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Embracing Agency: The Boundary Blueprint

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

In moments of thick, negative energy, intrusive thoughts, overwhelm, or even in feelings of anger, I've often discovered that a lack of boundaries lay at the root of it all. If we embrace the concept of agency, where we are ultimately responsible for our lives, then that responsibility applies all the time, not just some of the time and for all the circumstances. See what you think.

A few months ago, I was facilitating an intimate prayer group at a contracted facility. The group room was spacious and well-equipped, receiving commendable feedback from clients, filled with stories of redemption and healing. However, the facility itself was a bustling environment with over a hundred patients, nurses, therapists, and clients constantly moving in and out, disrupting the sacred moments we aimed to create.

I began expressing my concerns, requesting uninterrupted sessions. Despite my efforts, frustration gripped me each time the door swung open, flooding the dimly lit room with unwelcome brightness, and interrupting the carefully curated atmosphere for an urgent but unrelated needed task. Often, these interruptions occurred during deep moments of inner healing.

Things finally reached a tipping point after six months of these episodes, when an unsuspecting staff member walked in, and I became very angry. I sternly instructed her to exit the room, emphasizing that clients will not leave, and suggested she contact her supervisor, who assured me that such interruptions would cease. She appeared genuinely remorseful. We concluded the group, and shortly thereafter, a managerial staff member entered to collect the clients and my anger flared. I raised my voice and stressed the importance of maintaining a sacred space for clients in need of spiritual care.

This incident was reported to my boss, who was bewildered by my behavior. It escalated to a meeting with another Director and word spread rapidly that the spiritual teacher was not being so spiritual.

I was now embarrassed.

Stuck. Angry.


Still very angry.

I felt entitled to what I wanted.

Entitled to what was promised.

I also felt gaslighted and misunderstood.

I was caught.

I wanted what I wanted as it was all in the name of helping other's heal.

I was in my ego. Big time.


Then, it struck me—boundaries.

Why had I allowed this situation to persist? Where was my agency? Why did I keep asking someone or something to change when I had the power to change my own circumstances?

Read that line above again.

Now..go slow here...this is where the magic happens.

The key realization was that I was responsible for the emotional and spiritual sanctity of my group, and my choice to continue the group was harming both them and me. Did you catch that? It was my choice. I was allowing this to happen. I kept participating in it. I found myself having the same conversation repeatedly with the same unsatisfactory result, and I felt wounded. I lost the ability to regulate my emotions in a way that I prefer, and was reported, a very vulnerable place to be when you're upset about a need you've communicated, then penalized for having a reaction.

Have you been there before. Hurt over and over and finally you snap? Then, the content of the conversation is about you snapping. In personal relationships, this is reactive abuse. If this is happening to you, you may need support and help to gain agency and set some beautiful boundaries. I can help or help you find a counselor for support.

This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, "Oh, I understand this. This is my agency to not feel this way. This is my boundary, Beth. Regain control." The liberation came from understanding that I didn't have to remain in this situation any longer. As much as I regretted ending the group, I did it anyway. I stopped providing that service at the treatment center and created alternative curricullum better suited for a setting that required groups to accommodate interruptions. Clients were a bit saddened, but life continued.

We all moved forward with peace, transitioning to a new workshop that required no excessive quiet or dimly lit rooms, just a typical group where clients could have their space. We adapted, let go, allowed things to be, and found our way to total peace. I did that. I halted the pain, not with cynicism, but with total peace, realizing that what I wanted didn't align with the circumstances. I was no longer interested in participating in a contrast of needs.

We are not entitled to be understood; we are only entitled to created our own peace.

We are not entitled to others keeping their promises; we are entitled to change direction when they don't.

We are not entitled to having others see the world as we do; we are entitled to decide who is in our circle and who gets our heart.

We are the agents of our own lives.

Our thoughts.

Our needs.

Our desires.

We manifest outcomes.

If others choose to participate with us, wonderful.

I discovered my agency. I realized I had control. Looking back, I should have called a meeting on day three, communicated my need then realized it could not be honored and discontinued the group. I've never been happier. My groups now run smoothly, and I've established a better rapport with the staff.

I found my agency.

So, the next time you find yourself trapped in negative energy, maybe turn inward and ask yourself if there is a boundary here.

Get very curious and consider if you have the power to regain control. Imagine if you stopped seeking external solutions and recognized your ability to set boundaries, express your needs, and make choices that prioritize your well-being. That's true agency. If something upsets you, introspect, establish a boundary, and if it's not respected, set another one. If the feeling continues, detach gracefully, knowing you possess the power to do so. By setting boundaries, you reclaim your agency, and life offers you the peace you deserve.

It's your birthright.

Photo by: Alexis Peterson

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