A topic that comes up a lot when I talk to people about making room for creativity in their lives is BOUNDARIES. Being able to establish and maintain good boundaries is something everyone benefits from, but it’s especially necessary for a creative life.
‘You need to create stronger boundaries’ was something I heard A LOT from my spiritual teachers when I first started searching for my authentic soul purpose. I knew it was true. I understood it in a general way, but it was a challenge for me to translate what this actually might look like in my day-to-day life.
Now I find myself giving this message to people in readings, and I feel like it’s a topic that needs some extra attention. The energy of someone with poor boundaries feels heavy, burdened, frustrated, and cramped. It’s like seeing a beautiful flower trying to grow out from under a rock… all the beauty and potential is there but it can’t thrive. This flower will never bloom as big and bright as the one that’s growing in the sun with rich soil and lots of room.
Learning to create boundaries and claim our NO is one of the most necessary steps to living a life of authentic self-expression, creativity and empowerment. It takes a lot of courage to say NO to others in order to say YES to yourself, but it’s an action that puts you in alignment with your spirit. It requires embracing your Inner Warrior Goddess because she’s been holding onto a lot of your power… and she’s tired of being under that rock.
For me, finding the courage to start setting up boundaries didn’t happen overnight. My Inner Warrior Goddess wasn’t just under a rock she was buried deep. I hadn’t seen her in years… I was a Good Girl, big time. My journey started by examining my frustrations and my anger. These weren’t emotions that I had been encouraged or allowed to express much. I was uncomfortable with them and they mostly showed up as resentment. I didn’t know it at the time, but anger is an emotion that functions as a signal that our boundaries need work.
I also had a pattern of being extremely “nice and accommodating” at all times. That meant never letting anyone see any of my unpleasant emotions. This created a lot of drama in my life and contributed to aches and pains in my body, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. I was miserable, and I had no idea why things were like this. That’s when I started hearing that message: you need better boundaries.
SO WHAT DO BOUNDARIES LOOK LIKE?
In the beginning I started with my daily routine and establishing a non-negotiable early bedtime for my little daughter was the first big step I took. This one boundary created a huge expanse of time in my day and was great for both of us. This is where I first started to find time to be creative, read books, meditate, take baths, and get more centered and grounded. It was a good boundary and it made me eager to find others.
The next steps were scarier because they involved having to say NO to other people, and this was the worst thing my inner Good Girl could imagine. It felt like hard work. I became a reluctant boundary setter because my Good Girl was still in charge. She was trying to find ways to set “nice” boundaries. This usually involved a lot of explaining and wishy-washiness. I’d wait until I was miserable before I’d put the boundary in place… and that actually made it harder. I learned over time that it’s easier to set a boundary up front than it is to go back and establish it later.
I struggled for years letting my Good Girl set the boundaries, but I kept finding myself right back in the old habit of “nice and accommodating”. I finally realized that the nice boundary thing wasn’t working ~ and honestly, this really annoyed me. In my mind’s eye these boundaries looked like little fences, and it always felt like I was having to repair them and hammer loose boards.
Why did I keep letting the boundaries falter? The truth was that some of those boundaries felt really uncomfortable to me. I felt mean, stingy and ungenerous when I was maintaining them, and this self-judgment was the undoing of the boundaries. I didn’t quite feel like it was ok for me to have them because I was supposed to be “nice and accommodating.” I wasn’t clear and so my boundaries weren’t either.
I had a values conflict and it created a story in my mind where I was either the Good Girl Martyr who everyone loved or the Mean Ogre who was saying NO. I wanted to be the Good Girl and I wanted to have good boundaries too, but something was off. That story took me to this in-between place where I felt stuck. The Good Girl Martyr was paddling up stream all the time and she was exhausted. I didn’t like it, but I finally had to say, OK Universe, I’ll just be the Ogre. I’ll be the Ogre who wants to find her SOUL and needs some space in her life to do it. It was a rock-bottom moment of surrender that ended up being a blessing. When I stopped pushing the Ogre away I realized that what I’d been judging as an Ogre was really my Warrior Goddess trying to get my attention, and maybe she could help me out if I started listening.
