E20: Boundaries 201

I Hear You
I Hear You
E20: Boundaries 201

Show Notes

Related Podcast Episode: E8: Boundaries: When to Say Yes and How to Say No
Recommended Book: Boundaries
Related Podcast Episode: E7: Codependecy: Your Happiness Matters Too

Episode Transcript

Forgive typos and odd grammatical mistakes—this was transcribed using the magic of AI, and while it’s insanely awesome, it’s not perfect.

[00:00:00] Welcome to the I Hear You podcast. Today’s episode is a continuation of an earlier episode on the same topic, boundaries. Now, if you haven’t yet listened to that episode, I strongly recommend you pause here and go back and listen to that one first, because today’s discussion builds on concepts from that episode.

[00:00:20] Learning how to effectively set and hold boundaries is probably the single most important skill for living a healthy, happy life. And the reason is simple: boundaries provide healthy rules for navigating relationships; romantic, professional or otherwise. And yet, we live in a society that teaches and glorifies codependency. And again, if you’re not familiar with that topic, go back and listen to that episode.

[00:00:46] We’re taught that in order to be, quote unquote, kind, we have to give up our own needs and desires. Television, business, politics, even religion is filled with examples of poor boundary setting and poor emotional health. There are very few good examples of healthy, centered boundary individuals in this world, and so it’s difficult for a lot of us to understand what emotional health looks like.

[00:01:15] So in today’s episode, we dive deeper into the concept of boundaries and address a number of questions such as the following:.

[00:01:25] How do I know when I need to set a boundary?

[00:01:29] What if I’m setting a boundary with somebody, but the consequence that they have to face also affects me?

[00:01:36] What if I have a hard time enforcing or holding my boundaries? What can I do if my codependent tendencies take over?

[00:01:45] Are there times when it’s appropriate to set boundaries with ourselves?

[00:01:47] What if I don’t have a good explanation for enforcing my boundary? What if the other person keeps finding issues with my reason?

[00:01:58] We’re gonna cover those topics, we’re gonna dive deeper into boundaries in this episode. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Boundaries Recap

[00:02:25] Okay. First off, I think it’s helpful to do a quick recap whether you haven’t yet listened to my first episode or it’s simply been a while. Let’s just quickly go over the basics before we dive into some of this deeper Q&A.

[00:02:39] So boundaries give us a sense of agency over our physical space, our body and our feelings. We all have limits. We all have things that we are and aren’t okay with. Boundaries are what communicate that line to others. So the word boundary, though, can be a bit misleading because it conveys this idea of keeping yourself separate from people. You might think, well, am I just walling myself off, walling off my heart?

[00:03:08] No, that’s not what I’m talking about when I say boundaries. Boundaries are actually connecting points because they provide those healthy rules for navigating our relationships. In fact, quoting from a woman named Melissa Cote’s, she’s a licensed professional counselor. I found this quote, this snipet while doing some research online.

[00:03:28] She says, “boundaries protect relationships from becoming unsafe. In that way, they actually bring us closer together rather than further apart and they are therefore necessary in any relationship.” So I want to reiterate that boundaries bring us closer together rather than further apart, because they protect the relationship. They help protect against abuse in any form, even unintentional. They help protect against resentment.

[00:04:01] We’ve talked a lot on this podcast series about taking responsibility for our own happiness. Boundaries are a way that we recognize, OK, this is what I want. This is what’s important to me. But this is what I’m not OK with. They help us communicate that to the people that we are in a relationship with, which therefore leads to happier, healthier, more connected relationships.

[00:04:24] I absolutely love this insight from psychotherapist Judith Belmont. She points out that it’s important to identify and really hold close the fact that we all have basic rights as a human and some of those rights are: a right to say no without feeling guilty. A right to be treated with respect. A right to make your needs as important as anyone else’s. You have a right to be accepting of your own mistakes and failures. And you have a right to not meet other people’s unreasonable expectations.

