All about boundaries.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.
— Brene Brown

Last night, a question about boundaries popped into my inbox. As I’m working from home this afternoon, I thought I would walk down to my local coffee shop and spend some time with the subject. There is so much to share! Today, I have decided to share general information about boundaries, including a loose definition, a series of frequently asked questions, an exercise, a few tips, and links to resources.

So, lets get started:

First question: What are boundaries and why are they important? 

In relationships, a boundary is where you end and where I begin. Boundaries are the emotional and physical definitions of what we will and won’t accept. They are our "yes-es" our "no-s." In the words of boundary setting expert Sarri Gillman, "everyone is in the middle of a life story, and your story is being shaped by what you are saying yes to, and what you are saying no to."

Our boundaries may seem "invisible" at times, but they are just as real as any other naturally occurring boundary. They are just as literal and real as the boundary between sea and land. Let's use this as an example. We accept that water is water, and land is land. We wouldn't expect either to change to be more like the other in order for their relationship to be more harmonious. That would be ludicrous, right? The ocean and the beach are certainly affected by one another. They adapt to one another, but they do not change their substance for one another. Humans are the same, except we have these big brains that feel fear and talk us into trying to change our substance. Can you imagine what would be possible for you if you could believe, "I am who I am" as confidently as you accept water for being water?

Next up: “How can I define what I will and will not accept in my relationships?

I’m going to offer you a strategy and an exercise. First, the strategy. Learning to identify and assert your boundaries isn’t something that will happen overnight. Let this be a process. Take your time. When you are faced with a situation where something is being asked of you, or you are being challenged in some way, carve out a spacious moment to pause and ask yourself the question, “Do I want to do this? What do I need right now?” Imagine that you have a compass right in the center of your core - it only has two words "yes" and "no." In response to the question being asked, is the needle pointing to "yes" or "no"? Trust what you see and feel. If someone is pressing you for an answer, tell them that you will get back to them in a moment with your answer.

Next, I'll share an exercise that will help you take inventory of your boundaries and challenge you to adopt boundaries that respect you:

Boundaries Inventory Exercise

Find a piece of paper and a pen, and write down the prompt: “In my life and relationships, I have the right to…” and record some of your beliefs. Take a few minutes to respond to this prompt before you read on.

Pause for a moment. What was that like for you? Is there anything that you wrote down that you respect in theory, but that you do not stand up for in real life?

Let's take this exercise a step further. The following list is made up of examples of personal rights that every person is allowed to have. Read them over and see if you agree that you should have these rights.

  • I have the right to have my personal space and privacy respected and not invaded.
  • I have the right to behave in accordance with my beliefs and values.
  • I have the right to be in tune with my own thoughts and feelings, and share what I think, feel, and need.
  • I have the right to express difficult feelings and feel safe while doing so.
  • I have the right to decide what I believe, what I like, and have a solid sense of who I am.
  • I have the right to be complex and hold conflictual beliefs, preferences, and identities.
  • I have the right to be myself.
  • I have the right to change my mind.
  • I have the right to disagree with another person’s thoughts, even if I choose to respectfully listen.
  • I know that other people do not have to agree with me.
  • I know that other people will not meet all of my needs.
  • If I feel disrespected, I have the right to speak up.
  • I have the right to live without being controlled or bullied.
  • I have the right to be treated as an equal.
  • I have the right to stick up for myself, my values, my choices, and how I choose to navigate life experiences and relationships.
  • I have the right to do what I want, when I want.
  • I have the right to say no without guilt.
  • I have the right to say yes when I want, but not out of obligation or pressure.
  • I have the right to choose to limit contact with someone or end a relationship if it feels stressful, unsupportive, manipulative, competitive, or draining in some way.
  • Only I am responsible for my own happiness.
  • I am not responsible for another person’s happiness.
  • I have a right to be in relationship with those who value me, who are loving, caring, supportive, encouraging, and who give me feedback about my positive traits.
  • I am not responsible for other people’s happiness, negative emotions, or perceptions. If I have done something that has hurt another person, I have a right to examine my actions. If I decide that I have not been considerate, thoughtful, or kind, then I have a right to apologize without perseverating in shame. Once I apologize, I have a right to let go.
  • I have the right to be forgiven.
  • I have the right to make mistakes.
  • I have the right to be an imperfect human, and give myself permission to do the best I can with what I know and have.
  • I have a right to respect other people’s boundaries.

