There comes a point in all of our lives where we have to look at ourselves square in the eye and honestly ask ourselves if we are living our lives fully, authentically, and courageously.
The horse symbolizes personal drive, passion and an appetite for freedom. No other animal has played a more significant role in the history and development of mankind. While we no longer need the horse to conquer new lands; the horse plays a new role, in the field of Equine Assisted Learning and calls us to conquer new territory within ourselves.
We, like the horse are meant to be wildly passionate, fiercely independent, the creators of our own lives, chase after our dreams with a ferocious passion for life and create our own legacy.
We are meant to express our power, freeing our lives from the social, emotional, creative, financial and spiritual chains that enslave us.
We have allowed situations, circumstances and others to dictate, direct and control our lives and reality for far too long. We have given our power away. Only you can allow people and things to have an unhealthy level of control and influence on your life.
Because like the horse, we all want acceptance, approval, connection, security and love of the herd. In order to get this we continually compromise ourselves eventually losing our True Selves
. We’ve allowed others to tell us what we can and can’t do. What we should think. What we should believe. What our future holds and even what our life purpose should be.
People can only take our personal power if we give it to them.
At some point we have to stop worrying about what others think, open more and more to the direct experience of our own lives and no longer settle for mediocrity. Our desires to play it safe and be accepted only dull the full experience of life.
Those who are obsessed with power, money, or adoration have to constantly wear the mask of the false self in order to succeed. When we can’t be who we truly are, we create insecurity in ourselves and in our lives. They are constantly trying to figure out who they have to please in order to get what they want. There is no true joy in living someone else's life.
In our society today there also seems to be an overwhelming movement toward entitlement. These people live in a lie that the world and this lifetime owes them something. The reality is by choosing not to be the master and commander of their lives, their lives will unfold by default. Will your default be to continue to experience the same old patterns and to allow the outside world - your family, friends and society dictate your life?
Living a life that is not your own is the ultimate suffering in life!
It is only in being your True Self
, having strong boundaries
(which we discussed the last three weeks), and choosing your own path in life do we find integrity and the foundation of happiness in life.
It’s not always the easiest path, living your life fully takes grit and courage. But the rewards are authenticity, empowerment, unbounded independence and self-reliance.
Are you content to play small in life? Are you ready to live your life with full presence and personal power? Are you ready to set clear goals and intentions that steer the course of your life? Are you ready to live your dreams and voice your desires?
After surviving breast cancer I had to get really honest with myself and ask myself these hard questions. I wasn’t living my life fully, knew I wasn’t living up to my full potential and was miserable when I looked at living the rest of my life the way I had previously been. It took me awhile to work through all the excuses I had rationalized in my own mind as to why I couldn’t be living life fully. I found I was the only one holding myself back from having the life of my dreams. Which we will discuss in detail over the next several blog posts.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
I began by declaring the life I wanted to live without apology, using only my intuition and True Self as my guide which became The Cowgirl Manifesto on the About
page of this website.
Nothing external can save us or make us happy and the fateful hour is at hand when you decide to stay trapped in the life you’ve created up to this point or create the amazing life you’ve always dreamed and deserved!
If you have signed up for this blog you received with it a Personal Power Inventory worksheet and a guide to help you create your own manifesto. If you would like to receive these worksheets please sign up for this blog at - http://cowgirlgritandgrace.com/thoughts.html
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Last week we discussed what unhealthy boundaries
are and how we can be violated by them, but what are healthy boundaries?
Someone with healthy boundaries is able to identify how they feel, what they think and chooses how they will react or behave in any given situation; taking full responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and behavior. They do not blame others for what they think, feel, or how they behave because, they are able to stand up for themselves calmly and intelligently, without using intimation or manipulation.
A person with healthy boundaries does not allow others to control how they think, feel, or behave, nor do they try to control others through manipulation, guilt, blame, or by being bully. They refuse to play the role of the victim or the martyr.
They are able to recognize their own needs, take responsibility for those needs, and ask for what they need honestly and openly without drama or mind games. They are also able to accept "No" from others without having their self-esteem demolished.
They have a strong enough sense of self that they don't absorb others negative emotions or personalize another’s bad behavior.
Our culture romanticizes love as being totally absorbed or enmeshed with another. This is not love and can’t be sustained without losing yourself.
