During the next month there will be much aggravation between the planet Mars and the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. This intense energy will power us towards innovation, change, building new structures, and rejecting particular belief systems. Alongside ongoing stress and divisiveness, we can choose to reframe both the lockdown and our boiling grievances as opportunities for soul-searching.
One of the hardest things for human beings to do is to be mature and centered when confronted with disruption, discomfort, and aggression. Experiences of personal or social injustice bring high emotions and shorten fuses; it can feel impossible, in those moments, to be proactive instead of reactive. Comparably small but irritating personal boundary violations or evasions shorten fuses and make everyday life stressful.
My partner Rendy and I were discussing this very topic the other day, and she made an illuminating comment: “There is a big difference between implicit and explicit boundaries.” This led me to an epiphany about the inflamed anger arising as Mars, which is encouraging us to work more consciously with setting limits. The big-picture mayhem of the moment may be beyond our control – but one place we can reduce the draining of our resources is by setting personal boundaries calmly and consistently.
Although we are constantly tasked with making decisions around our availability for touch, communication, contact, resources, services, and attention-giving, we rarely make conscious choices about our boundaries or speak frankly and clearly to others about them. Instead, we attempt to set them implicitly: through evasion, manipulation, silence, disengagement, or resentful acquiescence. What if we were to state our boundaries explicitly – through clear statements of preference, need, and want, and through carefully negotiated and unwaveringly clear agreements?
(Sometimes, we must resort to implicit boundaries to prevent escalation. If I am in a line with a clearly hostile person not wearing a mask, I move away without commenting on my boundaries. I choose not to respond to a hostile text instead of getting into a text war. Safety must always be at the forefront in our decision-making around boundaries, and not everyone is a safe person with whom to be explicit.)
Implicit: I indicate my desire for less touch by moving or turning away, backing off,or pretending it didn’t happen. I indicate my desire for more touch by moving toward, brushing up against; I choose not to notice the other person’s signals that they want less touch.
Explicit: I state clearly my needs around more or less touch.
Implicit: I do not respond, act like you didn’t say anything, act like I didn’t hear you, distract myself from listening, talk around a subject, withdraw, or remain silent when I am offended or perceive offense to others.
Explicit: I say exactly what I want to say or what amount of communication I am willing to have. I make my ideas and opinions known and stand up for my values out loud.
Implicit: I drift away from contact. I act like I am too busy to make contact; I make excuses and lies for not showing up.
Explicit: I am clear and direct with how much contact I would like to have. When I choose not to attend something, I inform people of the true reason why, even if it’s just that I’m not up for it right now.
Implicit: I let others do for me without acknowledging their giving, give more than I want to, or share things or money without clarity and transparency. I guilt people into giving to me through emotional blackmail.
Explicit: I am crystal clear about what I am giving and getting. I speak every exchange of resources or money out loud.
Implicit: I give or get help without any contract or agreement around shared service. I expect myself or others to give of their time without any straightforward agreement or recognition.
Explicit: I give or get help or services with obvious transactional cognizance and appreciation.
Implicit: My giving or receiving of things is attached to my hope for affection or attention. I give off subtle signals of longing for attention and acknowledgement.
Explicit: I ask for, or receive closeness, attention, and affection with absolute transparency.
Using the symbolic meaning of astrological signs, we can lean into our strengths in delineating our boundaries in more clean and empowered ways:
Be bold in your requests and statements while also taking interest in the ways your needs impact others.
Be consistent in your boundaries so that others know where you stand; be flexible instead of stubborn when it comes to others’ needs.
Use your words – both verbally and in written form – to elegantly portray your boundaries. Remember to listen as much as you talk.
Nurture your own space and time first. Out of that full place, you will be exceptionally kind to others in hearing their requests.
Use playful humor to address tense boundary discussions. Disarm folks with your brightness. Make sure others get their turn to be funny too.
Bring concise detail to your requests. Allow others to know your specific needs. Refrain from judging how others express their needs.
Understanding both sides is helpful if you do not forget that ambivalence is a form of evasion. Clarity will help you and others.
Transparency and vulnerability are key to your petitions for boundaries. Do not seek revenge on those who have had the courage to set boundaries with you.
Authenticity and honesty are the best virtues for your line making. Do not let bluntness become a vice.
You can say NO as a kind gesture. Doing more is not loving more. Remind others that they need to keep the rock sturdy too.
Being open and generous is always a good tack until it drains the till. Remind others that reciprocity is an act of honor.
Making the edges of the container very explicit is helpful for anyone swimming in your orb. Do not allow others to use your sensitivity against you.