Today we’re talking about boundaries and how to use them. Welcome to Take the Upgrade Podcast Episode 36! Your host and therapist is Leanne Peterson and she’s joined by her co-host Natalie Pyles to discuss how boundaries are actually the kindest way to live.
Leanne starts out by pointing out the symptoms that may be showing up in our lives letting us know that we need boundaries. It’s super interesting to realize that the resentful side of you or the flakey side of you might just be the result of not honoring your boundaries. We have to recognize what we need. When we start taking care of ourselves this way we elevate the way we are showing others to treat us as well.
This doesn’t have to mean that we engage in a series of awkward conversations where we establish our boundaries with others. You can just decide what you are going to do and start doing it. When your friend cancels on you - what are you going to do? When someone raises their voice in an argument with you - what are you going to do?
This is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and for the other people in your life.
Have a question for Leanne? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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We’ll be back next week with another dose of soulful guidance!
Leanne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Houston and she works with clients all over the country. She is committed to helping you find peace in the midst of difficult life situations and transitions. Using powerful insights into health and energy alignment, Leanne helps you create the beautiful life you want!
Here is the edited transcript of the show:
Leanne Peterson: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the show today. I’m so excited to be back recording. I was out for a little bit, sick, but I am back now, and so happy to be feeling better. Today we’re going to be talking about boundaries, which is actually perfect. Like, I’m talking about coming off being sick, and having to set boundaries around that, and boundaries for myself, and boundaries for others. Boundaries is one of my favorite topics, because I think when we can do boundaries well, it makes a huge impact in our lives, and it really makes things better for us and those around us. On the flip side, when we’re not holding good boundaries, and we’re not doing boundaries well, it can create a lot of tension and problems for us, either on the side of we start resenting other people, or people start resenting us.
So I want to talk about why boundaries might be relevant for you, you know, because it’s a word that I use all the time in the therapy realm, but I think we don’t always use it, or think about it when things start coming up. Some symptoms that you might be experiencing that let you know your boundaries are out of whack, you know, one thing, like I said, is just resenting other people, feeling like other people are taking all of your time, all of your resources, that people are taking, taking, taking, and never giving. Conversely, there’s a problem with your boundaries if you’re feeling like you’re having to cancel on people last minute, always changing your mind, and become known as that flaky friend. If you’re that flaky friend, you probably have a boundary issue, because my guess is that you’re on the front end committing to things that you shouldn’t be committing to, which makes you then appear flaky when you change your mind.
Again, being worn down is the biggest indicator of a boundary issue. Also, if in your relationships, you’re consistently not treated well, or not treated how you want, and are always complaining that people are taking advantage of you, this is generally a boundary issue. If you feel like your partner, again, especially with your partner, if your partner’s taking, taking, or your family’s taking, taking, those are indicators. Kids taking, that’s an indicator.
Boundaries are a topic that goes really far, and wide, and deep. It goes into everything, because there’s a few steps to be able to set really good boundaries. You know, I talk to a lot of people, and other people in their lives will have set boundaries, and they’ll come to me really confused and frustrated because the boundaries the person in their life set are so different from how the relationship’s been going that it can be almost too abrupt if we just jump in, and change everything in our lives and say, “Nope, we’re doing it different.” Which is why we really want to take a meaningful approach to boundaries, and we want to be really intentional about it.
You’ve heard me talk about this a lot, but we want our life to be a response to something, not a reaction to something. So if you’re hearing this, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, Leanne, you’re right. My boundaries are a mess. People are taking advantage of me. I am going to set really firm boundaries with everyone.” Pause, listen to the whole episode, and then decide how you want to implement these boundaries, because there’s a gentle way to do it that’s going to serve you and the people around you in a really great way.
So before we can talk about any communication with other people, we first need to know where we’re at with our boundaries. What I want you to do as you’re listening is I want you to think of these areas where you’re feeling taken advantage of, those areas where you’re feeling worn down, those areas you’re feeling overwhelmed, and I want you to notice where those are, who’s involved, and what moments are happening. It might be everything, and you might take note of that. It might be just a few key relationships are feeling like that. It might be only at work you’re feeling like that, or only at home, so just notice where you’re feeling these symptoms.