[00:05:04] These are critical and these are important to recognize and to believe that you have these rights because these are some of the most often violated by other people and not always intentionally.But it is up to us to stick up for ourselves. It’s up to us to set certain boundaries around these rights, around these needs.

How Do I Know When I Need to Set a Boundary?

[00:05:26] So with that backdrop, a bit of a refresher, a bit of an overview. Let’s dive into some of this Q&A. These are questions that I’ve received from clients, from readers, from listeners looking for further clarification or understanding of boundaries. The first one that I want to address is, OK, how do I know when I need to set a boundary? Well, for one, you need to set a boundary anytime you feel one of those basic rights that we just talked about is being violated.

[00:05:58] If you don’t feel like you’re being respected, if you don’t feel like you are making your needs as important as other people’s, if you’re being codependent. If you’re saying, well, I really don’t want to do that, but I’m going to do it because if I don’t, my sister is going to get angry at me. That’s a sign that you need to put a boundary in place because you’re giving up your needs, you’re giving up your own personal freedom, if you will, in certain instances for someone else. And if you’re doing that and then you’re resenting that person. Ding, ding, ding, that’s a sign that you need to set a boundary. Now, it’s not always easy to remember all these rights or to very clearly articulate what it is that’s going on and go, oh, OK. This right was violated. Therefore, I’m going to set a boundary.

[00:06:46] So the following two shortcuts, quote unquote, might help. If you’re looking for areas where you might need to set boundaries, pay attention to your emotions and pay attention to your body. Now, emotions are probably fairly self-explanatory, and I want to take a moment to remind you here that emotions are neither good nor bad. In fact, emotions that we typically consider bad are actually helpful, at least they can be. Just like how physical pain tells us something is wrong and therefore moves us to address it, emotional pain tells you something is amiss.

[00:07:24] So, you know, pain is great. I remember reading some studies about individuals who, there’s something with their nerves or with their brain where they don’t feel pain, which might sound cool initially, what would life be like to not feel pain? Well, it’s actually not great because these people are at high risk for doing significant damage to themselves. If you just casually arrest your your elbow on a hot stove, most of us feel the pain immediately and we recoil. For people who can’t feel pain, well, they just let it sit there until they smell burning flesh. Now, it’s a much, much more difficult injury to take care of.

[00:08:05] And so pain is good, physical pain is good and emotional pain is good Maybe I should say helpful rather than good because they tell us that something is amiss and it’s almost an invitation to make a change. So if you notice that you are resenting your sister for borrowing your clothes again, chances are good you need to set a boundary. That resentment is a flag that pops up that says, hey, hey, look here, look at the situation. You’re not happy with how this is playing out. You need to do something about it.

[00:08:36] If you’re angry at your spouse for telling their friends about a private conversation you two had between each other, chances are good you need to set a boundary. If you’re feeling embarrassed or hurt because a particular person keeps asking you out but never agrees to take the relationship any further, chances are good you need to set a boundary. And finally, if you notice that you’re feeling discouraged or hopeless every time you hop on social media, for example, perhaps you need to set a boundary with yourself again, that discouragement, that hopeless feeling, that despair, that whatever it is, is a sign that you need to at least look at the situation and decide whether or not you need to make some changes or set some boundaries.

[00:09:19] So, again, look for the following emotions: resentment, anger, sadness, hurt, embarrassment, discouragement, jealousy. All of those are suggestions or signs that you may need to set a boundary with someone.

[00:09:39] Now, the second shortcut that I mentioned is paying attention to your body. And what do I mean by that? Well, our body can help us recognize the need to set a boundary sometimes even before we’re aware of our own emotions. You know, if your jaw tightens every time your aunt asks why you’re still single, maybe you need to set a boundary with her. If your heart rate goes up every time you think about staying at your in-laws, maybe you need to set some boundaries with them. Either, you know, say, look, I love you and we’re not going to spend time with you there, we’re gonna get a hotel. Or maybe away if you do decide to spend some time with them, you set boundaries around what you are and aren’t comfortable talking about.