A true partnership
requires that each person be healthy within themselves before they can form a healthy relationship together. In order to be healthy within yourself, we have to have a clear definition of who we are in order to clearly communicate that to another. It’s impossible to do this if you are carrying someone else's emotions, blaming others for your behavior, or practicing someone else's beliefs.
We set healthy boundaries in relationships to protect ourselves from being manipulated by the emotionally needy or by those who are self-aggrandizers. When both people in a relationship have healthy boundaries all the “games” are eliminated. There is no need for blame, guilt, manipulation, victimization, martyrdom, or scapegoating.
It also makes the resolution of problems clear and simple. If your partner hurts your feelings, we can take another lesson learned from the horse. The horse will experience the hurt, get the message behind the emotion, set the appropriate boundaries, release the emotion and go back to grazing.
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We can do the same if someone hurts us, knowing that we have a right to protest the hurt and stand up for ourselves. You can do this in a respectful manner without guilting or blaming, but by simply stating that you are feeling hurt and asking that the behavior not be repeated. If the person who caused the hurt, decides to keep hurting you, healthy boundaries will allow you to walk away from them.
While boundaries should not vacillate wildly according to what is happening around you, it’s important that we have the ability to adapt and change when it is needed and appropriate. Boundaries are there to protect us but, they can also imprison us if they become too inflexible. Healthy boundaries include awareness of your emotions, the situation you are facing, and your ability to set or relax boundaries in response to your needs.
It’s also important to remember that what is healthy for someone else may not be healthy for you. Everyone has to determine what feels "right" for themselves. Some people have very thin, permeable boundaries and are comfortable with this. Others require more rigid boundaries to feel safe and comfortable. Define for yourself where your boundaries are and what feels comfortable for you and stick up for your right to feel that way.
We all inherit different sets of family rules that determine our boundaries. No one is right or wrong. They are simply different and have the right to have that difference respected. Realizing that you come from two different, but equally "right", ways of doing things validates both of your feelings and avoids the blame game. Communication about how to negotiate these differences and the willingness to compromise is crucial.
Healthy boundaries are not selfish. They allow you to have a clear sense of how you experience the world around you. They also allow you to have empathy for others, without taking responsibility for them. Healthy boundaries create a good balance between taking care of yourself and being there for others without being manipulated or exploited.
Healthy boundaries lead to empowerment. They empower us to make healthy choices and take full responsibility for ourselves. Learning to sense and articulate your own needs and choosing where and when to share them might be the single most empowering life change you can commit to.
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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
Fern Sawyer was an all-around champion cowgirl. Growing up her father insisted she perform as well as the men if she was to help with the ranch work. She applied this same philosophy to her rodeo career, competing in men’s events in rodeos because she found women’s events too "infrequent and uninspiring." Her proudest moment was her performance at the 1945 Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo where she claimed first place against a large field of men, becoming the first woman to win the National Cutting Horse championship title.
This week here at the ranch we started to brand some small groups of calves. We are still planting corn in between the spring showers and the horses made a trip to see the farrier.
The process of creating a true relationship
requires setting boundaries. In order to avoid losing ourselves or because we fear losing or upsetting our loved one, we often over commit to rigid boundaries, or fail to have them at all. Which explains why some relationships are in a constant boundary dance that swings between doormat and narcissistic syndromes.
The doormat is always accommodating, ever flexible and always nice. They are the self-sacrificing loser in most conflicts and usually the self-righteous victim. They often absorb and “carry” the feelings, opinions or behaviors of others, walking around on eggshells to avoid a conflict. They are often unaware that this is a boundary violation or that they are even doing so.
They can be highly reactive in response to whatever is going on around them demonstrating severe mood swings in this constant state of flux, and be easily distracted. Being unaware of their own boundaries, they are also unaware of others’.
They do not take being told no, constructive criticism or feedback without personalizing it and their self esteem suffering. By not standing up for themselves, they will often blame themselves for their own abuse.
If you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
On the other hand, the narcissist is always aware of their needs and often completely unaware of the needs of others, or notice the effect of their behavior on others.
They have a strong sense of entitlement and usually win most arguments, losing respect and intimacy in their relationships along the way. They can be very intrusive and manipulative, blaming the doormat for outcomes. They are often withdrawn and isolated in relationships.