As you read through this list, do any of the items surprise you? 

Take a moment to reflect on items that you agree with in theory, but fear putting into practice in your relationships: Find an item that you are scared to put into practice. Lets get curious! Ask yourself these questions: Why are you afraid of this right? What are you concerned might happen if you were to assert this right as a boundary in one of your relationships? Conflict? Hurting someone? Judgment? Rejection? How and when did you learn to trust that your fears will come true? How and when did you learn that you do not have a right to practice these items on the list? Most of us have learned what we should and should not accept during our upbringing. How did you learn to reject this right growing up in your family? Was it taught overtly, meaning, stated directly to you? Was it taught covertly, meaning, your family modeled rejecting this right but may not have necessarily spoken it.

Next, if there are any items on this list that you aspire to live by, would like to set, but fear setting, write them down on a note card (include a statement of why you want to set this boundary) and keep it in your wallet. One common boundary that people struggle with, is: “I have a right to say no without feeling guilt, fear, or shame.” Using this as an example scenario, you might write: “I have a right to say no, and not give in to feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, or fear. My why: when I don’t say no, or when I say yes when I really want to say no, then I end up feeling drained and resenting the person or situation that I have said yes to. Somehow, things become more stressful and complicated than if I had mustered the courage to say “no” in the first place. I challenge myself to feel the discomfort of saying “no” instead of the discomfort of internally stewing because I didn’t stand up for myself.”

To take this exercise another step further, ask yourself whether you want to hone your perception of your loved one’s rights and boundaries? If you do, re-read the list of rights, but instead of thinking “I have the right…” Think, “My family member, husband, wife, friend, colleague, teacher, child has the right…”

What does it feel like to explore your rights and the rights of those with whom you wish to remain in relationship?

Spend as much or as little time with these questions as you would like. Turn to this exercise whenever you would like to explore your awareness of what right you accept, and what you reject.

Next question: How do I know when to set a boundary? And, how do I do that?

Signs that you have not been setting boundaries, but need to:

  • you feel afraid of setting boundaries, or believe that you do not have the right to do so.
  • you feel anger and resentment, and you do not believe that you have the right to address the person with whom you are angry.
  • you are conflict avoidant.
  • you identify as a people pleaser.
  • you feel like a victim.
  • you tend to ruminate about or fixate on what other people think about you.

The following list is made up of scenarios in which it would be appropriate set a boundary:

  • Someone touches you in a way you do not like when you have not given them permission to do so.
  • Someone has lied to you or has misled you.
  • You feel taken advantage of.
  • Your personal space or privacy are not being respected.
  • You feel discomfort or anger as a result of what someone said or did.
  • You are being blamed for something that is not your responsibility.
  • You feel that another person is pushing their ideas, actions, or feelings onto you.
  • You feel disrespected, insulted, or hurt.
  • You feel bullied, abused, or someone is being aggressive.
  • You see that someone is trying to compete with you.
  • You simply feel the need to share how you want and do not want to be treated.

How? Setting boundaries is the simple (but not easy) practice of saying "yes" and "no." If you are new to boundary setting, don't expect yourself to be graceful. Just try to get the words out, or give yourself permission to walk away. Over time, you will find the verbiage that feels right to you and as a result you will feel more comfortable in the moment. We can say "yes" and "no" directly by being assertive with our words, such as saying, "I don't feel comfortable in this friendship, I need some space." Or, less directly, with our behavior, such as simply walking away or not calling someone back. Sometimes, when we are dealing with someone who is unreasonable, we can only use our behavior to establish our boundary. 

When we assert our boundaries, we are teaching another person how we expect to be treated and how we plan to show up in the relationship in the future. When we set these boundaries, we are also setting consequences for what will happen if our boundaries are not respected.