[00:10:17] Whatever it is for you, you have to figure that out. But oftentimes our own body, our physiological response kicks in and we are aware of that sooner than we are of what our actual emotions are.

[00:10:31] So those are two tips, two shortcuts to identifying areas in your life where you might need to set some boundaries. You might need to have some conversations with people and set forth what your expectations are or what you are and aren’t okay with. And again, respecting like we talked about in the last episode. Respecting their agency, they might decide not to honor that boundary, and that’s fine, you can’t control them. So you explain what you will do if they don’t.

Boundary Setting: What If Their Consequence Affects Me?

[00:11:00] OK. Question number two here. You talk about how the key to setting boundaries is allowing the other person to feel the consequences of their actions. But what if their actions affect me? And to clarify this question, the people who’ve asked me this are generally referring to situations where, you know, when I teach about boundaries, I talk about how you have to let the other person feel a consequence of their own actions or lack of action. So I shared a story from the Boundaries book by Doctor’s Townsend and Cloud about their son who wasn’t taking responsibility for life, and the parents were just taking care of him. They’re picking him up, he dropped out of college so they were going to pay for other things, let him stay at home, so on and so forth. And the key takeaway there was, well, you have to let your son feel the weight of his actions. If you keep taking the problems away, well, then he’s never going to change which works and makes sense in that situation.

[00:11:56] But then undoubtedly you run into some situations where the consequence of their action, if you don’t step in, also affects you. And those are tricky and it’s tricky to answer that question on a podcast here because it’s so situation dependent.

[00:12:12] Nevertheless, I’ll do my best to explore a few scenarios and a few potential ways of addressing these types of situations. To start off, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you and your spouse agree to meet up with friends for dinner. You agree on a time, you check with your spouse a week in advance, they say, yep, I’m good with that. And then maybe you check in again a couple of hours before and remind them, because it’s very important to you to be on time.

[00:12:41] Now, let’s say that your spouse acknowledges it and they agree again to be ready at that time. So it’s very clear, right? There’s no question of expectations that weren’t communicated here. Then, when the time comes, you’re ready. But they’re not. Now, you could drive separately and still be on time, but that might not be a great solution here because you still can’t really start dinner without your spouse anyway, so you wait for them. You end up arriving 15-20 minutes late. Now you both suffer the consequences of your spouse’s irresponsibility, right?

[00:13:13] You might be embarrassed. Certainly it is disrespectful to make your friends wait for 20 minutes. That is tough here because you were ready. But you also don’t want to throw your spouse under the bus in front of them, it’s not good for your relationship to say, well, I would have been on time, but he or she made me late. Depending on how you do it, you could probably do that if you’re joking or whatnot, if you have that kind of relationship with your spouse. Generally, though, that is going to come across as passive aggressive and I really don’t like those kind of jabs, really with anybody if you can avoid it. And it just doesn’t look good in front of your friends either.

[00:13:49] So what do you do in a situation like this? Many of us would probably just brush it off, right? We’d probably just resent our spouse and be frustrated, but we probably wouldn’t say anything or if we did, it would be in a passive aggressive way. I don’t like that. In instances like these, I recommend having a candid conversation with your partner, for example, tell them how their actions affected you and what you would like them to do to clean it up. So that that might look like this, you might say, “hey, I’m pretty frustrated and embarrassed, frankly, that we’re so late tonight, I reminded you a couple of hours ago so this wouldn’t happen, yet I feel like you didn’t make it a priority. I don’t want to throw you under the bus with my friends. And it’s important to me that they know that I’m dependable. Would you be willing to let them know that our being late was because you didn’t plan well?”

