In this modern age our ideas about safety have changed significantly from our hunter gatherer roots.  Safety is no longer something we practice in order to survive the elements or our prey or each other, it’s seemingly become a right and the only defense we have against the bogey man in the closet.  It’s our weapon against scary monsters under our beds at night and the big bad that will come and get us if we don’t behave.  If you need examples of this just look at the Stranger Danger programs in schools, identity theft commercials, home security systems, and self-defense classes for women who live in urban areas, just to name a few.  Advertising thrives on the bogey man and offers us safety if we just close our eyes and believe in the product.  But safety isn’t something you wield.  Ask any veteran if you want confirmation of that. Safety isn’t something you can purchase or hold onto or stash away.  Safety is a state of being with no guarantees, created in each moment through relationships by means of respect.

Creating safety isn’t about setting up razor wire fences or digging pit traps or moats or setting up boiling tar.  It isn’t about years of martial arts training or heroes with weapons. It is about setting up good boundaries.  Like decorative fences making good neighbors and regular schedules leading to happy and well-adjusted children, boundaries help us co-create our relationship with the universe throughout our lives.  They help us create a sense of self and self-worth out of the cacophony of life all around. They help us feel empowered to be authentically ourselves.  Boundaries give us a foundation to push-off of in order to create something new, go to the next place, or delineate the box so that we can think outside it.

Good boundaries also help us interact with each other safely.  The self-respect that is fostered by them allows us to be respectful of others.  I like think about respect like ballroom dancing. You come together in an honoring way, moving in unison, partnered, but in your own dance space, still unique and still individual.  You create beauty and magic by coming together for that moment in time while staying unique and complete in yourselves.  It’s the essence of good boundaries.  That’s not to say that everyone’s dance skills are equivalent, everyone is a good dancer, or even that they want to dance.  But respect and good boundaries give you tools to deal with those situations as they arise.