The difference between pushing boundaries and crossing boundaries

In my last blog on March 31st, I wrote that I really wanted to join a retreat, but kept putting it off because it is outside my comfort zone. I closed with “I’m going to register right now.” And so I did! I just came back from the retreat and what an enrichment it has been for my personal development! Not only did I step out of my comfort zone, but I also learned the difference between pushing boundaries and crossing boundaries. This essential difference has everything to do with the connection to yourself and the connection to others. And I want to talk about that in this blog.

First, I want to provide insight into why it was so important for me to join a retreat by myself. I went to an unfamiliar area, with unknown people and I actually had no idea what exactly was waiting for me there. So I was all alone and had to save myself in a completely new experience. That in itself is hugely groundbreaking and empowering. It has given a huge boost to the connection to myself because of the insight that I can carry myself in such situations.

During the weekend you are supposed to share very personal stories with a group of strangers. It is important to know why you are there and what you want to take home. So I had to share my vulnerability and that is super challenging, because “what will they think of me….” Yet I realized that I am there to learn and develop myself, just like everyone else. Making an authentic connection means; the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s all me!

Pushing boundaries means that you make space within the frameworks you have outlined or that you adjust your perspective on things. You only do this when it feels good and safe. You do it at your own pace, when you think you are ready. It is an intrinsic motivator (I talk about this often). You want it for yourself because it gives you something. In my case I was there to develop myself and although it was very challenging, I found the space to push my boundaries.

Because of this I managed to really get the most out of this retreat. During the exercises, sometimes with strangers, I cried, screamed, danced, breathed, sat in silence and in many other ways surrendered to my emotions and the connection to myself. To be in such a vulnerable state felt incredibly confrontational and very healing at the same time.

Crossing boundaries happens when you do something that you are not (yet) ready for or that you do not support. Often this is motivated extrinsically, so under a certain pressure from others. It actually doesn’t feel good or safe to you at all, but you do it anyway to please someone else. In retrospect, this often gives a very unpleasant feeling because there was actually no room for it within the frameworks that you had outlined.

Pushing boundaries takes time. Creating space and adjusting your perspective on the foundations of your life, your comfort zone and everything you are used to requires patience (I have been working on it for more than 10 years). By pushing your boundaries at your own pace, it feels safe, you will have more courage and it will become a natural process. This prevents you from crossing boundaries.

The retreat was groundbreaking for me. After a weekend with these strangers, a sense of connection arose. You have come to know each other’s vulnerabilities and that creates a bond. So much beauty is created and saying goodbye feels painful. As nervous as I was going there, the more nostalgic I felt while leaving again. The days after the retreat I wrote a lot and thought about the experiences and insights I gained. I long for the next opportunity to make even more discoveries about myself and to push my boundaries further. In fact, I already registered again …

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