In a culture that values doing over being, we are constantly striving towards the next thing on the to-do list. We are well-acquainted with what needs to be done, but less acquainted with how we feel when we’re doing it. We focus on finishing a project at work, but forget to eat a wholesome meal. We are left feeling lethargic and mentally clouded. We want to have more energy for meaningful hobbies, but we over-extend ourselves for others, leaving little energy for self-care. In our fast-paced world, it’s not easy to remember what we need and how our present choices are affecting our future plans. Where is all of your energy going? And if you had more energy, what would you use it for? The field of protection is a writing exercise that will help you to gain insight into how to protect and refuel your energy levels, so that you can navigate your life while staying connected to yourself.
Imagine the field of protection as an “aura” around you that protects your body, mind and spirit. The field of protection is an inventory of what helps you to interact with the outside world while keeping your inner-world and personal boundaries strong and intact. The field of protection serves as a preventative method, a tool in helping to decrease the chance of falling into a negative emotional state, and providing a solid resource if you find yourself activated, triggered, overwhelmed or burnt out. If you haven’t slept well in days, and forget to eat a fulfilling meal, how will you handle a conflict that comes up in your romantic relationship? Another question is, if you haven’t eaten a meal or slept well, can that actually create a situation where fighting with your partner is more likely to happen?
Building the Field of Protection
In the following tables, you will find the different categories that make up the field of protection. Reflect on the categories, questions and examples as you create your own field of protection. You can print this page and use these tables, or you can create your own on your word processor of choice. You can also draw tables in a journal, use the Notes App on your phone, or use another format if you prefer.
Boundaries help define where you end and other people begin. Good boundaries are meant to keep you safe and connected to yourself, enhancing your sense of identity, personal preferences, feelings and desires. When boundaries get blurry through habits like people-pleasing, where you are defaulting to other people’s needs and neglecting your own, your vital energy is drained. You might find yourself tired, burnt out, or anxious. It’s hard to feel strong in yourself if your boundaries have been ill-defined.
Boundaries- What Boundaries do you need to implement in your life that will help you to free up more of your valuable energy? How can this boundary help you?
Example: I will get off my phone after 10pm so that I can get to sleep easier.
Example: I will take a 5 minute pause before saying “Yes” to something. I need to make sure I stay connected to myself and what’s best for me.
Having supportive people in your life is important. We all need a listening ear sometimes. If you don’t have someone specific to call, seek out community. This is a great way to meet other people, or spend time with folks who share similar interests.
Support People- Who can you call on for support? Who helps you to feel seen, heard and understood? Who can you go to for support if you’re having a hard time? Who nourishes you? Is there someone that you spend time with that leaves you feeling refreshed, renewed? If it’s not a specific person, is it a group? An organization? A community?
Example: I can call my friend Kat when I’m upset. She is non-judgmental and helps me to feel calmer.
Example: I can go to my local Buddhist Center and spend time in meditation with members of my community. This helps to center me.
Coping skills are tools and techniques that decrease stress and soothe painful emotions. It’s helpful to have a list of coping strategies that you can refer to in times of stress. When coping strategies are used regularly, they can work to prevent crises from happening.
Coping Skills- What can you do to help decrease stress in your life? Make this something measurable, concrete. What has worked in the past? What healthy habits could you form that could help increase wellbeing?
Example: It helps me to work out twice per week. I feel less anxious when I move my body regularly.
Example: If my emotions feel overwhelming, I can take a shower or a hot bath.
Reminders to Self
In times of stress and vulnerability, the way that we talk to ourselves becomes even more important. Directing soothing words towards yourself is a healing practice that can help to shift the way you speak to yourself over time.
Reminders to Self- What do you need to hear when you’re facing a challenge? What encouraging words can you offer yourself? What words will help soothe you? Can you remind yourself of your strengths? Your resiliency?
Example: I’ve gotten through hard times before, I am centered and strong.
Example: My body is beautiful exactly the way it is.
Replenish the Self
What are some activities that feel nourishing for you? What are things that you can do without the help of others? Think: self-nourishing activities. When was the last time you did something to pamper yourself? What did that look like?
Example: I can order take-out from my favorite restaurant and watch shows about the universe.
Example: I get a hot stone massage.
Example: I can put my blanket in the dryer and warmly wrap myself in it for comfort.
Using the Field of Protection
Upon completion of this exercise, you will have a powerful inventory of ways that you can conserve your energy and stay connected to yourself as life moves fast. You can take a look at your field of protection daily, reminding yourself of what you need to stay in balance. You can look at the list once a week for reflection. If you notice the week was particularly hard, is there something you need to add to your field of protection? Or is there something that was hard to hold yourself to? You can look at your inventory when you’re feeling stressed as a reminder of how you can protect yourself. Be compassionate, this is a tool for guidance, and no one is perfect. If you’re struggling with a particular area within the field of protection, then you know what to focus on moving forward.