Word-Of-the-Week #911: Boundaries

January 20, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Boundaries the limits you define in relationship to someone or to something.

Have you ever felt taken advantage of? How comfortable are you saying no to someone?

This week features excerpts from “This Is What It Looks Like to Set Personal and Emotional Boundaries. We all need to set them—here’s what that means and how to do it for mental well-being,” by Elizabeth Yuko at Real Simple.

“Think back to social studies or geography class in elementary school. Your teacher probably showed you a map and explained that certain types of lines were used to show boundaries between states and countries. Sometimes there would be a natural feature (often a river) that would divide one territory from another, but for the most part, the lines we see on the map were not visible in real life. And yet, even though we can’t see the boundaries, people accept that they’re there and understand how far they can go before crossing into other territory. 

Boundaries are your way of letting other people know how far they can go with you when it comes to things like emotional support and labor, seeking your help or advice, or even how frequently you’re expected to get in touch.

Most of us were never trained in how to do it and foster healthy relationships in our personal lives. To help you get a better understanding of personal and emotional boundaries, including how to set them and stick to them, here’s some (solicited) advice from trained professionals. 

What it means to ‘set boundaries’ 

“Boundaries are the separations that humans need—mentally, emotionally, and physically—to feel safe, valued, and respected,” says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Sonoma County, Calif. and author of Joy From Fear and Date Smart. 

  • It means verbalizing what impacts your comfort levels. 

Ultimately, boundaries speak to what we identify as making us comfortable or uncomfortable, says Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and the regional medical director of Community Psychiatry and MindPath Care Centers. And this often involves using verbal strategies. “Individuals could use succinct, clear phrases to address and clarify their comfort level and needs,” she continues. “For example, [during COVID] a person could respectfully ask loved ones to wear their masks, stand further away from them and each other, or wash their hands. This practice at home may ease any discomfort when conversing with neighbors and members of the community.” 

  • It means learning how and when to say “no.” 

Another crucial—but difficult—part of setting boundaries involves learning how to say “no” to others. “Many times, we feel that we owe others a dissertation-level response to why we cannot do this task, go to this event, etc.,” says Melissa Flint, PsyD, a certified clinical trauma provider and associate professor of clinical psychology at Midwestern University in Arizona. “The fact of the matter is a good boundary is an explanation in and of itself. ‘I’m quite sorry, but I cannot commit to working on that project over the weekend. I appreciate you thinking of me and having confidence in me, but not this time!’ is a perfectly adequate response.”

  • It means being honest and transparent. 

But making a conscious decision to set certain boundaries isn’t enough: you must also communicate those boundaries to the people they involve. “Setting boundaries also includes letting others know what they are—not expecting others to have a crystal ball and just know what you want or do not want,” Flint says. 

  • It means knowing how to expand—or constrict—the boundaries we set. 

It’s also worth noting that a person with healthy boundaries is able to adjust their boundaries depending on the situation to allow for the appropriate level of connection, says Manly. “In practice, we consciously and unconsciously use boundaries to let others know what is acceptable or appropriate,” she explains. “When our boundaries are too permeable, we might tend to let people take advantage of us or accept abusive treatment. When our boundaries are too rigid, we might behave in highly defended ways to keep respectful, loving people at a distance.” 

Why setting emotional boundaries is important for our mental well-being 

Given that boundaries help us feel safer and more comfortable, it makes sense that they come up so frequently in therapy: They can have a major impact on our mental well-being. “Our emotional boundaries are important because they give us the personal space—emotional, mental, physical, or otherwise—we need in a given situation,” Manly explains. “When our emotional boundaries are respected, we feel valued, honored, and safe. Boundaries can be healing; boundaries can help one not feel taken advantage of.” And while maintaining boundaries can be difficult, it increases self-compassion and self-esteem by allowing people to prioritize their own voice and needs, Dr. Magavi explains. 

