One of the most important things we can do to improve our safety is to make a commitment to defending ourselves, and TAKING ACTION. That may mean taking a big step, or a very small one. This week we’re going to combine the skills we’ve been building in the past month–assertive stance, eye contact, and voice–into one simple but powerful technique that establishes a personal boundary. At my school Sun Dragon, we sometimes refer to this activity as the “Invisible Wall.”
It’s best to do this with a real live partner, though you can use an imaginary partner in a pinch.
- Stand across the room from your partner, and have him or her walk towards you. Maintain eye contact.
- When your partner reaches the edge of your comfort zone (the distance you identified as your personal space in Week One), raise your hands at chest level, fingers up, palms out.
- At the same time, move one foot back slightly, so you have a more solid stance.
- Say, firmly, “Stop.”
Then switch roles. Be sure to stop when your partner tells you to! Ask yourself:
- How does it feel to approach someone and have them put up their Invisible Wall? What is your instinctive response?
- How does it feel to use the Invisible Wall to set your own boundary?
For the rest of the week, look for opportunities to deploy your Invisible Wall, adapting as necessary. If someone wants to hug you, for example, and you don’t feel like hugging, for example, try this technique (You might change “Stop” to “No hug for me, thanks”). You may also find it’s an effective way to end a conversation that gets too flirty for your tastes. Or you can use it to set boundaries with a panhandler who tries to crowd you, saying, “That’s too close” or “Step back.”
When you use this technique, don’t just focus on its effect upon others. Pay attention to the way it makes you feel. When we take action to set and defend our boundaries, we feel stronger and more capable. We also remind ourselves and others that we are valuable, and deserve respect.
By Friday, I hope you’ll have a sense of how effective this one-step drill can be in communicating your boundaries to other people. We have many opportunities in our daily lives to set boundaries and insist that others respect them. Once you’ve tried this simple way of doing so, you may find it becomes easier to identify situations in which boundary setting can benefit you and the people around you.
Let’s use the next five days to make ourselves safer and more powerful! Check in below in the comments to share how things are going—or Tweet your responses to @SusanSchorn, hashtag #FearLessFridays. You can find all the FearLess Fridays activities on the main page.