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your emotional acre


Your Emotional Acre

While I was trying to create a lesson about boundaries for one of my support groups, I came upon this quote from Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird.

Every single one of us at birth is given an emotional acre all our own. As long as you don’t hurt anyone, you really get to do with your acre as you please. You can plant fruit trees or flowers or alphabetized rows of vegetables, or nothing at all. If you want your acre to look like a giant garage sale, or an auto-wrecking yard that’s what you get to do with it. There’s a fence around your acre, though, with a gate, and if people keep coming onto your land and sliming it or trying to get you to do what they think is right, you get to ask them to leave. And
they have to go, because this is your acre.

One of the most popular homework assignments I give my clients is to describe to me their emotional acre. Sometimes they create a collage, draw pictures, or write poetry telling me about their acre. Some people
have a big house on their acre. Some people have only gardens and playgrounds. Some people have an adorable white picket fence and others have barbed wire surrounding their acre. Some realize they have a tall
impenetrable wall with no gate for anyone to enter while others do not have a boundary at all.

It is important to acknowledge that our acre does not just come into being. We don’t wake up and begin creating it. There are seeds planted on our acre that we don’t plant. They include the circumstances we are born into: the nurturing we received or did not receive in our childhood, the abuse we suffered, the messages we were told about life, God and others. Although other people impact our acre, no one else actually lives there. Those plants we did not plant are not another person’s existence on our property. They are OUR thoughts, feelings, memories, beliefs and responses to being in relationship with another person.

At some point, our acre becomes our own. We get to decide what we want and who we want to influence our acre. We get to decide what to plant and what to uproot. We get to decide what that fence looks like. Our
deepest love or rooted bitterness is our experience on our acre.

Questions to reflect:
-Is an acre the right amount of space for you? Too big? Too small?
-What is the first thing you see on your acre?
-What is the first thing others see?
-How do you want people to feel when they are visiting your acre?
-How do you feel?
-What do you want on your acre that is not there?
-What do you want off of your acre that is there?

Taken from; written by Jenny Black, LMFT

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The Refuge Center for Counseling is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (20-3831943). We are also a United Way of Williamson County Partner Organization.