[00:14:41] Now, some of you are probably going, “Woah, I can’t say that. How rude. That’s so demanding.” And, you know, if you go there, that’s fine. But I’ll ask you this, which is kinder being frank with them and setting forth an expectation of a clear path forward toward cleaning that up? Or resenting them for the whole evening? That might look like five minutes of discomfort, having an admittedly uncomfortable conversation, calling them out and asking them, telling them what you would like them to do to repair that. Or five hours of discomfort with them knowing that you’re angry at them, but not being able to do anything about it, right. They say, hey, I’m sorry can we talk about it, you say it’s fine. Whatever. Don’t worry about it. But you don’t mean that because you are angry.

[00:15:34] So that’s why I generally advocate having a conversation. It doesn’t have to be big and scary, but telling them how their actions are affecting you and then telling them what you would like them to do to clean it up. And obviously, we can keep going further down this path. You know, if this is a habit and they keep doing it, it may be time to have a more formal conversation about and say, “hey, this is really frustrating to me. You know, we both look irresponsible, we both look disrespectful and we keep showing up late. Can you help me understand why? Is there anything more I can do to help us get out the door on time? I strive to be ready and I feel like consistently, you’re not. What can we do?”

[00:16:13] Now, again, if you have listened to some of my previous episodes on language and such empowering language, there’s a lot of this “I feel like” or, “this is how this affected me” or, “this is my perception there.” It’s not just launching in and saying, “you’re always late, you’re never on time. You always drag your feet!” That’s just inviting a huge argument. So as much as possible, choosing your words carefully here. Using and instead of but, using relative phrases rather than absolutes, so on and so forth, those all help with having this conversation.

[00:16:45] But I digress. Back to the topic, back to the question. That’s one instance where, when their lack of responsibility affects you, you can work through that boundary and you can set some expectations there.

[00:16:59] Now let’s look at a second example, let’s say that your partner doesn’t make your mortgage payments on time. Sure, again, it affects them, but it also affects you and the children if you have children. If you guys suddenly don’t have a house. That’s not one of the things where you can say, “well, if you don’t want to pay it. That’s fine. I’m not going to bail you out, but you’re gonna be homeless.” Because it’s not just that person, it’s we’re going to be homeless.. So you’ve got to make these payments on time.

[00:17:28] So to answer this question in this particular situation, it can it depends on the reason why your partner is not making the payments. This one definitely needs a conversation to understand why they’re not making them on time. Is this poor planning? Do they truly just forget? Because if so, is that a responsibility you’re willing to take on? If not, that’s fine. But then you need to figure out what you are willing to do, and what I mean by that is, if you feel this is absolutely their responsibility and they’re not willing to do it, can you get okay with that?

[00:18:03] Because if not, you don’t get to stick around in a relationship and resent the other person for your whole life. Something needs to change either in your relationship or in your own actions and thinking. Or you might need to think about leaving that relationship, speaking frankly.

[00:18:03] Now, if their reason for not paying is that you as a couple do not have money, then you have to dig a little deeper. Is it because one or both of you aren’t being wise with your money? If so, there’s probably a need for boundaries around money at a deeper level, right? Or maybe you consider downsizing. So there are a hundred different ways this could go, but there will always be an opportunity to dig a little deeper, to find a root cause or a root behavior that you can discuss and set boundaries around.

[00:18:50] So, no, you can’t say, “well, if you don’t pay the mortgage, then I’m just going to go hands off and too bad we all don’t have a home anymore.” You can’t go that far because that ultimately then requires that you do separate. You say, “well, if we lose our house because you aren’t planning well, then I am going to get my own apartment.” You know, and that’s pretty extreme. I think most of you listening are probably not to the point where you’re truly ready to separate from your spouse. Nevertheless, I am addressing this because this is a specific scenario somebody posed and I do think it’s helpful to explore these types of situations.

[00:19:23] So to sum up what I’m talking about here. My recommendation in these instances is to dig a little deeper, look for the root cause, look for the root behaviors that you can set boundaries around and set those boundaries. I’ll add one final thought to this particular question here, again, in the spirit of not not making such heavy decisions here. Maybe the mortgage and possibility of leaving your spouse is too much here, doesn’t relate.

