Cancer Season | An Exploration of Boundaries
Cancer season is here and with it an exploration of boundaries. Cancer energy is all about home, family and emotional security. Cancer feels all the feels and swims in emotional waters most would drown in. But most of this takes place beyond our vision.
Most of it takes place behind the protective shell of the Cancer crab. This is because Cancerians know the importance of having a place that keeps them safe. A place where they can be themselves. A place where they can feel safe. A place of their own. Home. A home where not just anyone can saunter into.
Cancer energy brings with it an awareness that in order to be ourselves, in order to explore deep emotional waters, we must feel safe. We must feel confident that those who are allowed past our hard outer shell will treat the tenderness underneath with gentle care and love. And so, Cancer season places emphasis on our home. Our family. Those relationships and structures that nurture us. Keep us safe and secure so we can relax. Be at peace and generally feel capable of bravely expanding into our most authentic self.
Now we may find ourselves assessing our relationships and even physical homes. Do they reflect who we are today? Do we feel safe within these walls? Do these relationships support our continued growth or are they holding us back?
But just as the external context of home is important so too are the internal structures. We are seeing this on a grand scale with the families being separated at the border. The ripping open of hearts and the tearing apart of homes which transcend physical structure.
We will feel it on an internal level as we inspect our boundaries.
Because Cancer season is an exploration of boundaries.
I recall last year writing on the topic of boundaries in a social media post and receiving a hailstorm of responses. Most of which were very encouraging but one in particular seemed to take issue with the idea of boundaries. Though the exact issue is one I can’t remember the gist was that it was wrong to have conditions. It was wrong to have boundaries. And that we're meant to love freely because others are responsible for their actions. And I agree to a point. Others are responsible for their actions. But we are responsible for what we tolerate.
It’s a shared belief by many but it’s also a belief that collectively gets us into a lot of trouble. I recall reading someone who stated that boundaries are like a fence around our lives, internally and externally. The door to this fence is one that we control at all times. I am sure it was said in a far more eloquent way than I am, but the message is that there is a difference between walls and boundaries.
See the fence created by my boundaries allows me to determine for whom I open the door, granting access to my life inwardly and outwardly. I have my hand on the door at all times. When my boundaries are clearly defined and honored then I am able to clearly see for whom that door should open and or whom that shit should stay shut tight against.
Boundaries are the parameters that allow us to exercise the greatest act of self-love that exists: self-respect.
See, I teach you how to treat me by how I treat myself. If I treat myself unkindly, then you learn that treating me unkindly is tolerable. If you witness me allowing others to walk all over me, having no personal boundaries at all, then you learn to walk all over me. That such behaviors are tolerable means of treating me.
Likewise, if I treat myself with respect, you learn that I am someone to treat with respect. One begets the other and we each have a personal imperative to treat ourselves in the way we expect others to treat us. So that when they do not we know what is tolerable and what is not.
Acceptance versus tolerance
The greatest medicine we can extract from Cancer season is learning the difference between acceptance and tolerance. When creating a boundary, we have to assess if what is being done is tolerable for our lives and a lack of understanding the difference between acceptance and tolerance is one of the biggest killers to our personal boundaries and the source of much doubt and insecurity.
Acceptance is acknowledging that someone is who they present themselves to be. I work with many women in the throes of relationship drama. Their partners have cheated, lied, held commitment hostage or otherwise mistreated them. One of the ways I assist them is in accepting their partners for who they reveal themselves to be. This way they can accept that they will never commit. They can accept that they have loosely defined ideas around loyalty. They can accept that their partners are dishonest.
Acceptance means acknowledging that this is who they are, right now. That nothing they do will change their partners, their partners must come to that crossroads and choose accordingly. But they accept that this is who their partners are and that is crucial.
Because those of who have found themselves in situations like this, where their boundaries are being walked all over, know all too well it’s the barrage of questions that come when someone is betraying our boundaries. Did we do something to cause it? Will they change? Are they capable of changing?
The internal debate is lengthy and exhausting. But when we accept that this is who they are.... now... we are then free to ask if who they are at this moment, if what they are doing is tolerable. I can accept that you will cheat on me but that doesn't mean the same thing as tolerating your cheating on me. And when I determine, through my process of fully accepting you, warts and all, is tolerable behavior for someone in my life I can then establish, reestablish or simply honor a much-needed boundary.
I needn't debate whether you are capable of change because that is a waste of time; we are all capable of change. I do not need to argue with myself over the many what if's or what might be's. I can instead ask a very simple question, "is this tolerable treatment?"
Accepting the people in our lives for who they present themselves to be (not just who they say they are because let’s face it talk is exceedingly cheap) allows us to then determine whether who they present themselves to be is tolerable for entrance into our lives, our hearts, our inner and outer home.
These are the boundaries that allow us to safely and openly share ourselves, our authentic selves, with those around us by ensuring that those around us are worthy of the many gifts our authenticity brings. A lack of boundaries creates a wishy-washy environment of permissive behavior and patterns that allow those who do not respect us, do not honor our boundaries to take what we have to offer without giving back.
And that is what a safe and holistic relationships looks like-a fairly equitable exchange of give and take. A container within which both parties feel seen, honored, respected and supported.
Cancer season helps us to establish not walls that block us from the flow of healthy give and take but creates the most fertile ground within which supportive, equitable relationships can flourish.