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Healthy Boundaries: Walk Yourself Home

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Healthy boundaries can be hard to identify and maintain. Here’s one concept that can help.


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We’ll be diving further into Healthy Boundaries this weekend in our LIVE Saturday School workshop on November 21st, 2020.
Check it out and register here to join us!

 


Let’s start with a really tangible definition for the often nebulous concept of ‘boundaries’:

A boundary is a property line, as defined by Dr. Henry Cloud. 

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Photo by Rodrigo Kugnharski

The boundary tells you who controls the property, who has freedom and choices over the property, and who is responsible for the property.

Now let’s take that definition into the realm of our everyday lives, and pair it with a concept that can help us decipher our property lines.

 

 

Types of property

The property that boundaries are helpful for include:

  • Emotional – your feelings
  • Material – your things
  • Mental – your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs
  • Physical – your body
  • Time and Energy – your time and energy

 

Who owns the property?

According to Byron Katie, there are three kinds of ‘business’ in the universe. I like to think of this as ‘Who owns the property?’

  1. Mine
  2. Yours
  3. The Rest (aka: God/Goddess/Universe/life/reality’s – pick the descriptor you resonate with)

I like to think of these three kinds of ‘business’ as three separate yards – like three pieces of property. 

Mine – My yard contains those pieces of property that I control and am responsible for: what I do, what I say, how I feel*, how I spend my time and energy, my possessions and what I believe.

*Feelings get a little star, because they are by-products of our thoughts, beliefs, and circumstances – not as easily in our control, but nevertheless, still our property. You can read more about getting to know your garden here.

Yours – Your business is what you control and are responsible for. All those same bits of property: emotional, material, mental, physical, time and energy.

Life’s/God’s/reality – This is made up of all the things that are outside of my control and your control. Examples include: the past and the future, as well as elements of the weather, accidents, traffic, etc. 

 

aerial view of a twisty road with cars driving the road and houses and buildings on both sides of the road with green trees scattered throughout Tag: healthy boundaries self-care

Photo by Brandon Nelson

Your map 

With my yard, your yard, and Life’s yard, we’ve basically drawn ourselves a map of our existential ‘neighborhood’. Maps are cool on their own, don’t get me wrong, but the magic comes when we use them to navigate.

Some scenarios where this map comes in handy:

  • When you’re feeling stressed.
  • When you’re afraid someone will be upset with you.
  • When you feel compelled to say ‘yes’ even though you want to say ‘no’.
  • When you’re caught in the mental loop of ‘what if’s – worrying about the future.
  • When you’re upset or angry with someone else.

In any of these not-so-hypothetical cases, you can pull out your map and ask yourself:
Where am I?

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Photo by Daniel Gonzalez

Find yourself on the map: “Where am I?”

Let’s use an example from above, and ask this question: “Where am I?”

When I’m afraid you will be upset with me, the property I’m focused on is your feelings – specifically your feelings of being upset with me.

Whose yard do other people’s feelings reside in? Their yard. Their feelings are their responsibility. When I’m trying to take responsibility for them, I’ve left my own yard – walked right off my own property and onto theirs – which leaves no one home to care for me.

Walk yourself home

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When you’ve found yourself trying to manage someone else’s property, walk yourself back home by asking:

“What’s my business?”

Identify what is in your control, or what is your responsibility, and take action.

 

That could look like:

Do boundaries make me self-centered?

At first glance, boundaries can seem like a way to stop caring about anyone but yourself. 

Let’s just sit with that. If you’re anything like me, that idea brings up a lot of fear about being selfish, putting my needs ahead of others, etc. When I pause, put my hand on my heart, and just feel those feelings of fear and guilt and breathe through them without feeding them more thoughts, they’re usually a lot quieter in 90 seconds or less. 

Here’s the real truth that I invite you to experiment with for yourself, straight from Brene Brown’s research: 

The most compassionate people are absolutely the most boundaried.

Let that sink in.

The more I leave you to your work/business/journey/lessons, and the more I take responsibility for my own work/business/journey/lessons – the more compassion I’m able to have for you and what you’re going through!

Healthy boundaries are the foundation of empathy, authenticity, and accountability – and they’re an integral part of self-care.

