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Setting Boundaries Protects Our Energy.

24 Aug

I think healthy boundaries are about reciprocal respect. They include setting up and communicating reasonable, clear expectations of acceptable ways for other people to behave towards us that contribute to feeling safe, supported and valued.

Leanne French – Therapist & Relationship Expert

Imagine crouching under one of those slightly dented, aluminium colanders with a lot of holes. That’s kind of what my boundaries looked like when I was a kid. 

When I first learnt about boundaries as a young therapist, I replaced that colander with a magnificent castle on a lush flower-filled island, surrounded by a moat, filled with snapping piranhas. I installed a drawbridge that only I could lift or lower because after all, the most important boundary a person can set, is limiting their availability. I also created a shield with light, bullet proof, glittery glass bricks, because the goal of boundaries is to be protected and stay connected at the same time.

My boundaries might seem like a fortress to some, but they serve to keep me clear, focused, more tolerant, and compassionately away from resentment. 

Boundaries are a self-caring way to keep our balance. They mark the edge or limits of something, so they’re important ways to create safety and trust. They not only strengthen valued and welcomed connections, they keep the light snuffers out, lower stress and reduce depletion.

I’m really clear about who I am and what I want and don’t want. I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. I can pinpoint what fuels me and what depletes me. After many years of practise, I know what makes me comfortable and uncomfortable, what energises and enriches me, and what causes distress and dread. I speak up and I can definitely walk away without guilt.

I’m super grateful for my small bunch of uplifting friends, scattered across the country and planet, who have good self esteem and terrific boundaries. 

Unless we’re encouraged to have and respect boundaries as kids, they’re not always easy to set or maintain. Some of us just bumble along, allowing others to define or direct us while we work too hard at people pleasing or trying to fit in places we shouldn’t. Or, we behave in toxic ways, and lie, undermine, gossip or ridicule, collecting low quality connections and conflict in our wake. Most of us will trip over some guilt and obligation along the way until we recognise how important respect and boundaries are to everyone’s emotional wellbeing.

Children, who experienced trauma or had a parent that struggled with addiction, may have learned to put others needs before their own. Or perhaps they too, put their addiction first.

Maybe you grew up with a ‘personality disordered‘ family member who found it difficult to emotionally regulate? (This often goes undiagnosed.) Your personal boundaries were most likely routinely broken. The message you may have learnt, was that your own needs and feelings didn’t count. You were probably required to accept how others treated you, without question. While it may have felt impossible to do at the time, imagine if you were taught to say, “When you rage at me, I feel threatened. I’m going to leave the room/house until you can communicate calmly.” (Providing of course you were old enough to speak, and an exit was even an option!) I want you to know that you do matter.

Whether we grew up in a functional or dysfunctional environment, we all need the courage to maintain our personal values despite what others think or how they behave. To clearly identify our wants and needs and respectfully communicate them, while at the same time recognising that others have the right to decide how they respond or react. Otherwise it’s too easy to mix up our yes’s and no’s and not take the time to see if potential friendships, relationships or even things like jobs are suitable or not.

We’re all such interesting creatures, with different values and beliefs and triggers, shaped by an assortment of life experiences and histories, which is why it’s so beneficial to be mindfully aware of what makes for good and less good interactions.

It’s up to each of us to be clear on where we want to draw the line between ourselves and others. And for every parent out there, never ever ever use guilt to get your kids to visit or do something. Once obligation is on the table, joy flies out the window! Let love lead the way!

Boundaries will naturally differ between our professional and private selves, in our relationships and with each individual family member.

Types of boundaries include physical, emotional, financial, intellectual, material and financial, time, sexual, and digital boundaries. 

It’s good to approach boundary breaches as early as you can. Mistakes can be a learning ground to curiously observe what happened. Which people or situations crossed the line? How much stress or discomfort did it cause? Is it a one off or reoccuring? Is it possible to breathe and let it go? What could be done to prevent it in the future? Keep paying attention to how people and circumstances impact your energy, productivity, and wellbeing. 