But when our emotional boundaries aren’t respected, it may leave us feeling overwhelmed or bullied, or anxious. Not only that, but if our boundaries are chronically disrespected, the ongoing feelings of despair and powerlessness can trigger chronic anxiety, depression, and even trauma,” Manly says. “On an instinctual level, we may feel like caged animals who are at the mercy of threatening perpetrators when our boundaries are disrespected.” 

Additionally, boundaries are vital, Manly says, because they create the foundation for healthy relationships with the self and with others. “When healthy boundaries are not present, people can be left feeling angry or sad due to interactions that create a sense of being taken advantage of, devalued, unappreciated, or bullied,” she explains.” 

This week’s focus is on boundaries. Do you feel safe, valued, and respected at home and at work? How comfortable is it for you to verbalize how you want to be treated? Would you like to have more healthy relationships?

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Word-Of-the-Week #910: Enable

January 13, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Enable the limits you define in relationship to someone or to something.

Do you take on more than your fair share of responsibilities? Is it because others tend to procrastinate, and you want to get the job done? Does that ever make you feel resentful?

This word came up for me because I have been enabling people and I know longer want to do that! Enabling “is doing for someone things that they could and should be doing themselves.” I am married to Mr. DIN (Do It Now) which has made me become Mrs. DIN after being together going on 19 years.

I ‍love having a list and checking things off when they’re completed. What makes me crazy is having to follow up repeatedly on others who are not doing what they should be doing. While I am no longer in the workforce, I am on two volunteer boards. I realized that one of the main reasons I was being an enabler was because I have a lot of empathy. I always think of how I would feel if it were me and I want to be helpful. But I also realized I was doing that at my expense many times.

That caused me to create boundaries about what I no longer wanted to do.

I am adding excerpts from “The Difference Between a Bad enabler and an Enabler at Work” by Ryan Carruthers.‍

“This article is all about enablers in business and how you can learn to be one. Despite all the great things we’ve already said about business enablers the term enabler isn’t at all good. There’s a difference between a bad enabler and a good enabler in business. Here’s why:‍

  •  A Bad Enabler‍ 

In a negative context, an enabler can be someone who supports someone else’s bad behaviour or even addiction. They avoid the hard conversations about the behaviour of someone else and instead provide them with the means to continue their destructive behaviour. 

They may even provide financial support, so the destructive behaviour continues. Bad enablers make excuses for the person they are supporting. 

The reputable wellness publication, Healthline defines enablers as: “Someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior.” 

Enablers want to help, but, despite their good intentions, they fail to actually help the person they care about. They may believe that without their help (or what they think is help) the person who’s suffering from an addiction or negative habit would be worse off. Healthline lists several indicators of negative enabling behavior: 

Ignoring or tolerating problematic behavior.

Providing financial assistance.

Brushing things off.

Not maintaining your stated boundaries.

Feeling resentment toward the person they’re supposed to help. 

These indicators reveal a flawed mindset around what is best for the other person. 

Now that we know what an enabler is in the negative context let’s move to shed light on what a good enabler is in business. ‍ 

  • A Good Enabler 

An enabler is a leader or manager who supports their team and helps them accomplish their goals in a positive context. They don’t hold their teams back but clear the way to do what they do best. 

The best leaders give their team an understanding of why their work is essential. These managers help team members to contribute fully. 

An enabling leader takes the team’s vision to the rest of the company as an advocate. They work to build bridges and cultivate cooperation and goodwill with others in the organization. Enablers also aim to remove obstacles to their team’s success. 

Both enablers create the opportunity for individuals or teams to act. Whether that’s good or bad depends on the context. 

This week’s focus is on enabling. Are you doing things for others that they could and should be doing themselves? Have you set clear boundaries? Do you work to build bridges and cultivate cooperation and goodwill with others?

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Word-Of-the-Week #909: Learning

January 6, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Learningthe act of gaining knowledge.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed about the never-ending stream of information you are exposed to? Have you ever actively questioned information you have received?

This WOW by Steven Handel, “Be Careful of What You Let Enter Your Mind,” was originally sent in January 2020 and I found it to be a great re-read since the last two years have been filled with lots of information we never knew about. Some true and some false.

