27 Nov

Owning it: Take charge of your own feelings


It is always interesting when I hear someone tell me about a colleague, friend or family member that “makes” them angry.  As cliche as it does sound no one else can be responsible for how we feel.  It is a difficult life lesson but by owning our feelings we can find more peace and calm in our lives.

…our beliefs and expectations about a person or event or situation directly influence, and many would argue, cause our feelings.  They are not the result of or inherent in of the situation itself.  Others do not cause our feelings- we cause them ourselves  –

Michael Edelstein, Three Minute Therapy

Taking responsibility or owning our feelings although difficult can free us from our self imposed mental constraints.   In 5 Strategies For Ending the Blame Game and Taking Responsibility, tip number one suggests creating an intention.  Declare to yourself that you will accept responsibility for your overall wellbeing both emotional and physical.  Start you day with intent and purpose and with each passing day you will believe in yourself more and more. You will build confidence in knowing what you are capable of doing.

Set clear boundaries.  This is a subject that cannot be talked about enough.  Boundaries that are set and defined by us can keep us safe.  Safe from saying yes to things we don’t want to do but also from owning someone else’s stuff.  Self responsibility means that we have to take care of what is bothering us but we are not in charge of what might be impacting someone else.  This is where the boundaries come into play.

Setting Emotional Boundaries: Stop Taking Other People’s Feelings.  The phone call from someone close to you that leaves you feeling sad or agitated.  That is an indication that we are taking on someone else’s feelings.  It can be easy to do when someone is feeling sad or depressed.  We want to listen, we want to help but we need to have boundaries that help ourselves.  In this article one of the examples used describes releasing the need to fix things for others.  That release happens when we give permission to ourselves to not take on more or take responsibility for others.

Emotions such as anger and frustration can be diminished in our lives if we hand back things that emotionally aren’t ours.  The argument between two friends that finds you in the middle or the sibling who wants someone else to fight their battle with mom.  So next time you are feeling upset, step back and ask what it is or who it is you are reacting to.


12 Oct

Setting Compassionate Boundaries

brene-brown-quote-boundariesSetting compassionate boundaries is something we often help clients do in counselling sessions.  It is something that can sometimes seem uncomfortable and difficult.  In truth it is unfamiliar to many. There is almost a mindset that if you love someone that it just isn’t right to say no.

Boundaries are really about loving yourself and the people in your life. Brene Brown talks about boundaries as “what’s okay and what’s not okay” in her short clip Boundaries, Empathy and Compassion. She describes creating boundaries and becoming a more loving person.  If we are exhausted and harboring feelings of resentment, it is likely that we haven’t been setting boundaries.

In the Truth About Setting Boundaries and Compassion it is pointed out that “Defining Boundaries isn’t selfish, but necessary, in order to grow beyond ourselves.” So set them and keep them in a step towards healthy growth.

Set Limits

If you are tired but have been invited to do something, stop and think.  Do I want to go?  Am I doing it out of obligation?  Will it bring me joy?  Can I reschedule it to a time where I have more energy?  Can I just go for a short time?  Will it zap me of the little energy that I have left?

Use these questions, or any you have thought of yourself, to guide you in the decision making process.  We have all done something when we were feeling rundown and maybe even a bit irritable and generally the outcome is not positive.   If you enjoy spending time with someone but don’t feel up to a big group get together, say no.  No doesn’t have to mean you won’t do something with them, it means you love and respect yourself enough to be honest.  Ask them to do something just one on one.  Tell them that you enjoy their company and just want to hang out with them.

Don’t Waiver

Don’t let others make you feel bullied into saying yes.  Stand your ground and be true to yourself and others.  If you really don’t want to go to that concert or spend hours listening to a friend talk about their negative relationship patterns, then don’t.  You are helping them and are being kind to them by drawing a line.

Be Kind

Be honest to yourself about why you are setting the boundary, but also be kind.  Kindness is highly underrated but is something that brings us joy.

If you see someone struggling but you know your emotional resources are low and you haven’t got a lot to give, that is okay.  Just be kind, a small gesture means so much.  Send a text, buy them a latte, drop them a casserole and just let them know you are thinking about them.

Above all else, extend this kindness to yourself.  You need to be your own friend too.  Show yourself that you care.  Go for that walk, skip that dinner meeting, enjoy that long bath with a book.  Do these things knowing that you are being compassionate and that is all about love and compassion.


04 May

Setting Limits


With busy lives and limited resources maybe in energy, finances or time we can find ourselves stretched and even resentful. I once had a young, but very wise personal trainer who told me “every time you say yes you must say no to something else.”  I would often protest at his words of wisdom saying I can’t let anything go because it is all important.  He was right though and sometimes we just need to figure things out the hard way.  In my life that usually is when my body tells me it is time to stop by gifting me with a cold or flu.

In an article from by Britt Bolnick, How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 3 Crucial First Steps, the first step is to get in touch with how you are feeling and recognize the sensations in your mind and body.  Being proactive is important and by recognizing  signs such as fatigue, irritability or gastrointestinal issues early we can make changes.  Our bodies actually have an early warning system built in but we don’t always listen to it.  Be present, be aware of drained energy levels and take action.

Our lives are always changing and yet we find it difficult to let things go.  At some point life is too full and in order to make space for new experiences we need to let go of things that no longer have a purpose in our life.  Do a personal audit. Are there people who leave you feeling exhausted or annoyed after spending time with them?  Are there activities that you continue to do that make you feel resentful but you have always done them?  Create a boundary and set limits. Shield your personal energy, as it is a precious resource.

In 7 Ways to Protect Your Energy and Enforce Healthy Boundaries, Dr. Susan Biali suggests that you “get clear about what a protected, on purpose life would look and feel like”.  Create a list.  How would you know that your life was in balance and on purpose?  What  would you have in it?  What things might you limit?  What would be new? What changes would you make? Would you have more energy?

So get a journal and take a minute to write a few of these things down.  Once you are done you can create a new blueprint for your life with some healthy boundaries and limits.  It can take time to do but as you make those changes you will notice subtle shifts in how you feel. Remember that a happier, energized and more fulfilled you, means you are now able to give positively to others and still have something left for you.

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