Navigating boundaries in personal and professional relationships is challenging because we want to be connected to others, but most people have at least a handful of conflicting opinions, preferences, needs, and values. When we interact with someone who is different from us, the challenge becomes setting a boundary in a way that respects ourselves and the person we are relating to. Sometimes, we do not even know the exact boundary we want to set. In that case, it is totally okay to wait for more information. It is also totally okay to say, “I’m not feeling comfortable with XYZ, can we sit for a moment and talk about finding a compromise that works for us both?” 

Stick with it! A respectful, loving relationship will never leave you in a place where you have to compromising your boundaries again, and again, and again. Longstanding relationships will require us to compromise and adjust at times, but this process should always involve clear communication, acknowledgment of boundary-crossing, and agreements. If you find yourself in a relationship in which the other person is unwilling to examine their boundary-crossing behavior, you would be wise to take a step back and consider how this relationship serves you.

Final question! What if I set a boundary, and the other person claims I am hurting them, judges me, rejects or sees me as being bad?

The truth is, some people will reject and judge you for setting boundaries. People may even gossip about you, tell others that you've done something to hurt them, or call you names. Other than speak up and set another boundary, there is nothing you can do to control this, but another person's behavior should never be a reason to betray your boundaries. There is a misconception that disrespecting your boundaries or “being a people pleaser” will lead to happy relationships. Doing so only leads to a pattern of anxiety, resentment, and lack of confidence as a result of separating your behavior from your values. 

It is up to us to take stock and determine whether we want to continue to invest in a relationship with someone who struggles with respecting boundaries. Sometimes, we have people in our lives who we love, but who do not respond well to boundaries. I once read a book about boundaries in which the author compares people to dog breeds in order to make a point about boundary setting. Some dogs have been well trained by their humans and thus know how to respect other people’s boundaries. Puppies have not had this experience. They need to be told "sit" again, and again. When we find ourselves with a puppy person, we have a choice to either let them jump all over us, or to set boundaries with them again and again. This can become exhausting. Remember, it is your choice to determine whether the relationship is significant enough that you are willing tin invest the energy it takes to persistently name your boundaries!

Setting boundaries is a process that involves mistakes and uncertainty. Sometimes, it is true that we are being too rigid in our boundaries. You'll know this may be happening if you feel disconnected from others or struggle to adapt to other people's needs. The words “always” or “never” often indicate boundaries that are too rigid. Other times, our boundaries are too lax, in which case we may feel vulnerable and taken advantage of. When we have struck a pace with setting healthy boundaries, we feel like we are taking care of ourselves. We feel confident, relaxed, and energized.

Overall, This is perhaps the most important piece: If you struggle with boundary setting, welcome to the human race. There is nothing wrong with you! None of us are perfect. You have permission to have a boundary-setting process! The people who love you and care about you will respect and trust you more when you are clear about your boundaries. And, they will forgive the mistakes you make along the way. They will forgive you for having too-rigid boundaries at times, especially if you are wiling to apologize. And, they will respect your decision to tighten your boundaries if and when you need to do so. Learning your boundaries, mustering the courage to set them despite potential feelings of fear and shame, and committing to self-respect will always help you establish harmonious relationships with yourself and with the people who truly love you.

Lets end with tips on being a successful boundary setter:

  • Don’t assume people know your boundaries.

  • Inform yourself. Familiarize yourself with your list of rights. Read about boundary violations.

  • Pay attention to your “inner yes” and your “inner no.” Trust yourself.

  • Know why you are setting your boundaries. Journal about why setting a particular boundary is important to you.

  • Be clear and respectful when you communicate your boundaries to others. Use a "confrontation sandwich" approach. This sounds like "support-confront-support." An example is, "I know that you were just trying to protect yourself, but I still feel angry that you lied to me. I believe that you care about our friendship and understand that you did this because you were afraid. But I need time to sort through my thoughts and feelings. I'll call you next week." Hear it? Support-confront-support. This is how kindness and self-respect come together.

  • Know that there is no perfect balance between establishing boundaries and adapting to other people's needs. Experiment and reflect!