[00:19:51] What if it’s something small but still terribly annoying? What if I feel like I can’t count on my spouse to remember the little things? You know, maybe every time you ask them to do something, you’re only 50% confident that they’ll actually do it. That’s frustrating, no way around that.

[00:20:08] And again, this warrants a conversation. Saying something like, “Listen. I’m feeling frustrated because I feel like I can’t count on you to remember the things you agreed to. Forgetting to pick up the bread on your way home is just the latest example and it feels like a habit. Can you help me understand why you so often forget things like that?”

[00:20:26] Again, it’s simple and it’s direct and it’s still kind. And it invites broader discussion. Now, I recommend starting with that. However, there are going to be situations where it may not really be worth the stress and effort of holding somebody accountable all the time. If your spouse consistently forgets to bring home the bread and you really want bread, maybe you just change who’s responsibility is to bring home the bread.

[00:20:54] There are times where it just makes sense to play to this other person’s strengths and work around their weaknesses rather than constantly exerting all of this emotional energy to keep them accountable.

[00:21:06] So, maybe you hate preparing dinner for the family. Maybe your spouse can’t seem to figure out how to properly manage the family finances. But if you swap those responsibilities, suddenly everything functions smoothly, then make that swap. Find a way to play to each other’s strengths. And there are gonna be certain times when that’s just easier than having these somewhat difficult, confrontational conversations.

[00:21:30] So to wrap all of this stuff up here, what do I do when someone’s lack of responsibility affects me? I’ll boil it down to 3 things. First, really dig into the situation and see if there are more specific elements that you can set boundaries around.

[00:21:46] Second, invite the other person to clean it up. Clear your name, pay the late fee, figure out some way to make it not affect you.

[00:21:56] And third, in the case of tasks and responsibilities, consider what you’re asking them to do and see if it isn’t something you yourself are genuinely willing to take on. Just so you know, it’s taken care of. And if so, go ahead and take it on, go ahead and make the switch.

[00:22:12] Those three things I find will address the majority of situations where setting a boundary isn’t as black and white as just saying, “well, you drop responsibility, you’re going to have to suffer for it. I’m not going to come and rescue you.” When it gets a little trickier, these  3 tips, these bits of direction generally will help you figure out what the best step is.

[00:22:33] OK. That was a lot. That was a long question. It was a bit of a sticky question and a long, sticky answer, but I hope that made sense. Hope you followed at least well enough. Let’s move on to another question.

Enforcing Boundaries & Battling Codependecy

[00:22:47] A few people ask me, I have a hard time enforcing or holding my boundaries. What can I do if my codependency takes over? This one, thankfully, is a shorter, simpler answer than the last.

[00:23:01] My first recommendation, whenever possible, is to simply take some time to step away, and I’ll illustrate this with an example from one of my clients, shared with permission, of course. This particular individual was setting up a trip to go out and visit her parents across the United States. She wasn’t there just to visit her parents, she was there to visit a friend, I believe, and a few other people. But of course, she wanted to see her parents while she was out there. Now, from what I understand, she typically, at least in years past, has stayed at her parents. And of course, they love that. You know, they really enjoy seeing their daughter. They love catching up. And it’s an open door policy, from what I understand. This particular trip, though, she didn’t want to stay with them. And she was understandably a little nervous telling them that, because she expected or feared that they would take it personally, perhaps. That they’d have questions, they’d say, what? Oh, no. Come on. You have to stay with us. Why won’t you stay with us?

[00:23:57] And yet when she looked inside herself and was being honest with herself,she didn’t want to. Didn’t mean she didn’t love her parents, it just meant that she’s a grown woman and she wanted her own space or whatever the reason was, she didn’t want to stay with them.

[00:24:11] So, she called them up and she explained hey, I’m coming out there. And sure enough, they were confused and perhaps a little hurt that she wasn’t staying with them. And from what I understood, they were trying to pressure her a little bit, or at least try to convince her no, no you should really stay here. And she said that she felt herself slipping, she started slipping into that codependent tendency and was tempted to say, OK, fine, I’ll do it.

