Stepping Into A New Chapter With Boundaries

The interview discusses stepping into a new chapter with boundaries in relationships. It covers recognizing the need for boundaries, healing...

Welcome to the Embody Podcast, today I chat with Sonia a fellow podcaster about stepping into a new chapter with boundaries. In this interview we cover recognizing the need for boundaries, starting boundary conversations, handling defensiveness, knowing your limits, taking a step back if needed, and ending toxic relationships while still being respectful.

Healthy Boundaries

We’re going to talk about boundaries. Everybody buckle up because this is always one where I feel like everybody, you know, you start to talk about it or even you mention it to somebody like, hey, I’m going to set some boundaries and people are like they take that little breath.

I want to debunk it because honestly, boundaries are beautiful… So what is your take on boundaries? Do you set good ones? Let’s just get into it. Yeah, like you mentioned, boundaries are great. They’re lovely. It’s a must, but it is not easy.

It is definitely not easy to set boundaries. I still struggle with setting boundaries, even though I have set boundaries. And you talked about my perspective, specifically on growing up in a South Asian community, it is really hard to set boundaries with your family members and your friends because there’s kind of no such thing as setting boundaries with the family orientation kind of community that we come from.

But I totally agree setting boundaries is absolutely important. It is not easy. And honestly, it takes time to be able to set boundaries because you have to learn about yourself, you have to know yourself.

You have to know what your needs are, what your wants are, what your preferences are, what kind of people you want in your life, what you want from other people. Understand these things and it comes from also loving yourself and respecting yourself.

That’s where it’s from, yeah. So first off, like where do you even start? So let’s say something comes up and you’re like, I need to start setting this boundary. Where do you even start? I feel like that’s the big kicker there.

Yeah, I think the first thing you have to recognize is do I need to set a boundary? Is there something in me that’s telling me I need to set a boundary here? Is it something that goes against my values, my wishes, am I emotionally burnt out or am I traumatized, am I being triggered?

You have to figure that out first. And then from there, depending on who it is, you kind of have to understand the type of communication that you have with that person. Like your mom, your dad, it might be a little different compared to like your significant other or your friend.

And you just have to have multiple conversations. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that one conversation. It’s the way you convey yourself and it’s the way you have to come with a level of kindness, right?

And some empathy and trying to get to a middle ground. And if they love you, if they respect you, they should understand where you’re coming from and give you the space that you need. I love that you just said that because as you’re walking through things, right?

As you’re talking about communication, which we’ll get into even more, I think about it of like the easiest person I can set boundaries with is my husband. I have no, I got no issue being like, yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know if I like that.

And like, should I greet it with a little bit more kindness? Probably, but he’s my spouse and you know, as we are with our spouses. And I think there’s that level of safety of like, He wants what’s best for me.

He loves me, he wants me to feel safe, he wants me to feel all of those things. So it’s a lot easier. And I think sometimes we do forget of like our friends and our family, they do love us as well. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Communication With Boundaries

And I totally relate to you when it comes to like your husband, because I’m the same way because he’s the safest person. I feel like I’m around I’m like, Jesse, can you like not do this or like, you know, but it’s like, it’s a different level of conversation and communication.

Whereas with like your friends and your family members, it’s a little different. But yeah, I agree. Like, if it’s true with friends and family, it’s it’s different. You have to tell yourself, they love you, they also care for you and want to be there for you.

We’re all humans at the end. Communication is key, but also being able to understand throughout that communication process. It’s very important. Yeah. Thank you. I love that. Let’s talk about, so I think you’re right.

I think going in, well, one, I feel like even our mindset going into it. So when people think of boundaries, right? We think of like these big walls going up or armor going up. And sometimes it is that, which is totally fine.

And then other times it’s just saying like, no, which I feel like everybody gets a little bit weird about too, just because it’s uncomfortable and we were always taught, you know, don’t say no. And so I just, I think if we start from the aspect of like, it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to feel our feelings and we can convey that in a way that is not attacking the other person, not going on defense.

So I think that communication that you’re talking about is so important. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think the word no or saying like, not today, some other time, you know, we’ll circle back. It’s okay, there’s different ways of saying it too, right?

Like, or I’m tired or like, I’m not feeling well or I have other things going on. I have to prioritize other things. That’s also another way of saying no as well. And it’s okay to say no. And sometimes with certain people, you kind of have to be stern and say no.

You have to, because maybe you’ve communicated enough times and you’re just like, no, I’m sorry. Like, I can’t do this because it could be emotionally like hard for you. Absolutely. I think you actually hit a really good point too.

I think sometimes we think about boundaries and we’re like, okay, well, we’ve conveyed it to that person that we don’t want this. And most of the time, I don’t, I actually don’t know any boundaries that I’ve ever set with anybody where it was like, I said it once and all was good.

It’s you have to repeatedly say it often, which is okay. And sometimes if you can, and I feel like every single time you do say it, it does maybe become a little bit more stern. Yeah, because I feel like…

like sometimes people get really comfortable with having access to you. You just being there for them all the time. They’re not they’re overlooking the fact that you know, you’re also a human being, you have a life, you have things going on.