For more on staying in your own business and listening to your intuition as an interpreter, check out this RID VIEWS column –  Self-Care: Caring For Ourselves Within a Community.

green pine trees with green and brown grass in the background with a white transparent square including text "compassionate people ask for what they need. they say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. they're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment. brene brown, rising strong" Tag: healthy boundaries self-care

Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters

I hope you’ll join us November 21st, 2020 for Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters. We’ll explore what healthy boundaries are, what makes them hard to hold, how to tune into your guidance system, and how to communicate your boundaries in a kind and honest way. I can’t wait to spend this time with you!

Get all the info and register here

 

Reflection

Take a few minutes to journal and reflect, and then share with us in the comments:

Describe a time that healthy boundaries – yours or someone else’s – created a space for more compassion.

 

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Pull the Weeds | Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 5

This is part 5 in a series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear. You can find part 1 here, part 2 herepart 3 here, and part 4 here.

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Image by Jolenee Born

Thoughts can grow like weeds

In our minds, unchecked thoughts can grow like weeds. It’s so easy for them to be constantly playing in the background, orchestrating and puppeteering our decisions and behaviors, rarely questioned or examined…flying under the radar. 

Try this experiment now: take your attention from reading these words and turn it toward your mind. Become aware of your thoughts – the steady narration that’s happening in your mind. What’s it saying? 

All of the ideas and beliefs you’ve soaked up since childhood are still operating today in the depths of your psyche as your operating system. Many of them are flat-out lies. This inner narration is programmed by your operating system. As you bring your attention to your inner narration, you have the opportunity to uncover your own operating system and the beliefs that undergird it.

Some of mine that I’ve discovered over the years:

“I’m annoying. No one wants to listen to me.”

“People who are angry are dangerous.”

“Any noise in the night is definitely someone breaking into our house.”

“No one will ever really understand me.”

“Prioritizing myself and my own needs is selfish.” 

 

Reappraisal Self-Care Strategies for Fear

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Photo by Callum Skelton

Thoughts, running wild and unchecked in our minds, are tricky and cunning – but thoughts on paper are lifeless and still. Getting these thoughts out of your head and onto the page is one of the best ways to weed your garden.

Once they’re on the page, ask them some questions. In mental health coaching we call this “reappraisal.” This is an opportunity to look again at something you took to be 100% true without really questioning it – or – at something you learned during a different time in your life when this belief helped to keep you safe, but maybe now is outdated and not as useful.

Ask:

“Is it 100% true?”
“Whose yard am I in?”
“How do I feel when I’m believing this thought?”
Name the emotions and sensations.

You can tell a weed based on its effects on your life. Weeds zap our energy. They contribute to us feeling disempowered, anxious, depressed, and unmotivated. Examining the truth of these thoughts and their effects on your body, mind, and spirit is a major step toward cleaning up your garden and freeing up your energy.

Questioning our thoughts and re-appraising their usefulness and truth can be difficult, especially if the beliefs were planted long ago or have trauma associated with them. Be very, very gentle with yourself as you do this work, and reach out for support if you feel scared, overwhelmed, or stuck. Having a neutral and steady person with you as you weed your garden can be so helpful. 

Resources for working with your thoughts

  1. How to Deal with Anxiety from The News – NPR Life Kit
  2. The Work of Byron Katie
  3. Get it Off: What to do when your work gets stuck to you – Burnout Proof Academy course
  4. All or Nothing Thinking – The Life Coach School Podcast episode #325 
  5. The Calling – Greatest Hits log exercise – Rha Goddess

Tiny Action

This activity comes from Burnout Proof Bootcamp

Create a note on your phone titled ‘Thoughts’ or something more creative! If you prefer pen and paper, grab a 3×5 card or pocket journal to carry around with you this week. 

When you notice a thought that accompanies stressful feelings (like the kind we talked about last week), make a note of the thought word-for-word – as if you’re narrating. At the end of the day, your list might look like this:

screenshot of iphone screen notes app with black background and white text: Thoughts Maybe she didn't hear me? Maybe I wasn't clear? This is my opportunity for connection with her I have to take it. She needs me. She might not be OK without me. I can put off what I need for just a minute. I don't want her needs to seem unimportant to me. She doesn't care about my needs. I've taught her not to care about my needs. This is my fault. I feel so stuck. I want to be able to do this on my own but I'm scared. Something bad might happen. But I shouldn't need someone to do this for me. I have so much to do this week. I'm already tired and the week has barely started. Tag: reappraisal self-care strategies

Next week: Plant new seeds

Once you’ve pulled the weeds, don’t leave bare ground to erode or to become re-infested with weeds. Next week we’ll look at how to identify and intentionally cultivate the helpful thoughts.