[00:24:37] But to her credit, she caught herself and she said, well, you know what? Give me a little bit time, let me just look at a few things and I’ll get back to you. That is a powerful little tool there. If you have a hard time holding to your boundaries or enforcing your boundaries, step away from the heat of the moment.

[00:25:00] If you have a tendency to cave the moment anybody gets upset or feels hurt or pressures you, you don’t have to answer in that moment. And 90% of the situations that you’re going to run into, you don’t have to give somebody an immediate answer. Sometimes you can take a day, other times you might only even be able to take 60 seconds. But just breaking from that high pressure situation helps you get your mind back from the fight or flight mode or back from this high pressure feeling, codependent tendency and get back to your more rational thinking. And go, no, hold on here. I set this boundary because X, Y and Z reason that does matter to me. It still matters to me. So, no, I’m not going to cave.

[00:25:45] And then it gives you some time to formulate how you’re going to say that in a way that’s still respectful. Figure out the wording, figure out the verbiage. I do this often, because it’s difficult. My wife and I often talk about, Gee, I wish we could just respond perfectly in the moment. You know, somebody violates a boundary, somebody comes up and is just disrespectful to us. We both wish that we just had the presence of mind and the wit to just immediately fire back with a level headed very boundaried, very powerful response.

[00:26:17] And yet the reality is that it just doesn’t come to our minds that quickly. And yet when we can break away for a minute or two or a day and then come back, we’re able to have that same response and still stick up for ourselves, still hold our boundaries.

[00:26:30] So if you find yourself struggling with this, my first tip, my first recommendation is to just say, you know, can I get right back to you on that? Or, you know, if they’re pressuring you saying, no, no, really, you’ve got to do this.. Then say, OK, I’ll get right back to you.

[00:26:45] And going back to my client situation, she did that. She went back and she held her boundary. She was able to make a few compromises where she genuinely felt good doing so. And thankfully, her parents respected it. They said, OK, you know what? That’s great. We’re excited to see you, we’re excited to have you.

[00:27:04] And that was big for her to get that win and also to get that practice setting boundaries with some of the most difficult relationships, which are your family, your family of origin.

Setting Boundaries With Yourself

[00:27:16] OK. Question number 4 here. This is another somewhat simple one. Are there times when it’s appropriate to set boundaries with ourselves or necessary to set boundaries with ourselves?

[00:27:28] Now, many of you are probably thinking, well, sure, yeah duh. But what it does look like? Well, I mentioned earlier on in the episode, social media. And one of those examples of when to know when you need to set a boundary is if you notice a certain negative emotion.

[00:27:44] There’s no secret that social media can cause or make worse depression or feelings of disappointment in our own life because we compare ourselves, right? That that was an earlier episode that we’ve talked about as well. We compare ourselves to other people and suddenly we feel bad about our life or bad about ourselves. So, again, if you notice a habit here that every time you hop on social media, you come away feeling bad about yourself, that’s a sign to set a boundary there.

[00:28:13] And you don’t have to tell anyone about it if you don’t want to. But you might set a boundary with yourself and say, OK, I’m going to allow myself five minutes of social media twice a day, you know, or whatever it is. For you it might be, you know what? I have a boundary around social media, I just don’t use it. I just don’t check it. Or, I just don’t post anything. You know, I’ll check it, but I won’t post.

[00:28:32] Whatever it is for you, you absolutely need to set certain personal boundaries in your life again around your own happiness. Another situation where this might make sense is around work, you know, and that’s pretty stereotypical from the earliest of time, people have struggled with work, you know, constantly working, whether it’s just because they feel like they’re always behind or because they’re straight up addicted to work. Absolutely we need to set boundaries around our work. So just because you might have a spouse that says, you can work from 9-9, I don’t really care. Doesn’t mean you should, doesn’t mean that’s healthy. Not healthy physically, not emotionally and not for your relationship either, so you might decide to set a boundary with yourself and say, I will leave work every day at 6 p.m. Period. No matter what.

