Ep #76: Setting Boundaries

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | Setting Boundaries
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Setting boundaries with friends and family is not always easy, in fact, it’s quite hard. Not wanting to disappoint your loved ones can leave you feeling pressured to attend every family gathering even if deep down you may not actually want to. 

Your lack of boundaries can come at the cost of your time and energy, so it’s time to learn to set healthy boundaries with your loved ones! If you’re tired of feeling guilty every time you try to communicate your limits, this episode is for you. 

Tune in this week to discover what boundaries are, how they work, and why they’re essential. I’m unraveling some common myths that you may believe about boundaries, and I’m showing you how to start communicating and living out your boundaries so you can actually enjoy every aspect of your life.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

What You Will Discover:

  • What boundaries are, and what boundaries are not.
  • Some common misconceptions about boundaries that we need to reassess.
  • How, as humans, we struggle to say no even when we want to.
  • Why boundaries are empowering, not confrontational or selfish.
  • How to deal with the guilt you’ll experience when you first start setting and upholding boundaries.
  • Some considerations you need to make when deciding how to communicate your boundaries.
  • How to start living out your boundaries, staying true to what matters most to you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #76. If you have a hard time establishing boundaries, let me help you make that easier.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here? Well, we’re full-on into the holiday season now. Thanksgiving is long over, and it is all holidays everywhere you go. I recognize that while the holidays are generally a fun time, it can also be a stressful time. Because it means gathering with friends and family, which depending on your relationships or your family situation, that can be a challenge. So, you may be seeing people that you don’t see often.

You may be seeing people who knew you well in the past, but now you’ve grown up and you’ve changed, and you’re not the same person you were 10 or 20 years ago. You’re not the same person with the same beliefs as when you were a kid. And your worldview, your political view, and your perspective all together may be very different from what it was years ago.

Aside from that, there may be all kinds of expectations and requests made of you at this time of year. You may feel immense pressure to be in all the places and at all the parties and participate in all of the festivities. But it all comes at a cost. And that cost is often your time and energy.

I’ve had many, many clients come back after the holidays, and tell me they feel depleted and empty, like they need a vacation. And what I’ve realized time and again, is that this is often the result of not establishing boundaries.

So, given that we’re in the thick of the holiday season, and there may be things coming up for you in the next couple of weeks that are going to put extra demands on your time, energy, and attention, I want to offer you some insight on what boundaries are, how they work, and why they are essential. I also want to unravel some myths that you may believe about boundaries.

Part of this comes from my own initial misconception about what boundaries are and how they function. Admittedly, for a very, very long time, I thought of boundaries as a negative thing. I thought of them as being confrontational, and I thought of them as being selfish. But now I see that I was totally wrong.

While boundaries are something you create for yourself, they are not at all selfish. They are empowering, and they are important for maintaining your wellbeing. Boundaries allow you to take care of your own needs. I would argue that being able to take care of your own needs is an essential piece of being an adult, because no one can take care of your needs for you.

As adults, it’s our responsibility to take care of our own needs, and boundaries will help you do that. So, let’s talk about what boundaries are and what they’re not. Then, let’s talk about the misconceptions around boundaries, because there are many. And then, I’m going to share how to establish and live out your boundaries. All right? So, let’s go.

First, let’s get clear on what boundaries actually are, so we’re all on the same page from the get go. If you’d like visuals, as I do, you can think of a boundary as the space between two people. So, take it further and imagine your home and your yard. Imagine your yard is surrounded by a fence between your yard and your neighbor’s yard.

Whatever happens in your yard is yours to take care of. What happens in your neighbor’s yard is not yours to manage. You’re responsible for your yard and not your neighbor’s. The opposite holds true, too. Your neighbor is not responsible for your yard.

So, boundaries, at their most basic level, are limits or guidelines that you establish to protect and really maintain your wellbeing and autonomy in a relationship. To go back to the yard analogy, your boundaries are how you protect and take care of your yard. On a deeper level, boundaries create a framework for how you will meet your own needs as an individual, within the context of your relationship with another person.

