Boundaries

Detach From The Approval Of Others

If you want to be truly free, you must let go of any attachment you have to how others respond to you. What?! Yes! If you do things in order to receive accolades, approval or acceptance, you are setting yourself up for an unhealthy bondage. You will never please others all the time. Your opinions and theirs don’t always match up. Your execution might not be what someone out there was thinking it should be. If other’s approval is your goal, you are doomed.

I’m not saying just go about your life doing whatever the hell you want without regard for how you might be affecting people around you. That’s called selfishness and I am not talking about that. I am talking about the part inside of us that is crushed when we don’t get any likes on our Facebook post, the part that gets gloomy because no one noticed the trendy outfit we’re wearing or our manicured lawn.

Many of us are motivated to do something so others will notice and that is misplaced motivation. It’s extrinsic. Healthy motivation comes from within. Sure, it feels good when others give us a compliment but that cannot be our marker for our achievement.

Set goals for yourself because it will feel good to you to achieve them. Wear the outfit because you feel awesome in it. Care for your lawn because that’s how you like it. When you notice you are doing something for the stamp of approval from others, stop. Pause for a moment. Recognize what you are doing. Remind yourself you are putting your sense of accomplishment into the hands of others. That is a place it was never meant to be. Take it back.

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

When Boundaries Hurt

I’m an advocate of boundaries. Through boundaries we define who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, what we find acceptable and what we don’t. It’s important to know who you are. It’s equally important to remember we are responsible for ourselves and responsible to treat others with kindness. We must allow others to have the views they have. If you demand other people adopt your views, you’re trying to take away their boundary.

It’s fine to disagree with people. We live in a country where we actually have that right. Here are some phrases that might help with speaking your view while honoring another’s right to hold a different opinion:

  • “That is how you see it. My view is…”
  • “I understand you have a different opinion. My opinion is…”
  • “That’s your perspective. My perspective is…”

Notice there are no “buts.” When you speak your opinion avoid using any blaming, shaming or criticizing words.

I’ve noticed, not just in the last few days but for quite some time, how vitriolic people have gotten in their disagreements. Professionals and leaders sound like mean-spirited children. Telling people their opinion is stupid is not only unkind, it does nothing to bring people to a place of seeking to understand where each side is coming from. Pick any debate right now, there are many, and look at the way people on opposite sides speak to each other.

I am a marriage coach. I help couples who are in crisis learn new ways of communicating with one another to help bridge the chasm versus pushing one another farther apart. As I look at the dialogue going on in the news and on social media, I keep thinking, “If you all would get some training on effective communication strategies and do some work healing the wounds of your past that show up today as venomous hate, the country would be a much better place.”  You might not agree with me. That’s ok. You get to have your view and I get to have mine. 🙂

Categories: Boundaries, Growth, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

How To Be Happier

Categories: Acceptance, Boundaries, co-dependency, Depression, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, self care, Self-Help | 2 Comments

Grow Up Your Relational Skills

If you are like most of us, you have unhealthy relational skills. You learned them when you were little. You learned by observing others and maybe got some instruction from your parents and care givers; however, most of what you learned or figured out isn’t healthy. Think about the time your friend or spouse wouldn’t give you something you wanted. You were hurt by them, you shut down and stopped talking to them. This is the adult version of, “Fine! You can’t come to my Birthday party.” It may look different and sound different, but it’s still a five year old’s response to being disappointed or hurt by a friend.

Some things we learned are ultra damaging to ourselves and others. We may have learned to make everyone around us happy. We may have learned it’s our fault when they aren’t. As an adult you are now in relationships where you believe you can’t stand up for yourself or draw healthy boundaries because those actions will be mean to the other person. This belief is not accurate nor is it conducive to healthy relationships.

Take a look at how you function in relationships. If you’re honest, chances are you will see yourself taking some young and unhealthy actions. Get involved in a relationship skills class, read books on the subject or get help from a counselor. Life is too short to stumble along using immature skills in the most important part of life, relationships!

My favorite authors on healthy relationship skills are Drs John Townsend and Henry Cloud. They have a multitude of books, videos and workshops to help you grow up 🙂

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Parent-wounds, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

We Always Have Control

Our lives are filled with so much out of our control like illnesses, political decisions, weather, other people’s choices… So what’s a person seeking to live a healthy life supposed to do? Look at each situation in your life and pull it apart, investigate it. What’s really going on? Who are the players? What is their role? Is this something you have absolutely no control over in the happening part of it? Where do you have control?