Then, I want you to notice what isn’t working for you. What about this situation is causing you to feel this way? Is it that you’re giving too much time without a return on that time, or is it that you feel like, again, you’re never being heard, or you know, all these things. I want you to notice what is it that’s upsetting you? Then, the most important thing for communication, before we ever take it to anyone else, is what do you need? So you’re identifying, “Okay, what’s the problem? What’s the issue here? How does that make me feel?” And then, “What do I need instead?”
So this is just effective communication always, if you’re communicating with another person, you need those three elements. So many times I find, with women, we know what the problem is and how it makes us feel, but we’re not always as aware of what we need. Which makes it very confusing for the person we’re approaching, because we’re just kind of giving this open-ended problem with no solution and then we’re like, “Hey, you need to fix this,” but we’re confused on how they could fix it, they’re confused on how they could fix it, and it leaves everyone feeling frustrated.
It’s really important before addressing those other people that you take that time to check in and say, “What do I need? What do I need different here? What do I need to really feel good in this relationship?”
Here’s something about boundaries: boundaries are actually the most loving thing we can do for other people because they tell other people, “Hey, this is my line, and this is what I need,” and most of the people in our lives want to know that. Like, the people, my friends, my family, I want to know what works for them and what doesn’t, and I don’t want to do things that hurt their feelings or harm them. So if someone’s letting me do something that’s consistently crossing a boundary for them, but never telling me, or setting that clear expectation, it’s actually negatively impacting our relationship on both sides. First off, they are feeling bad about the relationship, but then now I’m feeling bad because I’m trying to be a good friend, or a good daughter, or a good partner, and instead I’m letting someone down.
So boundaries are really a loving thing, and they’re really positive. Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind, unclear is unkind.” When it comes to boundaries, that is so true. Being clear is the kindest thing we can do for those around us. So this isn’t some wall you’re putting up. This isn’t some mean declaration you’re making. This is a loving information session for the people around you.
How this would go in practice, setting this boundary is, let’s say your husband’s always dropping things on you last minute, and it’s really frustrating, so you’ll be ready to do something, and he’s like, “Oh, by the way, I have to go run this errand,” or “I have to go to so-and-so’s house,” or “These people invited us to their Super Bowl party,” like there’s always these last minute things, and it leaves you feeling like you can never be settled or set, and it just feels tiring. That would be a great conversation to say, “Hey, when you’re dropping things on me last minute, it makes me feel really stressed out, and I can’t get in a flow with my day because I never know what’s about to come up next. So I know things come up, and I know you like to plan things, so what I need from you is at the beginning of the week, I want to hear about all the plans you know of so we can put them in the calendar so I know what’s coming up. That’s something that would really help me. And if you’re not able to tell me in advance, then I’m not going to be able to do these last minute plans anymore. I need 24 hours notice.”
See how there’s a very loving way to say it? You’re not starting a fight. You’re not blaming anyone. It’s just, “Hey, this is what’s happening, this is how it’s making me feel, and this is the solution I’m proposing.” He might say, “Oh, that feels like a lot of work, or sometimes I don’t know things.” It’s like, “Okay, well here’s the deal. The minute you know them, I want to be alerted via text message of what’s going on so I can give my feedback in that moment.” Then your personal boundary might be, “And I’m going to decide what I’m going to do and not going to do. I can’t just do everything that comes up.” So see how that time you took to get clear allows that conversation to flow easily. You already have the solution prepared, and you’re just asking for help and support in that.
What I’ve found is people really want to help us, and they really want to support us. People don’t like being blamed, they don’t like being accused, and they don’t like feeling hopeless or helpless, which is what happens when we offer these problems up with no solution in sight. It’s where we get really defensive.
So that’s an example of using boundaries. This is why it’s important to use boundaries. And Natalie, I’d love to hear from you what you struggle with around boundaries and how you’ve had issues maybe sometimes communicating these, or having these enforced, or if boundaries are a big thing in your life that you think about.
Natalie Pyles: You know, for me, I would categorize myself as a people pleaser, so I know that sometimes I mislead them in thinking it’s okay because I don’t want to make it awkward. I’d rather hide the fact that it bothered me because I’d rather act like I’m all cool and easy going, even though I’m not easy going.