They can also be inflexible and hang on to how things “have always been done.” Listen is not their strong suit and they are often impervious to feedback or anything outside of themselves.
These are the extremes, and relationships like this are dysfunctional and unhealthy and setting boundaries is the only positive response for your own self worth and esteem when encountering either of these individuals. Ways in Which Our Boundaries Can Be ViolatedTime -
One of the most common boundary violations is when others encroach on your time. This can include showing up late, or not at all, or someone who is making constant demands on your time without returning the favor. Physical Boundaries -
Each person has their own unique needs for personal body space as well as what is acceptable in regards to touch, this includes sex. Never have sex if you don’t want to. Last week we discussed how horses can help teach us to set boundaries
. Horses only test our physical boundaries. Only humans can test the rest of these. Emotional -
Emotional boundaries are violated when we absorb others emotions and we don’t feel allowed to experience or express our own emotions. We all have the right to feel our feelings, no matter what they are, even if they hurt or disappoint another, or if another places guilt on you if you for not buy into their emotions.
While we have every right to our own emotions, we are always responsible for how we express them. Emotions are our natural reaction to life and not allowing them denies us the full experience of life itself. You should be able to ask for what you want and need. If you are not allowed to express certain emotions or only allowed to feel what someone else thinks you should feel, that is emotional abuse.
Emotional boundaries can also be violated by name calling, insults, hateful remarks, discrimination, intolerance, and prejudice. In no way do you have to tolerate being treated as inferior. Mentally
- You also have every right to hold your own opinions and express your own ideas. Someone who tries to tell you what to think, when, or how to think, is trying to brainwash you. You have a right to disagree. If it is not safe to express your options without fear for your safety, this is also abuse. This includes religious beliefs. Privacy
- You have a right to privacy, this includes a right to receive mail, emails and phone calls in private. Someone should not be snooping through your phone, iPad, or computer. If you can’t trust someone you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them. Even someone passing along personal information about you that was entrusted in them in confidence is a boundary violation. Property
- Your personal property is an extension of you, nobody else has a right to it without your permission. Noise
- Sound can be a boundary violation and quite intrusive, especially in public. Relationships
- We should not be blaming one another for having unhealthy boundaries. You cannot control the behavior of another and having healthy boundaries is not an excuse for making sure to point out where others fail. It is a way for you to take full responsibility for clearly and consistently maintaining your own boundaries.
I had the pleasure of spending this last weekend with my mom and aunt for Mother’s Day. At dinner Saturday night, my aunt said, “we have to take time to fill ourselves up, do what make our souls happy.” I realized this is another somewhat elusive boundary violation. As much as I do for those I love, it often feels more like an obligation, because I haven’t been able to keep my commitment to myself to allow myself time to “fill up.” I don’t want to love begrudgingly or half-heartedly. I want it to be authentic. But with constant and continuous demands, fatigue, and feeling overwhelmed, before I know it, I am resentfully doing something I promised. Sometimes this requires me to check in with my intuition regularly and much self-forgiveness.
It’s taken me years to realize that setting boundaries is the same as letting go of the outcome of a certain situation or relationship. I think this is what distinguishes between healthy boundaries and manipulative relationships. Healthy boundaries, once set, determine the outcome. Where as trying to control the outcome is a form of manipulation. There is great freedom in letting go of what is not ours to deal with.
Now it’s your turn. I have attached a boundary checklist for you. As always, we would love to hear what your thoughts are and if you found the boundary checklist useful. Stay tuned next week we will discuss what healthy boundaries are and how to reset your boundaries.
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Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
Busy week! Sorry, I am posting this on Monday. I spent Friday at the VC Kelly ranch to take photos of sheep shearing and then the rest of the weekend with my Mom for Mother's Day. Last week here at the ranch we started seeding corn, feedlot pens are drying out, pairs are out to grass and looking good, Roper has been busy chasing rabbits and gophers and keeping me busy trying to keep him and the house clean. My big news for the week is that I found out that I will be riding in the Buck Brannaman clinic at the end of the month in Rapid City! I am VERY excited! I also found out my son Sheridan will be home next month from the Army for good!!! Even more excited to have my boy home and to start a program for veterans with him!