Okay, let me say that again, because it’s just that important. Boundaries create a framework for how you will meet your own needs as an individual, within the context of your relationship with another person. At its core, a boundary describes how you will take care of yourself and create independence within your relationships. That’s just it.

When I think of boundaries, I think of independence, I think of autonomy, I think of personal agency. So, I know I talk about being a human a lot, but I think it’s important to recognize that as humans, we are fortunate to have freewill. And because you have freewill, you always have the choice to think, feel and act in any way that you choose. Always.

But sometimes you don’t feel that way. Sometimes you feel that you have to show up for every volunteer opportunity, or party dissipating every school function, or go to every work dinner, or go to every cousin’s birthday party, or say yes to all the things, when really you want to say no. Sometimes it may feel like you have no choice.

But the reality is, that is just not true. Because you always have a choice. You get to choose how you show up. You get to choose how you will behave and respond in every circumstance that comes into your life. Boundaries help you get very, very clear on how you will respond. When you set a boundary, you recognize that you have a choice, and then you communicate it.

Boundaries are an expression of your autonomy. They are an expression of your freewill. So, I’ve read and researched quite a bit about boundaries, because it is fascinating to me how challenging they can be to set. I will admit to you, I have a hard time with this one, but I’m learning and working on establishing better boundaries.

But to make it as clear as possible and summarize, boundaries are the limit between you and another person. Boundaries acknowledge that every adult is responsible for him or herself. A boundary describes your planned response to a particular situation or behavior, and is created with the understanding that you cannot control another person’s behavior.

So, that right there, that is essential. When you create a boundary, it is done with the understanding that you cannot control another human being’s thoughts, feelings, and especially their actions. All right?

Now that we’ve reviewed what a boundary is, let’s talk about what a boundary isn’t. Because honestly, this is where I see a lot of confusion. I think part of it comes from the perceived negative connotation of boundaries. But we need to shift that.

Boundaries are not a negative thing; boundaries are not bad. Boundaries are a way for you to tell the truth both to yourself and to the person you’re setting a boundary with. Boundaries are a way for you to communicate what is real and true for you and your life, rather than nodding and smiling while you’re seething underneath. More on that and just a little bit.

That’s essential. Boundaries are built on you being completely honest with yourself and then sharing that truth with the other person. It feels good to be honest and open in any relationship. I would argue that both parties would want honesty, and boundaries foster that.

So, I said it before, but a boundary is not about what the other person does. Instead, a boundary is very much about what you will do in a certain situation. You can certainly make requests of other people, but that does not mean that the other person has to comply.

As an example, imagine you’ve changed the way you eat because you’re trying to make better, healthier choices, and you’re trying to lose weight. That means you’ve decided in advance that you’re not having dessert and wine at your family gathering.

So then, imagine what happens if your in-laws repeatedly make comments about your food choices while you’re together eating dinner? How is that going to feel? What are you going to do in that situation? What if they continue to offer you a slice of pie or cookies? Or try to pour you a glass of wine, even though you’ve politely declined? And what do they add to it by asking, “Is something wrong? Don’t you like my food? Why don’t you eat this?”

Here’s your opportunity to set a boundary. This is where you explain very clearly, “It’s a challenge for me, when you repeatedly offer food when I’ve already said no. I appreciate you offering this to me, but if you continue to do it, I may have to step away from the dinner table for a few minutes just to give myself space,” or something similar.

So, a couple things to note about this. This is not something that you need to shout out to your family while you’re all circled up at the dinner table. That could get real awkward, real fast. You have to decide how best to communicate your boundary.

But notice some important points about the example I just gave. There are no demands made of your in-laws. You didn’t insist that they stop offering you dessert. Instead, you simply said that it’s a challenge and if they continue to do it you will walk away.

