Healthy Boundaries Create Healthy Relationships

By Crystal Andrus.

Crystal-Simply-woman-cropped-300x336After writing an article on “rejection”, I received a few private messages from women asking if I would write more about “boundaries.”

In that blog, I explained that boundary setting is hands-down the most important lesson we women need to learn:

“Healthy boundaries are like having a front door with a lock on it.
You have the right to keep out unpleasant visitors.”

Boundary setting was certainly my most important lesson to learn in order to become empowered, because without healthy boundaries I created unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships . . . and I didn’t even realize I was doing it!

As someone who has tended to over-give, over-do, over-protect, even over-try, I have to remind myself when I begin taking on more than I feel comfortable with — whether it be helping a friend, counseling a family member through a rough time, or offering to “pick up the slack” for someone who has “bitten off more than they can chew” – to back up, slow down, and really ask myself:

“Do I want to be doing this?”

“Is this improving my life or exhausting me?”

“Has this started to become a co-dependent relationship with me as the ‘mother / caretaker’ and them as my ‘child / responsibility’?”

By being aware of how I feel (i.e. drained, frustrated, even resentful), I’ve learned how to catch myself from stepping into chaos, drama, and dysfunction much sooner than I used to.

As a coach (and this goes for most therapists, healers, nurses, counselors, etc.), we have a natural tendency to want to “fix things”, but without learning healthy boundary setting, we can too easily take on the weight of the world and inevitably, hurt the very person we wanted to help because we are giving more than we can afford to lose and eventually, we burnout, become angry, or breakdown. We’re no good to anyone.

Not to mention, I can almost see my weight rising when I’m forgetting to set a boundary. Doesn’t matter how many jogs I take, broccoli I eat, or protein shakes I drink, the weight predictably comes on. I literally carry the weight of my unhealthy boundaries on my body.

Many of us didn’t witness healthy boundaries growing up, whether it was our mother who allowed others to disrespect, use, or abuse her, including us — her child (his is called “porous boundaries”); or our father who was so strict he was like a brick wall (“rigid boundaries”). Either way, we didn’t learn what “healthy” looks like.

On the other hand, we could have had wonderful parents and yet someone else in our life—a teacher, grandparent, uncle, family friend, cousin, brother, whoever—stepped across our personal boundary field and physically, verbally, emotionally, or sexually abused us.

When abuse happens, we lose the ability to realize we have the power to say “no”. This feeling of being unable to protect ourselves can follow us throughout our lives and before we know it, we find ourselves in situations, both big and small, that confront us with our lack of confidence, personal power, and low self-worth.

In fact, I was just speaking to a beautiful, smart, talented woman who told me she was experiencing so much anxiety because her boss had been getting too close physically and would say inappropriate sexual things to her. She wasn’t doing anything flirtatious to provoke him, and couldn’t understand why he was acting this way.

I asked her why she didn’t tell him to back off and her response was that she “didn’t want to hurt his feelings or make things worse by putting her foot down”.

In other words, she was a “people pleaser”.

She hated how she felt around him but didn’t know how to establish a healthy boundary.

As we looked back at her life, she saw a strong pattern of many men being inappropriate with her and her feeling powerless (even as a teenage girl with boys). It was almost as though she believed, “It’s a man’s world and that’s just the way it is. I have no choice.”

Rather than staying focused on the problem, I asked her what she wanted to feel instead.

What are your intentions? I asked her. “What do you want? What would courage have you do?”

* * *

The first step in setting healthy boundaries is for us to be able to identify our own needs, wants, opinions, and rights:

– “Does this feel good to me or does this feel like I’m being manipulated for someone’s gain?”

Once we know how we feel about a situation, we must respect ourselves, and our needs. We teach people how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves—by what we’re willing to accept.

We must all learn to clearly identify what it is we want in our relationships (how we want to feel about ourselves), and then become skilled at assertively expressing ourselves: “When you  _______ (fill in the unhealthy behavior), it makes me feel _________. If you can’t be more respectful to me, I will have to _________ (list the consequences and stick to them).”

