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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.

What Makes Gossip And Rumours So Dangerous?

25 May

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Gossip exposes someone who isn’t present to defend themselves, to the collective wrath of others. It denies them a right to be fairly heard. It’s a cunning, passive aggressive  form of ally recruitment, warlike in nature, used to advance ones own opinions and agenda. Spreading rumours can be harmful to the reputation, credibility and social standing of others. Gossip encourages recruiters to dislike, be wary, mistrust, avoid, exclude and see the target as unappealing. It’s a form of social bullying.

Incite hatred long enough in any community, and it will eventually fall into the ears of those from the dark side of humanity, those who take pleasure in taking matters into their own hands, provoking and harassing. Once indifference has been fostered, destroying others becomes sport-like. Be wary because encouraging others to act on your behalf is dangerous and in some cases illegal, for both of you.

Fight or flight becomes the norm for the target in a misinformation campaign. Sometimes targets can’t cope and may hurt or harm themselves or they may take serious revenge as an escape from the constant pressure. Both can have devastating consequences. (Please see additional links below if you need help for either.)

If you are in the presence of someone spreading gossip about another person, here a few things you could say to disarm them: Continue reading

How To Deal With Verbal Attacks.

26 Feb

Courage

Online, you can delete, block and sometimes report inappropriate or abusive comments, but what do you do if someone verbally attacks you at a dinner party or gathering?

After watching Anthony  launch into a witch hunt on Cheryl at the dinner party on Married at First Sight Australia  (series 4 episode 10) I realized a few things.

1.  A lot of people, even strong empowered ones, don’t always know HOW to stop unwanted, unwarranted, unacceptable tirades.

2. Abuse often renders people speechless and causes what I call “bunny in the headlights.”

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3. The majority of people tend to sit in a bystander rather than Continue reading

What To Do If Your Boundaries Aren’t Respected.

20 Dec

happiness

image from myinsidejobonlife

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. Brene Brown.

Boundaries are guidelines put in place to encourage emotional and physical safety and are created by people who respect their own strengths, abilities and individuality as well as those of others.

Most of us are pretty clear about our distinct values, beliefs, psychological needs and preferences. Knowing who we are in our inner world and how we want to live in our outer world is a healthy and empowered way to be.

The imaginary line we draw around us to say this is who I am and these are the things that are important to me are not always respected by

  • habitual advantage takers
  • chaos and catastrophe addicts
  • drama makers with no self behaviour filters
  • the overly needy who expect you to save and solve their constant problems
  • people who are overly invested or amazed by you after only knowing you a short time
  • poor listeners
  • shame and blame throwers
  • judgemental disapproving types
  • manipulators, abusers and bullies.

The distress we feel when a boundary is violated is a message to protect ourselves and a signal to clearly express to bothersome people that there are things we don’t want them to do or say to us, one moment longer. When we set a limit or say no, or stop or don’t, it should count. We can state our feelings and wants and needs clearly, and set Continue reading

5 Things People Do Wrong In Relationships.

16 Aug

Resolving Conflict

Illustrated by Clementine Sourdais.

1. We focus on what’s wrong rather than acknowledging and growing what’s right.

Ruminating on annoyances never makes them magically disappear. Instead we need to consciously manage our own reactions, responses and behaviours by curiously wondering what gets triggered within us when we feel wronged or annoyed. Or we could choose to just step away and skip merrily on our way, sidestepping obstacles. The more we involve ourselves in tasks that propel us forward and make us feel good, the better. See if you can stop, breathe, count to five and remind yourself of the value your loved ones add to your life.

2. We criticise rather than praise behaviours or affirm competence.

Think about how it feels when you have your less than fabulous traits pointed out to you in a way that doesn’t invite healthy discussion, kindness or creative solutions. People are so much more ready to give negative feedback than positive, and are likely to tell all who will listen about bad service rather than yell thanks from the rooftops about great service. Let’s all aim to spread more kindness around. Acknowledge. Affirm. Praise. Give Continue reading

7 Ways To Begin To Renovate Your Life.

14 Mar

 

circling-horses-prints

Circling Horses by Cassia Beck

If life feels stale around the edges, a lot of stuff is going wrong, others are being critical and competitive, friendships seem to be falling to the curb like flies, and normal activities begin to feel like swimming through thick fog, it could to time to change things up.