  • Don’t try to change people.

  • Challenge your assumptions about what other people think, expect, and need. Understand that they way you view a scenario may be very different from the way another person views something.

  • Know that you are not a victim - if you feel like a victim, then you probably need to empower yourself to set a boundary!

  • Improve your self-care. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” 

Sending you all love and care on the boundary-setting front! Examining your boundaries and experimenting with setting boundaries that you may be afraid of setting is a worthy and honorable path to be walking!

Mel Robbins on saying no.

Words from a boundary setting master.

Wonderful suggestions for setting healthy boundaries.

Tips to establish healthy boundaries. 

Wise words and tips from a boundary setter.

Dealing with people who repeatedly violate your boundaries.

As adults, we sometimes forget that the best place to re-visit relationship basics is to re-visit how we would teach a child about about boundaries!

Browse Pinterest to read quotes about boundary setting!

Sharing another writers description of Internal Family Systems parts work

I like to read different writers describe their understanding and experience with Internal Family Systems therapy. Different writers express their understanding of IFS in different tones, and they highlight different aspects of the process.

This morning, I found myself appreciating this one.

Here's a quote that eloquently describes that Internal Family Systems, while it is a psychotherapy model, is much more of an experience than it is "talk therapy."

IFS takes Jungian work a step farther– past ‘talk’ therapy (where we speak about the complex) into an intimate, respectful encounter where the complex (part) can speak for itself to a new relationship with an attentive, compassionate, curious Self. I was in analysis for several years previous to my training at the C.G. Jung Institute and analysis continued throughout the five and a half years at the Institute (300 hours of personal analysis are required to become a Jungian Analyst). So for nearly ten years, my ‘complexes’ were scrupulously journaled, painted, walked through labyrinths, detected in association experiments, danced and endlessly discussed. They entered (or were dragged) into years of psychodramas. In exasperation or to highlight our therapeutic insight, we students would point them out to each other (“I think you are in a complex..”). These insights were rarely happily received. Safe to say, I knew a lot about my complexes. I knew the stories inside out.

Not until I began working with a ‘parts’ therapist who invited the parts to speak for themselves were they willing to shift. Not until they were invited to speak directly–to express their point of view, feelings, history in their own words to me (who was now present and connecting through ‘self energy’) and the therapist– did they feel heard and seen. It would be like working with a troubled family in which most of the family stays home and is subsequently described by other members. The storyteller may arrive at some understanding but the rest of the family would remain untouched. In my ongoing therapy, and with my clients, parts regularly express surprise (or astonishment) that they are finally given a chance to speak for themselves and that, most importantly, their Self is now present and willing to listen. The healing is in that relationship.

Many times parts have thanked me for respecting their autonomy and giving them the chance to speak their own truth which usually differs in tone and content from the ‘story’ through which one part has learned to understand the past. When I say they thank ‘me’, I mean that when I am in ‘self’ energy and connect with them, they have learned that they are in a stable system in which the leadership is restored. There will be no more ‘coups’. The parts will be respected no matter how the managers judge them. It is a democracy. With that shift in my inner world, I experience a feeling of refreshment, of space, of possibility.

For me, this is the real beauty of IFS.
— Mary-Anne Johnston

As Dick has said so many many times, "IFS is more than a therapeutic technique, it is a conceptual framework and practice for developing love for ourselves and each other."

Thanks for reading!

IFS Video Series

Woop woop!

The Center for Self Leadership e-mailed everyone on their mailing list to offer us access to a new video series. For all of those who are curious about IFS, these videos are a wonderful place to begin. And they're a good refresher for those of us who have been using IFS for a while now.

The first one is about 20 minute long.

What Happens When We Deny (Or Accept) Our Difficult Emotions...Links and Shares

Sometimes...children's books are for adults.

Denying the hard stuff is always temporarily helpful. But eventually, if we want to life a full life, we need to welcome all parts of ourselves, because that's when we encounter true relief. That's when we feel a true sense of wholeness.

This book is about that.


Here are a few quotes:

(Re-posting from )

(Re-posting from

More on the subject...