Reflection

Let us know in the comments:

What helps you become aware of unhelpful thoughts?

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Photo by Selma Rizvić

My Biggest Fear | Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 1

 

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My family and I, on my 43rd birthday

My kids are my achilles heel. If you want to bring me to my knees, distract me, or hold me hostage – mess with my kids. When they are hurting, it stirs up every anxiety and fear in me. A couple of years ago, one of the three was having a particularly rough time and subsequently, I was a wreck.

There are multiple versions of every story. Different details, different perspectives, different angles, different altitudes – that, if we consider them, completely transform the story.

From heartbreak to miracle.
From depths of hell to merciful heaven.
From worst possible scenario, to amazing luck.

This rough time of my child’s, when now viewed through the wise lens of hindsight, was such a major catalyst for the growth of our whole family. It has brought us closer together, it has developed a depth and a maturity in the one who went through it, and it’s carved a wider valley for love and joy in me. This perspective, the one of hope, gratitude, and growth as opposed to catastrophe and loss, fills me with peace and upholds the dignity of my child and their experience. It feels empowering.

But while we were in the thick of it all? It was a terrifying nightmare that threatened to eat us alive. I wasn’t sure my precious kid would make it. I wasn’t sure I would either. I wasn’t sure of anything, and that unsureness allowed space for my wildest fears and most heartbreaking regrets to take up residence in my mind. They grew and grew and smothered me with thorny tentacles from every direction. It was hard to ever feel safe while living in this nightmare.

Monster in the clouds. Tag: fear self-care strategies

Photo by Michael Weidner on Unsplash

Fear is often at the core of our disempowering stories. When our thinking brain is hijacked by our reptilian brain, the worst-case scenarios take root in our thoughts, gathering energy and mass, igniting anxiety and stealing our joy.

So much energy is spent trying to escape the feeling of fear, that we often don’t allow ourselves the compassion and understanding we need while experiencing it. It’s like we’re running so frantically to get away, when that scared part of ourselves really needs us to stop and give it a hug.

Mindful awareness can be that hug we need. According to Lyra Health, mindful awareness means paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgement. It helps us to cultivate a space for ourselves to just BE – without having to fix, change, perform, or DO.

When we shine the compassionate light of mindful awareness on the noxious weeds of our fears, we can see they’re not absolute truths. The light shines through in places. Holes can be easily poked through. There are gaps in logic and structure. What once seemed to be an impenetrable wall of sharp thorns and certain death, is now illuminated at the source to reveal a few vulnerable stalks. We then have the opportunity to pull them out by the root, and to plant and nurture the empowering seeds of truth.

Fear Self-Care Strategies: Resources for Working with Fear

  1. Self-Care for Stressful Times – 0.2 GS CEUs – Burnout Proof Academy Saturday School Series – October 24th, 2020 10 am – 12 pm PT
  2. Embrace and Learn from Your Fear of Failure – Lyra Health blog
  3. The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown TED Talk
  4. Embracing the Darkness – Brighter Focus blog

Baby Step: Take Action

Choose one of the resources above, set your timer for 5 minutes, and dive in! Working with your fears doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process. Break it down into tiny doable pieces to prevent overwhelm and practice holding loving boundaries with yourself. This is one of the keys to being Burnout Proof.

Reflection

Over the next several weeks we’ll be exploring this process of identifying our thoughts, feeling our feelings, and cultivating more empowering and truthful beliefs.

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Photo by Finn on Unsplash

I’d love to know what your experience of fear is like and any questions you have about being with it or working with it. Leave a comment below or drop me a line and let me know:

What keeps you awake at night?
What does fear feel like in your body?
What do you typically do when you’re feeling scared, worried, or anxious?
What would you like to know about working with your fear?

Ok dear one, thanks so much for being on this journey with me. Until next time, take good care of your precious self.

With love,
Brea

This is part 1 in an ongoing series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear.
You can find part 2 here.

