Boundaries | Al Turtle's Relationship Wisdom
Turtles, tortoises and terrapins (collectively chelonians) are . of the early Late Cretaceous (due in part to poor dating resolution of The concurrent increase in terrestrial diversity and decrease in marine diversity over the Jurassic- Cretaceous boundary (Fig. .. How to cite this article: Nicholson, D. B. et al. If you read Al's writing, you'll be better informed than 99% of the general The relationships principle: What you intend is interesting but not very important. This silence is one thing that makes Master/Slave Relationships unstable. .. In the Master/Slave relationship, boundaries are completely.
If I now order them around, I am invading their boundaries. Another reason it doesn't work is that I am trying to make them responsible for my upset, when more accurately, I am responsible for my upset.
I think this is kind of dumb. Put a bandage on it. Get some nice salve. Then you can walk through the forest with ease. So I teach myself to take every chance, when I get upset, to notice more and more where my wounds are located. On what part of my great body do I carry an open ulcer? I withdraw from the wounding situation temporarily, and then I start applying healing to that spot. So I suggest, "Forget about blaming the stick.
Now that I am an adult, "healing my wound" seems the way to go, as I am responsible for myself now. Identify your open wounds By studying your patterns of upset, I think you can eventually identify the wounds you carry.
Identify your responsibility Simply put, your wounds are your problem, now. When you were a kid you might not have been able to do much about them. But after the age of 8 or so, I think it is all your responsibility. No one else is responsible for your happiness or your boundaries. If you are upset, what are you going to do about it?
MASTER/SLAVE, Two World Problem: The Essay | Al Turtle's Relationship Wisdom
If you think your boundaries are being attacked, you need Boundary skills. I believe that the perfect Boundary skill involves two elements: I call this two part message a Boundary Position Statement or a Position for short. Notice the two parts of a Boundary Position Statement: The Boundary line This is no more that a statement of what I think is on my side of my Boundary: My general rule is to state my Boundary lines simply and clearly.
The Boundary energy — defensive weapon size The second part of setting a Boundary is to communicate the energy behind your request as a warning of what the other person can expect. Leaving this out tends to make things very confusing for all concerned. Remember the goal is to find the level of energy that is optimum to achieve your Boundary goal. If you need more, raise the level. They tend to move from low signal levels polite to high levels quite impolite.
Low levels are often simple requests for people to stop. As the level increases I think the requests should get clearer and clearer, simpler and simpler, noisier and noisier. I recall a friend who was trying to get her husband to stop. Even that ripping a great sound! And it was her side of the sheet. Ripping his side of the sheet would have invaded his space.
High Energy Skills — Withdrawal Withdrawing is an art form and comes in many levels. Low level skills are often gestures of pulling away. Not looking at someone, turning away, changing the subject. Higher levels involve actually moving further and further away for increasingly longer and longer periods of time.
One place we are different from animals is in our ability to imagine. Leaving the room and saying nothing to your partner can easily initiate in them the fear of divorce and thus is often like using too big a weapon, too soon.
I say, remember that it is a crime in most states to restrain an adult. You have a very large tool, callingand getting a restraining order in your hands. The alligators are waiting. However, I believe you probably would not need this tool if you had used lower level tools effectively. I suggest you do not use withdrawing until you have exhausted signaling possibilities. Exhaustion — Shift to other tools Using Boundary skills, making Boundary position statements and supporting them with energy can be exhausting.
Learn to gauge how much energy you have and how long you can keep it up. If you have to use many low energy level tools, you may find it wise to more quickly shift to higher energy level tools. I suggest that you keep some energy in reserve. Success means your Soldiers are trained You have good skills, if you remain relaxed. All Boundary Skills are defensive. Look at the castle. You, your self, live inside those walls.
Others may try to attack, but in those walls you are safe — unless you let them in. What are these lines between people, the actual boundaries.
