Setting Boundaries

One repeating theme over the last few weeks, for clients, friends and myself, was setting boundaries. The Universe has an interesting sense of humour at times. Whenever you think you have learned or mastered something, it will bring a new challenge or a new trigger to test you.

Relationships, especially those with our extended family, challenge us in different ways. When a relationship is abusive and/or life threatening we need to cut the cords completely. In all other relationships, we need to set clear boundaries. Regular unpleasant or upsetting interactions show up for us to learn something. We cannot change others, but we can always change ourselves. Let’s examine what lessons show up. How are you or others getting affected by these unhealthy interactions? How are misunderstandings, hurt or pain created? What boundaries need to be set for the interactions to become healthy?

  1. Take a close look in the mirror. Every relationship is a dance between two people and we have to honestly decide what missteps we have made and what part we are playing for the situation to be the way it is. We have to take responsibility and own our half of the situation or nothing can change. Have we invited the other person to overstep boundaries? Then we need to change our own behaviour.
  1. Forgive yourself and others. Life is short and can be over from one day to the next. What upsets us now won’t make a difference in a few weeks, months or years. The things we hold on to that upset, irritate and annoy us create toxins in our bodies, our relationships, our family, our community, and our world.
  1. Examine whether the existing boundaries are healthy and work for you, and then clearly set or re-set boundaries.

Boundaries - Featured Image

Having clear boundaries has almost become a catch phrase. What does that even mean? Who do we ultimately set boundaries for and why are boundaries healthy? Maybe a couple of examples will help.

A client of mine has a father who has an alcohol problem which he hasn’t faced. He goes from drama to drama, from accident to accident. She has been clear with him about what she has noticed, how she feels and what she is not willing to put up with. She has provided him with resources to get help. He is not ready to do anything to get help at this point.

Setting boundaries meant to tell him not to call her or show up when he is drunk. He has regular accidents and is frequently admitted to the hospital for an injury caused by falling. In the hospital, he has the chance to ask for help with his drinking problem but so far he hasn’t. Setting boundaries for my client means to not rush to the hospital but to trust her father to make his own choices.

Is that easy? It usually isn’t easy because a part of us still hopes for our loved ones to change. Does not rushing to him for help mean she doesn’t love her father? Not at all. Sometimes we need to love people from a distance or by setting and maintaining clear boundaries. What it means is that she loves herself! She makes her own feelings and the needs of her own core family first priority. We can still be compassionate and loving but at the same time very clear which lines we will not allow others to cross.

Boundaries-Brene Brown quote

One of my clients had to set boundaries with her mother. The mother gossips about one daughter with the other. One day, she forms an alliance with one daughter until something occurs that triggers her fears, then she turns to the other daughter and forms an alliance with the other. Those family dynamics have destroyed the friendship between the sisters and have created mistrust between all three women.

My mother used to do the same for the longest time. She would call me to complain about my sister’s kids and praise my children instead and visa versa. There is a part in us which feels flattered to be the chosen confidant and the one to hear what a good mother we are. However, how much does that truly mean if the wind can turn at any time and suddenly blow from another direction? The inability of our relatives to love themselves and others unconditionally causes us a lot of hurt. It creates competition instead of true unity.

My client gently but firmly had to tell her mother that she is sorry that she feels disappointed by her sister. She also had to tell her that she needs to talk to the sister herself. She had to clearly refuse gossiping. The mother desperately looks for an ally each time she feels unloved, rejected and disrespected. We can be compassionate with a relative who does this but need to set clear boundaries out of self-love.

I should have set clear boundaries with my own mother much earlier. It would have saved my sister and me years of unnecessary competition and grief. When I finally set boundaries with my mother, did that mean I didn’t love her? Not at all. I did and still do love my mother dearly. I also love myself and choose to live—most of the time, unless I forget—in a space beyond right and wrong, beyond judging others and myself. If somebody wants to complain about being a victim and wants to gossip because another person has triggered their inner feeling of unlove-ability, make a clear choice of not connecting in that way.

Boundaries-quote no

Who needs us to set clear boundaries? Our own Inner Child, the vulnerable part inside us, needs to feel loved, safe, protected and respected. Not setting boundaries is internal child abuse. By allowing others to cross our boundaries, we are telling our inner child “you are not worthy of your feelings being addressed and your needs being met”. We are not treating ourselves with love and respect.