We always have some control. At the very least, we can control what we are going to do in any situation. If a person has a gun to my head, I can still make choices around my words, my thoughts and my actions. I might end up shot anyway because I don’t have control over the other person. I can dress appropriately for the weather, but I can’t control what the weather does. I can take care of my body to the best of my ability, but I can’t make it be healthy. I can write a letter or call my Representatives in the US government, but I can’t force them to vote how I want.

When we look at and act on the areas where we do have control we get a sense of empowerment, which usually spurs us on to take more action within our control. Remember when exercising control to keep it in the realm of healthy, legal and wise. Very rarely you might find yourself dealing with an oppressive government or situation which might call you to do something illegal. I’m thinking of the underground railroad during the time of slavery. It was illegal to provide shelter and escape for the slaves, but people did it anyway because the law was wrong. Breaking the law was about preserving human decency, not taking it away.

Most of us aren’t, and hopefully will never be, in that type of situation. For now, find the areas in your life where you think you have no control and give it another go. Process through it and find strength in your God-given right to decide how you want to deal with it. 🙂

Categories: Acceptance, Boundaries, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Take Control of your Holiday

In Fluidity I suggested being open to change. This week I’m continuing on this thread specifically geared toward the holidays. We have the first night of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa on three consecutive days beginning December 24. What do you want your celebration to look like? As long as it is healthy, legal and wise you can do whatever you want. Obviously you can choose unhealthy, unwise and illegal options but I never recommend doing so because the ramifications for you will not likely be good in the long run.  Choosing healthy options might not feel good in the short run but over time you will reap the benefits of making choices that fulfill my three qualifiers: healthy, legal and wise.

If you have always spent your holiday with people you don’t enjoy being around, why do you keep doing that to yourself? Is it for them but inside you are resentful? If so, this action is not wise or healthy for you or them. You are living a lie of sorts. “I’ll pretend to like these people so they feel better.” If you resonate with that statement, you are choosing a co-dependent and toxic action. None of us want people to be in relationship with us out of obligation. We want to be around people who genuinely like us. They might not like us all the time and we might not like them all the time; that’s just the reality of being messy but, at the the end of the day, we count them as those we want to be with.

What about the way you celebrate? Maybe you want to do something different this year. Maybe you sit alone lamenting how lonely your life is. Walk into a homeless shelter and hang out with others. You might even decide you want to start spending more time there to help out. Usually when we see that we have something to offer others we feel better about ourselves. This isn’t out of obligation. This is a two-way street. You help others and in return, without them even realizing it, they help you. You see it in movies all the time. And this time, the movies have it right. When we contribute our time, we benefit. Our heart grows, our purpose becomes clear and our loneliness dissipates.

You have choices regarding how and with whom you celebrate the holidays. Take your life back and exercise your choice! Remember, keep the choices healthy, legal and wise 🙂

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Enjoy Kwanzaa!

Karen

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Growth, Recovery, Relationships, self care, Self-Help | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Fluidity

Change can be beneficial. Really. Just because you have always done things a certain way does not mean it hChristmasas to stay that way. This is true especially around the holidays. Think about the areas in your life where you have stress. Is it possible to change something up that will result in less stress? Usually our first answer is, “No!” But stop and ponder the idea for a bit. What would happen if you did things differently? The obvious answer is things wouldn’t be the same but is “same” always good/best/helpful/beneficial?

A stagnant body of water with no fluidity, no change, no movement of water coming in and moving out is a breeding ground for all manner of parasites and bacteria. When I looked this up the first bit of information said it’s a breeding ground for dengue and malaria. I do not want my life to be like a breeding ground for nasty parasites and bacteria. I want to be open to changing. Whether that is related to how I prepare for and celebrate the holidays or how I function in relationships, take care of myself, approach my work or faith.

How about you? What areas in your life need some fresh, clean water running in and clearing out the old stagnant parasite breeding ground? Let this holiday season and your entire life embrace and thrive with change 🙂

Categories: Boundaries, co-dependency, Growth, holidays, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Love…Selfish?

valentines-day_110001316-012814-intSelf-love is critical if we want to enjoy this life and relationships. Some wonder if self-love is selfish, “Is it really ok to put myself first? Won’t people who need me get mad about that and tell me I’m being self-centered?” Yes and yes. In order for us to be able to authentically love others and truly be there for and with them, we must have that love for ourselves. We can’t give what we do not have. Not everyone will appreciate your self-love. Some will challenge you if you say no to them so you can take care of yourself, especially if people are used to you saying yes all the time. When we say yes to someone or something, we are saying no to someone or something else. If the no has been for yourself, then the switch to yes for yourself is going to feel strange and wrong. The people you were always saying yes to will tell you that you are wrong. That dynamic will mess with you and your journey toward self-love.