  • Work out the feel goods and the not so goods.
  • Be clear about the responsibilities, activities, and values that you treasure.
  • Get a good sense of your tolerance limits.
  • Work out what you need.
  • Pick a good time (or way) to communicate.
  • Keep the focus on your feelings and needs while being mindful of their needs.
  • Use I statements and don’t justify, defend, over explain or blame.
  • Be kind, calm, direct and specific and use a neutral tone. 

Set boundaries in ways that create discussion and possible negotiation so everyone confidently knows where they stand and what to expect. You’re only responsible for communicating your boundary with respect, not for the other person’s response to it. Boundaries are not an attempt to control the actions of another. If you recognise you have toxic light snuffers in your life, move on and shine on. 

We can’t change or control other people, but we can take charge of our own life. We can choose to wear our own mask. We can choose whether we reply to emails at night, or answer calls after hours. We can decline invitations without explaining. We can protect our time, space and personal resources. We can say no. We can be selective. We can limit our engagement. We can choose to not participate, not react, not engage. We can block it or report it. We can also leave.

If you need help with boundaries, email me at hello@leannefrench.com to book a telehealth session.

Wellbeing is Trending for 2022

30 Dec

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit.  The realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our wellbeing”  Greg Anderson.

Covid-19 wins the prize for being the most uncontrollable source of sustained stress in 2021. Just as double vaxxes offered up glimpses of hope for relaxed freedoms, a new variant slid in just in time for NZ’s summer holiday season.

At least there’s always a positive spin off from a global crisis. It’s motivated a desire to increase overall wellbeing in 2022, for ourselves, each other and the planet.

  Research tells us that a prolonged pandemic elevates mental health needs, even if we don’t catch the virus. As a team of 5 million, we’ve done pretty well at following health directives, attempting to reduce emotional strain and focusing on what we can control, over what we can’t. 

How we live, work, use technology, shop, connect and socialise and how we receive care have all been jiggled around and thought about deeply, unless one has been living under a rock or tin foil hat. 

Even though some of us prefer a less overloaded society, not being able to see special people is hard, and sludging through restrictions, super strong opinions, dangerous viewpoints and crazy behaviours can get tiresome. Resilient people are better able to cope with trying circumstances, so increasing wellbeing expands happiness, optimism and meaning in life.

Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well. 

Wellbeing (being well) encompasses mental, physical, spiritual, social and emotional health and is strongly linked to our sense of fulfilment, meaning and purpose, and contributes to life satisfaction and the ability to manage stress. It also increases immunity to infection and improves mental health.

Things that influence wellbeing are exercise, diet, belonging, connection, relationships, career, self care, spirituality, finances, where we live, how we live, what we take in and what we give out.

If you’re longing for more positivity and interconnectedness, are ready to do your best, feel your best and be your best no matter what this new world continues to dish up, why not consider some of these rising wellbeing trends for 2022?

  • Increased focus on immune health.
  • Eating sea greens and microgreens.
  • Becoming plant-based.
  • Adopting the Reducetarian Solution.
  • Embracing The Nordic Way.
  • Nourishing your spirit with mindfulness and meditation.
  • Merging wellness into work life.
  • Technology that tracks health, fitness, sleep & stress, even in H2O. (Santa forgot our Series7!)
  • Getting a better nights sleep with a pillow ergonomically designed for out-of-this-world comfort.
  • Creating personal spaces that reflect your life and interests.
  • Embracing sustainable, refillable, and more gender neutral products.
  • Supplements with high-purity ingredients in synergistic combinations like L-theanine for sleep and stress.
  • Becoming sober curious or practicing mindful drinking.
  • Health care that meets patients and clients where they are literally, via telehealth services.
  • Menopause is losing its stigma and sexual wellness is on the rise.
  • Buying healthy and local from passionate suppliers.
  • Tumeric, Yuzu & Hibiscus are in.
  • Seeking uplifting connections and social networks.
  • Taking your fitness outdoors.