I have found it useful to think of Boundaries lines in six ways: Each Boundary type has a phrase that I think best describes its rule. I have also given examples of Boundary Position Statements that fit each type of Boundary.
Touching my body is a potential invasion of my boundaries. My body is mine.
Boundaries for Individuals: The Essay | Al Turtle's Relationship Wisdom
Your body is yours. While this seems a simple rule, many people are taught in childhood to let other people touch them and to never ever think of stopping this.
I think this is a very hard lesson to teach children that their body belongs to them. Do I over-rule their wishes?
Does that make me a kind, teaching parent or a bully? I have a friend psychologist who works with children who have been physically and sexually abused.
Make sure that you let them know that their wishes are important. I find it very useful to always honor their requests to not be touched and also to frequently check out whether they want to be touched or not.
Humans have the capacity to treat objects as if the objects were part of their bodies. This is the issue of ownership. My wallet belongs to me, just as much as my hand, ears, or head.
When someone reaches for my wallet I often react as if they were touching a part of my body. I think this is very difficult to teach to children. We give them a room their property and then we tell them to keep their room clean. I think this is kind of crazy making. I think it much better to tell them that the room is ours and loaned to them until they leave home. Then we give children a toy and order them to share it.
What the heck is this! Is the toy theirs? How would we feel if the police arrived and told us we have to share our car with the neighbors? Sharing is a powerful Boundary issue and I believe should never be expected. Sharing my stuff is my decision. This gets even more complicated when ownership is unclear. In my experience this becomes a major issue with couples. Here are two examples. And so I would like to add a word of clarification before I write on the boundaries around feelings.
A feeling is an event in the body, which usually has hormonal secretions marking its existence.
People can have feelings without begin aware of them, and often when they talk about their feelings they mislabel them. They are used to describe thoughts. But the feeling is left out. Feelings are anger, fear, sad, joy, hungry, alert, lonely, etc. These are single words, sometimes many of them. More on thoughts later. My feelings are my feelings. I report on them, if I choose. Therefore, if you ask me what I am feeling, you may be invading my property. I think to tell someone what they are feeling based on what you see, tends to be an invasion.
I think it much wiser to tell someone what you imagine they are feeling when you see their face, etc. No one can make anyone feel anything. When I think of something or observe something, my brain examines that and decides to create certain feelings.
Feelings originate inside the self, inside the castle. The sound of a fire engine does not excite me. The sound hits my ears, my ears and brain process the experience, and then my brain decides to raise my level of excitement.
MASTER/SLAVE, Two World Problem: The Essay
Thus no one and nothing can make you have a feeling. I believe a feeling is a very personal experience. Blaming other people for our feelings is to me both a mistake and an attempt to invade their boundaries. You may do something. Shortly I may have a feeling. But you doing that thing did not cause my feeling. All feelings are valid. Feelings arise from normal processes in our brains, processes that involve remembered or even forgotten memories.
If you were to become familiar with all the memories evoked by a situation, I believe you would appreciate the feeling as the logical outcome of those memories that were evoked. As I begin to take responsibility for my own feelings, I begin to discover that my feelings make sense — all the time.
Thoughts are linking together of individual ideas. And the ideas contain symbols, words, images. And these symbols, words, images can trigger feelings.
I believe that no one can truly eavesdrop on what is going on in our heads. But we do try to understand each other. My thoughts belong to me. Just as with your body, your property, and your feelings, so your thoughts are yours. People do not have an automatic right to your thoughts. They can ask, but not expect. Many times your thinking is still going on and you have not settled on what you want to say.
Thoughts and feelings often add up to our motives for doing something. If I were to understand all the components of my reasoning, I would know why I do everything all the time. Some of those components are hidden even from me. How much more complicated are we! For me, reasons always come in multiples. Thus, why I do something is the sum of a bunch of factors inside of me.
Some of those factors are triggered by what I sense or see in the outside world. I am not accountable to others. Sometimes they are wanting to get information so that they can predict what you are going to do next. The goal is to make them feel more secure. Sometimes they are planning to argue with you and tell you their reasons for doing something else. Sometimes they are trying to shame you.
