Boundaries: Tools for Managing an Antagonistic Ex
As we move through life we step into intimate relationships, which lead to some form of commitment, whether that being living together, de-facto or marriage in order to have our emotional and physical needs for love satisfied. Disagreements, problems and issues are bound to come up within these types of relationships with both people either being committed to moving through them together through understanding and cooperation or the problems are simply too hard, challenging or that you end up breaking up, separating or divorcing.
I am sure we have all at some point in time experienced the ending of a relationship with a partner, husband or wife, whether you simply fell out of love, were cheated on, lied to, always fighting, were unjustly wronged, experienced abuse, left penniless, abandoned with children to raise or any other reason. Anyone who has experienced some or all of these things as part of a relationship break-down, may have feelings of bitterness, anger, hurt, sadness, pain, resentment, grudges, unforgiveness towards their ex, which may be completely appropriate and deserving. When the relationship ends, isn’t this supposed to fix or solve the problem? Well not always....
What do you do if your ex is making your life more difficult? This is where there is a need for creating healthy personal boundaries, which are simply guidelines about what you are prepared to accept, willing to tolerate and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Boundaries help you to be able to define where you end and your ex begins and are fantastic tools to help you defend against negativity, like invisible ‘flags’ which help to keep people from coming into your space and mistreating you, you from going into others space and mistreating them and enabling you to embody your sense of ‘who you are’. In creating boundaries it is important to become consciously aware of and acknowledge where you are at and what you are comfortable with in two main areas:
Physical - your body, personal space, physical touch, sexual expression, privacy, clothing, shelter (home), environment, noise, body language, safety, money, time
Mental and Emotional - values, beliefs, thoughts, ideas, feelings, decisions, relationships, sense of responsibility, ability to be intimate with others
Once you understand what it is you are prepared to accept and willing to tolerate, these become what I would call your ‘green’ flags which let you know what builds love for yourself, honours, respects and values you so that you can then create healthy and meaningful connections. It is then your responsibility to recognise and be present to when someone else is approaching the line of what you are willing to tolerate and accept, this is your ‘amber’ flag. This is where you have an opportunity to breathe, pause, acknowledge and reflect on what is being said, the other person’s behaviours, your emotions, values, needs and desires....you may need to walk away, excuse yourself in this moment if necessary. This then allows you to step out of their ‘stuff’, take responsibility for your own thoughts, words and emotions before you respond to the situation or experience from your truth, with integrity and from a place of love for self and others and by doing so you teach others how you wish to be treated. Your ‘red’ flags generally appear through your emotions, for example:
Discomfort, Uneasiness, Anxiety - someone is violating or crossing your boundary
Confusion, Uncertainty, Misunderstanding - something is not clear, not as it seems or remains unseen, hidden, shady, shaky or secretive, someone is wearing a mask. being untruthful, sly or deceptive, wrong choices being or about to be made
Frustration, Anger, Resentment - someone is taking advantage of or not appreciating your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual needs, you are pushing your own boundaries aside out of guilt, obligation or expectation, someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on you (may manifest as complaining)
When you first start creating and maintaining boundaries you may not find it easy, however as you learn what your boundaries are and commit to strengthening them, each and every day, you remember that you are taking personal responsibility for building love for you, honouring, respecting and valuing your space so that you have more freedom and can attract, create and maintain healthy relationships which are supportive, nurturing and loving. If contact or communication with your ex is necessary, for example if you have children together, then through establishing healthy boundaries you can create and maintain a healthy relationship with your ex which in turn alleviates any damage to the physical, mental and emotional health of your kids. The ability to be kind, accepting and generous to an ex-spouse or ex-partner after divorce or separation, takes commitment and a willingness to let go of what took place in the past as you can’t go back in time and fix the problems you encountered, however, you may be able to significantly change the dynamics of the relationship.
If you need help and support in dealing with an ex-partner or spouse, then book in for a session with Leanne today!
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