What Boundaries Can Never Do For You And Why.

boundaries

As a coach, I get a lot of questions about boundaries.
Here’s one from a recent client:
“I feel like everyone in my life is taking advantage of me. I guess I have no boundaries. Can you help me with that?”

I start the conversation asking her to share an example.

And the example always goes something like this…

“So-and-so wants me to help her out with such-and-such. She is constantly asking me to do things for her. She has absolutely no respect for my time or my schedule. She always thinks that I can drop everything and be there for her. She has no appreciation for me at all and I am sick of it.”

I am curious about what she does next.
And the answer is always something like this…
“I tell her that I can help her out.”
I ask why.
“Because she asked and I don’t want to disappoint her.”
A-ha.

I told her she didn’t help to create boundaries.
She needed help getting good at no.
We all get this one confused – especially when we are people-pleasers.

We believe some crazy things about boundaries.

1. We think boundaries are these invisible shields of protection that will prevent the requests, the favors and the phone calls for help.
2. We believe boundaries will teach people to stop taking advantage of us and then they will know exactly how to treat us better.
3. We think that boundaries with stop the potential disappointment that others will have in us.
4. And finally, those boundaries set an expectation of how other people should act with us.

Boundaries don’t have these 4 superpowers. They can’t do any of these things.

And here’s why.

People are going to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

They are going to ask for help, favors and make requests. And they get to do that.

And you get to respond to those requests in whatever way you want to.

Just because someone asks you for something, does not mean that you have to say yes or believe that you are being taken advantage of.

Here’s the real superpower that you are looking for – getting good at no.

Getting good at no means getting good at telling the truth.

This matters because every time you say yes when you really mean no – you are choosing to tell yourself and the other person a big, fat lie.
Lying is choosing to take advantage of yourself, to not appreciate yourself, and to disappoint yourself.

Telling the truth is what teaches people how you want to be treated because it shows them how you treat yourself.

Boundaries do play a role in our relationships but rarely do we actually need them. 9 times out of 10, the problems that we are having in our relationships are about the way we treat ourselves. The better we treat ourselves, the better our relationships. Treating ourselves better begins with us telling the truth.

And here’s what getting good at no can do for you.
A no can be delivered with kindness and love. Kindness and love are emotions that you experience and they feel good!
No is a sign of self-respect. Self-respect increases your trust in yourself!

No makes your future yes that much sweeter.

You will be much more excited about your yeses without all the resentment and irritation!

Ready to say no more in your life? Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session and let’s talk about why saying no is a challenge and how you can move past it.

 

The Importance of Reflection.

reflection

It is a perfect week to look back – to scan over the months and days of 2016 – a time for reflection.

To think about all the things that took place during the year.

To give our time and attention to the details of our life.

We worked hard to create every moment. To schedule every appointment. To accomplish every task.

Why not take some time to assess what it all meant and to reflect on the cumulative effect of all our hard work?

Take 30 minutes and sit down with your 2016 calendar and look back on the year.

Review each month carefully – noticing the doctor’s appointments, scheduled meetings, morning drop-offs, vacations, performances, family reunions, errands, date nights, work trips and house projects.

Think about the flow of money in and out of your life.
Think about your health throughout the year, the sick days and the well days.
Think about the love you gave and the love you received.
Think about the emotions you experienced throughout the year.

How did you feel most of the time?
Happy? Motivated? Excited? Confident? Focused? Content?
Or
Afraid? Worried? Detached? Sad? Guilty? Confused?

Make notes and observations about 2016 and then answer these questions:

  • What moments are you most proud of and why?
  • Where did you struggle and why?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • How did you grow and evolve?
  • Where did you hold yourself back?

Take responsibility and ownership of all of it. Every single moment was created by you.

It’s not just the events that fill the blocks of time on our calendars that matter – it is the effect of all of those events, combined with our physical and emotional well-being that determine the success of our lives.

It doesn’t matter how much we accomplished (on the calendar) in 2016, if we spent a lot of the year feeling exhausted, lonely, stressed out and broke.

