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Who Do You Let In? Defining Your Boundaries And Staying Safe But Not Isolated.

I had a set of spare keys cut yesterday, so I can store them at a friend’s place in case I lock myself out. And it got me thinking…

What about the keys to your internal spaces?

The keys to your thoughts, your dreams? Your ups your downs? Your emotional and psychological home. How many people in your life have access to the inner sanctum of youWho’s got keys?

It’s worth having a look at this every now and then, to assess if your levels of security or accessibility have changed or need updating. To find out if more – or perhaps less – people have access to you than you might have thought (or that you might hope for).

All of this points to the idea of boundaries. About psychological safety and connection with others. Of striking a balance between being locked away in an isolated tower of ‘safety’ alone, or being completely enmeshed where you’re sort of ‘access all areas’ for everyone that happens along.

There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer for this stuff. It’s just about finding out what’s right for you. For now.

So let’s take a moment just now to ponder…

Who has your keys?
Who do you let in?
Or are you very discerning – maybe even to the point of feeling a little isolated at the moment?

Or perhaps there are lots of sets of your keys out there…
Would there ever be a point of ‘too many’ for you?
Where might that point be?
And how would you know when you’ve reached it?

Which keys do you want to give to which people

 Do you have a tendency to hand over the whole bunch straight away?
Giving people immediate and constant access to your every word, thought or deed?
And, if you do, do the people in your life respect that, and carefor your spaces; or do some of them keep their biggest boots on in your most delicate areas?Is there a process of building or earning trust for you, before you’ll hand over a key to a more private, more precious, internal place?
(Or would you like there to be?)

Are there perhaps places no-one holds the keys to?
Places you maybe even keep locked away from yourself?
Places that seem too dark, too cold, too overwhelming to enter, so you’ve locked them up, boarded them up and maybe even been tempted to throw the keys away?

What might it take to make those spaces feel safe enough for you?
Safe enough to maybe carefully unlock them to see what’s actually in them now?
Maybe the company of a trusted friend or therapist could help you safely shine a light on what’s in those rooms that have been locked for so long?

These are all interesting, and sometimes revealing, questions to ask yourself every now and then… questions to help you find out where your own sense of boundaries might be right now.

For questions like these can, themselves, be like tiny keys to unlock the answers you already carry inside you.

Photos and text copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
Who Do You Let In? Defining Your Boundaries And Staying Safe But Not Isolated.

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). Who Do You Let In? Defining Your Boundaries And Staying Safe But Not Isolated.. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Sep 2011
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