Heart armor used to do the job of my missing boundaries. Maybe you know this armor as your ego. It’s that voice inside your head that judges others as good or bad to make you feel safe and good. It’s always trying to build us up so we don’t feel pain. The more hurts to the heart, the thicker the armor. And every single trauma you experience adds a layer of shiny new chainmail.
Eventually, our heart is so guarded that we can’t connect with anyone. Even those we love the most like our children. Relationship requires connection. Connection is the flow of energy between us. Usually, that energy manifests as communication, but sometimes it’s physical affection, or for young children, being tuned in enough to meet their needs. Sometimes called intimacy, this connection is how we understand each other.
Connection feels uncomfortable if we have a history of emotional enmeshment and an armored heart. We don’t want to take on others’ pain and we don’t know how to feel their experience with them without taking it on or feeling responsible for it. That’s where boundaries come in. Boundaries are knowing where you end and where everyone else starts. It’s the limits you hold that honor your worth. It’s how you protect yourself from the expression and projection of other’s pain. Hold out your arms and look at your fingertips. At that length, all around your body (under your feet and over your head too, front and back) is your energetic boundary. That’s where you end. You’ll ground yourself inside this space and allow the energy of your emotions to flow within it, and sometimes strengthen the edges when someone’s trying to attack your sense of self. If you’re curious to know more, sign up for Getting the Love You Deserve, my online course covering the 6 Mistakes Most People Make When Setting Boundaries.
When I was told I needed to reconnect with my husband, I was completely against it because at some level I knew that I couldn’t do that yet without understanding more about boundaries and how to be authentic without fear of hurting him by just being who I am–doing the things I want to do and making choices that are best for me.
Taking off the armor is a process of healing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Then we can establish the healthy edges of our being and know how to stop people before they cross them–how to move away from unconscious behavior and how to hold limits without attacking back.
Without healing there are no boundaries, without boundaries there’s no unguarded heart, without an unguarded heart there’s no vulnerability, without vulnerability there’s no empathy, without empathy there’s no connection, and without connection there’s no relationship.