This process allows our “Woman Energy” to emerge.  

Here are some more tips for setting healthy boundaries, modified from the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, by Anne Katherine:

– When you feel angry or resentful, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself then communicate your boundary assertively.

– When you identify the need to set a boundary, be clear, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. And most importantly, be confident about your needs and feelings surrounding this situation.

– Do not justify, apologize for, or rationalize the boundary you are setting. Do not argue! Just set the boundary calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.

– You can’t set a boundary and take care of someone’s feelings at the same time. You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting.

– At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary but you can’t establish a clear boundary successfully if you send a mixed message by apologizing afterward.

– When you set boundaries, you might be tested (especially by those accustomed to controlling you, abusing you, or manipulating you). Stay strong.

– Eliminate toxic people from your life. It may feel mean or unkind but your health depends on the quality of the relationships you have. Bad attention is not better than no attention at all. Don’t play with bullies — even if they’re family members. Showing them that you won’t allow them in your life if they want to create problems for you, will help them too become better people.

Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. After awhile, it will be second nature. In fact, people will “feel” your confident assertiveness, and soon you will rarely be “tested”. It’s just an energy you give off: Woman Energy! BAM!

I’d love to know how you feel about today’s blog. Please leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Warmly,

Crystal

What To Do When Life Gets in the Way of Your Success

By Erin Cox

1234339_10151941624206060_1739240198_nToday I am writing from my brother and sister-in-laws home during a crazy California tour. We spent the first part of this week on the Central Coast of California with my in-law’s, and now we are in Mammoth Lakes celebrating my brother-in-law’s 40th birthday. I wouldn’t miss this week for anything… but it is certainly putting a cramp in my new class launch planning and editorial calendar. I thought I’d have plenty of free time to fit in some planning and writing during this week… but “life” has gotten in the way (as in swinging at the beach, savoring fish tacos while listening to a live reggae band, playing at the beach, hiking with an ocean view, engaging in deep family conversations over delicious meals and wine…etc.). These moments are what life’s really all about!

Every single mom I know goes through frustrating moments when she has an amazing creative project that is aching to be created or book that needs to be written or a product about to launch… but then life gets in the way. A child comes home from school sick, family comes to town for a visit, children need to be fed, or a household is getting too far out of control and the passion projects often have to be set-aside for the moment.

In our hearts we want to be the “good mom” and keep our priorities properly aligned, but it can leave us feeling constantly frustrated and as though the feat of accomplishing our goals is always just out of grasp. Sometimes we just don’t get as much done as we planned to and it can stress us out!

When you are a woman with firm priorities who strives to keep her family and marriage first, this feeling of internal struggle can become all to familiar. As a woman who struggles with this daily, and as a mentor who coaches women who deal with this as well, I know it’s a fact of life for ambitious parents who are balancing so much!

Here are a few keys to thriving through the madness, and achieving great success while raising a family:

  1. Keep your deadlines realistic and build in time for unexpected events and duties that “pop up.” Also be okay if it takes you twice as long as others to launch your class or a year to write your book. If that’s what it takes to live in alignment with your priorities, then so be it! Don’t fight it, accept and embrace that things just might take longer.
  2. Get help with the domestic duties of maintaining your home (i.e. cleaning) so you can focus your at-home time on engaging with your family.
  3. Focus on being where you are! It can be easy to ruminate about the fact that your projects are falling behind while trying to participate in a toddler tea party…just as we can suffer from guilt while we toil away for hours at our computers and others are looking after your kids. In both scenarios, everyone suffers. When you are at work, focus like a laser and eliminate distractions (to the extent possible) and at the end of your workday, put aside your work, be grateful for what you accomplished, and head to give your spouse and children the very best gift – a completely present, on fire, and fulfilled woman.
  4. Involve your family by describing your projects and work with excitement and delight so they can better understand why it matters and why you have to spend time away from them. (If you can’t describe your projects with excitement and delight… consider a career change!)
  5. Take regular and sometimes extended time off where there is no computer, no phone, nothing but you and your loved ones.