“In today’s world, we are constantly being exposed to new information in the media, news, articles, blogs, books, TV, movies, or conversations we have with others.

In many ways, this abundance of information allows us to reach a new level of education that wasn’t before possible. However, it can also lead to a lot of misinformation which can distort our views and beliefs.

One recent study shows that exposure to misinformation can be very “sticky” in our minds. Even if we are told afterwards that something we learned isn’t true, that misinformation still influences our future choices.

This is especially true if the misinformation we consume conforms to our pre-existing beliefs or if it’s something we have very little outside knowledge about.

For these reasons and many more, it’s important that you are careful of what you let enter your mind.

One of my favorite quotes is: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”Alvin Toffler

Due to a never-ending stream of new information and misinformation, we need to always be open to learning new things and adjusting our views in the face of this new evidence.

It’s really easy to find evidence for something that you agree with. It’s a lot harder to willingly seek information that could possibly prove you wrong. But this is often a necessary part of critical thinking.

In another study, it was found that the negative effects of misinformation can be diminished if we are critical of what we consume while we are consuming it.

It’s important that you don’t just absorb information passively, but that you actively question everything you let enter your mind.

Whenever you find yourself learning something new, ask yourself:

  • How true is this?
  • What is the source of these claims?
  • What evidence do they have to support these views?
  • What evidence might go against supporting these views?
  • Do these views seem logical and rational?
  • What are other possible views that may be a better alternative?
  • Where can I do more research?

In a healthy and functioning mind, beliefs need to be flexible and open to change. We rarely have all the facts and evidence, so when we learn new things we have to be able to adapt.

Everything you let enter your mind can shape your consciousness and beliefs in some way, often times without us even realizing it. By taking a little more caution in what you let enter your mind, you can take greater control of how your consciousness is shaped.

Of course, you can’t monitor everything that enters your mind 24/7 – that would be impractical and a bit paranoid. At the same time, it may do you some good to cut certain things out of your life to minimize their negative influence on you.

At the end of the day, just pay a little more attention to what you let enter your mind and how it may be influencing you.”

This week’s focus is about learning. Are you open to receiving new information? Have you ever gotten misinformation? Are you open to learning new things and adjusting your views if they aren’t the same as your pre-existing beliefs?

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Word-Of-the-Week #908: Intention

December 30, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Intentiona course of action that one intends to follow.

Is the life you’re living satisfying and fulfilling? Is there any part you would like to change? Are your personal and business relationships as harmonious as you would like?

We are starting a brand-new year and there will be lots of talk about making New Year’s resolutions. In one study, only around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals. I’m sharing one of the best pieces of advice I got from Steve Strauss, author of STEVE’S 3-MINUTE COACHING on Intention.

“Occasionally you hear, ‘I’ve set an intention.’ Or, ‘I have a powerful intention.’ Or, ‘My intention is strong.’ Or even, ‘The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.’ In this light intentions sound like something you do, actions on your part. There’s another view.

Intentions simply are. They are to be discovered, not set, played with, not labored over. Intentions serve you rather than the other way around. If this is so, what sort of shift might you make? And why would you? 

Where do intentions come from? They come from a soft, gentle, quiet place. They come from your life purpose, your journey, the why-you’re-here place. 

Can you make an intention up and then work at it really hard? Sure. But that’s probably based on some unmet need, a perceived ‘missing’ in your life, or some other feeling of not having enough. You’re using an intention to try to accomplish something which may not even be related to what your life is really about. Visit with some old people to learn the wisdom of this. They tell stories of efforting toward what turned out to be empty outcomes. 

A real intention is much cleaner than that. And simpler. Intentions come from your future, the unfoldment of your journey. Intentions pull you toward them. Intentions encourage. 

Useful goals, desires, and objectives each probably have an embedded intention. Discover the intention within and let it guide.

Coaching Point: Have you yet learned to listen to the soft voice of your intentions?”

Copyright 2021 Steve Straus. All rights reserved 

I don’t know about you but the first week of the New Year is crazy busy for me. While I am not complaining it reminds me that when I am fully prepared ahead of time it makes for a lot less stress and more FUN! So that is one on my intentions for 2022. Along with only having kind, loving and joyful people in my life!