I point this out, because when you set any boundary, it’s about you. Your boundary, again, is not about you trying to control the other person. That doesn’t work. You can’t control anyone, and you certainly can’t force anyone to do or not do something.

So, think about it. I’m guessing you don’t like to feel like you’re being controlled or manipulated, right? Similarly, other people don’t like to feel like they are being controlled or manipulated by you either. It goes both ways.

The boundary is not a demand, and it’s not an ultimatum. It is not an attempt to manipulate another person’s behavior to make you feel better. It’s not, “Stop telling me to have the pie or I’m going to leave.” Instead, it’s, “If you continue to offer me pie, I will step away.” I know it’s subtle, but it’s essential. Remember, I’ve said it before, your words are so important, and they reflect how you view your world and how you shape your world.

So, when you frame your boundary as ‘stop this behavior, or I will leave,’ you’re putting the onus on the other person. You’re making a demand of the other person, but you can’t control that person. Remember, we have free will and people will do and say whatever they want.

When you set your boundary, you recognize that your in-laws can, and they very well just might, keep offering you food that you no longer eat. The boundary reflects what you will do when that happens. There’s nothing here about what your in-laws have to do, it’s all on you. And that’s exactly the point, because you are the only person you can control. And so, the boundary is about how you will control yourself in a certain situation.

Now that we’ve gone through what a boundary is and what a boundary isn’t, let’s talk about why they can be so hard for some people to establish. Let me make it loud and clear from the outset, for most people, it’s not super hard to identify or describe your boundaries. Most of us, in our brains and our hearts and in our souls, know what we will and won’t tolerate, and what those boundaries are.

Instead, what gets hard is sharing the boundary or making your boundary known and then dealing with the reaction to the boundary, when you do make it clear. That’s where it gets messy. Most often, when you really boil it down, sharing boundaries can be a challenge because it brings into light the conflict between your needs, and the expectations that people have of you.

Think about that. It’s a conflict between your needs, and the expectations that people have of you. That’s where it gets tricky. I see this, especially when my clients want to create boundaries within their families. It may be that you grew up in a family or in a culture where self-sacrifice was expected.

Maybe your own mom or your own parental figures did not have boundaries. That’s what you knew growing up, and that still exists within your family now, even though you’re an adult. Maybe that worked for your parents, or your community, when you were growing up, but it’s just not working for you now as a full-fledged adult with her own opinion.

Maybe it’s an unwritten expectation that you do whatever your parents ask of you, even if it doesn’t align with your values or needs. And going against that, and stating a boundary, that may be counter to your entire childhood experience and everything you’ve learned. And, that can be a huge barrier.

Then add to that, another reason it can be hard to establish a boundary, is the inevitable guilt that comes with it. Too often, you feel guilty about establishing a boundary. Maybe it’s because you haven’t done it before. Maybe it’s because you grew up in a family thin on boundaries, but heavy on guilt. Maybe you feel that you’re being selfish.

Whatever the reason, there may be tremendous guilt attached with establishing boundaries. So, let’s talk about that for a minute because it comes up all the time in coaching sessions, and I’ve got some thoughts about what to do with that guilt.

So, when you feel guilt for setting a boundary, allow it, okay? Let it be there with you. Because that guilt, it’s not going anywhere. That guilt is a reflection of the culture and society that we live in. So, as long as we live in the world we do, where it is expected that women are caretakers, that women are nurturers, that women are soft spoken and do as we’re asked, as long as we live in that kind of world, there will always be guilt attached to you creating a boundary.

My hope is that this will change in my lifetime. But until that happens, we owe it to ourselves to feel the guilt, because it’s most definitely going to be there, and then set the boundary anyway. So, let it be there. Let that guilt be there with you. Don’t try to avoid it. Don’t try to get rid of it. Instead, learn to tolerate it. Learn to tolerate the guilt of declaring your needs.