I’m up for a plant based, touch of Nordic, mindful, moving my body more, Apple Watch, sinless sips and functional fizz kind of year. I’d love to know what your wellbeing wants are.

Remember, good health improves wellbeing and good wellbeing improves health.

Sending you thanks for still being in my world. Stay well, take care of yourselves, each other and the planet, and may your light keep shining bright. 

Tend and Cherish.

27 Apr

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As the sorrow of sickness and silence spread, the stop sign rose and asked us to sit, together but apart, to be guests of nature and lend our ears to the birdsong, chirping crickets and intuition, instead of the usual roar of engines and economic hum.

We were asked to sit until remorse replaced restlessness so we could thrust aside mountainous obsessions of waste, and refuse to be swallowed up by inexhaustible convenience, coveted commodities and take aways that take away deeper nourishment, and to wait for the rise of bread, instead.

Sit they said, with blinders off as industry cools and hearts and homes are warmed. Wait until expectation is traded for appreciation so it becomes easier to undertake a scaled back, survival stock take, where love and local livelihood is supported and we embrace the significant and sustainable.

Sit and replace swelling fears of toils and troubles with soap and bubbles. Then with lion heart courage, forge forward, with fragility, onto the path of goodwill, into a morally determined destiny and consciously cultivate kindness for all of us endangered ones, here upon our enchanted earth. 

Poem Tend & Cherish by Leanne French as I contemplate the last day of Level 4 Lockdown in New Zealand and somewhat lament the loss of the quietest earth day experienced in my lifetime.

Thanks so much to my beloved husband Wolfie for the fabulous daily graphics he’s made for me.

There Is Always So Much To Be Thankful For.

25 Apr

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Ko wareware tātou – Lest we forget.

E kore rātou e kaumātuatia 

Pēnei i a tātou kua mahue nei

E kore hoki rātou e ngoikore

Ahakoa pehea i ngā āhuatanga o te wā

I te hekenga atu o te rā

Tae noa ki te aranga mai i te ata

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them.

 

To everyone that gathered in their bubbles at the end of their driveways at dawn, to remember, reflect and honour past and present servicemen and women, this too shall not be forgotten. Continue reading

Kindness is Cool.

14 Apr

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Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelms the world. -Desmond Tutu.

In these uncertain times, acts of kindness, gentle words, praise, encouragement, warm smiles, considerate behaviours, helpfulness and thoughtfulness are more important than ever.

Co-operating with lockdown rules is an act of united kindness. We’re all in this together,  doing our bit, for the greater good.

Kindness not only magically lifts the spirits of those giving and receiving, but even onlookers to kindness have increased levels of the happiness hormone in their brain.

We can be of service to humanity in many different sized ways. It doesn’t have to Continue reading

Shine On.

8 Apr

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If the light within you is greater than the darkness around you, you are a star. Matshona Dhliwayo.

The full, ‘pink’ super moon which just so happens to be the brightest and boldest of the year, is not the only thing with the power to illuminate. We can all be light filled agents of change who spread love, generosity and kindness into the world. 

Let’s brighten our day by peeking into the positives.

  • There are extraordinary experts who are keeping us informed and shedding light on what matters.
  • Inventors and makers are busting their butts, accomplishing amazing things that contrast the black backdrop of virus doom.
  • Investors are donating dollars to incentives.
  • Growers are keeping food and jobs alive.
  • Food producers and suppliers are finding delivery options making sure we stay nourished. 
  • Entertainers are shining a light on various new ways to connect us with their art.
  • Front line and essential workers are beyond heroic right now.
  • Bored children are inviting parents to be brighter versions of themselves by joining in with their fun activities.
  • There’s a glow of gorgeousness that radiates from tiny toddlers trying their hand at all kinds of stuff. 
  • Reporters and newspeople are out and about shining their light into what we all miss the most, which accentuates the things we value and highlights what we need to feel secure.
  • Positive, online community pages light us up with laughter, shared culinary delights, and helpful blogs.

