Boundaries for Thanksgiving

*Free* video training.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating! I know the holidays can be rough for some folks, so if you’re feeling the holiday feels, allow yourself to be with those feelings. It’s all part of being human.

To keep it short and sweet today, I’m happy to share this video I created for you about setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. I’ve been talking about boundaries for the past couple weeks and emails can only capture so much.

This video goes into what gets in the way of setting boundaries and how to become aware of those things, along with some helpful language to stay connected while setting boundaries. It’s about 17 minutes long. Feel free to watch at your convenience.

(My video tile is a little cut off on the screen, but it’s sufficient—what’s important is that you can hear my voice as you follow along!)

I’d love to know what you think afterwards, if you’d like to share. Just reply to this email or use the link to the anonymous form below in the “What’s on your mind?” section.And if you know others who might benefit from what I shared about boundaries in this video, please pass it along to them!

Your turn: After watching the video, what boundary setting practice(s) will you explore to incorporate into your life? What is something covered in the video that you’d like to learn more about? What is one thing around boundaries you’re committed to doing for yourself?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Set boundaries, stay connected?

Here’s how.

We’re continuing our discussion about boundaries this week to get ready for the upcoming holidays with family members! 😉

We set boundaries because we want to keep our relationships healthy. Because our relationships are important to us, we can state our requests and boundaries from a place of connection instead of disconnection. Stating a boundary from anger, annoyance, or frustration usually isn’t helpful to a relationship. 

It’s our job to protect and be responsible for our boundaries. We can make requests, but ultimately we can’t force someone to do something. We can choose to leave or take action to protect our boundary. If we see that the other person frequently disregards our boundary requests, we may decide to create some distance with them and how we interact with them in our life, and let them know why.  

Most people think boundaries are something that they’re not. When it comes down to it, much of what we think needs a boundary is due to our own lack of self-care. 

To review, a boundary is required only when there has been a boundary violation. 

  • A violation is when someone comes into our space (physical or emotional) without us being OK with it. 
  • A boundary is stating what WE will do if that person continues their behavior. 
  • It is NOT us telling that person how to behave. 

Additionally, if we make a boundary request and don’t follow through on what we say we’ll do, we’ve only made an idle threat or consequence. This diminishes our own self-respect and the other person’s respect for us. 

A boundary request sounds like this: “If you continue to _____, then I will ______.” 

For example, “I don’t appreciate being berated, so don’t yell at me,” is NOT setting a boundary. It’s telling someone else what to do. 

“I hear that this is important to you and I don’t appreciate being berated. So if you continue to yell, then I’m going to leave the room until we can talk without you yelling,” is setting a boundary while wanting to stay connected.

The person can continue to yell. The consequence that we follow through with is leaving the room if they do. We used a connection phrase to start by acknowledging the other person with “I hear that this is important to you.” Other connection phrases:

  • “I appreciate you and your perspective, however, if you continue to _____, then I will _____.”
  • “I value our relationship and time together, but if you keep _____, then I will ______.” 
  • “I love you, and I’m not going to do that (thing that you asked me to) because it really doesn’t work for me. How else can I support you?” 
  • “I hear that you feel disappointed with my decision. I’m here to help in a way that works for both of us.”

What other questions do you have about boundaries? Let me know here.

Your turn: What boundary requests would benefit you if you made them? Do you have a clear request and a clear consequence/action that you’ll take if the other person violates your boundary? How can you keep the relationship connected while setting a clear boundary?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Ready to set boundaries?

Feel uncomfortable.

We’ll be talking about boundaries for the next couple weeks, so we can get ready for the upcoming holidays with family members!

Sometimes people mix up setting boundaries with trying to control others. We do not create boundaries for other people. We create boundaries to take care of and protect ourselves. 

Boundaries are not:

  • Ways to control or manipulate other people
  • Things you think other people should be doing (e.g. “I want my partner to clean the bathroom,” “I want my friend to call me back when I call her,” “I want my kid to clean her room.”)