You are ambitious because you have something unique and beautiful to share with the world. By living your purpose, you are setting an amazing example for your children. Accomplishing your professional goals will also make you a more fulfilled and happier person to be around, as long as you aren’t sacrificing those that matter most to you!

When you can truly focus on what you’re doing and “be” where you are, use realistic expectations and deadlines, and keep your priorities properly aligned – that’s when you are achieving authentic success.

Louise Hay is true beauty!

Me and Louise
LIKE MOST PEOPLE, I first came in contact with the work and spirit of Louise Hay at a difficult time in my life. Although I was living my professional dream of being a celebrity makeup artist and stylist, there was a nagging emptiness in my personal life that I hadn’t put my finger on. That was until the day I was drawn into a bookstore with a little extra time on my hands.

I had no idea what led me to that store any more than the divine hand that guided me to a copy of You Can Heal Your Life.  I had never heard of Louise Hay, or any other Hay House authors, yet as I flipped through the pages her words touched me like no other book ever had. From the moment I opened the cover I couldn’t put it down. It felt as though she was speaking directly to me, touching me in a way that didn’t just encourage and strengthen my mind, it validated and invigorated my soul. I felt as though everything I believed spiritually, but had previously questioned, was ringing true through the power of her words. These were beliefs that I had discounted up until that very moment because they were so different from those everyone around me held. Wrapped in Louise’s words I had found freedom, security, and a spiritual home.

Along with discovering the strength of my authentic self came the realization that I did not truly love who I was. On top of that, I was in a marriage with someone who did not love or honor who I was and definitely not who I was becoming as I grew.

I continued on the path of self-discovery, though, by reading more Hay House books and attending workshops. After eventually leaving my unhappy marriage, and still in the depths of the soul search, I would have another more personal and divine encounter with Louise.  When a mutual friend invited me to the I Can Do It Event in Tampa to meet Louise, I jumped at the opportunity.

Even a brief “audience” with Louise was life changing, and while my career was taking off in the ways I had always dreamed it would, Louise’s spirit and words were guiding me in a new direction. I knew what I was truly intended to do, along with focusing on external beauty as a makeup artist, my calling was to be a teacher and help people bring true beauty to their lives. I was to help others feel this beauty by learning to love themselves the way I had from Louise. I created a vision board with the picture of Louise and me in the very center and the journey began.

Two years from then I would take my seat at the Speak, Write and Promote Event in Boston, moments later to be joined by Louise herself. From the first time I picked up her book to the times spent with her today, and now as a Hay House author. I cherish beyond words the guidance her spirit has been to mine.  To be a part of the Hay House family and for my message to have the endorsement of trust that comes with her name brings tears of joy and gratitude I could never truly express.

You Binged. Now What?

By Melissa Kathryn

So it goes a little something like this…

You’re good all week, you’ve worked out everyday, you went to bed early, you’re feeling fabulous and like you’re on your way to your weight loss goals…and then the weekend hits. All of a sudden something drives you and you find yourself to be home, sitting on your couch eating whatever carbs and sugar you can get your hands on.

The next day…self-loathing hits you like a tons of bricks. You feel sick, still full from the night before. You are ridden with guilt and shame. Disgusted with yourself. “What’s wrong with me?”, you ask.  “Why do I do this?” “All of my hardwork…now I need to go to the gym just to work it off “.

This can occur from a fight with a spouse, boredom, loneliness, family, going home, stress from work or from life.

There are a multitude of triggers for binges. The key is finding yours. (Tweet it)

Binges are an onset of emotions. What’s interesting is we turn to food because our bodies actually want to make us feel better. At an early age, we were taught to view food as something to make us feel good. When we fell down or did something well, we were rewarded with food, (usually candy or very fattening and highly processed foods). Think about it – if you fell down, you got ice cream. If your team won a game, you went out for pizza and ice cream. Food was instant gratification to bring you happiness, ease pain, or make you feel fulfilled.