I think to some extent that is maturity, because I know in past podcasts, you’ve talked, you defined maturity in the coolest way. Do you remember how you did that?
Okay, you said, I wish I could remember which episode it was, but it was something like, “Yeah, being able to feel a certain way but still act the way you want to act, that is the definition of maturity.” It was something super awesome like that, but better. So I know that in some cases, there’s going to be room in our relationships for filtering, even if the other person is like, you know, maybe teasing us and we don’t really like to be teased, or they’re being annoying to us in a certain way, and we’re just kind of like overlooking it.
But one example that comes to mind would be like, so my husband, he loves to get ready last minute. So whenever we’re going somewhere, he’ll say, “When do we need to leave?” And I’ll say, “2:15.” And he’ll jump in the shower at 2:09. This is something that we could talk about, because this is not fair to me because then when we’re trying to get out the door, he’s not really available to help with any of the last minute things. So is that an example of a boundary thing, where I could say, “I need your help the last 15 minutes before we go.”
That’s completely an example of this, and I love that example, too, because it’s oftentimes we think of boundaries, we think of these horrible things, like, “Oh, you need a boundary around this bad person,”, or, “You need a boundary on this really serious situation.” But in our relationships, often there are these things that are big deals in that we need a boundary, but they’re not a big deal in that they’re a crisis. So oftentimes, like you said, we kind of let them slide.
For instance, if someone cancels on you last minute a lot. At a certain point, you just need to be like, “Hey, it’s not the end of the world, they couldn’t come. What do I want from them?” You know?
Right, but also, it might be a great chance to decide what boundary do you want? That’s where you check in. Is it really not a big deal?
Then great. Because this is why it’s so personal. There’s not like a, you know, I can put out a pdf for you of like, “This means bad, this means good.” It’s like, this is why we have to check in. So for someone who’s always canceling, and it’s not a really big deal because it’s kind of at a time in your day that you don’t have anything planned anyway, so whatever, okay, fine. But if you have someone who you’re friends with, and you rearrange things, you hire a babysitter, you get everything set to go hang out with them, and they’re always canceling right before you’re supposed to go, that is worth a conversation.
This is the point we talk about with the maturity, and it’s why I’m saying boundaries can be loving. It doesn’t have to be a fight. It doesn’t have to be a negative. But it can be mentioned, like, “Hey, it’s really hard when you cancel on me last minute because I’ve made these plans. It makes me feel really disappointed because I always look forward to seeing you, and it’s disappointing when I can’t. So how about we hold off making plans until you’re in a place where you have the time for it,” or you can say something like, “Maybe instead of making these big plans, we could just plan a coffee, and again putting in a time that you’re maybe more available, or is less of a deal.”
Because we’re not going to change other people. That’s not what this is about. That person might always still cancel plans, but you can set the boundary of like, “Well, this is the amount of time I’m going to give you.” For some people, it might not matter, and it might be nice, like, “Ahh, free night!” But sometimes you’re really looking forward to something, or I’ve had friends where we’re supposed to be going to an event together, or we have something planned, and for them to cancel at the last minute is actually a really big deal because we were supposed to do this thing.
So what if we shift gears now over and talk about dysfunctional families, where you’ve got relatives or siblings or parents, or you know, like picture classic Family Stone dynamics or something, because I know you love that movie.
What can we do in those relationships where you have potentially people who you have a lot of baggage with, there’s a lot of maybe even hurt feelings and years and years of history, always talking behind each other’s backs and really just nasty stuff like that?
This is where, I mean there are entire courses on this, but this idea of if your parent or family member is a narcissist, and how that can be so toxic and harmful. So you’re right, there’s this spectrum of where we’re at in the severity of the problem. Ultimately, though, it’s again, setting your intention of how much power and control do I want to give these people in my life. I have this opinion that we have to earn our relationships. We need to earn the relationships we have, and we need people in our life who are going to earn those relationships. I don’t feel people just get free passes to be really close to me if they’re not treating me well. Just because, like if I’m talking to someone, and your mom is a narcissist, just because she’s your mom doesn’t mean you need to put up with bad behavior from your mom. And just because your sibling is your sibling doesn’t mean you need to put up with bad behavior from your siblings. So it’s, keeping in mind, too, people need to earn their—and you need to earn your place in your family. Because I think what can happen is everyone starts taking advantage of everyone else, and then we’re no longer earning our good relationships.
