At this point in my writing, I’m pretty sure that my readers are aware I’m a Brene Brown junkie. Glennon Doyle is becoming a close second. I quote Brene often and today is no different. Brene often writes about how some of the kindest and most compassionate people have the strongest boundaries. I got a little piece of advice from her work that I’ve been trying to hone since I read it; “don’t puff up, don’t shrink down, stand your sacred ground.”
Let’s dig in.
Learning Where the Ground Is
As a business owner, I have worked with a lot of people over the years. It’s taken me almost a decade to build a team and business that is reflective of my vision. My company isn’t perfect by any means but it is an honest place to work and truly wants what is best for each life that comes to it. Creating the team and company I have today is a story for another time but it is where I first used the “stand your sacred ground” advice.
I was a young business owner and fully passionate woman, who opened this big heart of mine and let pretty much everyone in during the first several years of business. I thought everyone had good intentions in the workplace and was genuinely proud of the work they did. I was taken advantage of both by employees and clients in the early years. A lot.
Employees would overpromise and underdeliver. Clients would not pay their bills or follow treatment guidelines. The combination of these two things had me spinning. And when I spin, to this day, I have two go-to reactions:
- Get extremely anxious and overtalk my problems with my tribe then create chaos around the problem or
- Lash out.
This cycle is miserable for me and everyone around me. This is also where the “sacred ground” phrase began to help.
Self-Care, Sacred Ground
Several years ago I would see that I was spiraling into my pattern of shrinking down with anxiety. I decided to start inserting self-care practices to stand my sacred ground. This is where I first found some of my boundaries and that these boundaries are kind. It’s also where I first experienced that even when you are setting a boundary that is kind and right for you others may not see it that way. The self-care I created was often to emotionally recharge myself after a person lashed out, ignoring a boundary I had set. Other people’s discomfort is uncomfortable to me!
In my personal life, this ‘recipe of authenticity,’ if you will, is much harder to navigate. In the work world, for whatever reason, I’m able to shut out how others perceive me when I stand my sacred ground. I still feel for them when my boundaries cause discomfort, but I don’t absorb it as my own emotion. Personally, it’s incredibly difficult for me to not absorb others’ emotions as I set boundaries. It can even be painful to lose those I love if a boundary I set means we cannot be in a relationship anymore.
In staying true to myself and my vision of kindness I have to hold myself accountable to the boundaries that support my values. In staying safe as a trauma survivor, I know that holding boundaries can literally be life-saving. It’s also incredibly hard even though I wish it weren’t so. By standing my sacred ground I am asking that others in my life honor my person, my needs, and my heart. I also firmly hold a boundary that I will not be in relationships with anyone who stands actively or ideally by abusive behavior.
Reading this may make standing your sacred ground sound simple. I assure you, it’s not. I do not live in a vacuum and neither do you. The unfortunate truth is that abusive behavior is rampant in our society with subgroup after subgroup rationalizing it. As I clawed my way out of a cycle of abuse this fall I didn’t have my sacred ground firmly in place. I barely had myself. Today, I have my true self again but it was a struggle to find the foundation for my sacred ground. I was terrified of who I would lose. I should have been looking at all that I could gain.
Standing on Sacred Ground
My sacred ground has saved my life, yet the lesson to get here was steep. I’m still working on this, unpacking how to stand my ground without becoming anxious. But this I know to be true; your sacred ground is sacred to you. You are allowed to ask for what you want and need. What you want and need should not take from others and instead should propel you forward into the truest version of yourself. And the truest version of yourself isn’t built on the backs of others.
We are all the same. Wishing and hoping for the best life possible for ourselves and our families. Baby, it’s in here, in your beautiful heart, the life you want and deserve. If those around you cannot honor your heart, your spirit, and your desires, it’s OK to say goodbye. If those around you do not respect your safety, you must say goodbye no matter how painful it may be. You need not shrink down, you need not puff up, your sacred ground is waiting to welcome you home to a life beyond your wildest dreams.
May all people be happy, safe, and free.