Because here’s the key takeaway, that guilt you feel does not mean that anything has gone wrong. Okay? Let me say that, again, the guilt you feel for establishing a boundary does not mean anything is wrong. Instead, the guilt you experience means you’re feeling what comes up for you when you do something that runs directly counter to the expected norm we’ve been brought up in.

If the way that women are viewed in society, at home and in the workplace is going to change, we’re going to have to learn to tolerate the guilt of establishing boundaries, and keep going. Because not having boundaries is part of what has led us to be exhausted and burnt out and depleted in the first place. So, we got to shake that all up. This is so important to understand.

The bottom line here is, do not let the guilt stop you. Instead, you can choose to view the guilt as a reminder that you’re changing the narrative for yourself, and for future generations, about what it means to be a woman in this world. To be clear, I’m not asking you to ignore the guilt. You’re not running away from it. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite, you’re walking through it. It’s a concept I’ve described before.

Walking through it means that when you’re faced with a difficult emotion, such as guilt, you don’t walk away from it. You don’t react to it, you don’t buffer it, you don’t resist it. Instead, you walk right through it. You walk right into it, face on, and allow it to sit with you.

You let it be with you and you feel what guilt feels like in your body, that heaviness and that slowness and that pit in your stomach. That’s what it is for me. Whatever guilt feels like in your body, you let it be with you. In this process of allowing, you’ll reframe your guilt.

When you realize you can tolerate the guilt and still create boundaries, you’ll start to see the guilt as something that’s present, but it’s no longer an obstacle, it’s no longer a barrier. It’s kind of like white noise operating in the background. This is a huge one, and it’s one that I spend a lot of time coaching my clients on, but it’s essential to grapple with this one, okay? It is okay to feel guilty. Nothing has gone wrong when that comes up for you.

Another reason that establishing boundaries is challenging, is because you might be worried about what other people will think of you when you do. So many of you don’t set boundaries because you’re afraid of what people will think.

So, I’m going to offer that you think of it this way. When you declare a boundary, you can rest assured there will be an opinion about it, whether that opinion is made apparent to you or not. And, that’s okay. Allow people to have opinions about your boundaries, they’re going to anyway. You can let them be wrong about you. You can let them think you’re selfish or unkind or uncaring. Let them be wrong about you.

Where this gets hard, is that we are taught and even conditioned to be more concerned about other people’s reactions to our choices, than to be concerned about the cost of ignoring our needs. This is where we get into trouble.

This is especially true for women who are socialized to be selfless and to be people pleasers at all costs, even if that cost is your own wellbeing. For some of you, it’s easier to ignore what’s true for you and say yes, even when you want to say no, so you can avoid someone having a negative opinion of you. That’s people pleasing at its core.

But remember what people pleasing is, it’s lying. When you’re people pleasing by not setting a boundary, and you end up doing something you don’t want to do, you’re not acting in integrity with your needs and desires. That doesn’t feel good. When you make decisions that are counter to what is real and true for you, it will feel icky.

So, when you go to your second cousin’s birthday party, on the one Saturday you’re free, and it’s two and a half hours away, even though you don’t want to, but because your mom made it clear she expects you there, there’s going to be a different energy than if you’re showing up at that party because you genuinely want to be there.

You may think, “Well, I’m doing it to make my mom happy.” Great, so you’re making your mom happy, but you’re not being honest. You’re not being honest with her and telling her that you haven’t had a weekend at home with your own family and that’s really what you want. You do what you don’t want to do to make your mom happy, thereby lying to yourself. But you’re also lying to your mom, because you’re not being honest with her and telling her what you really want.

That’s how people pleasing reinforces lying. And the worst thing about people pleasing, is that ultimately, it leads to very inauthentic relationships. Think about it. People pleasing generally leads to a lack of depth in your relationship, because you’re pretending. You created a relationship where you can’t be fully honest.

It doesn’t feel good to agree to something only to be irritated, angry, or seething the whole time because you really wanted to say no, but you didn’t. It does not feel good to act in a way that does not align with what’s true for you.