Setting boundaries means to not allow others to pull us into drama or discord. It means speaking up when somebody sticks their nose into what is not their business and not allowing them to destroy our other relationships. Parents do not need to know any intimate details of their children’s relationships, just as children don’t need to be told any intimate, private or embarrassing details of their parent’s relationship. Those are blurry boundaries. They destroy respect and invite meddling. Talking behind somebody’s back about them is also a blurry boundary. Admittedly, we might all forget this at times but unless we are able to only say nice things, it is better to not talk about others when they are not present.

We need to clearly and lovingly let the other person know where our comfort level is and what feels good and loving and what doesn’t. Communication is the problem of the communicator, not the person communicated to. If the conversation doesn’t go well and we are not understood the way we intended, it is due to how we communicate with the other person. It is our responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible.

The only thing to do when we are struggling to be understood is to focus on a non-violent, clear, authentic communication while having clear boundaries. Check in with your inner child about what feels respectful and meets her/his needs. Express your feelings without blaming anyone. Nobody makes you feel a certain way. It also doesn’t matter who did what. All that matters is to acknowledge each other’s feelings and to take responsibility for one’s words and actions. Setting boundaries is not about rehashing the past but about changing the interactions in the present and in the future.

The more we set boundaries and stand-up for our inner child, the more we connect with what we truly feel and need. Every time you make a clear decision to set or maintain a boundary, it is another piece on the journey to true unconditional self-love.

Angelika

Life Coaching and Belief Changes
905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Authenticity Barometer

AUTHENTICITY quote 1

Ever so often, I need an honest sounding board. For me that sounding board is three hours time difference and only a phone call away.

My best friend—who I grew up with and whom I feel closer to than to my own two sisters—can always be counted on as a barometer for how I am doing. We talk about being parents, being relationship partners, about our families—close and extended, about new experiences and challenges, but most of all about who we truly are.

Claudia is what I call my “authenticity barometer”. She truly loves and respects herself, and I admire her for how she navigates life. When I am at a crossroad and about to make an important decision, I often ask myself, what would she do or say? That does not necessarily mean I make the same decision that my best friend would make, but it always means I am making my own choice with more awareness.

AUTHENTICITY quote 2

My soul sister and I have learned from each other’s errors and from each other’s successes. We are encouraging and non-judgmental with each other, while at the same time we do not let each other get away with less than what we feel the other person is capable of. We don’t coddle each other or lie to save each other’s feelings. The measure is always authenticity. The one person who will honestly tell me if I am behaving in line with what I claim my life philosophy to be, is Claudia.

About thirteen years ago, she was brutally honest with me and let me know in not unclear terms that I was not showing up to my full potential in terms of honesty and the values I claimed I had. She could have just turned away from me without telling me why I was hard to be around at that time, and done the “polite thing” by letting the friendship slowly and quietly die. Instead, she spoke her truth and expressed honestly what she saw. It took me a while to digest what she had noticed but because it came from her, I knew it was worth considering. I am still grateful to her today, for pointing out how and where I had lost myself.

Speaking your truth is different from being opinionated and feeling you know what is right. Speaking your truth is a subjective I message: “I see, I feel, I believe and I need…” It is up to the person I am being straight with to accept or reject what I am saying. There is no absolute truth, no absolute right or wrong. There is just what works for me, or doesn’t work for me.

AUTHENTICITY quote 3 Guber

Being authentic also means refusing to fit into moulds of what is done, in lieu of finding your own way. Claudia always encourages me to take the harder path, the path of being in integrity with myself, which lately has required setting clear boundaries with people I love.

Sometimes we can lose ourselves in the name of love for others. Our children and partners bring out our shadows. They constantly challenge us to love ourselves as much as we love them. Living life in line with who you are means checking back in every so often to decide if a clear “no” is in order and if the lines have become blurry. Is it time to say to someone we care about, “Sorry, honey, no. That does not work for me.”?

One of the things Claudia always reminds me of through her own example is that our relationships do not have to be lived according to what society deems to be the norm. Sometimes we decide to just live how married people do, or to do what so called “good parents” do, or to behave how “good children” are expected to behave because it feels safe. We forget that it is completely up to the two people involved in a relationship to decide how they want to design their personal commitment or their personal relationship. The only relevant question is, “what feels right to both parties?” And if guilt clouds your judgment, know that shame and guilt are the lowest frequencies and biggest blocks to truly being happy. Clear them out!

