by Nicole Cromer
Establishing personal boundaries is one of the simplest, yet also one of the most challenging things we are called upon to do in our relationships with other people.
Simple in concept – but deeply complicated in practice.
And as we all know there are times when we must fight for healthy boundaries.
There is an African proverb that I recently came across that comes to mind here:
Do not try to fight a lion if you are not one yourself.
Does this mean we should abandon disputes when the challenger is formidable? No. It means we should become the lion.
So wait. Am I saying that we should strive to be mean aggressive women? Crude, rude and heartless?
No. Of course not. I am NOT speaking about being cruel, hurtful or spiteful.
I am speaking about further becoming resplendently empowered women who know when and how to show their teeth. And mean it.
I am talking about celebrating the primal life force that runs like electricity in your veins. Archetypal fierce mother stuff. Pure Goddess energy.
I am talking about the flames of the ancient fire that lives nestled deep within your heart, that at times needs just a little stoking so that it’s vibrant force can be seen gorgeously ablaze in your eyes.
And sometimes it just takes a little bit of fierceness to restore balance when things have gone askew. When we have lost sight of our value or importance or magic.
Let me tell you a story about my ongoing personal journey of coming to terms with my inner lioness (and truly it is a work in progress).
Not that long ago I was taking a Medicine Wheel class where we were learning about a Native American approach to understanding the powers of the four directions, and animal spirit energies, etc.
While learning about the physical properties and energies of the North, I was blessed with numerous (and I mean numerous) visitations from earwigs. That’s right, pincher bugs. Everywhere I looked. In places that seemed impossible for them to get to.
On my kitchen table. In the basin of my water cooler. In the waste paper basket in an upstairs bedroom. I got a sink full of them after bringing in some flowers from the garden.
I found one at the bottom of a glass I just pulled from the cabinet. One on the wall next to my front door – right at eye level. Opened the curtain to the shower, and “hello.”
Sat down outside in a park – boom – right there next to me. Even sitting in that medicine wheel class one found it’s way right next to me.
And so, as I believe spirit messengers will do – they stalked me until I got it. And sadly, it did take a while. So they just kept on keeping on.
At first I thought maybe I needed to listen better, or develop my “third ear” a little better. (You know – because they are earwigs).
There was barely any information or insight to be found on the Internet. Apparently they are not as popularly experienced as say wolves, or ravens – but then finally – I did get it.
Get better at showing your teeth, they were saying. Own your capacity for aggression.
And to be clear here – not aggression for the sake of it. Not meanness and power tripping.
What we are talking about here is sacred power. Defending with grace and dignity – your absolute birthright – to take hold of, celebrate and protect your life and all that you love and hold dear.
Interestingly, I did learn from the Internet that earwigs are known to be the “best mothers” of the insect kingdom because they don’t leave their eggs. See, it all synchronistically fits together.
So… Here’s what I learned thanks to Lion Medicine (which came to me disguised as earwigs first):
1. Sometimes it’s a relief for other people to know what you want from them.
Boy does this come up a lot in my work as a psychotherapist (and in my personal work as a human). All too often, men and women alike fear being too direct or too demanding.
We fear that it will be off-putting to ask too much of the people in our lives and so we keep our wishes and desires to ourselves, leaving them guessing and essentially setting them up for failure.
Because even the most magically and intimately connected people in our lives can’t read minds (at least not so thoroughly that we have no need to communicate effectively).
For example: Instead of telling your partner, “Oh no, it’s okay, I can do all of the dishes,” and then silently resenting them for not helping, just ask for some help. See what happens.
2. You have as much of a duty and right to care for yourself as you do for other people.
Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to imagine that you are your own “legal representation.”
It is often the case that people have very well developed and mature capacities to defend and stand up for other people, but they don’t use those skills in the protection and caretaking of themselves.
Why not imagine yourself saying to that person who seems to be trying to cut you in line, “Oh hey, my client has been standing here for a little while waiting, maybe you didn’t notice the line forms this way?”
And then try it out loud. Except leave the “my client” part out.
You get the idea. I’m just trying to help you access that inner guardian and redirect the flow of nurturing energy so that you get some of the good stuff too.
In other words, honor yourself. Treat yourself like the goddess you are. Because indeed you are the magician, but you are also the magic.
3. People don’t always ask for directions. And they also don’t always realize when they are lost.
It is absolutely true that we teach other people how to treat us. We show in innumerable ways what we will tolerate and what we will not.
And in those places where we really struggle to clarify our needs, it can help to remember that our friends and loved ones may not actually realize that they are being unfair, or that we may need something different or more from them.
Sometimes all we need to do is clearly state what’s up, just to get them back on the same page with us. –
“Hey friend that wants me to go to their part of town to meet up – again. Why don’t we try and find a place closer to me this time? I navigate the third dimension via the same vehicles and time and energy resources as you. Let’s balance it up.”
Again, you get the idea.
4. Other people can learn how to care for themselves when they see it modeled in others.
Mothers, fathers, big sisters and brothers. Humans that interact with other humans during the day. You all hear me, right?
You never know who may be standing behind you on that line that is about to be cut, that really needs to learn some ways to speak up for him or herself.
What a great opportunity to share your empowered person skills, and show off how it can be done graciously and effectively. This brings me to number 5.
5. Sometimes the powerless need protection.
They just do. And the powerful have a responsibility to protect. Don’t you think?
Think about the image of lioness growling, showing teeth and fixing her gaze on an animal or entity before her. What do you feel? What are your thoughts in response to this image? Is she being ruthlessly aggressive?
Now expand that picture a bit and see her cubs behind her. Hmm. Does anything change? Is she being ruthless now, or is she rightfully standing in her power?
So go ahead. Get it. You lion, you.
You are love and you are loved.
You are amazing!
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About the Author:
Nicole Cromer, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, professional tarot reader and consultant, and teacher. She has developed a unique approach to working with clients called Comprehensive Freedom Psychotherapy (CFP), which incorporates traditional psychotherapeutic practices, with divination, nature-based spiritual practices and energy medicine (including Reiki, tapping, etc.). You can find Nicole at her website. You can also check out her blog “Open and Unbroken“, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
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