That’s what people pleasing is. It’s real, it’s messy, and it’s what keeps so many women and men from being honest and genuine with themselves. Not having boundaries will deplete you, because often you don’t feel empowered to share what is really true for you for fear of how it will be received. And that leaves you in a relationship that is not existing at its full potential.

So, to bring us all home, I want to share a quote that one of my clients shared with me about boundaries. I’m not sure where she read it, but when I searched it up, it’s credited to the author Emma Gannon. The quote is, “The only people who get upset when you start setting boundaries are the ones who benefited from you not having them.” So good.

Really think about that for a minute, “The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the people who benefited from you not having them.” So true. And I’m guessing you can probably come up with your own life examples that illustrate this quote.

Maybe you can remember a time where you set a boundary and it was met with negative feedback. I can certainly think of a few for my own life with my parents, with parents of my kids’ friends. I can think of instances where I set a boundary and it was met with negative feedback. And, I’m okay with that.

What I realized after doing this work, is that the people who got irritated or upset when I established a boundary got mad because they got something out of me not having one. I finally gave myself permission to decide that that was no longer acceptable.

But it meant I had to be ready for the backlash, and there most definitely was, and there still is, some backlash. But I’m okay with that. I will explain how to be okay with that shortly. First, how do you know if you need to set a boundary? I said this earlier, but most often, the problem is not knowing that we need to set a boundary. Instead, it’s recognizing that you can, in fact, set one. Giving yourself permission to set a boundary and then being willing to communicate it.

But if you’re struggling with this, if you’re wondering if you need to set a boundary, here are some key things to look for in your own relationships. If you feel overwhelmed by seemingly small requests, and you find yourself getting super angry when those requests are made of you. If you feel resentment when you’re doing something you agreed to, because deep down you really didn’t want to do it.

If you feel out of control in your life, and feel that you have no agency to make choices for yourself. If you feel that most things in your life are happening to you, instead of you making things happen for you. If you have no time for things in your life that you enjoy, because you’re so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs. If you find yourself waiting for people to give you permission to create your boundary. If you really want to discuss a boundary with someone, but you repeatedly talk yourself out of it.

Then there’s one other way that you’ll know you need to set a boundary, it’s how you feel around the person. So, when you find yourself angry, irritated, wanting to run and hide, wanting to avoid the person altogether, or wanting to break out into a fit of rage when this person approaches you, that’s a sign. It’s how you feel when you’re around the person.

In my own life, that has been the most strong, most glaring indicator to me that I needed to set a boundary. It may be a mix of feelings; it may not be just one. It may be a rapid cycle, or a combination of feelings. At least that’s what it was for me.

I can very clearly remember for myself, I knew that I needed to set a boundary with a certain person in my life, but I kept talking myself out of it. But then, after well over a year of not seeing anything, there was a key moment when I felt it viscerally. The person approached me to ask for something, and I felt sick. My entire body tensed up. I wanted to run. But I also wanted to scream and have a big, fat hissy fit.

But I didn’t. I knew better and had gone through coaching, and knew well enough that I needed to do some work first before I said anything. But the key here was I knew not only in my brain, but in my body and in my soul that I needed to establish a boundary, or else I was going to be miserable and eventually blow up, and this person would have no idea why.

Here’s another key thing to know. I had to make it very clear for myself. I had to realize that the reason I was mad was not because of what this person was doing, the reason I was mad was because I hadn’t made it clear that I had a boundary and she crossed it.

I was mad because I wasn’t being honest with this person, and it was totally coming back to me. I had no one to point to but myself for creating that situation. By not saying anything, I was allowing this boundary to be crossed because this person didn’t even know that the boundary existed. People are not mind readers, and boundaries need to be made known. They are never, ever assumed. And that was a real ugly, hard lesson I learned. But now, I know better.

Alright, so with all of this in mind, how do you actually set a boundary? What do you do in order to create a boundary with someone? So, the first step, which most often gets overlooked, is you have to do your own work. Here’s what I mean by this.