How do you navigate this journey toward self-love? Start by being aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations in your body. Just notice yourself. Notice what you like and what you don’t like. When you are eating ask yourself if you like what you are eating. Does it taste good to you? Does it feel good in your mouth, going down and settling in? When you bathe, do you like the method; shower or bath, warm or cold? Ask yourself these questions with everything you do in your life. If you run into hurdles and can’t answer or the answering becomes emotionally painful for you, you may need the help of a professional therapist. Ask if he/she will guide you toward self-love, awareness, mindfulness and boundaries.

Once you are aware of what you like and don’t like, it’s time to start voicing it. “I started listening to myself and have discovered I don’t like this. I’m not going to do it (eat it…) anymore.” There are some limits here. If you have a baby and don’t like getting up in the middle of the night to feed or change him or her, sorry! Some things we must do. If you don’t like your job, I don’t suggest quitting until you find another job you like better if you don’t have any reserves to tide you over until you find a job you like. If you don’t like driving the speed limit, again, sorry! Some things are have-to’s because of morals, laws and positions we have put ourselves in. Beyond those areas, there are a lot of other areas where you have the choice, so exercise your choice in those areas. This self-love action will fill you up to deal with the areas you can’t change because it’s not legal, healthy or wise to change them.

If you have always bailed out your alcoholic brother, it is not wise for you to continue; although your brother will tell you that you are selfish not to help him. He is not a helpless baby. He is an adult who is making unwise choices because of his addiction. It is up to him to decide to deal with it. Not you. You can say no. “I love you. It is not my job to take care of you. You are an adult and it is up to you to go get help. I will help you find an AA meeting, but it’s up to you to make sure you get there and keep going.” (You could go if you want to. Also, you don’t have to help him find the AA meeting. That’s your decision.)

This is just the beginning of your journey toward self-love. Get started on it…it will be the best decision you ever made for yourself (and ultimately everyone around you!).

Categories: Acceptance, Boundaries, co-dependency, Emotional Healing, Growth, Healing, Recovery, Relationships, Self-Help | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unmet Expectations

This post is inspired by Valentine’s Day but can apply to anyone in any situation so don’t skip past this if you are not in a romantic relationship 🙂 So often we are left disappointed by others. We hope they will notice what we like or want and when they don’t fulfill our expectation we are hurt or angry. We wonder why they don’t know us well enough to know what we want. The truth is, unless you specifically state what you want, the other person must guess. It’s up to you to speak your expectations clearly and be sure the hearer understands you.

Often I get objections to this. Like, “If I have to ask for what I want then it doesn’t feel as good when I get it.” Back to reality: if you don’t say it, you can’t expect to get it. I’m not sure where the idea that partners should be able to read our minds came from. It’s a common yet destructive belief.

What happens when you’re told directly and then the person reveals that’s not what they meant? I remember a line from The Breakup with Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn where she says he never gets her flowers. He tells her she told him that flowers were a waste of money and her response was, “Every girl wants flowers!” How was he supposed to know that? He listened to her request but she was not being honest. So who’s at fault here? She is. She did not speak what she really wanted but expected him to read her mind.

How are you doing in this category? Do you expect people to read your mind? Are you being honest about your wants and desires? If not, it’s up to you to speak honestly and directly. This doesn’t mean you will always get what you want but at least you will have made your expectations clear.

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Lost in a Sea of Opinions

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe.  Following the horrific and numerous murders in Paris, a barrage of information and opinions are circulating. I see posts and blogs that cover beliefs spanning the spectrum from love to hate. Sometimes it’s hard to know what you believe. “Should I believe what this person is saying or that person?” You are being presented with one of the best gifts of humanity, the ability to choose for oneself.

When you don’t know what to believe it usually has something to do with not being fully defined. Yes, this is a boundary post! It’s your responsibility to know what you agree with and what you don’t. If you are unsure, do a bunch of research on various topics and ask yourself what you think and feel about each one. Go back to your foundational values. If you don’t know what they are, start thinking about what they could be. What is important to you?

It helps to think of things from a personal perspective. You can use that perspective as the filter through which information and thoughts pass. If this thing were happening to you, what would be important to you? Imagine being on your death bed and having the opportunity to reflect on your life, what beliefs would you imagine being truly important when all is said and done.

 

 

Categories: Boundaries, Self-Help | Tags: | 2 Comments

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