This reflection exercise is so important because it encourages us to look at the whole picture of 2016 and to be honest with ourselves about our results. And here is what is really important to understand – our results are always created by our own thinking. Seriously! All of our 2016 results began with our thoughts. So all of our positive results started with positive thoughts and all of our negative results started with negative thoughts.

It is so important to really grasp this concept before moving into any goal setting for 2017 because you have the opportunity to generate different results for yourself by changing your thoughts. But before you do any 2017 planning, I really encourage you to look back in detail at 2016 and reflect on the overall outcome. Be honest with yourself about your year. Be truthful. Own it. All of it. From this place, you will be able to be much more authentic in looking ahead to what you want to accomplish next year.

Next week, I will give you some specific exercises on how to create your 2017 goals, using your most valuable and sophisticated planning tool – your mind! Here’s the link to the exercises: https://katiepulsifercoaching.com/2017/01/06/success/

Until then – Happy New Year!

The Busy Syndrome.

people-pleasing

How many times do you hear people use the excuse that they are too busy?

Do yourself a HUGE favor and don’t use that as a reason for not doing anything ever again.

Your future will thank you. I promise!

“Busy” is the generalized excuse we use for not going after our dreams.

It’s the ultimate dream stealer.

It is important to remember that we define our busy.

We are the ones who choose what we will do with our time and our day. We create this state for ourselves.

It is important to look at it regularly, question it, and decide if it is in line with how we truly want to be living.

Instead of saying that I was too busy to work out, say, “I chose to lie on the couch and watch TV instead of working out.” Or, “I chose to see my daughter’s play instead of going for a walk.”

Everything you do in your life is a choice even if it doesn’t feel like it.

You choose to go to work, you choose to take care of your family and you can choose to take care of yourself.

“Busy” is a dark hole of vagueness that will never help you get a handle on anything. Be specific so you can identify what it is in your life that is and isn’t working.

Kick “busy” to the curb.

One of my clients was a high-level executive who was too busy to do anything she really wanted. I asked her to define busy. She went on to describe her day of running errands, going to meetings, picking up her kids, going to the store, making dinner, doing laundry, and answering clients’ calls. She had lumped these activities into a seemingly unchangeable busy.

Busy was living her life, but it was at the expense of what she really wanted.

I suggested she change her plan by writing down everything important to her, putting these priorities at the top of the list and then shifting activities from the busy pile to the bottom. At first, she thought it would be impossible to add even one more thing to her day. By evaluating how she was spending her time, she saw ways she could delegate and eliminate some of her busy.

It really worked. She had the mantra, “Me first, busy second.”

The ultimate result was that she was able to fulfill her own needs and actually handle the rest with much more peace because she saw it as a choice, not a forced reality of life.

Don’t confuse being busy with living your life.

One of the best secrets to eliminating busy from your life is to learn how to say no. Many times we say yes when we really want to say no. We go to parties and functions we don’t want to attend, we buy things that we do not need and we eat food we don’t want to eat.

When should you say no? Whenever it’s the truth.

Living a life that is based on truth is freeing and wonderful.

You eat when you are truly hungry, you spend time with people you truly like and you live a life you truly want. When you begin to tell the truth about your real desires and real emotions, you can begin to live your truth.

The truth really does set you free and allows you to get the right perspective on how you spend your time. “Busy” will stop becoming an automatic excuse.

And you will instead experience the joy of creating the life you want to live.

Do you want some help kicking “busy” to the curb in your life? Book a complimentary Breakthrough Session and we can recreate your priority, so you are spending more time choosing to do exactly what you want and less time using your”busyness” as an excuse.

Emotional Boundaries.

boundaries, ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

Some of my clients do not want to set proper emotional boundaries in their lives because they don’t want to risk losing relationships. They’re afraid that if they take care of themselves and tell the truth, they might make the other person angry. So in order to avoid the other person “getting upset”, they stay in relationships that are based on lies, pretenses and resentment. This prevents true intimacy in the relationship.