I’ve never regressed back to a child as much as I do when I’m with my sister. We instantly go into like I’m 12 and she’s 9 or 10.
You know, there’s this instant, like, we can set each other off so quickly. That’s just been how it has been our whole, entire lives, and it’s still that way. If we spend a lot of time together, somehow we, like it’s a time warp, and we regress right back to those people. So what I had to do, and what I need to do is I get to be intentional, what kind of relationship do I want with my sister? Do I want to be a 12-year-old? And do I want to play the same role I always play with her, or do I want to bring my adult self and my adult wisdom into this relationship?
So it’s almost like, in that situation, I’m setting a boundary with myself. Like, “Hey, it’s easy to go back into that mode, but you don’t need to be in that place. You guys are adults, you can handle this differently.” So it’s this constant work of handling it. But my point is, if I want a different adult relationship with her, I need to be an adult with her. I can’t be my kid-self, and her be her kid-self, and me blame her for being her kid-self when I’m my kid-self. Does that make sense?
Oh my gosh, that is so hard, though, because they’ll say just one thing, I would imagine, and they have such a powerful influence on you because those triggers are so sensitive, that it would be really hard to even know how to act, or how to talk at all in your new way.
Yes. It’s like in Harry Potter, there’s these portals that you’d touch and you’re transported to a different place. That’s exactly like with your siblings. They say one word and you’re transported back. Like, “I went from being in my 30s to being 12. Okay, I’m done.” I always laugh, because I’m like, oh my gosh, I never yell. In my life, I never yell. With my sister, I always raise my voice. I’m like, “This isn’t even me. I don’t even do this.”
So I share that to say, that’s again, we have to be doing our work while we’re looking at other people. We have to be looking at ourselves. “What do I need to shift in this dynamic?” Like you said, it can be really hard. That’s why it’s important for us to take a lot of time outs.
So with my sister, I have to consciously reset a lot, like come back. I feel myself going into that 12-year-old self, I’ll start to raise my voice, and I’m like, I’ll consciously say, “Just let it go. Come back.” And then I can approach the conversation again, or I can let that conversation go. But I don’t have to keep perpetuating that bad habit that we’re both in.
I think it’s probably so subconscious for her, it’s probably not like she’s doing anything on purpose. You can get a pretty good feel for people in your life who maybe are doing it on purpose, where they have an agenda, and—actually maybe they don’t realize that they’re doing it, but they’re maybe just more manipulative people, and so the things they say are almost designed to make you a little uncomfortable, and make you defense- like put you on the defensive.
Exactly, and that’s why I think it’s good to know who’s in your life. Exactly what you’re saying. I know my sister is a really good person, and I know she’s really great, and neither of us mean to be stuck in that pattern, so it’s really workable. If I shift, I can see her shifting, and when I stop being as reactive, she gets less reactive. There’s a really healthy core there, and we just have to work on not getting sucked into old patterns. But there are also people in my family, and in a lot of families, that they don’t have your best interests at heart. They’re not trying to be nice, and they’re not really your friend, or they don’t really like you. That’s also good to know, too, because those people, for me, sometimes we just need distance from those people. Like there are certain people who will want to be different and want to change, and you can feel that, and I’m like, “Yes, dive into that. Explore that. See what boundaries you need, how you can tweak this.” And there are some people who aren’t interested in changing, and aren’t interested in respecting your boundaries, and will blatantly kind of push you over, and trip you, and watch you fall.
And those people are people the boundary needs to be distance.
So the boundary is distance. You still have to maybe see them and interact with them on holidays. How do you prepare yourself for that?
Well, first off, it’s the acknowledgement. I think you said, as a people pleaser, I grew up in a family of people pleasers, like, there was this expectation that everything just go well and be smooth. Just don’t rock the boat. Like everyone. Love everyone. And for me it was empowering to see the situation for what it was, and to say, “Oh, this person’s mean. They’re mean. I don’t need to be best friends with them. I don’t need to keep putting my foot in that bear trap.” So that to me is the first thing, acknowledging who in your family are the people who just need to be gently redirected, and who are the people that are going to be mean? And recognizing, “They’re just mean. I don’t need to spend a lot of time with them. I can be polite. I can be my best self. I can say hello, and then I can keep it moving.” So often, we just keep touching the hot stove, and keep getting burned, and then we’re like, “Ow, they burned me.” It’s like, yeah, it’s a hot stove, so when you know it’s a hot stove, you know to keep away from that stove.
