so I had to actively seek out things that made me happy. As I went about my day, somewhere at the back of my mind was looking for things to revel in. And the closer I looked, the more there was to see. Some days I took several photos of different subjects and submitted them all at once.10551003_10154477471250220_807779086281073060_n (1) 20140805_10334420140421_200243

And what’s more, I know that I brought a lot of joy to other people as well! I got so many comments and likes on facebook from people who were cheering me on, who appreciated the things I expressed gratitude for, or who were just happy that I was happy. People I hadn’t spoken to much got to know me quite well, and a couple of them have even resolved to undergo their own 100 Happy Day Challenge.10294238_1412806575665907_8745887532024959992_n (1)

100 days might sound like a lot, but by the end of it I was so sad to stop. (I did stop, though, because I didn’t to lose all my friends by overloading their walls with an endless stream of cat pictures.) A couple of months is a great amount of time to set up the habit of practicing gratitude every day. It increased my awareness of the world and the pleasure I take from bearing witness to this miraculous ball of atoms we call earth. And, to sweeten the deal even further, there’s an option to have my photos printed in a book so I have a tangible reminder of the time I made the effort to express gratitude every day.20140430_105257

Happiness is worth pursuing, even (and especially) when it gets hard. Why don’t you make the time to try it too? If this is something that’s interested you, start it right now, this very minute. It can be tempted to put it off for another time, but if you can’t be happy now, when can you be? Grab your phone or camera and go take your first picture. And then link me to it! I’d love to see it, and to cheer for you in your own challenge!10403948_10154298618145220_8536667224944677238_o

Looking forward to seeing your photos everyone! Keep happy y’all!

Xin

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Facing Fears

All of us have things we’re scared of. And sometimes the enormity of how terrifying these things are can cause us to procrastinate, to avert our gaze so we don’t have to acknowledge their terrible existence. But avoiding problems does not cause them to resolve on their own: contrarily, they will follow you and reappear in your life over and over again (sometimes in different forms, sometimes in the recurrence of the same event). Until we sort out our shit, it will always be with us.

 

I’m no expert on facing fears. Today I was so overwhelmed by what I’m scared of that I found it impossible to relax, and tasks as simple as taking the laundry out of the washing machine seemed impossible. But I do have these small slivers of advice:

 

  • Do what scares you. Running away from it will only make you smaller and make your fear greater. If you walk along side it rather than bolt headlong from it, it will diminish over time.
  • When you do choose to face what scares you, don’t feel that you need to face it all at once, right this second. Take a manageable pile of it in your arms (or in your cupped hands, if your resilience is particularly low at that point in time) and carry it off to take care of it. Even that little bit will make all the difference in the world.
  • If you do find yourself overwhelmed, and you recognise symptoms that indicate you are not all right, be kind to yourself. You cannot lift 100kg straight off the bat, you have to work your way up to it. Acknowledge how low your resources are and go do something nourishing for your soul.
  • Have friends and allies support you. Others can often see what you, in the midst of your anguish, cannot. They can tell you when it’s okay to rest, or when you need to push through the wall and keep going. They can be your life raft in the sea of terror.
  • Find something exciting, in spite of what scares you. My brother tells me that nervousness and excitement are biologically identical, so switch your focus from anxiety to anticipation. Find something to look forward to, even if it’s as small as a delicious meal or the sight of the clouds. And the more you focus on what makes you excited to be in your situation, the fewer reasons you have to dread it.

 

That’s all for now my friends. Peace.