I met Anna-Thea at the last workshop series I led at The Golden Mandala that covered my Consent and the 4 C's. This is where she asked to interview me. Anna Thea offers education around relationship and boundaries and is also a regular blogger. Directly below is a little intro blog to the more extensive article and video interview written and conducted by Anna Thea. Be sure to also check my and Anna Thea's blog below!
What are healthy boundaries anyway? And how can we approach them in a loving way?
In the article below Anna Thea does a great job describing what the benefits are for creating healthy boundaries are based on the interview we did... AND I'd like to cover a little about the finding your boundaries process, how you know, and how to take it the extra mile towards connection.
As stated in the article, a lot of us learned NOTHING about CONSENT nor CREATING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES growing up. We were taught to follow the rules, do what we're told, and if we identify as women to "be a nice girl" and "look pretty", all ways that ARE NOT conducive to creating healthy boundaries.
Then we got older and (hopefully) got more exposed to consent culture, and we learned that we can in fact say no! So the pendulum then swung from one extreme to the other, never saying no to always saying no, potentially very assertively (because it's our right dammit! :P)
My work with Consent As Love involves coming back into balance by valuing connection while also assertively holding healthy boundaries. I mention in the interview something I created called the "Connection Sandwich", which is a way to say no while also acknowledging the other person and valuing connection.
I also want to mention my dear friend and colleague Compasha in this article who holds *Radical Self Love* rituals and has created a powerful movement practice around creating healthy boundaries. Her mantra during this movement practice is "I love you, and no" with one hand on the heart and one hand in a stop sign in warrior one pose (similar to the picture above).
What I love about how she facilitates this practice is that it honors that we do have love for this person and value our connection to this person, and we also equally value our love and connection to ourselves by holding whatever boundary we feel necessary with them.
"I love you, and no".
I would even take it a step further to say "Thank you (for having the courage to ask) I love you, and no", which is something I'll describe more in talking about the Connection Sandwich during the interview.
What do healthy boundaries look like?
Simply only engaging in interactions that feel really good to you.
To learn more, check out the full blog and video below <3
Setting healthy boundaries in relationships is something most of us didn't learn about when we were growing up. Did you?
Were your parents good role models for healthy boundary setting? Did they talk to you about what healthy boundaries are and how to establish them in a relationship?
In this article, I want to cover 3 key ideas that are important for setting healthy boundaries in your relationships. I'll also talk about consent and learning how to speak your truth even at the risk of not being accepted.
Included in this article is an interview with Cyrena Giordano who offers powerful perspectives on consent as a form of love. Her goal is to create a culture of consent so we can all experience more love, safety, connection, freedom, and abundance in our lives.
Life is better and emotionally safer when you can set healthy boundaries.
But it's not always easy to do so. And sometimes boundaries can be confused with creating barricades. What's good for you, what's good for another and what's good for all concerned is not always straight forward and clear. It can be like walking a tight rope. Knowing when to say yes and knowing when to say no can often be like walking through a mental maze.
But it's not your mind that's going to help you navigate good boundaries. Knowing what's really right for you in each and every given moment can change. Because your feelings about them can change. That's why it takes greater awareness and compassion to create healthy boundaries.
If you haven't been taught about healthy boundary setting you may use barricades to protect yourself. But they don't work. Instead, they disconnect you from others. Look at the difference.
Boundaries vs Barricades
Can involve working towards mutual satisfaction
Give you room to "move around"
Give room for others to reach you (if willing)
Create emotional safety
Create a space to change perception without ignoring your truth
Black and white thinking
Ignoring or Making Threats
My way or the highway
Denial / Avoidance
Passive Agressive Behavior
Typically created from a trigger state or repressed emotions
Interview with Cyrena Giordano
Founder of Consent as Love
Cyrena also teaches what she calls the 4 C's - Connection, Consideration, Communication, Collaboration. The four C’s offer a road map, in consecutive order, to assure that consent is happening. If you would like to find out more about her work with consent visit her website at www.consentaslove.com
3 keys for Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships
1. The Ability to Communicate a Healthy Yes or Healthy No
Do you know how to communicate your Yes or No and feel fully ok with your decision? For example, a woman, not really wanting to have sex with a guy goes ahead and does it anyway because she feels pressured and thinks speaking her truth, "No", will cause too much drama, pain, confusion, and rejection etc. So she goes along to get along and sacrifices her truth. Sacrificing her Divine Feminine Essence. Later she regrets that she did something that was out of integrity with what her needs were in that moment.
