I feel that the cancel culture created in our society, our focus on the conflict, on who is guilty, is partially a result of us feeling insecure about our own limits. It seems to me, we have a need to make someone “wrong” so that we can justify our own “no, thank you!”.
One of the most powerful learnings I have made in my Sexological Bodywork practice was the skill of claiming my own boundaries (or feelings, in general) without making the other one “wrong”.
I recall once in my training sessions, I was giving bodywork to a fellow student. I was practicing being a “coach” and they were a “client”. After our training session, still lying on the mat, they asked me to come down to them to receive a “horizontal hug”. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, so I declined softly. Instantly I sensed a feeling of shame rising in them – shame for being wrong to ask… They didn’t insist. I didn’t like to let it there, however.
Our work with this person was focused on relieving the person from an external framework of what they “should” be wishing and coming to noticing and acknowledging their true desires and needs. So they did, and, in doing so, entered instantly the next level in our learning process:
What happens after we express our true desires to the world?
Does that mean we get to have them?
What if we are rejected?
Why bother to ask for my true desires if I will be rejected anyway?
How to stomach this “No” coming at me in the moment of utmost vulnerability, when I finally – finally!!! – dared to ask for what I really want?
My feeling was it was absolutely essential to make them see how my boundary was about me, and my choice of how much intimacy I’m willing to allow at the moment. And not about them being wrong. How their freedom of asking was the same freedom I had for saying No.
It was a long talk. They said eventually they wouldn’t like me to do what they were asking if it was not my heart’s desire as well. That’s how far we could get at that time.
Shame will not be gone so soon even if we understand it in our head. But we can keep reminding ourselves: our limits are our personal choices about how we exercise our boundaries. If we are to have the freedom to exercise our boundaries, we must equally respect the freedom of others. Freedom to wish, for instance. Freedom to ask… When it’s too much for us, we can decide to leave the situation, without making a judgment about the situation itself.
The situation is not necessarily “wrong” just because we cannot handle it.
Our counterpart is not nessesarily “wrong” for wanting something we are not willing to offer.
The world does not have to comply with our wishes, needs and limits. The world is not good or bad. The world is just as it is. It is a difficult task to navigate through it, staying true to ourselves – and compassionate to others.