It took me some time to get used to my Warrior Goddess. I didn’t know her very well. She made me uncomfortable. She wasn’t “nice and accommodating” but she definitely had my best interests at heart. She was my Soul’s champion ~ she was looking out for me. She helped me cull out negative relationships, volunteer projects, and time-wasting activities. It was scary as hell to be honest, but she got me to a place where I felt like I had some space in my life and right when I was starting to feel pretty good about all this…
I got a phone call asking me to volunteer to put on a fund-raising dinner. I was totally on the spot. I knew that I always had to energetically recover for days after any party or volunteer event. I also usually felt a bit resentful… it wasn’t something that made my spirit happy… it made it tired and grouchy. I was tired of being tired and grouchy. I was tired of constantly needing to recover from the things I had obligated myself to do. I was tired of hearing myself say that I didn’t’ have time, and I was tired of spending so much of it doing things that felt heavy and out of alignment for me.
I also felt afraid of not being nice and accommodating. My spirit was screaming the answer: NOOOOOOOOOO, but my ego was struggling. I was afraid of not being liked, and I was afraid of the judgment that might come my way if I was honest. I was scrambling around in my mind searching for a way to stay in integrity without suffering these perceived consequences. My Warrior Goddess was sitting back with her arms crossed, saying… you know what to do, but I didn’t feel ready. I felt tested.
I decided that the best way to handle this was to explain to the woman why I didn’t feel like I could say yes. I went into an elaborate conversation with her about how cooking was exhausting to me. I told her about my art and needing to make time for that, and how I had just made space for this in my life, and on and on. After this soul baring explanation I was met with deafening silence on the line. As an empath I could feel the disbelief, the judgment, the surprise at my answer and the irritation that this task couldn’t be handed off to me. All I remember was her caustic tone as she said, “You don’t like to cook?” Warrior Goddess kicked in. I said, “yep, I don’t like to cook. So sorry, but I’m gonna have to say no to this one.”
For the 15 minute duration of this phone call I was in total agony. It was AWFUL. I had just done something I was most afraid of, and I had gotten my most feared response. That 15 minutes was torture.
But then something amazing happened. I realized the world had not ended. I hung up the phone. I took a deep breath. I let all those fears bubble up for a few moments. Then my Warrior Goddess gave me a high five, and I did a happy dance in my kitchen because I felt so incredibly liberated. By dealing with that discomfort, I had said YES to myself and protected the sacred time and space that I had worked so hard to claim for my creativity. 15 minutes of discomfort had won me hours of time to nourish my soul. I felt FREE!
This is what setting boundaries looks like. It’s not about pushing others away and being mean or ungenerous… it’s about loving yourself enough that you’re willing to protect and honor what’s sacred to you. You do it so you can be generous in the most authentic and empowered way possible.
It’s uncomfortable in the moment, but it liberates you… and it takes courage. You’ve got to let your Warrior Goddess step in. You need her because setting boundaries feels awful sometimes, it triggers all your inner judgments and self-doubt, it stirs up fears about your own worthiness. Your Goblins will wake up and say, who do you think you are to want more time for yourself and your creativity? Go back to being a good girl, make everyone else happy, you’re being selfish.
Setting up boundaries shakes things up. It’s often regarded as audacious ~ be prepared for a bit of “how dare you?” energy. And then take that deep breath, look at the wide open space you’ve created for yourself. You have been audacious ~ you’ve just done an audacious act of self-love. You chose your own light over the heavy energy of obligation. You just got stronger, you just said yes to being more of who you truly are. You let your Warrior Goddess align you with your SOUL and you took a bold step into a more meaningful life. You created a boundary for YOU and it’s time for a happy dance.