We need to recognize when to use and talk about boundaries. This means having a clear sense of what and where our boundaries are. When we don’t have clear boundaries, people don’t know if they’re violating them or not. 

When there is a clear boundary violation, such as someone speaking to us in a demeaning way or someone doing something in our home that’s not allowed, we have the boundary conversation.

The conversation includes making a clear request along with stating a clear consequence. The consequence is something that WE will do, an action or behavior that WE will take. 

Here’s an example of a clear boundary: “If you smoke a cigarette in my house, I am going to ask you to leave my house. We don’t allow smoking here. This is what I will do if you smoke.”

It’s important to remember that the person we’re making the request of can continue to do whatever they would like to do. Human beings can smoke cigarettes if they want. It’s not a boundary violation until they come into our home or our car or our space. 

Notice that when we make the request, “If you continue to do that, then I will…” the consequence is the behavior that WE will take. It’s not, “You need to stop smoking or else.” We’re making the request and then explaining what we will do as the consequence of not following that request.

OK, so why don’t we set boundaries? Because sometimes it’s difficult and uncomfortable to make these requests and establish consequences with the people in our lives. 

Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable for us that we avoid making the requests. Or if we do make the requests, we don’t actually follow through on the consequences. Because that’s uncomfortable too–doing what we say we’ll do when someone violates a boundary means potentially risking our relationship with that person or facing their disapproval.

But then what happens when we don’t make these requests or when we don’t follow through on the consequences? People continue to violate our boundaries. 

And we get upset and build up resentments. Usually we’re the only ones feeling this way, because the people who continue to violate our boundaries don’t think there are any consequences for doing so. 

There’s a lot more to say about boundaries–more next week!

Your turn: Are you recognizing why you might not be setting boundaries that would benefit your life? What would you have to believe in order to make the requests and follow through on the consequences? How can you practice saying what you want to say instead of avoiding setting boundaries with people?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Does your day “come at” you?

Step into it instead.

Do you look at your phone and check work email the minute you wake up?

This used to be my morning routine: the alarm on my phone would go off. I’d turn it off and since my phone was in my hand, I would immediately check my work emails. I wanted to see what my day might look like. 

It seems like a productive thing to do, right? To “prepare for your day.”

I want to offer that when you do this, your day might appear to “come at” you. 

All the requests from other people and all the time you need to spend on emailing others for info, looking for info, and creating responses once you have the info. Along with the other meetings and projects you had planned to do that day–or last minute meetings and projects that have popped up overnight. 

It might be overwhelming. Starting your day immediately feeling overwhelmed likely doesn’t contribute to productivity in a way that serves you. 

What would happen if you didn’t look at your phone and check emails the minute you wake up?

I’ve talked to clients who said they feel anxious just thinking about not checking email first thing.

What if instead, you have an alarm that’s separate from your phone? And what if you took five minutes after waking up to start your day in a way that you want? 

This could look like intentional breathing, a short meditation, or some gentle movement and stretches for your body. For five minutes. 

It could look like lying in bed and recalling a dream you had or just savoring those five minutes for yourself in whatever way you want. 

It could look like writing down your thoughts or drinking a glass of water to rehydrate your body and feeling it flow through your system. Five minutes for yourself.

It could look any way you want it to look. This creates space for you to step into your day the way you want to. Instead of having your day come at you.

Your turn: How would your days change if you stepped into them the way you want to? What would happen if you start by exploring with five minutes to yourself at the start of your day, without your phone? And what if you could stretch that to 10 minutes? What about 20 or 30 minutes?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

What does self-love have to do with it?

Everything.

I recently made a painful and difficult decision in my life because I chose to love myself enough and to want more for myself. 

It can be easy to think that when we love ourselves, making a decision out of love is also easy. 

I want to offer that making decisions out of love for ourselves can sometimes be extremely difficult and painful. But we’re willing to make the decision because we know the current situation we’re in is not serving us or moving us forward in an aligned way. 