In my own example, it would not work if I got all mean and nasty, and declared my boundary from a place of rage to this person. That does not work at all. Most people on the receiving end will take your boundary as a threat. So instead, I had to take a minute. In fact, I took a couple of days.

I took time to look inside and see how I was creating this problem by not communicating my needs clearly. I had to own it. I had own that I was not taking responsibility, and being truthful about what I needed and what my limits were. That took a little time. It’s a lot easier to point fingers and blame and say, “But she did this to me,” but that’s not productive.

Remember, people have free will, they can do whatever they want, and they will. You are not responsible for other people’s thoughts, feelings, or actions. You are only responsible for your own. You are responsible for how you respond to other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So, in order to set a boundary, there needs to be recognition on your part that the boundary is coming from a clean place for you. The boundaries you set should not come from animosity, resentment, blame or anger. In order for your boundary to be effective, it should come from a place of peace.

I know, just as I’m saying that you might feel the resistance. You may be thinking, “Peace? No way. Absolutely not. This person is horrible and taking advantage of me. And, I need to tell her what’s what.” No. If that’s your response, that’s how you know. If you feel resistance to this, it’s just a sign that you’re not ready to set the boundary, yet.

It’s fine that you still need to process some emotions and thoughts about the relationship before you move forward. That’s what I help my clients do, so they don’t approach the important people in their lives all angry and resentful. Your boundary needs to come from a kind, peaceful place if it’s going to work. That peace is going to come from you processing your feelings about that person.

So, once you’ve done that, and you’ve done your work, the next step to creating a boundary is to identify and believe that you have a choice. Do you recognize and accept and believe that you have a choice in your situation? I hope so. This is so important.

Because what I often see happen, is you will play yourself a victim and tell me that you’re agreeing to go to another family gathering, as an example, even though you don’t want to, because you don’t have a choice. Or you’re agreeing to do something at your kid’s school that you really don’t have time for because you don’t have a choice.

But you do, it’s just not an easy one. Or you tell me that you couldn’t say no to taking on an extra project at work because you didn’t have a choice. Also not true, you always have a choice.

In order to succeed at establishing boundaries, you will need to accept that you’re in control of your life. No one else is. No one else is going to assume responsibility for your life but you. So, people can ask things of you and make all kinds of requests of you, and that’s okay. But at the end of the day, your decision is your choice. No one is forcing you to do anything.

Once you realize that you have a choice, the next step is to communicate that choice with the person who needs to hear it. A boundary does you absolutely no good unless you share it. It’s one thing to decide in your head that you don’t want to go to dinner with your coworkers on Thursday night. But when you find yourself saying yes, anyway, there’s a disconnect. In order for boundaries to exist, they have to be communicated out loud by you. They are never assumed.

And depending on who you’re sharing this boundary with, that can be a big challenge. Again, depending on your family, and even your culture, it can be scary to establish a boundary. At the heart of this, you need to feel safe in your relationship in order to clearly communicate your needs.

Some of you’ve told me that you’re worried that if you establish a boundary, you may lose the relationship. So, let’s talk about that for a minute. Because it’s real and it’s a viable possibility, I’m going to be honest. When you establish a boundary, you may very well create a major change in your relationship. Your relationship may no longer be what it was before.

Your parents may come to see you differently when you say, “If you talk about my parenting choices and continue to offer unsolicited advice, I will no longer participate in family gatherings.” Your boundary may create a serious change in your relationships, and you have to decide if you’re ready for that.

That’s very personal, and here’s what I want to offer. It’s what I had to realize for myself, and the work I’ve done around establishing my own boundaries with various people in my life. A healthy relationship is built upon each person meeting his or her own needs. There has to be room for both people’s needs to be met in a healthy relationship.

What I’ve realized now, as I look back on my own family growing up, is that the dysfunction at home resulted in my mom being the sole person who dictated how things went. There were no boundaries at home, because everything in our home moved according to my mom’s response.