Lebanese-American poet-artist Kahlil Gibran writes (paints with words?) in a way that grabs my heart - so, I'd love to share this one too. It's almost the same sentiment. However ironic or paradoxical it might seem, we encounter joy when we brave the course of leaning into what's hard. If you're on this path - this poem is for you.

And's a video that I love. Sometimes, when the light is really beautiful outside, I'll turn it on and take a walk in the park outside my home. And (like any true INFP) I'll feel very deep and sense meaning all around me. In those moments, it is as if every natural element...breeze through the trees, falling snow, fall leaves...everything vibrates with light and dark, comfort and discomfort, connection and disconnection, life and death. I think you know what I mean, do you ever have this experience?

Well - the concept that Watts wants us to f-eeeeee-l is that in all areas, we simply can't have one without the other...and, ultimately....we don't really want a one-or-the-other outcome anyway. We don't really want total control and we don't want total freedom...we want to inhabit a space where the scales tip back and forth.

Talking more about what he talks about (ha), he suggests that what we are, who we are, is intimately bound to the parts of us that claim "X is what I want" and "X is what I do NOT want..." So, there isn't just a part of me that wants this and a part of me that wants that, there's a third player... a witnessing presence that can be with both parts.

Feeling all three is totally natural and okay (and since this blog is tied to my therapy page - I'll say, it's typically feeeeeels relieving to listen to and accept all three). When we inhabit the witness, we can see how we shift back and forth. And suddenly it becomes very clear: "of course suffering happens when I reject one side...all parts need to be could it be any way other than that?" (And then...because this is all a comedy...we forget this lesson an hour later and begin to strive for this and exile that...and then we learn the lesson again in the next hour...). And no matter how many times we forget, it's okay, and we deserve acceptance, and we're enough just as we are right now.

And (to keep going...), as far as our emotions are concerned, this means that hoping that comfort will (or should) win out over discomfort (or vice versa) simply isn't a possible scenario. One truth about emotion is that our experience will always...always... be a back-and-forth. And there really isn't anything wrong with embracing this concept. It's why letting go of holding onto one side (i.e. permitting yourself to shift) doesn't mean that you're not enough or that you haven't done enough. Acceptance of both doesn't mean that you're resigning or giving up. Letting go and relaxing back is just a part of what happens when you f.eeeeee.l-feel-feeeeeel that there are two valid sides. I hope it doesn't seem like I'm thinking that Watts means inaction - I think he wants us to soften up and realize that it's not so serious.

So, there we have it. I hope you enjoy the video.

Thanks for checking in to read,


Tracking your IFS sessions and parts

I receive weekly newsletters from an Internal Family Systems therapist called Jay Early (he and his partner Bonnie run IFS growth programs), and this week his newsletter included a piece about tracking IFS sessions and parts. I absolutely support this recommendation. Because our internal inquiry may lead us in a variety of directions, tracking parts will help to build a relationship with all of them, while also helping us notice common patterns, like overworking/procrastination, or anger/self-blame.

Lets use the anger/self-blame as a for instance - If you're struggling to regulate your anger, you might internally stew about what someone said or did - or - you might blow up at your boss, kids, partner, friends, etc. When you're "in it" and "seeing red" so to speak, you might do and say things that you regret later. Lets say this has become a pattern for you, and so you're seeking therapy with an IFS therapist. In your work, you find that you are able to develop a relationship with the angry part(s) of you that feel so enraged and triggered and upset. As an aside, you'll also find that you are able to get to know the other part(s) of you that criticize your angry outbursts. As you work with these (and other) parts, you'll notice that in your day to day life, the urge to rage will seem separate from You. It won't feel so "bad" so to speak, and your inner critic might blame a lot less. You'll find that you don't want to get rid of the anger, because you've learned that the angry part actually has a pretty positive intention - it wants your boundaries to be respected, it wants you to be heard, it's dissatisfied with ___ or ___ and wants more for you. You've learned how to relate to it in such a way that it isn't even wanting to rage anymore, it's wanting help. You've learned that the urge to rage is actually a signal, coming from this part of you that feels so much anger, and it turns out that it wants You to turn towards it and to listen to what it needs. As you get to know it better in therapy, you can resist the urge to mindlessly blend with the anger because the urge to angrily react has transformed into a signal to dialogue, to relate, to understand, and to offer this part of you care, acknowledgment and support.

