Earlier this year, I had one of those realisations that can change everything. As I was journaling on what it means to live an unbound life and tuning into the essence of me that is expansive, abundant and boundless, I recognised that there is also a part of me that actually wants to be restricted, tied down and limited.
There must be. Because otherwise I’d be experiencing complete boundlessness in my life. And I’m not.
I have times when I feel deliciously unbound, expansive and free.
I also have times when I feel bound by my circumstances. And if having is evidence of wanting (as one of my mentors, Carolyn Elliott, so eloquently suggests), then a part of me must want to be bound.
Although this idea was shocking to me initially, as I journaled on the idea of the Bound Self, I began to understand her motivations.
We all say we want to be free, to live a life with no restrictions or limitations, but the truth is that freedom comes with a whole host of complications – personal responsibility, the need to make choices, the need to decide what we really want and to claim it.
None of this is easy. Particularly when you haven’t been encouraged to live an unbound life by your family, your schooling and society in general.
How much easier it is to do what you’re told, to let someone else take responsibility, to allow yourself to be moulded by someone else’s desire?
In contrast to the Inner Good Girl, who wants to please others and is externally motivated, the Bound Self is purely internally motivated. She’s like the Inner Good Girl’s edgier, stranger and more powerful, older sister.
She wants to be bound because it feels good.
She enjoys the feeling of limitation.
Paradoxically, there’s something freeing for her about being tied down.
She appreciates the sensations of restriction and the drama of having few or no choices.
She savours it all.
And you might be reading this saying, ‘No, that’s not me. I don’t have a part of me that enjoys being bound’.
This is an uncomfortably confronting idea. But I invite you to reflect on your life and notice whether there’s a particular area (or areas) where your Bound Self is showing up.
Maybe it’s staying in a corporate job where you feel like you’re sacrificing your true self?
Perhaps it’s the way you’ve built your business, which means you’re stuck doing things in a masculine, linear way that leaves you feeling dead inside?
Maybe it’s staying in a relationship where you’re not able to express yourself fully, leaving you feeling stifled and frustrated?
There are endless ways the Bound Self can manifest her shadowy desires. She’s potently magical. And she gets her energy from the fact that we don’t tend to recognise or acknowledge her.
We endlessly strive for freedom and feel frustrated when we come up against limitation.
We focus on getting out of the box, rather than wondering if we could possibly enjoy the sensations of curling up within it.
And in doing this, we deny our Bound Self. We make her wrong. We shame her.
That’s why we keep finding ourselves in the same painful patterns of limitation and scarcity. Because the Bound Self is unconsciously beavering away under the surface.
So, what do we do to change this programming?
The answer is very simple. And also very challenging.
We let the Bound Self come out to play. We give her some space. We acknowledge and honour her.
When we give approval to the Bound Self, when we allow her to enjoy the limitation she’s created (rather than shaming her for it), she doesn’t have to work so hard.
Everything frees up. And a ton of energy is released.
(Once again, this is something I learned from my fellow witch, Carolyn Elliott, and her practice of Existential Kink, which she teaches in Influence, her class on practical magic).
Let me give you an example of how I’ve allowed my Bound Self to experience the pleasure of limitation.
Recently I set an intention to bring a certain amount of money into my business by the end of the year. As part of this, and in line with traditional Law of Attraction techniques, I allowed myself to get excited about what it would feel like to reach my expansive money goal. Doing this met the needs of my Unbound Self.
Then, to acknowledge the unconscious, shadowy desires of my Bound Self, I allowed myself to also imagine what it would be like if I made NO money in my business between now and the end of the year. And rather than sliding into panic about this, I let myself get excited about this possibility too – the shame, the drama, the feeling of restriction. I knew my Bound Self would love it and I spent some time allowing her to enjoy these feelings.
Obviously this doesn’t tie in with the traditional Law of Attraction teachings, because you’re giving energy to something you don’t consciously want. But the fact is that if there is any kind of limitation showing up in your life right now, then there is an unconscious desire for this. Your Bound Self will be at play whether you acknowledge her or not.
And, of course, it’s not easy to give approval to the Bound Self. Because we’re not taught to allow or even acknowledge these kind of shadowy desires (although it’s likely you will see evidence of their manifestations all around you). This is a practice and it can take time to move into a place of approval towards the Bound Self. (And when you do, this feeling of approval may be fleeting).
But whenever you do access a feeling of approval towards her, even if it’s just momentary, something magical happens. You stop being attached to what you believe you want, your conscious desires, and enter that transformational (and elusive) place of true non-resistance.
This is the alchemy of shadow integration.
I know that the idea of the Bound Self can be mind-twisting, so I’ll finish with some questions that will help you to explore what I’ve talked about in this article for yourself.
What would it be like to invite your Bound Self into your awareness? What does she look like? How does she move? What does she say to you?
Look back on your life. Are there particular areas where it feels like your Bound Self has been at play? What was it that she desired in these situations?
What does it feel like to acknowledge your Bound Self? How does she respond to being acknowledged?
I could go on, because this is fascinating to explore, but I’ll leave you with these questions to be getting on with. And if you want to carry on the conversation about the Bound Self, head on over to my free Facebook group and share your reflections. Click here to come join us.