We might be stuck and suffering, and even though we are, it can still feel scary to make a decision to change. But we are not being loving to ourselves by choosing to stay stuck or in suffering.

We have to love ourselves enough to become aware of the cost of the situation we’re in. What is the cost to our well-being? What other options are we not considering? How much time and energy is this situation extracting from us? What else could we be creating in our lives with this time and energy if we redirected it? 

And how do we get to that place of love for ourselves where we feel strong enough to make a difficult decision? 

In small ways each day, we can become familiar with what it feels like to love ourselves even more. 

When we practice in small ways each day to care for ourselves, support ourselves, and be kind to ourselves, our lives can change. 

“When you’re at peace with yourself and love yourself, it is virtually impossible to do things to yourself that are destructive.” ― Wayne Dyer

When we love ourselves more we:

  • Make different and more affirming decisions in our life
  • Take better care of ourselves
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Believe in what’s possible for us
  • Move from past-based beliefs into future-based beliefs
  • Know that we’re worth it and worthy
  • Commit to ourselves and what we say we’ll do
  • Advocate for ourselves
  • Trust ourselves more
  • Are more patient with ourselves and our results/outcomes/goals
  • Move into alignment with our decisions/choices

“Self-love does not come from writing a book, or from making a million dollars, or from buying a new house. Self-esteem comes from the little loving choices we make every day—the choices we make that tell us, ‘You are important. You are a good person. You deserve to take care of yourself. You matter.’” – Debbie Ford, The Right Questions

Your turn: In what small, daily ways do you want to practice caring for yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice supporting yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice being kind to yourself? What does it feel like to become familiar with loving yourself even more? 

Want help finding small, daily ways to express care, support, and kindness to yourself? Let’s explore.

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Your boundaries with yourself

Commit to build trust.

We’ve been talking about boundaries with other people for the past few weeks. Let’s talk about boundaries with ourselves.

What this looks like is keeping commitments to ourselves or keeping our word to ourselves.

If we are the keepers of our own boundaries with others and we take the actions to maintain those boundaries, we can do the same with ourselves.

We may want to set a boundary for ourselves around the following:

Boundary between work and home (for those who work from home)

Boundary for when we look at or check our phones

Boundary for how much time we spend on social media

Boundary around time spent watching shows (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBO Max, etc.)

Boundary around how much sugar we eat

Boundary around how much caffeine or alcohol we drink

Boundary around how much inactive time we have – which means adding more active time

Boundary for when we choose to go to sleep every night

We can make plans for all these boundaries. What creates boundary violations with ourselves is when we don’t stick to the plan. 

We worked two more hours than we planned to. 

We have one more drink than we planned to. 

We scrolled on social media for 45 minutes longer than we planned to.

We ate two cookies instead of one. 

We went to bed at midnight instead of 10:30pm. 

We didn’t exercise like we planned to. 

Many of us are very good at keeping commitments to others, especially if we don’t want to disappoint them or let them down. What happens when we don’t keep our commitments to others? They may feel let down and disappointed. We may feel guilty or disappointed in ourselves. 

What happens when we don’t keep our commitments to ourselves? We are the ones who feel BOTH things–let down by ourselves AND guilty or disappointed in ourselves. We get a double whammy. 

When we don’t follow through with our commitments to ourselves, we erode our trust with ourselves. This makes us less likely to even make plans for ourselves to commit to because we might think, “What’s the point? I probably won’t do it anyway.” 

To build trust with ourselves, we can practice keeping commitments to ourselves with compassion. We make the plan (the boundary) and we take the actions to maintain the plan (keeping the boundary). If we miss the mark once, we don’t just give up. We give ourselves grace and practice taking action again. 

It feels good to keep a commitment. The more we do it, the more trust we build with ourselves. And that can have positive effects on everything we do. 

