Tag Archives: therapist

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.

Tame Your Thoughts.

15 Apr

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Right now, more than ever, there are a lot of people experiencing turbulent thoughts that they describe as “having a hold over them.”

Our usual thoughts keep us pretty busy as it is, but lately it’s the catastrophic thoughts of future scenarios that appear to be running wild, egging on restlessness, confusion and anxiety.

Here’s what I want you to know. Thoughts may seem like they come from outside of us,  but they actually come from inside us. We’re in control of what we think.  Let’s not give thoughts a power that they don’t have. Thoughts don’t choose us. We choose them. 

A situation in itself doesn’t create overwhelm or panic, only your thoughts about Continue reading

Hold on to Hope.

12 Apr

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It’s an Easter Sunday like no other. We’re on Day 18 of lockdown, and our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern gave a great message of hope to the nation, granting the Easter Bunny (along with the Tooth Fairy) essential worker status. It was a moment of light hearted loveliness which made the chocolate loving children of New Zealand squeal with delight.

Hope allows us to believe there’s an illuminated pathway leading to a more desirable outcome.

Hope is a magic dispeller of despair.

Hope cheers us on somewhat, encouraging us to go the distance.

Don’t be surprised if it feels a little tough coming into the third week. The mundaneness and lack of pick me ups can make it a bit boring and lacking in the joy department. Rather than critically overly examining or picking our lives to pieces, it’s more spirit lifting to mix things up a bit, add pops of fun, and look to add Continue reading

Calm is a Superpower.

9 Apr

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If someone is baiting you to argue, don’t take the hook. Swim around and find a calm, creative response rather than a reaction. – Leanne French. Secret 59 from Fairytale Love – How to Love Happily Ever After.

Someone’s got to do it, so why not you?

  • Don’t jump to the conclusion that what’s going on has to be about you.
  • Stay focused on content that makes sense, and try to ignore emotional outbursts.
  • Be willing to check whether they are stressed or tired, and ask how you could make things better.
  • Change the mood of the conversation and trick them into escaping.

We control how we respond.

When we take our time to go within we can respond to the same event with annoyance or anger, or we can search for a more thoughtful way to respond with peace and calmness. 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

Hang in There.

7 Apr

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Most of us have had a time or two or three in our lives where a situation bought us crashing to our knees, and everything changed in an instant.

When we couldn’t calm the storm, it passed. When we thought the fear and the flow of tears would never stop, they actually did. When our castles crumbled, they got rebuilt. When our scars healed, they were stronger than skin.

Events may differ, but those that hold the potential to disrupt life as we know it, need acceptance and require us to control the parts we can and let go of what we can’t. 

Hanging in requires time to pass. For patience and co-operation. For feelings to be Continue reading

Dig Deep.

6 Apr

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. –Victor Frankl.

While I’m not asking you to carefully craft all of your conversations, if you’re finding it challenging being confined in closer circumstances for longer periods of time than you are used to, and conflict is causing concern, it could be beneficial to learn how to respond rather than react. Especially if you want to create a more emotionally comforting bubble to hang out in.

Choosing our response is about making sure it’s calm, considered, conscious and in line with our core values. It’s driven by wanting to get the best out of a situation for ourselves and others. Responding is more about actively taking our time to work out what Continue reading

Rest. Relax. Recharge.

5 Apr

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If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth. – Brene Brown.

Rest is when we shift from deliberate and effort filled thinking, to a more effortless, playful, peaceful, aimless wandering and daydreaming state.

Rest lowers our heart rate, stress and shoulders.

One of the most interesting things about rest is that it’s usually about carving out a wee chunk of solitary time, versus relaxing, which is able to be done in the Continue reading

The Wild Calms A Child.

4 Apr

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Our backyards are a natural source of wonder, with no electrical sockets in sight.

Gather up your child/children. Make sure to ask their imaginary friends to join you in the backyard, otherwise known as the wild, where you can

  • run faster
  • jump higher
  • squeal louder
  • lay out a blanket to read fairytales
  • paint rocks
  • search for frog princes
  • draw with chalk
  • make a walnut bed for Thumbelina
  • bug hunt
  • chase butterflies
  • make play dough food for a pretend picnic
  • find shapes in the clouds
  • plant a magic beanstalk
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • create a sellotape nature bracelet

…and my favourite of all, make a magic petal potion where you gather, mash, mix, stir and sniff and turn into any creature you wish.

Let the wild rumpus begin!(Thanks to my beloved Wolfie for creating my day by day images.)

More Kindness. Less Judgement.

3 Apr

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Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated – Lou Holtz.

Wobbly times can bring out the worst in people.

Hoarders and xenophobes is how the worst broke through, followed closely by profit motivated price hikers and reckless rule breakers. As the days pass and lockdown has many of us glued to our computers, unkind keyboard warriors are now bordering on being boringly predictable.

Whilst it’s easy to want to throw up our hands or fight back, from a Continue reading