If you're the person in the above situation (substitute anger with Perfectionism, Self-criticism, Addictive urges, Depression, Anxiety...Anything), and you've found IFS - - I'm really happy for you. This is such wonderful, empowering work, and it helps you transform at your pace. My hope is for you to feel more open-ness, compassion, and curiosity towards the parts of you that typically over-work or get judged. We all deserve this kind of attention.

Tracking and checking in with your parts is like a cherry on top, it helps you relate to your parts more often, and builds Greater Relief...Sooner!! If the person in the "for instance" tracked his parts, s/he'd simply transform towards mindfully relating to his/her anger sooner, and who doesn't want that?

Read below if you're curious to learn more about what Jay has to say about tracking:

Tracking Your IFS Sessions and Parts

Jay Earley, PhD

I recommend that you spend some time right after each IFS session taking notes about what happened in the session and also keeping track of the different parts that emerged. This is useful for a number of reasons.

1. You are probably in an altered state while you are in the midst of an IFS session, and later it may be hard to remember clearly what happened. This is because learning that happens in one state of consciousness often doesn’t transfer so easily to a different state. The technical term for this is state-dependent learning. So take notes right at the end of a session when the work is still fresh in your mind.

2. It is important to follow up with the parts that you worked with in a session—to deepen the healing of your exiles and to check to see how your protectors are affecting your behavior in daily life. Taking notes will help you remember the parts you need to follow up with.

3. If you finish a session without completing the full sequence of IFS steps, which happens frequently, it is a good idea when you begin the next session to take up where you left off in the previous one. Your notes will help you remember which part to start with, how far you got with it, and how it looked or felt in the previous session, to aid you in re-accessing it.

Mindfulness-based exercise for feeling your Anger

Wonderful article, taken from


A Mindful Practice to Fully Feel Your Anger
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Associate Editor, ~ 2 min read

Early in her practice, psychotherapist Andrea Brandt, Ph.D, M.F.T, found that the clients she was seeing were able to talk about their anger. They used popular techniques such as “I” statements. They were able to articulate when they felt angry.

And, yet, their anger wasn’t dissipating. Communicating their anger wasn’t the problem. The problem was their inability to fully feel that anger.

For many of us, feeling our feelings is uncomfortable, especially when the emotion is anger. The tension may seem too much. We don’t want to deal with the discomfort or we may worry what we discover on the other side.

However, fully experiencing our emotions means they don’t get buried and we receive the important information they’re trying to give, Brandt writes in her book Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom.

It also means that we can make positive changes. “Recognizing our true feelings makes it possible for us to change behaviors and situations that do not support us — leading to a more honest, satisfying life,” according to Brandt.

In Mindful Anger she shares mindfulness strategies to help readers access, process, release and resolve their anger.

Below is a mindfulness-based exercise from the book, which helps you tap into your anger and any other accompanying emotions:

  • Find a quiet spot and focus on your breathing.
  • Stand with your feet a short distance apart. Make sure they line up with your hips. Notice the support of the floor, and really feel how it sustains you. “Dig your feet and toes into it.” Bend your knees slightly.
  • Pull your shoulders back. Take several slow breaths. “With your hands, knead the skin on your arms, neck, and shoulders.” Pay attention to the sensations in your body.
  • Visualize an incident that triggered your anger. Picture the details, until you can feel the anger arising.
  • Say, “I am angry.” Say it in various ways, “louder, softer, faster, slower.”
  • Notice what happens in your body when you’re practicing the various ways. For instance, do you feel hot, clammy, cold, confused, fatigued, floating, faint, nauseated, sweaty, shaky, stiff, tense or weak?
  • Check for any feelings other than anger. Name them aloud, one at a time, such as “I am hurt,” “I feel embarrassed,” “I am heartbroken,” “I feel anxious,” “I am scared,” or “I am ambivalent.”
  • After you’ve mentioned all the feelings you’re feeling, relax your stance. Take several deep breaths.
  • Journal about this experience. For instance, you can start with: “It’s safe to be present in my body. It’s safe to feel my feelings.” Explore how just writing these sentences feels.