[00:29:26] If I have to make an exception, then I will first call my spouse ahead of time and let them know. So, yes, there are absolutely areas where it’s appropriate to set boundaries with ourselves and I strongly recommend you get in the habit of doing so.

“No” Is a Complete Sentence

[00:29:40] All right, one final question for today’s episode. And that’s this: What if I don’t have a good explanation for enforcing my boundary? What if the person keeps finding issues with my justification. I set a boundary, I told them why, and they don’t think it’s good enough for they don’t feel like it’s justified. How do I keep fighting? I ultimately give in, what do I do?

[00:30:04] Well, again, this one is simple in principle, difficult in practice. And the answer is, you don’t need to offer an explanation to anyone, especially if you’ve already explained why you set the boundary in the first place. Because “no” is a complete sentence. If someone asks for your number or to dance, you can absolutely just say no. If a coworker asks you to cover their shift, you can also just say no without offering any excuse.

[00:30:35] And this is a good habit to get into because I myself struggle with it. The danger of always needing to offer an excuse is that quite often, we end up lying or telling a half truth because somebody says, “Hey, can you cover my shift on Saturday?” And you go, “crap. I don’t have anything going on Saturday, but I don’t want to cover their shift.” So, we try to make up some reason why we can’t do it. We just don’t have to do that. You can say, “no, sorry, I’m not not going to be able to.” Or, you can just say “no, sorry.”

[00:31:11] Now, when I said that, did some of you get a little uncomfortable? Oh, gosh, that’s awkward, don’t know if I could do that. Well, you’re not alone. Frankly, it feels uncomfortable to me even saying it here, I’m not even saying it to a person’s face.

[00:31:24] To take a little excerpt from another another marriage therapist, Steven Raines, he shared an online article that, quote, “Sometimes assertiveness isn’t needed for boundary setting, as much as personal tolerance for being uncomfortable.” In other words, sometimes it’s not about finding just the right way to say something. Sometimes it’s not about, you know, having the boldness to stand up to somebody that’s required, as much as it is just getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:31:54] And so in that particular situation of anybody who challenges your boundary and you just say, “no. I won’t take your shift. Sorry.” You don’t even have to throw sorry in there, but we’ll do it just for sake. That’s difficult. And yet with practice, it gets a little easier each and every time.

[00:32:16] And that’s the surest way to hold a boundary, just say no. There’s no argument, they can’t say, well, this, well that. And if they ask why? Just say, “no, I don’t want to. I’m not comfortable with that. I told you I wouldn’t.” Whatever it is, you can dial up the intensity for the situation, that’s going to be uncomfortable. And the more comfortable we get, the more we’re willing to tolerate that I suppose, the stronger our boundary setting and the stronger our emotional health will be.


[00:32:45] OK. That’s where we’re gonna end things here for sake of time today. Obviously, we could go on forever and anytime I talk about boundaries, I can’t not mention the book titled Boundaries by Doctor’s Cloud and Townsend because it’s just fantastic and it goes much deeper into all of this.

[00:33:00] And so if you still have questions, this is certainly not a comprehensive answer to all these different questions, all these different situations. Definitely. Check out that book. I’m including a link to it in the show notes on my Website, michaelssorensen.com and you can learn more about boundary setting there.

[00:33:17] Now, before we wrap up today, I want to end with three final thoughts on the topic. The first is, if this is new to you, if you are, quote unquote, recovering from codependency, give yourself permission to be messy. And consider even talking to your spouse or family about it so that they know what’s happening.

[00:33:37] The reason I recommend this and I recommend this to all of my clients who are working on healing from codependent tendencies, is because you are going to be messy with it. Especially if you’re an adult, a full grown adult, everybody around you has history with you that frankly says he or she won’t stick up for themselves. They will do whatever I ask. Or they will always be there. And when we suddenly start saying no or start sticking up for ourselves.. A, that’s gonna surprise them because they’re not used to that. But B, we will likely overcorrect in certain instances.