Or another example would be someone asking you out or asking you to do something you don't really want to do and you say "Yes", when what you really want to say is "No." But you don't want to disappoint that person.
Or someone gets a bit too touchy-feely with you and you can feel your body recoiling. But you don't say anything.
Maybe, when you finally have the courage to say "No" to someone you feel guilty about it afterward. Not feeling as if what you want matters and afraid the other person will reject you.
Are You a People Pleaser?
How can you say "yes" or say "no" where you honor yourself. And where you feel safe but it still shows care for the other person. It's all too common that we're not in a relationship where we can say yes or no (no matter what) and still feel we'll be accepted. Thus the People Pleaser has been born. And there are many of them.
A lot more is involved in your "yes" and "no" and what you want versus what the other person wants. Especially in your closest relationships. But also in public and social situations. Especially at places such as co-ed dance classes, nightclubs, parties, and other social gatherings. Even in the workplace, it's important.
We all want to be loved and accepted and when someone says "no" to you it's easy to take that personally. Because inherently in all of us is the desire to feel connected. When you engage with someone and offer an invitation, whether that be to go out with them, dance with them or just nod in agreement, they are reaching out to you and hoping for a "yes." At that moment they are wanting to make a connection. When that is met with resistance or a straight out "no", it takes greater self-awareness to not take it personally.
Also, the person who is saying "no" can learn to do it in a way that keeps both parties hearts open. But this takes know-how and skill. A skill that most of us weren't educated to have. Thus our "nos", if we have the courage to say it, become perceived as barricades. And you'll push people away.
This whole dynamic of seeking connection is something that Cyrena unravels and encourages her students to become aware of. She teaches them to take time to honor that desire for connection, even if the answer is a no. It's important to acknowledge the person’s vulnerability in asking.
She describes that this can be a game changer in relationship. And a way to avoid a situation escalting into violence or verbal abuse. Because all people really want is simply some type of connection. She explains that when people don’t feel connection or connected, the idea of "taking without asking" becomes more prevalent. So she invites us to consider the ways to take those little yet profound steps to simply acknowledge someone’s desire for connection, and how that can make a huge impact.
Create a Connection Sandwich When You Say No
So remember when you say no its good to hold the person you're saying no to with care. In the interview with Cyrena, she gives examples of exactly how to say "no" in a way that doesn't put the other person on the defensive. In Cyrena's example, she refers to it as The Connection Sandwich. It's a way to soften saying "no" to someone. It's a way of communicating with another in a heightened state of awareness, compassion, consideration, and care... AND still honoring your truth... your "No."
Ultimately, the person reaching out is, underneath it all, just wanting a form of connection. When you respond with an open heart you're actually giving that person the thing they are reaching out for... connection.
Keeping your heart open and saying "no" in a way that creates even more love is an art. And it's an art that is cultivated deep within your heart. When you honor yourself you'll automatically honor others. And this is something Cyrena encourages and teaches.
2. Activating Your Voice Through Sound
In yoga, we have the chakra system. These are energy centers in the body. Each chakra is associated with a different level of spiritual emotional maturity.
The throat chakra is the 5th chakra. And the 5th chakra is about speaking your truth, honoring your needs and staying in integrity with who you are. Not sacrificing your truth in order to feel accepted or to avoid conflict.
But many of us, especially women, were taught to be good girls and not to cause problems. We have generations and generations of people pleasing women that have kept their mouth shut. It wasn't that long ago that the remedy for a quarrelsome wife was physical beatings by her husband. We carry this memory in our cellular tissues.