Your turn: What plans (boundaries) do you want to put into place for yourself? Are you willing to be committed to being the keeper of your plans (boundaries)? How would your life be different if you kept your commitment to maintaining your boundaries with yourself? 

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Telling the truth by saying “no”

So that “yes” actually means “yes.”

We’re continuing our boundary discussion. Last week we talked about some examples of boundary requests and consequences/actions. 

We are the keepers of our boundaries and we’re responsible for taking the actions to maintain them.

Many people aren’t good at saying “no.” Or when they do say “no,” they try to offer an explanation–usually a lie–in order to control what the other person thinks of them. 

We often say “yes” when we really want to say “no” because we’re afraid of what other people will think of us. This is part of people-pleasing. (Read more about people-pleasing.)

But when we aren’t able to tell the truth out of self-respect and say “no,” we end up lying and saying “yes.” This is how we set ourselves up for boundary violations.

When we do this, we create the potential for resentment to build in us.  

Think about what happens when we don’t start out by telling the truth about our boundaries–by not being able to say “no” when we want to–and end up experiencing boundary violations. We then have to do the harder work of circling back to prevent further boundary violations. 

This can look like “standing up” for ourselves because the person who is violating our boundary has been doing so for a while now and not knowing that they are. So now we’re also likely setting this boundary out of anger as well. To the other person, it’s like we’re “coming out of nowhere” with our boundary request and exploding at them for no reason.

If we’re willing to say “no” at the outset, we don’t have to stand up for ourselves. We’ll just simply tell the truth and say “no” at the beginning to avoid other potential boundary violations.

We have to get good at telling the truth and saying “no” while staying connected as a practice, so we can say “yes” to what we really want to do. 

Then our “yes’s” will also be telling the truth. 

Your turn: When do you find yourself lying by saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”? What would you need to believe in order to tell the truth by saying “no”? What are some ways you can recognize when you want to say “no,” honoring that in yourself, and practice saying “no” when it’s the truth? How can you feel empowered to be the keeper of your boundaries and be responsible for taking the actions to maintain them?

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

So you want to set a boundary?

OK, here’s how.

We’re revisiting boundaries this week.

Most people think boundaries are something that they’re not. When it comes down to it, much of what we think needs a boundary is due to our own lack of self-care. 

To review, a boundary is required only when there has been a boundary violation. 

A violation is when someone comes into our space (physical or emotional) without permission. 

A boundary is stating what WE will do if that person continues their behavior. 

It is not us telling that person how to behave. 

For example, “I don’t appreciate being berated, so don’t yell at me,” is not setting a boundary. It’s telling someone else what to do. 

“I hear that this is important to you and I don’t appreciate being berated. So if you continue to yell, I’m going to leave the room until we can talk without you yelling,” is setting a boundary. The person can continue to yell. You’ll just leave the room if they do. 

Another example, “When I have my door closed, it means I’m busy. Please knock first and wait for my response. If you come in without waiting for a response, I’m going to ask you to come back later.”

When someone calls and wants to download all their current drama: “Hi Allen, I want to hear what you have to say and I’m available to talk for 20 minutes tonight. When the time’s up and if you have more to say, I’m going to stop you and we can continue our conversation on another night.” 

We set boundaries because we want to keep our relationships healthy. Because our relationships are important to us, we can state our requests and boundaries from a place of connection instead of disconnection. Stating a boundary from anger, annoyance, or frustration usually isn’t helpful to a relationship. 

It’s our job to protect and be responsible for our boundaries. We can make requests, but ultimately we can’t force someone to do something. We can choose to leave or take action to protect our boundary.  

Additionally, if we make a boundary request and don’t follow through on what we say we’ll do, we’ve only made an idle threat or consequence. This diminishes our own self-respect and the other person’s respect for us. 

Here’s an example: Klara and her family moved down the block from her mother-in-law (MIL). Her MIL started coming over to their house and entering because Klara would leave the front door unlocked. Klara started to change her mind and not appreciate her MIL’s unexpected visits. So whenever her MIL came over unexpectedly, Klara would feel upset and resentful, but wouldn’t say anything directly to her MIL. 

