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.


06 Jul

Stepping outside your Comfort Zone


As therapists we talk about this imaginary comfort zone a lot.  We may use different phrases and words, perhaps we talk about resistance to change or pushing boundaries or maybe we just suggest doing things differently. Whatever the language we are talking about change and doing something in a way we haven’t done  before to achieve a different result.  This means for many of us that we have to step outside that invisible comfort zone.

The funny thing is that when we talk about this people describe feeling anxious about the mere idea.  In an article titled How Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Can Help Reduce Anxiety the author challenges this idea with their own personal experiences with change. While challenging herself didn’t completely eliminate her anxiety she found that anxiety was not who she was. It opened the door to what was possible.

The “comfort zone” defined by Lifehacker as a “behavioral space where your activities and behaviors first a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk.” Of course this sounds great but it doesn’t leave much room for change, growth and new experiences. Huffington Post gives us 6 Reasons to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and they are pretty compelling.  They suggest that trying new things can make you more creative, help you perform at your peak and even help you age better!

So where  can you start?  In Lori Thayer’s article Step Out Of The Comfort Zone from Life Hack she gives ideas for small, medium and huge steps.  While I wouldn’t recommend some of the huge steps they did make me smile. I mean go camping with bears?!  Maybe start small like signing up for a computer class, saying hello to a new person every day or not reading your email every time you hear that incoming mail sound.

In How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: 3 Helpful Habits, writer Henrik Edberg suggests mixing it up a bit.  He recommends eating something new or changing your daily route.  If you aren’t quite ready to go it alone you could bring a friend along to the gym or that party you want to go to. Regardless of what the change is you are opening yourself to new experiences and it can be exciting and a bit scary but you will notice a difference!


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