Learn to Love ‘No’: Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters

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Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

“No” is a complete sentence.

What do you think about that? Do you actually believe it? As a hard-core people pleaser, I thought it was total BS. I’ve had a difficult history with this tiny two-letter sentence. Every time I wanted to use it, I’d feel such a rush of guilt, pressure, and fear that I’d say ‘yes’ instead, just to avoid those feelings.

I’d think:

‘What if I upset the person I’m saying ‘no’ to?’
‘What if they don’t like me anymore? What if they think I’m inconsiderate, lazy, mean. Or what if they think that I don’t like them?!”
‘Is there any way that I could do this thing they’re asking me to do?’

I’d do anything to avoid saying ‘no,’ at the expense of my health, peace of mind, and even my relationship with the other person. Yes – even my relationships were at stake. Because, like any good people-pleaser, I was an expert at resentment. I would say ‘yes,’ to avoid saying ‘no,’ and then I would be so upset with myself that it would bleed into our relationship – I’d be upset with them by proxy.

As I became aware of the effects my unwillingness to say ‘no’ was having, there’s something that helped this lesson to sink in.

When you say “no” to one thing, you’re saying “yes” to something else.
When you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to something else.

Ahh…now things started to get interesting! There are two sides to this coin – a relationship between what I choose to give my time and energy to and what I don’t.

I began to see that I was always saying ‘no’ to something! Just, sometimes I wasn’t aware of it. And you know what I think about awareness…it’s the first magic-key to everything we want.

Dark wall background with white neon sign, "YES YES". Tags: healthy boundaries interpreters

Photo by Michèle Eckert on Unsplash

Start with ‘Yes’

Saying ‘no’ is a bazillion times easier when you’re clear on what you’re saying ‘yes’ to instead. Know your top priorities. Identify your values or guiding principles.

If you’ve already identified that one of your core values is ‘family’, and you get a job request at the same time that your child has a special dance performance, it’s easier to know which to say ‘yes’ to (the dance performance!).

If your focus for the month is on improving your organizational systems for your business, and you come across a parenting conference that sparks your interest, you can check with your current priorities to know that the parenting conference can wait until next year. You’re saying ‘yes’ to sticking with your organizational focus.

Ask for Time

Jiu jitsu is one of my favorite sports. One of the reasons is because being good at it doesn’t rely on strength or size. Practitioners who excel are masters at using natural forces of gravity and leverage to assist their bodies in subduing their opponents.

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Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Here’s a jiu jitsu move for learning to love ‘no’:
Ask for time to consider the request.

Practice these phrases:

“Let me think about it.”
“Let me check in with my  priorities/needs/calendar.”
“I’ll get back to you.”

And don’t forget your love or kind regard for the person to whom you’re speaking! Put these phrases together with your genuine feelings, and you become a master at communicating your boundaries in a way that actually strengthens relationships.

“Thanks so much for the invitation! Let me check in with my priorities for that week and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Does that sound ok?”

Take action

Here’s something you can do today to baby-step your way toward learning to love no:
Download the “Hell, YES!” Checklist, and use it to help you tune into your inner “YES.”
Comment below to share what you use it for and how it goes.

Reflection

Grab your journal and reflect:

  • What, in the last week, did you want to say ‘no’ to, but didn’t?
  • When you think of that moment that you wanted to say ‘no’, what feelings and sensations were you having in your body?
  • What did you actually want to say ‘yes’ to, in that situation?
  • If you had a ‘do-over’, what would you rather have said?

Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters

Four resources to deepen your exploration with healthy boundaries:

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Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

  1. Register for Burnout Proof 101 – A live one-hour webinar workshop exploring boundaries, joy, energy and more. Sept 30th, 2020. 0.1 CEUs.
  2. Self-Care: Thriving in Times of Uncertainty – RID VIEWS Nov 2019 Self-Care column with tips for tending to the body, mind, and heart during stressful times.
  3. Brene Brown’s advice on how to set boundaries – article from Brene Brown on setting boundaries
  4. Boundaries with Brene Brown – YouTube interview with Brene Brown

We are all in this together, dear one, and we need your deepest inner knowing and wisdom engaged as we work to create this equitable new world. Take it one tiny baby-step at a time, and remember I’m here to support you!

Sending so much love today and every day.
xo,
Brea