Having a conversation about an emotional boundary can be uncomfortable and challenging – it is really hard work. It is also the work of true intimacy. Honoring yourself and what is authentic and true, along with the willingness to let other people interpret it how they will, is difficult, but well worth it in the end. People who cannot find the courage to have conversations like this, stay in relationships where they are pretending. Then they often wonder why their relationships aren’t deep or intimate. Or even worse, the relationship erupts in the end due to built up resentment and hostility, which we blame on the other person for our own lack of emotional boundaries.

What is an emotional boundary?

I like to define it like this:
An emotional boundary is something that I create for myself. Like a property boundary, it delineates where I end and you start. It is a request that I make of someone else to change a certain behavior and a consequence of what I will do to self-protect if they violate the boundary.

Emotional boundaries promote self-responsibility and empowerment, ultimately leading to closer relationships with others.

It is about telling the truth to ourselves and to the people in our lives.

An emotional boundary is not an ultimatum. Nor is it a way of controlling another person, so that we can feel better.

How do you know when you need to create an emotional boundary?

I like to tell my clients this:
There is a situation that consistently upsets you and you are worried about being viewed as bad, rude or uncaring when you think about having an emotional boundary conversation with the person in this situation. And yet, this is exactly the way that you are acting on a regular basis with this person. You try to smile and act like everything fine, but you are seething underneath. You act one way with this person and then complain about them behind their back. If asked, you always say that everything is fine but the resentment is building.

How do you set an emotional boundary?

Here is what I teach my clients:

Emotional boundaries always come from a place of love.

If you are angry, frustrated and mad – you need to work through these emotions first.
Write down all your feelings and work through them until you can get to a place of calm, peace and love. It’s important to remember that the reason you are upset is not because someone has violated your boundary, it is because you haven’t been truthful with yourself and the other person and set a boundary in the first place. When you can really own that and take responsibility for your emotions, you can explain your boundary from a place of love and then set clear consequences for what will happen if the boundary is not honored.

Setting emotional boundaries requires courage. It is all about truth-telling and honoring yourself, no matter what. When you can have this conversation with someone from a place of love, you will significantly increase peace and intimacy in your life.

The Art of Manipulation.

ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

I was talking to a client the other day, who is very afraid of having a direct conversation with her husband. Things have been steadily improving between the two of the them and so she didn’t want to “rock the boat”. And yet, there are still some things that need to be said. She kept waiting for the perfect moment, to have the perfect conversation, to get the perfect response that would make her feel good.

I had to burst her bubble.

I told her that she was manipulating the situation with all this waiting. Manipulating the situation with the careful scrutiny of every interaction between them and always choosing to go with the flow instead of speaking her mind. She was manipulating the truth, by being silent. She was allowing fear of a potential worse-case scenario outcome, rob her present moments with her husband.

The art of manipulation.

I kept asking her questions.

What do you believe to be true?
What do you need to say?
What are you afraid of?
Are you willing to receive the truth in return?
What outcome do you want?
Why do you want this outcome?
How long are you willing to wait to experience this outcome?

The truth is that she deeply loves her husband. She wants to bring him even closer. To protect their sacred time together, despite their busy lives. She wants presence and real connection with him. She wants to eliminate the unnecessary distractions. She wants to be more vulnerable and more open with him.

She wasn’t able to see that she was working directly against herself. And that waiting to have this direct conversation was postponing what she truly wanted. Her fear about how he might respond was delaying her desired experience for an even deeper connection.

Does this sound familiar?
I’ve done this, plenty of times.

We deny ourselves of the very thing that we want most, because we want to protect ourselves. To be careful with our hearts. To not risk too much. To stay safe. We like to avoid pain and heartbreak and discomfort. But all the protection and worry about what “might” happen manipulates our truth and we move further and further away from what we really want.

So, how do we end a pattern of manipulating?

First, we need to own up to our truth and to be clear about what we really want. We deserve to claim it and to share it. To express ourselves, to be open and vulnerable is about being truly authentic.

