boundaries between people

Good Boundaries – at holiday time and always

When facing time with family, good boundaries will serve you well.

But first, let’s be clear: good boundaries are not “I just can’t take it ANY.MORE!” limits. They’re not demands you hope others will fulfill. They are not cold, hard brick walls.

Good boundaries are more like standards you have that keep YOU peaceful, safe, and at least relatively content.

Good Boundaries in action

Here’s an example: I have a standard that I don’t get yelled at. If, at any time, someone were to start yelling AT me, I would remove myself. Right away.

I don’t yell back and usually I don’t reiterate my standard unless I do it with super-low, measured energy. I just go away from it. Or get off the phone. I leave the room or ask the other person to leave- in that same measured, low-level energy.

I don’t do yelling matches. Period. About anything. Ever.

Those days are gone.

Because I now have standards about what I will and will not have in my life. And yelling AT me is one thing I will not have in my life.

Here’s a thing to remember:

You set a boundary, you get to keep it

Having a boundary and setting it is NOT about the other person, it’s about you. If you set a boundary, then it’s yours. You are the one who gets to tend and maintain the boundary.

You only get to control yourself.

Don’t try to use “boundaries” to control other people. That will never work. Those are actually demands. Those types of boundaries can be manipulative, plus they’re kind of screechy, shrill, and above all, ineffective. (More about this everywhere I’ve written about communication: HERE and HERE. You can check out the podcast episode HERE or search for episode 7 of Midlife Love Bytes anywhere you find your podcasts.)

Don’t be surprised when others push them or cross your good boundary.

They’re new. Like a dog and an electric fence, people need to discover and learn from the boundary. Of course they’re going to get tested.

Don’t get upset when YOUR boundary gets tested.

There’s no need to go to war over them. If the boundary or standard is not negotiable (that is the nature of real boundaries and standards- they are not negotiable) then don’t stand there and negotiate the boundary.

Yes, you can explain your boundary

But do this at a time when it’s not being tested, pushed, or crossed. You can say something like “hey, just so you know, I don’t stay engaged when people yell at me. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t like it. I feel bad and I just don’t tolerate it.”

End of talking. You don’t have to defend the boundary. Or unearth it’s family of origin or ex-spouse origin. If it’s a boundary and it’s your boundary and you mean to live by it, then you don’t really need to explain it or justify it or talk it to death.

That someone understands where the boundary comes from or how it came to be a boundary for you is way less important that YOU having it, being clear on it, and knowing that it’s YOUR boundary.

Assertiveness is different than aggression

Assertiveness comes from a place of strength; aggression comes from an attempt to get more of it. In other words, aggression is a reaction because of lack while assertiveness is just an assertion of that strength.

Assertiveness does not lord it over someone else or tell them what to do. Assertiveness puts the truth out there and then follows up when necessary.

Apply your good standards and boundaries

Heading into the holidays, identify a thing you know you won’t tolerate. Then make a plan for how you will respond to it. Then do it.

That’s all there is to it.

Don’t want to be around your drunk uncle? Make a plan to leave when that threshold gets crossed.

Don’t want to be compared to your brother? Leave the conversation if that happens. Go to a different room.

Tired of the girls doing all the work while the guys watch football? Ask for help. Use Clean, Non-Blaming Communication (TM) or (CNBC). “I feel frustrated. I don’t want to do all the work and clean-up. Can you help with that?” Or assert it as a standard: “I feel miffed. I want to watch football and take a nap.” Then go do it. 😉

Hard to imagine the last scenario?

It could be that’s not an area for a boundary.

Sure, it’s something you feel piqued about and you’ve grown bitter about over years and years and years.

Could be, asserting a boundary about that one is really about changing things up way ahead of the game, or just getting over your irritation.

You gotta pick your battles.

If you’re having trouble identifying what might be true boundaries, (think standard) versus demands or attempts to control, I can help. I can see what might be a blind spot for you. It’s what I do.

Maybe you don’t have any experience asserting a boundary and they come out being pretty aggressive expressions. I know how to help with that too. I love supporting people as they grow stronger.