AUTHENTICITY quote 4 (Brene Brown)

We all have heard of grieving the loss of another person. Do not underestimate how deep the grief goes when you lose yourself, the true voice of your soul. Ultimately, choosing to not be true to yourself comes from a place of deep fear of being unlovable. That feeling of fear, unworthiness and shame is the breading ground for depression, food, alcohol or drug addictions, and for many physical symptoms and disorders.

How does one avoid losing oneself? What if you decided to not do things for others because you owe them but because you truly want to, because it fills you with joy? What if you reminded yourself that being lovable is not tied to conditions? Most of us still find it hard to believe that we will be loved unconditionally, independent of what we do or don’t do. And then ask again—free of guilt and obligations, free of the worry not to be loved—what feels right to you deep down?

Shed the idea that your decisions need to be popular with others! If it is a deciding criterion whether others will like your choice, you sure aren’t making that choice from your own inner voice. Sometimes one has to risk being called “a bitch” or “selfish” in order to be true to one’s own needs and values. To truly be authentic and at the same time to do what other people approve of is nearly impossible. The fastest way to come to a place of being true to yourself is to let go of the need for outside approval.

Sometimes we have to risk hurting someone’s feelings in order to be true to ourselves and our own needs. That doesn’t mean you have to be cruel or insensitive. We can come from a loving or compassionate place when we let others know how we feel. After all, love and compassion goes two ways. In order to be truly loving with others, we cannot come from a place of hidden resentment because we have been ignoring our own needs.

Being authentic has no agenda of manipulating or changing others. The motivation for authenticity is being happy with yourself and being truly healthy. Authenticity is detached from the response of others. Being authentic is loving yourself unconditionally and continuously, no matter what. Ultimately, we cannot change anybody. By living in line with our own inner voice, however, we can be an encouragement for others to try the same.

 

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Angelika wide picture for blogs smaller

Life and Relationship Coaching

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Who is taking you for granted?

An interesting challenge has come my way lately. A client who—despite the 24 hour cancellation policy I have in place—took advantage of me and my time by repeatedly cancelling last minute.

Eventually, I could not avoid facing the issue any longer. She was clearly mirroring for me that I was not valuing my own time and my services enough by letting this slide more than once. The more often I let it slide, the more she took me for granted.

I had to overcome that part of me that wanted to be the “understanding spiritual coach,” sympathetic to the plights of a fellow mother, to set clear boundaries. My shadow counterpart to this understanding part was the one that wanted to accept no excuses. Apparently, I denied that part too long so that the two were not in harmony. From now on I will not deny that shadow aspect any longer and I will stand up for myself earlier.

However, what else was she mirroring for me?

How about taking advantage of others? Yes, I have to admit a couple of people come to mind that I am taking for granted. My best friend, for one, who over the years has given me so much more than I can ever give to him in return. I have become used to the fact that he is always around to ask for advice or practical help. He gets to hear thank you and an occasional invitation or present but on the whole, the give and take is unbalanced and often I have taken his existence and help for granted, counting on him to always be there for me.

Then there is my oldest daughter. I take her and her help for granted as well. She is my computer expert, my proof-reader, and in general the practical go-to person in our house. I have become so used to her always doing these things for me that I need to shift into a place of more thankfulness and let her know more often how much I appreciate everything she does! When I have a deadline to meet or a problem, she often re-arranges her schedule for me. I need to honour her time and work more as well.

And what about interacting with other professionals and cancelling last minute? Until I became self-employed, it did not occur to me that the person providing a service to me is losing income if I don’t come for an appointment and they cannot fill the time slot last-minute. So, yes, I have done that. Thankfully one therapist colleague of mine spoke up one day, enforcing her cancellation policy, and I realized how unfair that was—not just towards her but also towards the person who could have seen her in my missed time slot.

What about filling my week too full with appointments and then having to cancel some like this client did? Yes, I do that, too! She was clearly mirroring not only honouring my own time and services more, and appreciating other people in my life more, but also how I handle my schedule. 

All these learnings are a great gift and I very much thank this client for bringing them to my awareness to integrate them more into my psyche for my own growth.

 

For information on the Shadow Energetics Workshop coming up next weekend (May 10-13, 2013) go to calendar.