Often people will grin and bear it, grit their teeth, grind their teeth at night, and push on regardless, which is fine for a short time, just not a long time as it can compound the difficulties. Sometimes what we resist persists. When negativity outweighs positivity and it’s closing in on you from the outside and you have taken personal responsibility, searched deep within and tried many things that just aren’t working, or no one is listening or supporting you, or worse still blaming you, close the door and open another. Sometimes it’s actually not your fault. Sometimes you wake up and realise that you aren’t surrounded by your tribe. Or you realise that your shine and sparkle is being dulled in order to make someone else feel more adequate. Step away from determination and move closer to joy.

  1. Face up to the discomfort. Is the negativity in your situation beginning to change who you are or how you sound? Are you getting tired of not having your feelings and experience validated? Chances are you aren’t around the right people or you aren’t where you need to be, to shine.
  2. Don’t wait for permission. You always know deep down what is best for you. What other people think about you, is of no concern. Everyone has their own agenda. People may want to keep you close for many reasons that have no positive outcome for you.
  3. Look to nature for inspiration. Stop and breathe and know that there are dark times. Those times nurture new beginnings and allow inspiration to rise.
  4. Trust that something better is around the corner. Adventure is exciting. It’s good for your brain. Opportunity exists. Destiny calls.
  5. Celebrate all your victories. Remember all the good stuff you have done, the fabulous connections you made and the lives you changed for the better.
  6. Concentrate on gains rather than losses. Try not to fret or regret. If for example you have to sell a property you love, pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you put in and know that’s why you are reaping the rewards.
  7. Feel the fear, have faith and do it anyway. Make plans to get on a new merry go round and have faith that everything will turn out fabulously.

 

 

Never Ever Dull My Sparkle.

16 Jun

Credit to artist Evan Heasman - Soju Shots. This is his princess.

Credit to artist Evan Heasman – Soju Shots. This is his princess.

In the middle of a cold wet winter day, hauling in our olive harvest, dressed in drenched rags, full of the flu, I heard myself asking the angels for a miracle, a way out of unfortunate circumstances, a way back to my sparkle.

I usually like to sit in the Cinderella story as either the fairy godmother who helps others see their brilliance and potential, or as the bejewelled sparkling girl at the ball, feeling proud of my own accomplishments. I am not at all comfortable being Continue reading

Snow White And Rose Red.

5 Apr

Rose Red and Snow White

Photo credit and thanks to Nisha Ravji Photography and Models Sabina Vixen and Candy Thorne.

Snow White and Rose Red is a Brother’s Grimm fairytale about two sisters who shared a close and loving friendship with each other, where ‘No evil ever befell them.’

Their widowed mother taught them ‘What one has, she must share with another,’  so they effortlessly obeyed and shared whatever they had. This fostered the type of generosity and kindness that enabled them to offer shelter to a half-frozen bear who knocked on their door in the middle of winter, asking to be warmed. He became a trusted family friend, and when he left in the spring, they were sad. On their many adventures they encountered Continue reading

Good Versus Evil.

12 Jan

The world is and always has been, filled with good and evil. It is what it is. It’s a kind of wilderness that we need to learn to survive in. We have to find our own way through and manage ourselves down at the waterhole, staying alert to and seeking shelter from giants, angry dwarves, wolves and many bad apples along the way. Even if we don’t bump into trouble personally, disaster, violence, cruelty and horror has a way of bursting into our lives and living rooms, into our newspapers, onto our television screens and into our neighbourhoods more often than any of us would like.

Credit to: Artist Evan Heasman (Soju Shots")This is one of his deliciously dark art pieces.

Credit to: Artist Evan Heasman (Soju Shots) This is one of his deliciously dark artworks.

We live in a time where it’s getting harder to screen things out. Over exposure to excessive darkness and real life horror stories (even though they a reality) can cause us to Continue reading

That’s Just Nonsense.

9 Nov

The Owl and the Pussycat is a famous nonsense poem, written in 1871 by artist and poet Edward Lear about two critters who went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat. His words, as absurd as they are, have the ability to conjure up strong images.  What’s so interesting about reading anything created by someone else, is that our response is personal to us, and is coloured, either positively or negatively in some way by our own story.

The loveliest Owl and the Pussycat book and illustrations by and credit to
http://www.kevinwaldron.co.uk/

Three different people with different outlooks and beliefs could close their eyes and see an owl and a pussycat getting married by a turkey and come up with three entirely different views and opinions.  Unless the opinions are uplifting, inspiring, supportive and add to the enjoyment of the owl and the pussycat getting married by a turkey, maybe we all need to learn that Continue reading