That's why in addition to developing better communication skills, physically developing and activating your voice box will help you to open your throat chakra and release blocks that are keeping you from speaking your truth, which is another exercise Cyrena encourages. It can be scary to speak your truth. You have to have the courage to speak your truth. And be willing to take the risk that someone might not be happy about it. But chances are they'll gain more respect for you.
Give Your Voice Box a Workout
When your throat chakra is shut down and you have been a consummate people pleaser your voice doesn't have an impact. It doesn't carry strong intention. You literally need to train those muscles. And it can be fun to do so. Cyrana offers gatherings to awaken the voice.
Ways to Strengthen Your Voice Box:
Put your favorite song on when you drive and sing along.
Find music that has a full range of tones and sing along.
Go to Cyrena's voice event or other similar events. Check out a video of a song circle she hosted around Consent and the 4 C's
Join a singing group.
Take singing lessons.
Participate in a theatrical production.
Participate in a talent or poetry event.
Book a private one on one session with Cyrena
Create opportunities to speak in front of people.
Do yogic chants.
Don't put your voice on the back burner. What you have to say is important. Especially when it comes to speaking up for yourself and creating a safe and sane life for yourself. People will try to cross your boundaries. That's life. It's up to you to make sure you do those things that are right for you and don't do those things that aren't. Having an empowered yet loving voice is your tool.
3. Create a Relationship with Yourself
Years ago after having had a healing session with a medical intuitive, she gifted me a pencil as I left her office. On the pencil, a quote was inscribed - "If at the end of your life the only one you ever got to know was yourself, life would have been well worth living."
At that moment, when I read the quote it sounded so simple and logical. And it still does. You'll spend the rest of your life with YOU... guaranteed. Have you taken much time to get to know yourself? Do you like being with yourself? Or do you avoid being alone? Have you ever taken yourself out to lunch or dinner or the movies?
We are naturally projecting ourselves out into the world. It's a worthwhile activity to stop projecting and go inward. Have you ever asked yourself "who am I?"
We're all looking for love and often all in the wrong places. You can only receive as much love from another as you have cultivated within yourself. Intimacy is In To Me I See. But we keep searching outside of ourselves. Dating sites are off the chart popular.
Articles about how to attract the right guy are abundant on the internet.
I've even written some of these articles myself
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in love and share your life with someone. It's normal and natural and healthy too! We all need companionship. But when you are looking for someone to fill your empty hole, that's a recipe for disaster. You'll look to your partner to "make" you happy. And when you aren't, it's easy to blame him/her and think they are the problem.
This is what causes most problems in relationships.
Thinking the problem is because of the other person.
Not taking responsibility for the part that you have played.
It takes courage to look inside and take responsibility for what you have created. To get beyond victim mentality, stop pointing fingers and start taking responsibility for your life. If you don't like something, you have the power to change it. No one else is responsible for you unless you are a child. And there are plenty of children walking around in adult bodies. It's because we have grown up without getting to know ourselves.
The solution to that is to start having a deeper, more loving, relationship with yourself.
And that's just the beginning. You're a unique, complex, ever-changing individual. Here's a start on what you can do to get to know yourself better.
Notice and curb Self-criticism.
Know what is right and wrong for you.
Understand what you value most and what you are able to compromise on.
Be able to spend time with yourself and enjoy your own company.
Feel good in the skin your in (beyond body image issues).
Check out Cyrena’s Blogpost named: Getting to Know Yourself to go through a thorough list on how to stay in tune and in integrity with yourself, your truth, and your values.
Your soul is beautiful beyond words. Take time to get to know yourself. When you do, you'll have more of your true self to share with another. Your capacity for intimacy will increase and the health and depth of your relationships will reflect that.
I'm Anna-Thea, an author and Divine Feminine educator. I support women in reclaiming their bodies and speaking authentically from their hearts. Women tell me, "I need to love myself more, I just don't know how." I have easy to use online courses that give you the tools you need to create healthier boundaries and more fulfilling relationships.
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