Like I said, you just have to communicate and they have to be willing to understand you. And honestly, if they don’t, then you just have to sorry, keep your distance. That’s the only way you can protect yourself.

Yeah, I love that. I think and I think that’s okay, too. You know, there’s definitely times I feel like even with any relationship, right, every relationship kind of ebbs and flows. And I think about kind of some of the people that I’ve set boundaries with, there’s definitely times where I’ve set the boundaries.

And I’ve had to take those steps back and been like, I still feel like you’re maybe not getting it. Does that mean I cut you out of my life? No, because I love you. And, you know, we’re blood. So there’s not really any cutting you out necessarily.

And I also don’t want to. And then there’s times where You know, I have been able to take a couple of steps forward back in that relationship because those boundaries then now have been respected because you took those steps backwards.

Right, right. You sometimes just have to show it to them through your actions instead of words for them to realize, Hey, this person is not okay with, you know, being accessible at all times and you just have different ways of doing it.

So I agree. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Um, so let’s get it. Let’s get it to, I just feel it. I just feel like we have to get into the nitty gritty ones, which everybody, like I said, buckle up. So with ones, okay, I’m talking friends.

I’m talking parents, family members, in -laws, whatever, right? Those are all like extremely hard ones. Which ones do you find that are probably like the hardest? Um, I would have to say it would be my family, number one, because there’s that generational kind of difference.

Um, also there’s that cultural difference. Like my parents grew up in, you know, in Pakistan and I grew up here, you know, um, the different cultures. Uh, so I would say family for sure. Number one, and then number two would be, I would say friends.

Yeah, those are definitely, I would say, yeah, top top top two for sure on that. So let’s talk about a little bit. So you don’t have to obviously say what the boundary is because that’s none of my business nor anybody else’s, but let’s talk about like, we talked about a little bit in the beginning of like, okay, I know I have to set a boundary and it can be really scary to do that, to take that step, to take that conversation.

Gaining Confidence

So what did you do? How do you get enough confidence to really express what it is that you need? Especially with something that’s that difficult as like a family or a friend. Yeah. So I’ll be honest at first, it wasn’t like as easy for me and I’ve done therapy.

Like I’ve had to see. like a therapist and be like, Hey, I’m like struggling with this. And like, you know, can you help me like dissect this situation and kind of help me better understand like, am I doing something wrong?

Cause like, you’re also hard on yourself when you’re trying to set that boundary. Cause you’re trying to learn about yourself. But you know, when I realized that if I’m, if it’s really taking a toll on me, if, if I’m feeling emotionally burnt out or if it’s impacting like my family here, like as in like my husband and me, I have to tell myself, Hey, like you love yourself enough, you respect yourself enough, you know, just try to communicate that when it comes to family, especially communicate that to them and let them know like, Hey, like I love you.

I respect you. I understand where you’re coming from, but like understand what ever you’re doing, it is also hurting me in the process and it’s hurting my, myself growth is hurting me physically is hurting me mentally.

And so let’s find some other ways to. tackle certain things, especially when they’re asking, I’m an older daughter. So it’s like the oldest daughter syndrome. Oh, yeah. And it’s very, very, very prominent in the Pakistani community.

So anything that they want, even though I’m married, they would come to me instead of my younger brother. And I’m just like, Hello, and it’s just they just think I’m the reliable one. But again, like I have to really communicate that to them that I also have a sibling, but there should be certain boundaries and certain way where you can kind of distribute the work amongst us and look for other people to also rely on.

It can’t just only be me.

And really taught me certain things. And it’s so funny, especially when you’re talking about like, the first thing when we set boundaries is we do, we always look at ourselves first. Am I weird for like going against the grain here on this one?

And then you talk to somebody on that outside perspective. And they’re like, no. And you’re like, okay, cool. Cause I feel weird. Cause I’m going against the grain of somebody else. And I do, I think that’s so powerful, but I love the way that you shifted it.

You said like, we’re just learning more about ourselves. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And then we, like, we’re telling ourselves like, are we being mean? Because maybe growing up, we just kind of just, just took it and, you know, did not say no.

But again, it’s, it’s okay. Like we mentioned before, it’s okay to say no. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being mean. There’s, there’s ways to go about it. Totally. And one thing too, I think this is a big one, at least for me and in the context of I’m thinking of one of the boundaries that I have set, there’s definitely times where it’s like.

It’s okay for you to do something. So even for your example of like, if you ask the question of like, Hey, what’s going on? I feel like then that is you allowing that conversation to happen. But it’s the ones that like, it’s the expectation of like, we’re just automatically going to call you.

For my instance, it’s like, we’re you’re automatically going to be the mediator, because that’s what I’ve always been. And then it was like, Oh, yeah, I don’t want to do that anymore. All the time, like I want to have the say, when I will come in and be the mediator.

Now I agree. I think it’s, it’s kind of an honor. And it’s really sweet for people to think that they can like, rely on you and mediate a situation or intervene a situation like within the family, within friends.