It was constantly walking on eggshells. It was extremely lopsided, there was no room for anyone else’s needs to be considered. And any attempt at creating boundaries was met with very harsh consequences. What that meant for me as an adult, was that I had to learn about creating boundaries much later in life, after decades of not having any at all. I also had to realize that in a healthy, functional adult relationship, boundaries can be useful instead of reason for criticism.

I had to realize that in a mature, functional, healthy adult relationship, there is room and space for boundaries, because healthy relationships are built on a foundation of truth and honesty. So, I think that summed up in just a few sentences what took me about 20 years of therapy to uncover; better late than never, right?

The point here is that in order for a boundary to work, it has to be communicated cleanly. “If you continue to make comments about my food choices, I will choose to leave the table. You can ask me to come over to my house, but I may say no. If you continue to talk negatively about my friend, I will step away from this conversation.”

Keep it simple. You don’t have to deliver a monologue about the boundary you’re creating, okay? There should not be an apology from you. And, you’re not required to provide a detailed explanation. Instead, you take responsibility. You own your words, and you own the boundary you’re setting.

You can explain very clearly that this is a boundary issue for you, and that you are not comfortable or do not accept the behavior that is happening. You’re not demanding that a behavior stop or change. You’re not controlling the other person. Instead, you’re simply describing what you will do to take care of yourself in response to the other person’s actions. That’s it. That’s essential. All right?

The last step, once you create the boundary and communicate it, is to be ready to enforce it. Remember that when you create a boundary, the other person still has freewill and gets to decide how to respond to it. The other person is always responsible for his or her own thoughts, feelings, and actions, just as you are responsible for yours.

So, if you create a boundary and it’s not respected, then you’re faced with the choice to enforce or not enforce the boundary. When you ignore the boundary, you’re not moving forward in your relationship and you’re essentially making empty threats that foster more dishonesty in that relationship, which is what we’re trying to get away from.

Instead, when you enforce the boundary, you’re being honest. You’re acting in integrity with what is true for you. Even if it feels hard in the moment, and if you feel angry at the person for not respecting your boundary. Remember that this is your choice. The person violating your boundary is not forcing you to do anything.

Instead, you’re choosing to do this in order to take better care of yourself. And when it gets hard, as it will, you can remind yourself that setting a boundary takes courage, it really does. When you’re willing to use that courage to respect yourself and tell the truth, that’s when you’re bringing the highest version of yourself to relationships.

That’s just it. Sometimes people get confused about boundaries because it feels like when you set them, you’re taking something away from the relationship. But I would argue that it’s the exact opposite. You’re actually giving more to a relationship when you’ve established clear boundaries. Because those boundaries are a reflection of your honest needs and wants.

Think about that. When you can be completely, 100%, be honest, and share your whole self in a relationship, and openly and safely declare what you will and won’t have, that’s you showing up as your most honest, authentic self in a relationship. I know that’s what I want. Remember, boundaries are not co-created. They are yours, and yours alone.

So, if you’re wondering what boundaries have to do with eating, moving, and thinking, think about it this way. In order to take the best care of yourself, you have to have the space, time, and energy to do it. Where is that space going to come from? It’s going to come from you making it the space for you to meet your own needs. It’s not going to be handed to you, you know that already.

If you want to take care of your mind and body and have wellness, you can, but it’s an active, engaged process. It starts by giving yourself permission to prioritize your wellness, followed by creating the boundaries to make your wellness a priority. Boundaries are the foundation of self-care. All right?

If you want to talk about this more, let’s go. If you struggle establishing boundaries, let’s fix it. When you coach with me, you will get clear on your boundaries. Then you’ll get prepared to communicate them so you’ve got more energy to take care of yourself. Check out my website. Go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact, and tell me where you struggle with boundaries.

Then, let’s get to work.

Thank you again for hanging out with me, and I’ll catch you again next week. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. Share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you.

This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong, inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. You know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.

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