A boundary is simply what’s ok and what’s not ok.”
— Brené Brown
I have come to believe that setting appropriate boundaries is perhaps one of the most important abilities that defines our maturity and helps us accomplish our goals in life. Just like teaching an unruly colt manners for your own and the horses safety, we also teach others how to treat us.
Our personal boundaries are the basic, yet often invisible rulebook that guides all of our relationships and fosters a true partnership
. Our boundaries define how and what we communicate, what we give and receive, and even, in the most basic sense, provide the parameters for what we expect from others and life itself.
They are necessary because, not everyone is playing from the same moral deck. We’ve all had the insecure friend or co-worker that is always trying to put others down, in order to inflate their own egos and boost their self-esteem; or the overly critical family member, that feels their hurtful words are beneficial to your well-being. There are a lot of people in the world who are willing to project their issues
onto others and it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves.
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Last week we talked about the difference between our True Selves and false selves
. Boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves and what we value most, therefore, in order to set healthy boundaries, it has to be from the place of our True Selves where they can be set with a firm compassion that exudes power, will and respect. Brené Brown, believes that we can’t be our True Selves without boundaries.
In this six-minute video, Brené Brown speaks about how boundaries are the key to self love and treating others with love.
Defining our boundaries can be challenging if we’re not connected to our True Selves because the very nature of boundaries is fluid and change with our sense of self. Knowing when we want to say yes, when we want to say no, what feels like self-respect and where our own needs start and end are the foundations that create the boundaries that impact every aspect of our lives.
Every relationship will negotiate boundaries: what is individual, what is ours, and what is public. Sometimes we work out these arrangements head on, but more often we approach it with trial and error approach. Like horses, we often see how much we can get away with before we cross a line.
A look, a comment, hurt feelings resulting in bruised silence are the clues we have to interpret. Whether above board or below, we delineate the boundaries of separateness and togetherness in all of our relationships.
Our definitions and expectations of commitment are transforming. These lines that are drawn are not as obvious as people think they are, and therefore it is an important conversation to have early on in relationships.
It’s much easier to teach someone right out of the gate, that if they want to be in a relationship with you, then they are going to have to treat you with respect.
Horses are great teachers of this because it is their natural tendency to test the boundaries of their handlers and of other herd members. A horse feels secure when they know where they stand in the herds pecking order which they determine by testing boundaries.
If you watch a herd of horses interact you can observe this play out. It generally starts out subtly - a hard look, a toss of a head, tightened lip, or pinned ears. This is usually enough to get another herd member out of their space. If not it can escalate to a bite, kick or a striking front hoof. Their communication is fair, authentic and effective.
If we as humans don’t let someone know their behavior is inappropriate it will continue. We must communicate directly and immediately following the incident, that this behavior is not acceptable. And if it does continue, then you follow it up with immediate action, like ending your involvement with that person, because they are then showing you that they are the type of person that does not respect boundaries.
Your True Self and your self-esteem are extremely valuable and yours and only yours to protect. No one, regardless of their issues, has any right to to diminish you! By consistently enforcing your boundaries, you are cementing that line in the sand and if another continues to cross it, let them keep on walking, because you deserve so better!
Standing up for yourself and enforcing boundaries does not make you a bitch. It makes you someone that loves and respects yourself.”
If you don’t enforce your boundaries with immediate action, then your words are empty and people will not take you seriously. People will eventually show you who they really are, but by having and enforcing your boundaries early on, you can uncover someone’s true intentions before you become emotionally invested.
Relationship boundaries are also not a topic that you negotiate only once. Your personal and relationship boundaries may change based on your relationship or your individual preferences at varying stages of the relationship. The most successful couples are agile, and allow this to be an open and ongoing discussion.
What boundaries are important to you and your sense of self? Leave your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned next week as we continue our discussion on healthy and unhealthy boundaries.
Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.”
On May 2nd in 1904 the 30th Kentucky Derby was held. The race was won by an American Thoroughbred named Elwood, the first winning horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to be bred
and owned by a woman. With the 142nd Kentucky Derby being held this Saturday, we thought we ought to take this opportunity to celebrate the important role women have played in Derby history.
So, place your bets and grab a mint julep! It's going to be a great race! http://bit.ly/1WXTJTE #TriviaTuesday