But you can’t always be that like, go to person. I think for me, importantly, my point is that you can’t, I think it’s good to be that accessible friend. or a family member, but to a certain degree. There’s a limit on that.

Reaching Your Limit

How do you know when you’ve reached your limit? That’s where I was struggling at first, but for me, it’s like, for instance, if I’m having a conversation with a friend on the phone and she’s talking to me about her relationship problems or something at home or whatever, at one point, I realized, okay, maybe this is like the sixth conversation and I’m just like, okay, this is kind of taking a toll on me because I love this person, they’re venting to me, but I’m feeling emotionally drained right now.

I think at that point, when you’re feeling tired or triggered, or you just feel like this person doesn’t understand that, hey, you kind of also have a life and there’s things going on, I think that’s the moment when you realize you have to take a step back.

That was a big thing for me, too, of you just don’t know and then you’re like, something is wrong and I’m just, but it’s hard and I get it in terms of, I think there’s a sense of accountability, too.

I know for me, I did it a lot. I was really hard on myself in the beginning of like, but that’s just always what I did. So I feel like it’s super weird to then turn around and be like, no, you can’t do that to me anymore.

And so I think it was just starting, I think the best advice I ever got when I was talking about starting to set these boundaries, especially with some of the relationships that are the big ones, right?

Not the tall tasks, which was like start small. Start small, work your way up. Maybe set those small boundaries with somebody that you do trust. So like starting, same thing. I started with my husband and practiced doing it in a way that if I was talking to a parent or a grandparent or something of that sort, I think starting small is big.

Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I think it’s also great when you have someone close to you, like for instance, like my husband, he will sometimes let me know like, hey, you’re like, you see physically drained and emotionally drained.

Maybe you should also think about taking a step back. Because sometimes like someone else that’s really close to especially like someone that we live with kind of has to like remind us, but it’s great getting that feedback.

Because sometimes you don’t realize that yourself and the person from the outside can can see that you’re going through something and you can take a step back. I think that’s another important thing when it comes to setting healthy boundaries.

Totally. Yeah, I mean, you’re right. We go most of the time our boundaries that we end up drawing kind of later in life is because we were just conditioned to do it when we were younger. We just fall right back into it.

It’s a very slippery slope of like how quick you can kind of fall back into those old patterns. And then yes, you have somebody on the outside being like, I thought we weren’t doing that.

Oh, you’re right. Whoops. Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s like we have to it’s nice when someone holds us accountable, but we also have to tell ourselves just to hold ourselves accountable.

However you do it, you have to let yourself know as well. So good. And then, so let’s go in. Like, I’m just, we’re going step by step here. So like we realize we need the boundary. We’re about ready to go.

Then when you’re in the conversation, and this is something that I feel like a lot of people didn’t talk about, and I didn’t realize it until I was role playing with my therapist. And she did like a couple of different situations.

And I was like, oh, I don’t, I don’t know what the answer is to that. So how do you know when you’re going into the conversation, you’re setting the boundaries, and the conversation goes quickly to the defensiveness for the other person?

Knowing When To Step Away

How do we manage that? Yeah, I think initially you mentally, like you feel down already that the other person’s reacting that way. So you kind of have to be like, okay, let’s just shift our perspective a little bit, right?

Like you have to understand that everyone has different perceptions of things. And especially if it’s like someone that you’re really close to, you need to understand where they’re coming from and why they’re being defensive, right?

Empathize with that to a certain degree, but then also let yourself know, hey, like, let them know, hey, I love you, I care about you. This is in no shape or form where I’m trying to hurt you. I just feel like I’m hurting myself in this process.

And if you love me and understand me, then I would expect you to get on board with me. You have to come with loving words in that sense, right? Because then I feel like that’s when they put their guards down.

Totally, because I think it’s, when sometimes we go into the boundary conversations, it’s not necessarily, and maybe you’re right, I think communication and verbiage is a very, very big thing going into it.

It’s not saying like necessarily like, hey, you did something wrong. It’s just like, I’m gonna, I’ll take the first reigns of like, I’m changing things up. And this is just now how it’s going to be, at least on my side.

And so I think you’re right. I think if we say it in a way, then it allows them, you know, if we can say like, I do, I hear you, and I can empathize, you know, I can show compassion, I can show empathy on the fact that I’m changing things up.

And these are still my boundaries. Right, right. And you’ve made a good point, I think also saying, and I’ve done this, where it’s like, Hey, like initially, I didn’t say anything, I was just, you know, feeling burnt out, or it was just too much for me.

But like, I’m at this point now that I just can’t do it anymore. And, and this is it. So let’s, let’s come to a middle ground. And that’s the cool part of like, it can be a middle ground.

I feel like sometimes with boundaries, we think it’s like all or nothing. And I think that was a big thing for me. I remember when I was really setting boundaries in the beginning, somebody always used to say, when I was younger, and I’m sure we’ve all heard this, right, you can be anything and do anything you want to do, right?

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