Continue reading

50 Reflective End of Year Family Questions.

3 Dec

How about introducing a new self reflective ritual into your family? As the year winds down it’s the perfect time to choose an evening or afternoon to gather together and consider things like: How was the past year? What worked and what did not work so well? What do I want to create in the year to come? 

  1. What was the best day of your year?
  2. What was the worst or hardest day?
  3. What’s your fondest memory from the year?
  4. What filled you with wonder and delight?
  5. What if anything, may have consistently angered you this year?
  6. What do you wish had never happened?
  7. Name something that went really well.
  8. Name something that could’ve gone better.
  9. Who do you wish you could’ve spent more time with?
  10. Who do you wish you could’ve spent less time with?
  11. What is the best thing about being part of this family?
  12. What goals did you set at the beginning of the year that you achieved?
  13. Which goals didn’t you achieve that you still might like to?
  14. What was the nicest thing you remember anyone saying about you?
  15. Did you make any mistakes that in turn taught you something?
  16. Are there any areas where you feel stuck?
  17. What might you need help with?
  18. Which world culture is the most fascinating to you right now?
  19. What’s your best quality or super power?
  20. What has challenged you in the world of social media?
  21. How you feel about the boundaries you have set for yourself around screen time?
  22. What habits would you like to break?
  23. What might you need to do in order to take better care of yourself?
  24. What acts of kindness did you show towards others this year?
  25. Who was especially kind to you?
  26. What are you most proud of having done emotionally this year?
  27. What are you most proud of achieving physically this year?
  28. What have you longed for lately?
  29. What was your biggest achievement this year?
  30. What did you do creatively that you loved?
  31. What boundary did you set with yourself that you feel proud of?
  32. What boundary did you set with others that you’re proud of?
  33. What’s your biggest regret this year?
  34. What has caused you the most sadness?
  35. Is there anything you think you should/could let go of?
  36. Name someone you look up to.
  37. If you couldn’t fail, what might you attempt?
  38. What country would you most like to visit next?
  39. What skill or talent did you learn or master?
  40. What would you like to be better at?
  41. What might you need to do in order to be better at that?
  42. What would you like us to do to help you with that?
  43. What was the most delicious meal you ate all year?
  44. If you could pick something you would love to have made for you, what would you like?
  45. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world who would it be?
  46. Who would you especially like to thank this year?
  47. What is your favourite family tradition?
  48. What’s your best quality?
  49. What do you wish we understood better about you?
  50. If we could wave a magic wand and wish you the best year ever for yourself next year, what sorts of things might you wish for?

My What Big Eyes You Have.

12 Mar

All the better to see you with! Here’s to opening our eyes and seeing the ones we love with our eyes and our hearts.

Darling I Do. A pretty song to add color to your world and melt your heart a little more.

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Thanksgiving.

29 Nov

I give thanks for love, family, nature, angels, friends, magic, Giggles the pig and opportunities. What do you give thanks for?

Finding Beauty.

30 Nov

Golden light fills the clouds and turns them the colour of toffee.  I feel a gentle breeze stirring and I’m thankful that for an early evening in autumn it’s still warm enough to sit outside. I catch a glimpse of how the early snow sits, like tears in wrinkles on the blackened mountain ranges that today seem closer. A mower drones on in the yard next door as a plastic bag dances in a unexpected puff of wind marching in from the south.

toffee sunset-photo by Greg Keith

I take a moment to capture the blessings this ever-changing landscape offers. It never fails to entertain and delight me in the simplest of ways.

The scent of a roasting chicken reaches my nostrils and I giggle. It drives our vegetarian son out of the house muttering something about his saliva daring to threaten his new found beliefs.

I place my hand on my heart and take it all in, this richness of color, this Continue reading