All persons make sense all the time. Whether they decide to tell others about it, their acts always are the results of inner decisions known to them or not. In my experience, so few people value themselves. All people are of equal value before God. No one is closer to God. All people make mistakes. We all make mistakes. If I refuse to admit my mistakes, I tend to distance myself from others and I miss the opportunity to grow.
All people were put upon this earth to be different from all others. Humans are not born to be copies of each other. Certainly we learn by emulating others, but we still do it in our unique ways.
Each person has the kernel of a unique genius inside. It is the responsibility of the community to help fertilize this genius so that all can benefit. Time Boundaries Most books on boundaries seem to leave this one out. Each human does their thinking, their processing, their decision-making at their own speed.
When two people come together this difference may show itself. Impatience is a childhood trait that can really be un-useful. All people answer questions at their own pace. I remember a friend saying that she had two answers to every question: The quick answer was always a lie.
It had nothing to do with the question. Nor did it have anything to do with her real thoughts or values. It had one purpose: My friend had been brought up in a family of impatient, alcoholic parents. They would demand answers to their questions, but later forget that they had asked those questions. And so the quick answer served to placate the impatient questioner.
The true answer takes time. Eventually what she taught me was to avoid asking questions. I learned to state my curiosity, give my reasons for wanting to know, invite her response at some later time and change the subject. In the meantime, how about dinner? All people decide what they want to do at their own pace. Trying to speed them up often produces the opposite result. Some people, when they feel pressured, go blank. Increased pressure makes them remain in blankness longer.
And when they are blank they tend to make poorer quality decision or freeze and make no decisions. Tricky Stuff Now I am ready to speak of the very confusing situation of overlapping boundaries. It is clear when I take your toothbrush or you take mine. But what happens with the family picture album? And what is going on when I get upset when you are late. Shared Property When my wife and I divorced, splitting up our property was easy until it came to the stuff we both thought was ours. We had two picture albums of the kids and of our early days together.
The only solution I know of is to enter into discussion and to redefine our Boundary lines. Fortunately, we are all capable of moving our walls. One day I can say that chair is mine — it is in my castle. And then I can decide that it is outside my walls. We do this normally when we are giving gifts or selling and buying property.
I think the general principle is that two people can share something only as long as mutual generosity, trust, and goodwill are present. This takes a lot of regular work and is a subject for another paper. Expectations This is the other tricky situation where I end up acting as if I own you.
What I have learned is that an expectation is a situation where I believe I own the thing I am expecting. When I expect it, I do feel I own it. When I want to see you at 5: When I expect you to meet me at 5: Clearly the one with the expectation seems in the tough position.
Mistakes Using Boundaries Lately I have heard these complaints. If they want to be a felon, they can. It is up to you to set your boundaries and to keep such people comfortably outside your castle, your space. It is up to you to make it sufficiently uncomfortable for them so that they will respect your boundaries.
Train your soldiers, practice, and keep the invaders out. The difference is that the outsider is given choices about whether they want to meet the requirements of the person setting boundaries. If they want to smoke they have a choice: If people walk all over you, that is your choice.
The challenge, I think, is to take responsibility for your own happiness and peace of mind. No one can do this. His partner was getting upset often at all sorts of things.
He recognized that as a lack of boundaries, but then complained about it. You have to set boundaries. Oops" One risk we have in building better boundary skills is that they become the walls of our own prison. We live inside and relate to no one. Remember the Gate, the Drawbridge, the Portcullis are all built to be opened as well closed. We are herd animals. We starve if alone too much. You must Tend your Garden Inside your castle walls is your world. I think it is just as important to keep other invaders out as it is to tend the gardens inside your castle.
I react to you as if you were my mommy or my daddy or both. Romantic Love is all about Positive Transference and the Power Struggle is all about Negative Transference, according to this kind of thinking. A love relationship is thought of as a double-double transference relationship.