[00:34:14] You know, it’s like little children learning to say no. Once the kids learn the power of no. Oh, they are powerful. They say no to everything, right? No, no, no. Doesn’t even matter if it’s something they want to do. They’ll probably say no first because they’re learning how to set boundaries. And we laugh at it, sometimes we cry, sometimes we want to strangle the poor little kids because it’s so frustrating.

[00:34:37] And yet it’s critical for our development as children. And again, in that book, the Boundaries Book, Doctor’s Cloud and Townsend, talk about how if we’re not allowed to say no as a child and delineate between what is ours and others, or if we don’t feel like our boundaries were respected as a child, you know, whether through parents who simply didn’t know better, through bullies, through any form of abuse, it can take a lot of time to re-learn that.

[00:35:06] So you will be messy as you’re learning how to set boundaries. And so if you are in a relationship and if you’re wanting to get better at it, I do recommend talking to your spouse about and saying, hey, you know, I’ve been working on this, I haven’t been very good at it. And yet I want to get better at setting boundaries. So I’m going to be practicing it and I’m going to do my best to be respectful. And if sometimes I overcorrect or I overstep my bounds, you know, I hope that you’ll have some patience with me and I hope that you’ll kindly let me know.

[00:35:35] That’s very helpful I find in the people that I work with and the people that I’ve seen personally who have been working on their boundary issues, because we all struggle with it to some degree or another, at least most of us, I should say. And yet it’s absolutely something we can learn and we can retrain.

[00:35:51] Next, I want to put a little plug in here for always being certain to respect other people’s boundaries. Everything we’ve talked about here has been about us setting our own boundaries. Of course it should go without saying but I’m going to say it anyway to be safe. You also have to be cognizant of other people’s boundaries, especially if you’re learning to set your own and you’re out there, you’re setting boundaries with everybody.

[00:36:13] If somebody else sets a boundary with you, please respect it. And as in every situation, if you feel like that certain boundary is unfair or it crosses over into your territory, you have a conversation around it, you discuss it.

[00:36:28] Then the final thing I’ll say here is, thank people who do respect your boundaries. Even and especially those who are closest to you. So if you’ve talked with your spouse or your partner or your sibling or your parents about how you’re working on this and you know you’re going to be a little messy with you have been messy, but you recognize that they’re respecting that, they’re giving you space. There’s a lot of power in thanking them, acknowledging that, validating how it can be difficult sometimes.

[00:36:58] And that helps you obviously feel better and helps them feel better. You know, that gratitude, that appreciation is powerful in any relationship, regardless of what it’s about. What, it also does here, though, is it reinforces their willingness to respect your boundaries and it assures them that you’re doing it not out of spite and not because you’re just solely looking out for yourself. It reiterates the fact that you are learning to set boundaries because you want to be a healthy individual and you want to have healthy, loving relationships.

[00:37:29] And that goes a long way that I find again in my experience, it gives you a little bit of a wider sandbox to play in, so to speak. You have a little bit more play there as you’re learning how to navigate life with these emotional health tools.

[00:37:48] That was a lot. I hope you found it helpful, I hope at least some of the questions that other people have asked and my answers have given you a little bit of direction. Like every thing, it’s so situation dependent. But if other questions or situations have come up while you’re listening that I didn’t address, please reach out to me. Shoot me an email, contact me via my website or via my social media channels. I would love to hear from you.

[00:38:12] And while I might not record another podcast episode on this topic for a while, I will certainly do my best to point you in directions of other resources or address it on a future article on my blog.

[00:38:23] So with that, we wrap up. As always.,I want to thank each of you who have taken a few moments to leave a review or a rating on the podcast. If you haven’t done that, I invite you to do so. That really does encourage me and it helps other people find the show as well. Thank you again for listening and I will talk to you next week.

Photo by Martin Olsen on Unsplash.

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