According to Brandt, when you’re able to tap into your anger — or any emotions — you’re able to examine the message, before you figure out how to respond.

Feeling your feelings may not be easy. It may not come naturally to you — especially depending on your earlier experiences. However, you can learn to feel your emotions in safe and healthy ways and to process them in safe and healthy ways.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Apr 2014
Originally published on on 5 Apr 2014. All rights reserved.

I love this article about being like water, enjoy!

7 qualities of water that you should emulate in your personal life

Written on October 19, 2009 by    Srinivas    in    Uncategorized

Written on October 19, 2009 by Srinivas in Uncategorized

In his translation of the Tao Te Ching, Change your Thoughts Change Your Mind, Wayne Dyer makes a reference to the qualities of water. When you think about it, water really is an absolutely amazing substance and can give us a really amazing metaphor for life. Considering it covers three fourths of the earth, makes up three fourths of your body, and should technically be three fourths of your diet, it may very well be the root of life experience and the qualities of water transcend beyond our physical experience.

7 Qualities of Water We Should aim to Emulate in our Lives

Be Still: With a world of information overload, quieting the mind, and doing absolutely nothing is challenging these days. Yet, the health and mental benefits of being still and quieting the mind have been written about and explored endlessly. If you’ve ever sat and stared at a completely still body of water, you may have noticed that it has a very calming effect on the nerves.

Be calm: Sometimes you just need to calm your nerves. I know people who constantly make a big deal out of small things. That is absolutely horrible for you and the people around you. When you are calm, you make much more intelligent decisions. My dad always told me “You should never make any important decisions in your life when you are angry.” The times I haven’t followed that advice, I’ve done some pretty stupid things.

Be dynamic: Water is dynamic in so many ways. It’s constantly changing. Perhaps that’s the explanation for the addiction that most surfers seem to have to riding waves. Every wave is different, every time you paddle out it’s different, and the rush never gets old. If you learn to be dynamic you’ll bring the spice back to your life. I’m not married so I can’t speak to it. But, if you’ve ever seen the movies where couples seem to be so engaged in a routine that they are bored out of their minds, it’s likely that they have lost the ability to be dynamic.

Be flexible: If there’s one absolutely amazing characteristic of water, it’s that it has unparalleled flexibility. Put it in a cube shaped container, and it will take the shape of the container. Put it in the freezer to make a Popsicle and it will take the shape of the Popsicle. Heat it to extreme temperatures and it will evaporate. Water has the ability to take multiple forms. If mother nature decides that it’s time for wind, water has an amazing ability to embrace the winds of change. If we can bring that kind of flexibility into our lives, imagine how powerful our ability to deal with the obstacles of life will be.

Be unstoppable: This is one of my favorite qualities of water. When mother nature decides that it’s time, water is an unstoppable force of nature. Ocean waves are so powerful that they can roll up anything standing in their way. The momentum eventually builds to the point where no obstacle in the way will remain. I truly believe, we all have the ability to reach this peak performance zone in our lives as well.

Be Patient: I’ve mentioned this before in another blog post, but over time water has broken down massive rock forms, seeped into places where people thought it couldn’t get to, and dissolved things over millions of years. Talk about patience (a million years?). What this reminds of me of is the quote that Wayne Dyer mentioned in Manifest Your Destiny when he talked about the course of miracles. “Infinite patience brings immediate results.”

Be Peaceful: When the dust settles and the storm has calmed, water is amazingly peaceful. Go out to a beach at 6am and you will see an ocean that is more peaceful than it is at any other time of day. It’s exactly the same way you are (hopefully), when you wake from a proper night’s sleep.

It’s amazing that something as simple as water has such magical qualities. By emulating the qualities of water in our own lives, we can bring out the magic in ourselves.

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