Both people are doing transference both positive and negative — that makes it double transference. We pick a person who feels familiar to our transference mechanism. This makes for double-double transference. Finally, the Big Problem Explained So now here is why personal intimate relationships are so difficult.
When I look across the interpersonal gulf at my partner, the first thing I can see is their reactive behavior. I see it and my lizard, my reptilian brain, sees it. All I see is their defensive actions. And my lizard has been preparing for years and years how to protect me from those behaviors.
And their reactions are similar to the threatening behaviors that my lizard is responding to. Their reactions remind me of and trigger my memories of past threat. Now take a moment to absorb this. When my partner is reactive, they are defending themselves against a memory of threat — their memory. All I can see is that their defensive actions are closely similar to what scares me. And they do the same thing, i. Lizard reacting to my reactive behaviors. And now we are both reacting — two lizards panicked.
The close linking between what my partner does when reactive, and the threatening behaviors of my childhood caretakers and vice versa is what makes this whole nightmare of reactivity so powerful and so awful.
For the fun of it, here is the three ball pattern during Romantic Love. Summary of the Problem Thus romantic or intimate partners automatically select trouble — their worst nightmare. The strangers you meet or people in your workplace will not have this effect often, but your intimate partner will stir you up, trigger your panic reaction, often.
The simple principle is that you will never get anywhere while there is at least one person panicking. Our reptilian brains are about survival and not about thriving or living well. Progress toward a healthy and satisfying partnership can be made only while both partners are calm, collected and grounded.
And so your first tasks are Prevent Panic from happening in either of you Stop Panic from building in either of you Exclude Panic behavior from the relationship Learn to recover from Panic as quickly as possible. Prevent Panic Every couple I meet is doing one thing wrong.
This takes time and involves learning to focus on what is threatening to your partner. If they feel threatened, stop! Involve them in developing an alternative way of doing things. Learn what things you can do that triggers your partner into safety. Another goal is to eliminate threat from your conversation both verbal and non-verbal.
Learn what is threatening to your partner. Work on MirroringValidating, and particularly PreValidating. Learn which of your gestures make your partner feel safe and which scare them.
Many people move suddenly, which scares their partner. Some people stand over others, and it is scary. If your intention is to be safe and you do something that comes across as scary, keep your intention and change how you share it. Remember, it is not what you intend, but how you come across that counts in a relationship. Learn what touches your partner feels safe with and which touches are not so safe. Invite a lot of talking about safety.
You will probably find that sharing some topics that interests you may scare your partner. Ask your partner which is safer, to share scary subjects, or to keep them secret. If I have something to share with my partner which I think might scare her, I tell her about it. Then I ask her how she wants me to share it: Your goal is to be a source of safety to your partner even if they are scary to you. Focus on changing your behavior. Give them data about yourself and what they does that threatens you and assist them at finding safer ways of speaking with your, gesturing, and touching you.
Eventually your lives together will emerge as safe almost all the time. Stop panic as it is building in either of you. The goal here is to put out the fire while it is just smoldering. But you can detect when it is having difficulty. Learn the habits of your own lizard and that of your partner. Sometimes it may be tough and can handle things and sometimes it is right on edge.
Some things stress your lizard. Now, learn how to stop what you are doing in order to prevent the Lizard from having to take over. The strongest form of this the TimeOut. But you can take a break from a difficult subject for a while. You can stop what you are doing and go have dinner. I believe it is a good thing to form a rule that anyone can speak up and stop action or conversation in order to keep their lizard calm.
My lizard is struggling. This is very difficult if one person hears or sees the panicky actions. And so learn to take a break and take that wild lizard outside for a walk, or to the garage, or off somewhere and then come back when the lizard is calmed.
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This is an extension of the use of the TimeOut, but involves stopping witnessing the panic. Sandra and I learned to take TimeOuts overnight and to sleep in the guest bedroom.