Yeah. It’s not your job to learn how to withstand the burning. It’s your job to not get burned. It’s almost like we think it’s our job to be tough enough to handle them.
Exactly. Like what you said, it’s really when we look at it, it’s like we don’t want to set that boundary because it’s hard, so it’s kind of like we’d rather just keep in the people pleasing mode, and get hurt, than set a really firm boundary.
Yeah, and none of these boundary setting exercises should be done in public, or in the heat of the moment. So when is the right time, and how is the right way to set these up with our difficult people?
That’s a great question. You know, the number one thing I’m going to say is 90% of these boundaries are going to be set within yourself.
Okay, so you don’t necessarily have to tell them.
Exactly. Again, how this works a lot in my marriage is, “Hey, you know what, I’ve realized that this is really hard for me.” Like, I was just talking to my husband, and we were talking about church, and we were making it a bigger priority to get there, because we’ve been, you know since our son’s been born, it’s been hard to be consistent with going. And then he said, “Oh,” because being a soccer coach is a big part of his life, he’s like, “Oh, this soccer game’s on today, it’s a Sunday, right when we were going to go to church. Can’t go.” And I paused—
This has never happened. This is the most unrelatable example ever, but I’m going to use it. So exactly, so I didn’t react, I didn’t get mad. I paused, and I looked at, “What is my boundary within this? Where do I stand on this?” Because I have enough empathy to see, like, things come up for me sometimes, so he’s not a bad person because something came up, and I knew when I married him that his profession is a soccer coach, so this is a really important part of his life. So I know that. But what is my boundary? My boundary is this is a priority for me to get to church. It’s a priority for us to go together because I like that, and also, honestly, I don’t always go on my own as much as I would go if he comes with me. So I need him.
So I check in, I say, “Okay, here’s my boundary for that.” Again, it’s not a fight. It’s not, “What do you think we should do?” It’s, “What do I need from you?” Almost like negotiating. So he’s bringing to the table that he’s not going. I get to check back in and I get to say, “Well, what am I going to counter that with?” So what I’m countering that with is, “Okay, I get that things come up, but what I need,” and this is kind of similar to the example from before, “What I need is I need to know in advance if there’s a conflict with our 11:00 a.m. church service, and if so, I need us to think about do we want to go to the 8:30, or there’s a Saturday night service, so on the Sundays that you’re busy with games, can we block it off Saturday night for a date night and to go to church Saturday night?” And he said, “Yeah, that totally works.” Then today, he’s like, “Oh, there’s a game next Sunday. Let’s do our Saturday date night.” It just makes everything, like my boundary is I need to go to church weekly. That’s something that’s really important that I want to prioritize, and I’m glad that my husband’s on board and supporting me in that. Then so I have to say, “Okay, how are we going to make it work within the context of this relationship, and honoring both parties?”
I can’t be so rigid that we’re always going to go to the 11:00 a.m. service and he can never miss it, because I wouldn’t be honoring him, but I can’t say it’s okay that we’re not going and go alone all the time, because then I’m going to be resentful of him because that wasn’t what I wanted.
Yeah, you don’t want this boundary to literally cause distance between the two of you, where it’s like, you’re always going to go, and you don’t care if he comes or not, because then down the road, this will have actually put a wedge between you. So you’re trying to find a boundary that keeps you guys together.
Exactly. And that’s kind of what Steven Covey says in 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, it has to be a win-win or a no deal.
No win-loses. So to me that is a win-win. I’m getting what I want, and my husband’s getting what he wants, and we’re both leaving feeling positive, so neither of us are resenting the other person.
Wow. Good job on that by the way.
Why, thank you. Putting these skills to use. But you see how it’s, you know, so many times I’ve talked to people, and there are so many fights that never needed to happen. It’s just clarity. The big relationship expert John Gottman says that, I think it’s something like 95% of our fights are unwinnable fights.
