‘I Am A Trauma-Informed Somatic Practitioner, and Here’s How To Use Somatic Boundaries To Protect Your Mental Health’

'I Am A Trauma-Informed Somatic Practitioner, and Here's How To Use Somatic Boundaries To Protect Your Mental Health'

Lproductively setting boundaries is an important part of protecting your emotional and mental well-being. To do this, you can usually consider what you need from a similar mental or cognitive perspective—for example, “I won’t be responding to emails after 6 p.m. to save time with my family,” or “That topic makes me uncomfortable to discuss, so I want to change the subject. But have you ever thought about how setting boundaries physically makes you feel?

According to traumatized somatic practitioner Ashley Neese, author of the forthcoming book Rest Permit, noticing and tapping into the physical sense of the words “yes” and “no” is a powerful way to examine yourself and set boundaries that align with your values. After all, the body and mind are inextricably linked to the point where physical feelings often serve as remarkably accurate cues to your mental state.

What is a somatic boundary?

Most boundaries are what Neese calls cognitive boundaries, which are set by your internal thought processes. The somatic boundary is “about manifesting versus approaching the boundary from a cognitive place,” says Neese.

“The somatic boundary is about manifesting versus approaching the boundary from a cognitive place.” —Ashley Neese, traumatized somatic practitioner

To identify how your somatic threshold might emerge, Neese suggests a simple exercise: Consider everything in the past week that has irritated you — whether it’s something as harmless as opening the refrigerator to realize you ran out of milk for coffee, or something serious. like being let down by a friend. “As you think about it [event] and watch that in your mind’s eye, consider what’s going on in your body,” he says. For example, are you tense, are your shoulders hunched over, is your chest tight, is your heart pounding? These are all examples of somatic limits in action.

Because the body often reveals how we naturally feel and think about something before the mind has a chance to fully process it, using physical cues to set boundaries can allow you to accurately represent how you’re feeling. For example, you may feel the urge to say “no” to something inside you, but your thoughts may change on their own to convince you otherwise. “We have experienced so much conditioning about how we should act and how we should be,” says Neese, which can affect our cognitive decision-making and cloud our ability to set boundaries as a result.

The body, however, will still reveal how we really are feel—despite societal norms and expectations. So if you’re listening for physical cues (á la somatic boundaries), you’re more likely to say “no” and stick to your true north.

Why is it useful to set somatic boundaries?

Neese’s work is rooted in helping people heal from trauma, and she says setting somatic boundaries is an important way to support your own safety and well-being — especially if you’ve experienced any form of trauma.

It’s natural for thoughts to block or try to “get over” past traumatic experiences as a way of coping; whereas, it has been proven in research on trauma that the body remembers. As Thoko Moyo, a registered clinical counselor specializing in past trauma, told Well+Good, traumatic experiences “are encoded in our brains and in our memories, and then they can also be translated to live in our muscles and hearts.”

It’s for this reason Neese says setting somatic boundaries can help you protect yourself. Your mind may be a less reliable source for learning how you really feel about something (and respond in kind), especially if it is related to a past traumatic experience that your mind is blocking; your body, on the other hand, will remember the traumatic event and provide specific signals accordingly.

Listening to and responding to these physical cues “is a way for your boundaries to become more integrated, more complete, and more connected,” says Neese. When not just your mind but your body is completely on board, “in the end that’s what restorative and healing feels like,” she says.

How to use somatic boundaries to protect your mental health

Taking time to observe your physical reactions to events, and learning what a physical yes and no feels like in your body will allow you to tap into somatic boundaries when you need to. “Consider asking yourself, ‘How does it feel in my body when there is a boundary violation?’ or ‘How did it feel when I was pushed to my limits?’” says Neese. This way, you will be ready to pay attention to those feelings and respond whenever they arise.

In this realm, somatic boundaries can be useful in ensuring you don’t continually violate your own boundaries. Let’s say you’re determined not to overwork yourself, and you’ve set some cognitive boundaries to support this goal (perhaps boundaries around not eating lunch at your desk or not checking Slack after work)—but you’re finding it hard to stick with it. they. Listening for physical cues—such as a tightness in your chest or a leg bouncing restlessly—can help you recognize when you might be stepping on your own boundaries and remind you to enforce them.

“If I don’t feel what ‘no’ feels like in my body, then it’s very difficult for me to say ‘no’… in a way that makes sense and feels coherent.”—Neese

The same goes for using somatic cues to identify and respond to someone else’s violation of your boundaries. For example, think about the time someone in your life crossed a line you set—say, your parents showed up unannounced to your house after you told them you didn’t appreciate a surprise visit. Learning to identify your physical reaction to this violation can help you formulate a clear, firm “no” and deliver it with conviction.

“If I don’t feel what ‘no’ feels like in my body, then it’s going to be very difficult for me to say ‘no’ out of my mouth in a coherent, coherent way,” says Neese.

#TraumaInformed #Somatic #Practitioner #Heres #Somatic #Boundaries #Protect #Mental #Health

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