You could be super frustrated around your previously thwarted attempts with good boundaries. I can help with that.

Let’s get you prepped and set for more peaceful, happier holidays (and life) this year.

Get in here and let’s get started. Give me a call.

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Grief betrayal death loneliness

A Successful Midlife Crisis

I’m not sure I’ve been more ecstatic than I’m feeling this morning. Life just seems to get better and better and better.

Is this a midlife crisis

or the result of a successful one?

I’ve had A LOT of happy mornings like this one where I get out of bed and think, sometimes say outloud: I love my life! I’m so happy! Life. Is. Good.

Just last night, another mid-lifer and I were discussing how successfully navigating the midlife psychosocial crisis absolutely sets us up for “the best of life for the rest of life.”

(It has become one of the transformation projections I make with my clients. because I’ve seen it happen so many times! Maybe you’ve heard it as a tag line on my podcast.)

An eavesdropping listener asked if I’ve had a midlife crisis. I answered, “yes! Of course. We all have one; some of us just notice it more than others.

The midlife crisis gets a bad rap

for all the examples we first imagine:

a man growing out his hair and mustache, buying a motorcycle, and leaving his wife and children for a young babe.

OR a mom turning into a micro-skirt-wearing cougar and dating her daughter’s boyfriend or leaving the family. Ouch!

Sure, sometimes people do freak out in similar fashion, hence the clichéd stereotype. But like all stereotypes, applying them to everyone or thinking, ah, so that’s a midlife crisis, is just, well, a narrow definition. Not helpful. And not realistic.

Did you know we all have one?

A midlife psychosocial crisis, that is, not the stereotypical one.

We are all programmed to transition from one stage of life: our active, prime adult stage where we have been focused on work, procreating, pair-bonding- do you like those terms for adulting- to the next stage, which has been so expertly named “midlife.” And guess what, the stage can last 15 -25 years by some delineations. (It better, I say. I’m not declaring myself an “elder adult” until I’m 75 at least. But I digress.)

Of course, not everyone has children. Not everyone gets married. But financial survival, decisions and responsibilities regarding work and parenting children as well as navigating intimate relationships…these all occur in the active adult stage.

Then mid-life hits.

We become aware we are literally half way (or more) through our life on the planet and it inspires reflection. (And sometimes panic, sometimes intense panic.)

For some it’s a quick look back. For others that glance is filled with regret. For some, it’s filled with so much unpleasantness, they avoid doing it…for as long as possible.

The psychosocial crisis involves navigating between stagnation (and a fixed mindset) or regeneration (that state of renewal, re-focus, and movement) which will guide the rest of life.

Sometimes people’s unwillingness to process the past and their life so far actually lands them in the stagnation camp. They live out the rest of their days resisting reflection, personal responsibility, and growth forward.

Sometimes people get stuck in the past, fixated on its wounds without processing them and they can’t move forward (and that lands them in the stagnation camp.)

Most people long to go toward health.

That is why they will move toward regeneration: a contemplation of all that has gone on before, a renewal and reconsideration of values, and readjustment based on what one now knows.

After all, we DO know so much more at 50 than we knew at 30.  By age 30, most of us had made significant decisions regarding what we would do for work, whether we would parent, who we would love. Then we proceeded to spend the next 15-20 years doing those things. After that amount of time, we realize -in a big way- that we are not going to be on the planet forever so we might want to make the most of the rest of our time here.

We might freak out a little over all the ways we’ve spent our time and energy up to this point. We might have regrets. Or grief.

Or something like that.

Midlife contemplation is inevitable.

All the fallout from a messy midlife contemplation is not inevitable though.

Whether you are the one floating in these rough waters or a loved one who affects you and your life is grappling with it, focused attention to all the aspects of this time of life can be much smoother with a counselor or coach.

But ya gotta find one who knows what she’s doing. 😉

I’m not the only one out there, but of course I’m recommending myself. Call or text me. Send and email. Just connect and let’s get started.

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Even if what you really need right now is to ask a question. Click the button and connect. I’m happy to help.