And another relationship expert I like, Russ Harris, who writes the book that I love Act with Love, he talks about how in relationships, it is not about who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s about workability. What is working in the relationship?
Oh my gosh. That’s so good.
Right? So in that, we can bring that to every relationship, romantic, friendships, family, all of that is if you are trying to prove that you are right to anyone in your life, you’re wrong.
Because you’re going to lose. People don’t change their mind on most things. Just look at our political climate. People are not changing their mind. The louder one side yells, the firmer the other side gets.
There’s not this big, “Oh! You yelled at me enough for me to get that I am stupid and wrong. I should think different.” That never, in the history of the world, has happened. Not that we can’t be flexible and change our mind. I’m not saying we can’t do that. I’m saying, though, that it is unlikely to be able to push, bully, or force someone to see your side. So knowing that, knowing that these fights are often unwinnable fights, unsolvable problems, and that we’re looking for workability, it’s like exactly in my example. Okay, soccer is his non-negotiable. Done. And we cannot fight about that. Because I don’t feel that same way about soccer, but there’s no argument to be had because neither side is changing.
So knowing that, how are we going to move forward? How are we going to make this work for our family and our situation? How do we prioritize that? That’s where we all need to kind of take a step back and ask ourselves, “Okay, what, with these boundaries, am I trying to force someone to be different, and then can I back away from that? What with these boundaries are going to allow me to interact with this person who’s different than me?”
When you think about it, it is miraculous, any of us like anyone else.
With the amount of different beliefs we all have, and different ways we think about things—
We should just be grateful we even have this baseline of getting along. Then it stands to reason that of course it makes sense in these relationships that we have to inform others in a loving way, and figure out how we’re going to handle that. Just like the example with the friend. We’re not going to change the friend from flaking. That’s where they’re at. Like I said, if you’re the flaky friend, I’d really encourage you to look at, “Am I making commitments that I’m overcommitting to or don’t want to commit to, and I’d rather be seen as flaky than firm in the beginning?” You give a lot of power away when you choose flaky over firm. So just know that. If you’re being flaky, start paying attention in the beginning and only committing to what you want to do, and if that means nothing, then commit to nothing.
There’s a thing, know yourself. If you’re someone who likes last minute things, and you’re always going to do the last minute thing, make that the expectation. “Hey, I’d love to get lunch this week. Let me call you the day of and see if you’re free.” If that’s you, do that. If someone says, “Can you do lunch 3 weeks from now,” be like, “Honestly, I can’t plan that far in advance, but let’s touch base in 3 weeks and see if you’re still free.” And then put it on your calendar. Do you see how it’s working with yourself? So anyway, if you’re flaky, be a little more firm, and set that right expectation. If you have that flaky friend, you’re not going to change them. Telling them how bad they are is not going to change them. But telling them how it makes you feel and what you need, okay. I think of it like this. Here’s the playbook for me. You would never be able to know this because we’re all so complicated and different, and half the time, I don’t even know what my best boundary is. So here’s the playbook. Here you go. And now go from there.
Yeah, and we probably just barely figured it out about ourselves, too, so you can even say that. “I just figured out this about me. This is totally how I tick.” And we’re learning, every day, more about ourselves.
Exactly. And how nice is that, in a relationship, especially in a marriage and a partnership, to have the freedom to say that? To say, “I just figured this out, and I’m so excited to tell you. Let’s try it out.” Then you’re keeping your partner up to date, too, because we are always changing, and we’re evolving, and if we’re not— we’re not being kind enough to tell the person that we’re sharing our life with when we’re updating, like, we think it’s nice, but it’s not really nice. 10 years from now, if my husband’s like, “Turns out, I hate everything you do, and everything you’re doing is making me miserable,” my feelings would be really hurt. Because that’s not my intention.
It’s good for ourselves to kind of tune in and have those moments to say, “Hey.” Looking at, too, like, another thing with boundaries is who’s—and this is a great visual thing for you to do today or the next day when you have a minute, draw out these rings of boundary rings, and who’s taking most of your time, and most of your energy? Are the things that’s taking your time and energy, are those the things that are most important to you? Are those what you want to be giving your time to?
