Tag Archives: boundaries

Nourishing all the Parts of Ourselves

By Dr. Barnes Boffey

Within each of us are many sub selves which have identifiable personality characteristics. Each of these sub selves represent different energies and forces within each of us and are ways we express our personalities across a spectrum of traits. Each sub self needs an arena in which it can be expressed as well as emotional and behavioral nourishment to maintain its strength and resiliency.

There are many people who have written about archetypes and sub selves, and some say there are basic ones for all of us and other are less specific. What matters in terms of our own happiness and strength is that we are clear about the energies within us. Let me give some examples in my own life.

It seems to me that the major sub selves within me are my Artist, my Helper, my Teacher, my Cowboy and my Warrior. Each of these has a different energy and each needs different input to be nourished and different arenas in which it can express itself. Right now I am writing about myself as a man; women may have similar or different names or characteristics for their sub selves, but the most important thing is to recognize that in each of these are the psychological pillars of who we are.There may be a dark side to each of these sub selves also, but for now I want to focus on the positive aspects of each.

canstockphoto12706268Some of these sub selves are more appreciated in the world than others and some are harder to nourish than others. My Cowboy, for example, is the part of me that wants freedom, the open range, lack of domestication and lots of playfulness and guy stuff. My cowboy can live in the culture for extended periods of time, but after a while must hit the road, live with less rules, have tos and shun tedious routine.

If my Cowboy does not get a chance to be appreciated and have the space and energy he needs, he starts feeling trapped and boxed in, and may push boundaries in less healthy ways. My Cowboy was not greatly appreciated in the classroom when I was an adolescent. He was, however, appreciated in the world of drama and sports and just screwing around with my friends. My Cowboy also had a few scrapes with the law; he doesn’t seem to have the same respect for rules that others demand, and very often says, “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”

When my Cowboy is nourished and has space to be, he is positive, fun, creative and expansive; without that he can become less positive. When he gets boxed in, he pushes back.

In the next few blogs, I would like to share a description of each of my sub selves so that you can begin to identify your own and make sure each has arenas in which they get appropriate input and express themselves in the world. In so doing we have more opportunities to cultivate our mental health and happiness.


By Paulette Murray, Post Grad Degree DCU, Ireland, OL Degree, Ucc Ireland

Boundaries are the way I know where I stop and you begin.
We need boundaries in every relationship.
To live in a relationship without boundaries is like trying
to drive down the freeway with your eyes closed in a snowstorm.
                                                            Marie Fortune

Years ago as an anxious parent of my young children I was afraid to have boundaries between myself and the people I loved most in the world. My fears were all about what ifs.

What if having boundaries meant that I didn’t protect my children? Did having boundaries mean that I wasn’t a good Mum? What if my children got hurt? What if  I neglected to know everything necessary to keep these precious children safe?

Until I learned how to meet my needs in an empowering way I felt as though I was driving down the freeway with my eyes closed in some very cold snowstorms.

Now, in the present as my fourth child is leaving the nest heading to University for the first time I’m glad I finally gained the courage and knowledge to create healthy boundaries between me and my children.

canstockphoto14163467How did I do it? It took a lot of self control and a lot of mindful breathing to control my anxieties.

I let them lead. I supported each as independent choices were made.

I listened to disappointments when one child didn’t get what he wanted, or when another was unhappy when someone behaved differently from how she believed he should have.

I let them learn. I allowed them to grow and become the truly mature young adults that they have chosen to become.

I learned to trust in me and them. As a result they in turn have learned to trust themselves.

Now our eyes are wide open.  Now we are driving down the freeway  of life gazing at the beautiful landscape that is our family and our family’s journey.


By Dr. Nancy Buck

Are you the person other people go to for a favor, for help, for a contribution to one more charity? Do you feel you just can’t say “no”because you will let someone down?

Have you set clear limits about what you will and will not do for the church group, the PTA, the boy scout or girl scout fair?

In other words, do you have clear boundaries?

Are you afraid to disappoint others? Do you fear you will let someone down if you don’t help out and take on one more project?

Hmm. Maybe the person your letting down is yourself. Imagine agreeing to volunteer only for the events at your child’s school that give you joy and satisfaction. Wouldn’t it be great to know how to set boundaries that don’t disconnect you from others or disconnect your from yourself?

This might help. Before you go to the place, meeting or interaction with the people who impose on you, sit alone in a quiet space. Put one hand on your gut, the other hand on your heart. Practice conscious breathing, taking in deep cleansing breaths breathing with intention. Now follow the rhythm of your natural breathing and “see”yourself at the meeting, with the relative or at work.

What do you want? What are you willing to do? What are you not willing to do? Ask yourself what your boundaries, limits, desires and expectations are?

Are you clear? Stay in your same meditative and imaginary space, and see yourself standing tall, clear and smiling lovingly. Imagine you are asked to do or give something outside of your own boundary or willingness. See yourself smiling lovingly and saying, “I’m so sorry but that won’t be possible this time.”There is no need to give an explanation or an excuse. Practice another imaginary response. “That would be fun. I’m so sorry I cannot do that this time.”Or try “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I’m afraid I must say no.”See if you can actually imagine yourself saying “no”at least three times with love and clarity.

As you enter the meeting, or are approached by your insistent relative or greet your boss, causally put one hand on your gut, the other on your heart, stand tall and clear. Smile lovingly and actually say a loving “no”when a request is made that is outside of your boundary.

Keep practicing this strategy in your imagination and in your life and watch how Mental Health & Happiness improve!