Saying No is Enough — You Don’t Have to Justify It

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

Psychologists spend an enormous amount of energy building psychological tests, assessments and the like, and then administering them to people to help them understand themselves. This practice is very helpful in many settings, from work, to education, to couples and individuals. Insight into ourselves and others is really helpful for a number of reasons. I believe in good, validated testing.

But one of the best tests for our psychological well being, the tenor of the family or work culture we live in, and the health of our relationships, is free and can be self-administered. All you have to do is monitor the internal response you have when you want to say the word “no.”

Let’s start with ourselves. What happens when someone you love, someone you want to please or maybe even someone whose anger or frustration you fear, wants you to do something that you do not want to do? I do not mean the kind of need or desire that will call for sacrifice, effort or even discomfort...

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Expose your past, learn, and move forward

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

Have you ever had someone tell you, “The past is in the past. It shouldn’t have any power over you”?

That’s not entirely true. The things we would say are “in our past” are really part of our present.

People have hurt us, and we have hurt people. We have suffered wrong, and we have done wrong. We would say, “All those things happened in the past and can’t be changed.” But have your past experiences been addressed? Have you forgiven? Have you given yourself a chance to grieve and let go?

Address the past so you can be healed and open to change. Don’t let the shame of the past keep you from moving forward.

These directives reveal why dealing with the past is so important:

1. Acknowledge your past to establish a starting point. Your past is part of your history. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened; what matters is that you’ve exposed it. You can’t make the right changes in your life if...

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The characteristics to look for in good people to have in your life

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

New and unfamiliar situations tend to make us feel anxious. The tense part of a business deal just before the pens come out. The exposed vulnerability of doing something for the first time, or doing something that could easily go sideways unless all the pieces fall exactly the right way. Anxiety is the brain’s natural reaction to these experiences. It activates a fear response that’s meant to shield us from risking our well being.

The first thing most of us do is look to others to confirm or disaffirm our perception of the facts. Is anyone else sweating this like I am? What we expect to find is that everyone else is as hesitant and unsure as we are, but what we’re really looking for is that person who will make us feel like everything is going to be OK.

I don’t mean OK in the sense that everything will turn out perfectly, or even good. I mean OK in the sense that a person gives you a feeling that everything that can be done has been done. You’re...

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10 Things to Help You Take Steps to Address Trauma

Uncategorized Oct 29, 2017

Pandemics. Crisis. War. Abuse. In today’s world, feeling secure is an elusive goal. It seems that, at least of late, there is a new reason for fear almost daily. And with all the information that is available to us so quickly, if we want more scary things, we can all too easily find them on the television or the internet. The unsettling realities seem to be much easier to find these days than the free and easy existence we knew before terrorism hit America.

So, at least for now, fear has become part of the American tapestry. And with some of these realities, some fear is an appropriate response. Fear is not always a bad thing, for it can motivate us to protect ourselves. It is the fact that we fear further spread of COVID-19 that has moved the nation to stay at home, wear face masks, and protect our vital interests. If we were not afraid, we would not take those steps and would be much more vulnerable. So, fear that protects us is very important and very adaptive.

But at...

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It's Not Selfish to Set Boundaries

Uncategorized Oct 28, 2017

I get this a lot from different people I talk to: Why do I need boundaries, and aren’t they selfish?

You were created to be free and act responsibility with the freedom you were given. You’re meant to have control of yourself and your decisions, and to have a good existence. But as we all know, we have formed habits to misuse our freedom, and as a result, have lost it. With the loss of freedom came the loss of self-control, and the results of losing self-control have been experienced in a wide variety of miseries, such as:

Controlling relationships where people try to control each other.
Faith that is practiced out of guilt and drudgery instead of freedom and love.
Being motivated by guilt, anger and fear instead of love.
The inability to gain control of our own behavior and solve problems in our lives.
The loss of control to addictive processes.

These are to name just a few. It is no wonder why the need for Boundaries is felt so deeply.

So aren’t boundaries selfish?

...

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Why you end up giving more of yourself than you’re comfortable with

Uncategorized Oct 22, 2017

Megan was a sweet woman that I worked with in another setting many years ago. I walked into her office one day and asked how she was doing. Immediately her eyes welled up with tears, and she began crying. At first she tried to hide it, but then she spilled her guts. She was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work that she had to do, fearing that she would never get it all done.

Although I was not her direct supervisor, I knew what her responsibilities were and it did not seem to me that they were past her abilities. I could not understand the reason why she was cracking. So, I told her that. Then she revealed more. It was not her work that was killing her, it was the work of one of her co-workers. It seemed that this person was always asking her for little favors, “could you drop this project off for me?” or “can you finish these proofs for me and get them to the printer’s?” And being the “sweet Megan” that she was, she always said...

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The person who needs something is less likely to ask. Here’s why.

Uncategorized Oct 20, 2017

Have you ever heard yourself say, "Whatever possessed me to say yes to this in the first place? Why didn't I just say no?" Or, after negotiating a deal, have you ever thought, "Why didn't I ask for ___? I could kick myself!" Chances are, you're not alone, but if it happens, it poses a problem. It reveals that sometimes you and your words are not on the same page.

You desire one outcome, but your words take you to a different one.

Do you catch yourself responding to requests with, "I don't think I can _______" instead of saying, "No, I cannot do that," leaving the door open for them to push back?

When I say you have a relationship to words, that may be an idea you have never thought about. But what we find is that in the depths of people's souls – where true behavior and its resulting success or chaos originates – there is a relationship with certain words. The nature of that relationship dictates a lot of what happens in people's lives. If the relationship is good and...

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When Your Boundaries are Violated Through Abuse

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2017

It’s rarely good when boundaries are in the news, and the past several months been no exception. Stories have been coming out, a trickle at first, and then an avalanche, of men who have abused their power, violating the boundaries and dignity of women in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, and beyond. Of course we know that these stories are not limited to celebrities and executives.

These events have inspired a wave of discussions across social media platforms. Many women have updated their Facebook status with the phrase ‘Me too,’ to express solidarity with other victims of sexual assault and harassment. Perhaps you, like many others, have felt emotionally triggered by this conversation, provoking painful emotional responses you didn’t expect to feel.

You know that establishing boundaries for yourself is difficult, especially if you were abused in some the past. No one who hasn’t experienced this victimization can truly understand what you’ve been...

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Welcome to Boundaries.me

Uncategorized Oct 16, 2017

When I wrote Boundaries with my friend John Townsend 25 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had a hunch that there was a thing that could maybe help a lot of people, but had no idea what it would become.

We had written a book called Changes That Heal, and in that book, there was a short section on personal Boundaries.

After Changes That Heal came out, we would go out and speak with groups of people about the book. Usually, there would be a q&a afterward, or some sort of meet & greet event.

No one wanted to talk about anything but boundaries. Seriously. This small section of Changes That Heal was all anyone wanted to talk about. So, we decided to write another book, this time, focusing on Boundaries, so we could address the issues that people were asking us about and have something to point people to when they asked us about boundaries... you know, so we could move on to talking about other subjects.

Little did we know! That was not going to...

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