Her MIL had no idea Klara was feeling upset, so she kept coming over, likely thinking she was being a good MIL and spending time with her grandkids. 

After some coaching, Klara did make the following request, “I know you like spending time with the kids and I want to be able to plan for any visits, so please call before coming over.” 

Because this wasn’t a strong boundary (Klara didn’t say what she would do if her MIL didn’t call before coming over), her MIL kept coming over unexpectedly without calling. There was no clear consequence or action that Klara would take if the boundary was violated.

Finally, after more coaching, Klara made this boundary request, “I enjoy having you spend time with the kids, but sometimes we’re doing our own thing. Please call before coming over to check with me first. If you don’t call and check first, the door will be locked and we may be busy doing other things.”

Klara kept the door locked and her MIL learned to call first to check if it was okay to come over. Sometimes Klara would say that it was okay and sometimes she would ask her MIL to come at a certain time or to come the next day. Instead of feeling resentful, Klara was able to feel genuine appreciation for the time her MIL did spend at their house.

Next week, we’ll look at why saying “no” on its own is not setting a boundary.

Your turn: What boundary requests would benefit you if you made them? Do you have a clear request and a clear consequence/action that you’ll take if the other person violates your boundary? How can you keep the relationship connected while setting a clear boundary?

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Why you aren’t setting boundaries

Discomfort, anyone?

Sometimes people mix up setting boundaries with trying to control other people. We do not create boundaries for other people. We create boundaries to take care of and protect ourselves. 

Boundaries are not:

  • Ways to control or manipulate other people
  • Things you think other people should be doing (e.g. “I want my partner to clean the bathroom,” “I want my friend to call me back when I call her,” I want my kid to clean her room”)

We need to recognize when to use and talk about boundaries. This means having a clear sense of what and where our boundaries are. When we don’t have clear boundaries, people don’t know if they’re violating them or not. 

A visual example is that of a home. If an uninvited person is in the yard of a home that doesn’t belong to them, they are crossing a boundary. If an uninvited person walks through a door or climbs through a window of a home that doesn’t belong to them, they are crossing a boundary. 

When there is a clear boundary violation, such as someone speaking to us in a demeaning way or someone doing something in our home that’s not allowed, we have the boundary conversation.

The conversation includes making a clear request along with stating a clear consequence. The consequence is something that WE will do, an action or behavior that WE will take. 

Here’s an example of a clear boundary: If you smoke a cigarette in my house, I am going to ask you to leave my house. We don’t allow smoking here. This is what I will do if you smoke.

It’s important to remember that the person we’re making the request of can continue to do whatever they would like to do. Human beings can smoke cigarettes if they want. It’s not a boundary violation until they come into our home or our car or our space. 

Notice that when we make the request, “Hey, if you continue to do that…” the consequence is the behavior that we will take. It’s not, “You need to stop smoking or else.” We’re making the request and then explaining what we will do as the consequence of not following that request.

OK, so why don’t we set boundaries? Because sometimes it’s difficult and uncomfortable to make these requests and establish consequences with the people in our lives. 

Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable for us that we avoid making the requests. Or if we do make the requests, we don’t actually follow through on the consequences. Because that’s uncomfortable too–doing what we say we’ll do when someone violates a boundary means potentially risking our relationship with that person, facing their disapproval.

But then what happens when we don’t make these requests or when we don’t follow through on the consequences? People continue to violate our boundaries. 

And we get upset and build up resentments. Usually we’re the only ones feeling this way, because the people who continue to violate our boundaries don’t think there are any consequences for doing so. 

There’s a lot more to say about boundaries and we’ll look into this further next week.

Your turn: Are you recognizing why you might not be setting boundaries that would benefit your life? What would you have to believe in order to make the requests and follow through on the consequences? How can you practice saying what you want to say instead of avoiding setting boundaries with people?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.