There is a stigma around emotional eating. Saying you’re an emotional eater can not only feel wrong, but feel shameful. What’s interesting is that most people’s eating is driven by their emotions over their physical hunger. You don’t have to be obese to be an emotional eater and you don’t have to classify yourself with an “eating disorder”.

This process is about recognizing the “Why Factor” so you can do a course correct. Learn from your binges. They are lessons.

Binges are a way to escape or suppress bad feelings, to gain control and to feel good feelings instead – know this to be true. So the next time, ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for food?” Identifying your triggers is the most direct and effective way to get to the root cause.

Challenge:

Identify your triggers by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What happened in that situation that set me off?
  2. What are trigger situations for me? Meaning, where do you not feel in control or find yourself always overeating or binging?
  3. What am I really hungry for? What happened then that made me upset and why?

How to Recover:

  1. Identify your triggers.
  2. Forgive yourself and learn from your experience – know there is unhealed pain or lack of fulfillment or patterned behavior driving your actions.
  3. Today is a new day – the past is the past, you are in control of your actions, thoughts and emotions moving forward.
  4. Drink tons of water with lemon to help your body digest.

Take positive actions and make today a fabulous day!

Focus on Your Pluses – Radiance Factor on VividLife Radio with Supermodel Emme

By Michelle Phillips

imagesFor many of us what is holding us back from feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what’s actually in the mirror, it’s how we feel about ourselves.  And how we feel about ourselves can be a product of negative self-talk that we listen to that tells us, “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or rich enough too!” The question is; where does this self-talk come from?

While it could be from someone outside of ourselves who we allowed to get into our heads, it is more commonly coming from our own minds as part of what is now being thought of as the “comparison trap.” The comparison trap stems from years of programming from a variety of places that might include images we see in the media, our up-bringing, friends or family members, and it is a debilitating need to base our own self-worth on others rather than the strengths within ourselves.

A prime example happened to me the other day when I picked up a woman’s health magazine while in line at the grocery store and on the cover was a famous work out diva in a bikini. Although I had just finished a one hour Pilates class that totally kicked my butt I looked at this cover and said to myself, “I will never look like that no matter how much I try.”

My next thought, which was a bit more comforting was that as a stylist who has worked on thousands of photo shoots I know the truth about what goes into creating the facade of perfection of that “perfect” image. You see the models don’t even look like the images we see in the media.  First they go through hours of makeup and hair, get placed under perfect lighting and then the images are digitally enhanced.  The same goes for TV and Film.  Sadly, not everyone is privy to that emotionally soothing knowledge and it hurts.

On top of that, the exhausting and sometimes depressing images of perfection aren’t just of people, we have perfect images of homes on HGTV, and food on cooking shows, and then we all have those friends who recreate everything they see on TV and magazines which really make us feel inadequate. That constant focus on what we don’t have, or how what we have isn’t as good as someone else’s is negative weight, a weight that is crushing down upon us more each day.

How are we ever going to feel good about our lives, families, jobs, our look or our bodies if we are comparing ourselves to other people?

Recently I had the honor of spending some time on my VividLife Radio Show, The Radiance Factor, with Emme, who is a powerful example of the beauty and strength it takes to rise above this “programming” we are all fighting. You may know her from magazines, as a women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem, author, and sought after national lecturer or appearances on Oprah, the Today Show, CNN and many more.  She did all that and was voted one of People magazines most “beautiful people” and she did all being true to who she is as a “plus-size” model!

Throughout her life and career she has learned many lessons about what beauty should mean to each of us and when it comes down to it, what is truly important and how to focus on that.

Two that really stuck out for me were;

-In the United States the average size for a woman is 14 yet designers create and display clothes for models. Seeing these images of small, perfect women is damaging to our psyches and makes feeling good about ourselves in the clothes that are available to us emotionally difficult. Size does not define you!  Rip the tags out!  When you see images that are “perfect” remember, they aren’t real!  Even supermodels don’t look in person like they do in magazines.