This week is about creating an intention. Do you know what your life purpose is? What course of action do you intend to follow to make that happen? The clearer and more specific you are regarding an intention makes it that much easier to achieve!

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Word-Of-the-Week #907: Levity

December 23, 2021 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #907: Levity 

Levity – humor, merriment, or a lack of seriousness.

Do you know that the lack of laughter actually impacts your happiness? Do you know that offensive humor can actually enlighten and make us more aware of our own bigotries?

This week San Diego UT columnist Neil Senturia has more good insights to share and a great follow up to last week with, ”Levity seriously still important management tool at work.”

“Spoiler alert. This column runs the serious risk of not being politically correct. Just read or rip it up, but don’t send me emails telling me that I am an insensitive lout who doesn’t get it.

It turns out, no surprise, that humor in the workplace (not the wokeplace) is serious business. Two Stanford professors, Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, actually teach a course on the subject. They say, “humor is an under-leveraged superpower in business.”

Cue laugh track here.

When it comes to coaching CEOs, I am a strong advocate for a few things. First, a few years of psychotherapy would certainly do no harm. Second, taking some classes in improvisation could be very helpful. Everyone thinks they can think on their feet, but most of us are wearing two left shoes (high heels included) and it is a studied art. It can be learned, and it is powerful, but it is not the natural default.

And finally, learning to laugh at yourself is an excellent first assignment. Telling a joke is hard to do well, making people feel at ease with a humorous turn of phrase takes practice, and creating comfortable humor in the workplace without getting sued or fired is, at the moment, very challenging.

Many studies show with absolute certainty, if you laugh, you will live longer. Chuckling only adds a few years; you need to let it out loud.

Bagdonas says, “Laughing actually changes the chemistry of our brains, making us more creative, bonded and resilient.” She says that humor is an “elixir for trust and an antidote to arrogance.” But what I think is funny may not match what you think. And the dark but true side is that humor has at its core the concepts of irreverence, making fun of and causing some level of embarrassment. Someone or something gets called out. Whether it is Bill Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Larry David, Dave Chappelle. They all leverage some unspoken rules that put us on the side of “we get it,” and some of that “getting it” is stereotypical and racist and rude.

A recent “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode has a scene with two Black men feeling good about themselves and their desire to eat watermelon. I assure you this was both funny and offensive at the same time. Consider the ground-breaking sitcom, “All In The Family.” Archie Bunker was hilarious and outrageous and insulted every ethnic category, but at its core, and this is crucial, while we laughed at one moment, in the next, the humor also enlightened and made us more aware of our own bigotries.

Now in 2021, it seems that we are tipping (in my humble opinion) to the other end of the scale, where even knock-knock jokes are suspect in the workplace or in the public square. One of the unintended consequences of cancel culture and political correctness is that the lack of laughter actually impacts your happiness.

Bagdonas and Aaker play it safe and obvious. They say, “never punch down or make fun of someone of lower status.” No argument there, but that does limit some of your best shots on goal. Finding just the right edge of humor to balance on is the whole game.

Seriously folks, (that is a trick word, designed to let you get away with a barb and then take it back at the same time), you cannot demean or humiliate, and for a complete list of forbiddens, consult your mother or your HR director.

But, if a CEO/leader can find that small space (a lot smaller than it used to be) to stand where he or she can engage the team with humor, where a shared laugh breeds community and collegiality, and finally, where the humor increases the humanity of the recipients, then that is the “right stuff.” The best humor can ease an awkward pain and create a shared bond.

It is proven that physical laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells, releases endorphins and creates infection-fighting antibodies. So, my next company is going to make a medical device that uses artificial intelligence to channel Groucho Marx and is embedded in your frontal cortex so that in moments of stress, if you say the magic word, the duck will come down and give you $50.”

  • Rule No. 692: Quack, quack.

This week’s focus is levity! Would you like to be more creative? How often do you laugh out loud? How would your staff or co-workers rate you on your sense of humor?

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