Honoring Your Boundaries Starts With Listening to Your Body

Cultivating mindful movement can help you know yourself

Laura Khoudari

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Photo: Sue Zeng / Unsplash

Aside from being a speaker, writer, personal trainer, wife, and daughter, I am also a mother of a teenager and I really like it. I spend a lot of time before school, after school, and on the weekends doing mom kinds of things like answering questions about homework, listening to stories, making meals, and generally trying to be available to help when needed. I know my daughter’s friends, teachers, what she is learning, and what she enjoys. I help her prepare for extra-curricular activities and I attend her performances.

As involved as I am, there is one category of thing that I don’t do and I feel a little bad about it. I don’t do PTA things. Somewhere along the line, I internalized the idea that a good parent is very involved in their child’s PTA which means some part of me also thinks that therefore, I am a bad parent.

Almost every Sunday I “should” myself when I receive and read an email with a list of opportunities to be more involved in my daughter’s school. I start thinking that I should do these things even though my schedule is packed, I feel full, I don’t want to, my daughter doesn’t care if I do it or not, and the school has enough parents who want to be there.

My inner critic makes passing on these opportunities hard, but I usually pass in honor of the boundaries I have in place around my time and energy. I don’t just say “no” without consideration. Each week when I read the list of parent activities, I make sure to not only pay attention to “the shoulds,” but to also pay attention to how my body feels and what it does. Do I lean towards the screen when I read about any of the offerings? If so, when I look at my calendar to see if I’m available, do I still lean toward the computer or do I pull back? Leaning in means I want to do it, leaning back means we’ve hit a boundary. When I feel my body contract, I know it is because it is trying to protect me and in this case my resources. That is what my boundary feels like.

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Laura Khoudari

Trauma-informed personal trainer and author of Lifting Heavy Things.