-After being diagnosed in 2008 with Stage 2 Hodgkins disease she had time for deep reflection during chemotherapy and wondered, “Am I happy?”  She realized that she wasn’t truly happy and decided to make a change.

Which leads to a question I have for you.  If you were suddenly diagnosed with a terrible disease or told that you only had days left here on Earth…would you really focus on how you looked or would you focus on being happy?  Why is it that we don’t see the beauty in our lives?  Why do we focus on what others have as our point of reference for happiness?

It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to others, let go of labeling ourselves by our size or possessions, and live our lives according to what really matters.

As we part I want to leave you with one thought and that is to start filling your heart and mind with only positive thoughts about ourselves!  Write down what is right about you, your life, and how you look.  What are your unique gifts and talents!  That my friends, is your radiance Factor!  Let is shine!

You can listen to the actual radio broadcast with Emme here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vividliferadio/2013/09/17/super-model-emme-focusing-on-your-pluses

Norwegian-Breakaway-SlideJoin the amazing Emme on the high seas to have a blast feeling better about who you are! https://www.emmecruise.com/

You Are What You Think

By Joan Herrmann

“You’re fat!” “You’re stupid!” “You don’t have the right education!” “You’ll never be able to get the promotion!” “No man will ever want you!” “You’re old!” “She doesn’t like you!” “You’re ugly!” “You can’t do anything right!”

Do any of these words sound familiar? While most people would never consider speaking to another with such negative, degrading words, we have no problem saying these things to ourselves. The rant of self-abusive language runs rampant for most on any given day.

It is estimated that the average person has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day, 80% of which are negative (and this is a conservative estimate). Imagine 48,000 negative thoughts running through your mind every day of every week, of every month, of every year – year after year! It’s no wonder we feel beaten up, insecure, fearful, and anxious. No one could survive that abuse unscathed.

You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” Well, just as important, “You are what you think.” Your thoughts influence your outlook on life, your attitude toward yourself, and they have a profound impact on your physical and emotional health.

So, how can you eliminate negative self-talk, especially when you may not even be aware that it’s happening? The following exercise is designed to help you recognize your thoughts and learn to replace the negative with a more positive, self-affirming thought.

  1. Get a notebook or journal and create four columns on each page. Label the top of each column, “Thought”, “Location”, “Activity”, “New Thought”. For one to two weeks, write down your negative thoughts and where you were and what you were doing at the time. Every time a negative thought comes into your head, write it down. Note where you were at the time and what you were doing. Leave column four blank. If you can’t write down all of your negative thoughts, make a commitment to jot down at least five to 10 per day. Do not evaluate during this period.
  2. Reread your journal after the one to two weeks. Determine what underlying themes or messages are behind your negative thoughts. What were some of the triggers? What activities or people triggered negative thoughts?
  3. Evaluate the validity of the thoughts. Ask yourself if there is any truth to what you’re thinking. Are there things you can change? Which thoughts are garbage that must be deleted?  Now work on deleting them.
  4. Ask yourself how can you change the negative thought to a positive one. Instead of looking at situations in the worst light, try to find the positive aspects and focus on them. For instance, if you worry about the results of a test and start thinking of the negative consequences, such as failing a class, turn it around. Focus on the fact that whether you pass or not, you did your best and learned important information. Avoid thinking about the worst-case scenarios. They usually never happen. Write down the “new thought” in the fourth column.
  5. Monitor your thoughts. When you are thinking negatively, stop yourself as soon as you realize it and replace the negative thought with your “new thought”. Even though negative thoughts will always come up, the perseverance you develop will keep you going and after time the old thoughts will be replaced with the new ones.

To learn more about this topic and exercise, listen to Joan’s discussion with Michelle at: http://michellephillipsblog.com/2013/09/12/joan-herman-change-your-attitude-change-your-life/