Because women can be bad about giving their time away too freely. So is this how I want to be allocating my time? There might be certain projects, certain people, certain situations that you’re giving way more time to than you meant to give time to, and there needs to be a time boundary around that. Because often, you’ll have that one friend who’s like, all your time’s going to, all your free time, and we need free time. So it’s good to have friends you love, but if someone’s taking up too much time or space, it’s good not to get rid of them, but just set a new boundary that puts them in a different place.
The last thing I want to say on boundaries, when we’re talking about friends and just in relationships, one thing I really want to make sure everyone’s aware of is a lot of times I see people in a relationship, they’ll take 100 steps forward. So they’ll do everything for this new person, their new friend, their new partner, or their old friend, their old partner, they’ll do everything. They’ll go the extra mile. They will go 100%. They’re taking step after step after step after step, doing, doing, doing, and what happens is they get to this 100 step mark, and they turn around, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, my friend’s not taking any steps forward. My partner’s not taking any steps forward. What’s wrong? Why aren’t they doing anything?”
What I always tell people is they’re not doing anything because you’ve trained them to not do anything.
Right? You’ve told them, “I’m going to take, I’m going to do all the work. I’m going to take all the steps.” Those are not bad people. If someone is offering to carry my bags, I’m going to let them carry my bags. We will let people help us, but do we want to be training people to be in that mode? So the key is know that, and the rule I have is you take a step, they take a step. You take a step, they take a step. So we always in a relationship, we want to be balancing our steps out. I’m happy to reach out and do dinner, that’s awesome, but then now I want you to reach out and do dinner, or coffee or whatever. I want to see that you are going to be able to reach out. I’m happy to help you in a pinch and do that, and I need to know that you’re going to be able to help me out and do something.
So it’s kind of, can we allow these relationships, it’s almost to me, lack of trust. If we’re taking 100 steps, it’s because we don’t trust that they’re going to show up for us.
And we’re desperate and we don’t have enough self-respect, so we jump the gun.
True. Desperate, don’t have enough self-respect, and we’re just people, and we’re like, “I want this friend.” So it’s like, kind of backing off that and saying, “You know what, I can wait, and I can wait for the right friends, and I can wait for the right people in my life, and I’m going to train the right people to be the people I want.”
So those are all the boundary things I want you to be thinking about. I want you to do a little assessment and see where do you need to shore up some boundaries, and where do you need to check in with some people? Where do you need to have a little check and balance, and how can you practice talking to people? Even those first few times, ask them, “How does this feel? Does this feel fair? Does this feel okay?” Because you’re not going to know how to do it perfectly right away, and the best feedback you can get is from the person you’re talking to, and again, if it’s a toxic person, you don’t need to get feedback. But with your friends, saying, you know, if I said that to my husband about church, and I could say, “How does that feel? Does that feel like an okay boundary I’m setting?” Because it just opens up the conversation to be more collaborative, and that’s what you really want, to be able to say, “This is my need. How can I get it met? This is my possible solution. What do you think?” And get that feedback until you get to a place where you can do it in a way that’s conveying your true intention, which is to, as you said, Natalie, bring the relationship closer together and have a better relationship, not create more distance.
So good. Thanks Leanne. Now, really quick. Talk to us about next week’s episode. You’re doing a book club episode again. Talk to us really quick about the book, and what we can expect in next week’s episode?
I’m so excited to finally be reading this book, The Four Agreements, because I talk about it all the time in session, and I haven’t actually read it. I’m so excited that we’re diving into that book. The Four Agreements is really amazing, and it’s kind of these rules for life, for how we can engage in life differently. When we’re talking about boundaries, and we talk about this, this book is really going to help shift your perspective on that, so if you haven’t read the book, The Four Agreements yet, check it out. Read it. It’s amazing.
And tune in next week to hear us discuss our biggest takeaways from The Four Agreements, and how it’s impacted our life, or how we’ve looked at things differently in our life through the lens of those agreements.
It’s a quick read. Not too long at all, so you can totally do it.
Perfect. And if you’re not a member of our book club, jump over to my website, https://leannepeterson.com and you can sign up on the website. It’s totally free, and it’s just a great way to keep learning and keep evolving.