Second, we need to accept that other people get to respond and react to us with their truth. And this can be very difficult to accept – to put ourselves out there and maybe not like what we get back. To “rock the boat” means that we may not always get the answer or outcome that we want and sometimes be exactly what we need instead. The upside is that we always know where we stand, even though it may not always feel good in the moment. We stand in our truth and so does the other person. There is no manipulation by either side, complicating or distorting things. The truth always simplifies the situation.

When I think about my brave and amazing client this week, I know that she is preparing to have this conversation with her husband. A conversation that is rooted in her truth and is detached from a particular negative outcome. She is letting go of a need to manipulate the situation ahead of time. She is open to being open. She is curious about how her vulnerability may lead to something unexpected and perfect. She is redefining “rock the boat” to mean something more empowering and inspiring. She is going in – all in. Simple and straight-forward truth telling and I am confident that she is going to be just fine.

Avoidance.

ask yourself this question life coaching confidence self care

 

Not wanting to do something that we have to do.
Keeping away.
An escape from consequences.

We love to create all kinds of worse case scenarios for the way that things will turn out, so we can avoid doing things that we don’t want to do.

We dream up terrible outcomes. We imagine bad endings. We create all sorts of evidence why avoiding the situation makes perfect sense. Then we distract. We procrastinate. And we resist wanting the thing that we have worked so hard to avoid going after.

The negative self-talk begins and all sorts of feelings emerge. These are usually, the not-so-great feelings, like frustration, guilt, disappointment, worry. Each of these unsettling feelings created, because we decided to avoid doing something we needed / wanted to do.

The truth is that we avoid doing difficult and challenging things because we want to avoid feeling uncomfortable. And yet, when we don’t follow through and take action on things we need to do, we experience all kinds of negative emotions anyway. We trade a potential negative feeling and taking action for wanting to escape a negative feeling, taking no action and feeling negative emotions of avoidance anyway.

So here are my tips on how to move through avoidance.

Identify your WHY. Why do you need to do this thing? Search for the meaning and connect to it. Does it improve your life in some way? Will it have long-term positive consequences if it goes well? Is it about helping someone that you care about? Look at the big picture. If you can’t find and identify the why and stand behind it, then perhaps this thing is something you are doing out of obligation or for the wrong reasons. Make sure you know your WHY. Be truthful and connected to it.
Focus on the positive outcomes. What are all the amazing possible outcomes that can come from taking this action? What is possible? Use your imagination to predict best-case scenarios – let this motivate you in a very powerful way towards making decisions and taking action.
Be willing to sit with negative emotion. Accept that negative feelings are going to come up. Knowing ahead of time, that negative emotions will show up as guilt, regret, disappointment and worry if you don’t take the action that you need to. Understand that taking action may trigger discomfort, fear, embarrassment for you. Be ready for those feelings. Expect them. Welcome the uncomfortable into your life, because it means that you are doing something challenging / difficult and moving closer towards something you want. Be willing to feel your uncomfortable feelings and take action anyway. It is best way to move closer towards the things that you want in your life.

Who I have Become

perfectionist, epic fails, failure, recovering

I used to try and control circumstances and other people in my life.

I used to let people’s opinions of me dictate how I would feel.

I used to not know how to say no.

I used to define my worth with my year-end review in my corporate job.

I used to be afraid of being messy.

I used to worry about what people thought.

I used to live my life within a very small box.

I used to think that I wasn’t funny.

I used to believe that I would never fall in love again.

I used to say “I don’t know how” a lot.

I used to be intimidated hanging out with a lot of women.

I used to be afraid of speaking my truth.

I used to be paralyzing afraid of disappointing anyone.

I used to care a lot about wearing designer clothes.

I used to be perceived as aloof and hard to get to know.

I used to think that I was an extrovert.

I used to be a people pleaser.

I used to spend a lot of time feeling very uncomfortable.

I used to not know myself very well.

What it takes to be seen

A willingness to be very uncomfortable.

A willingness to take risks.

A willingness to speak truth.

A willingness to embody one’s greatness.

A willingness to be misunderstood.

A willingness to pioneer.

A willingness to stand your ground.

A willingness to have faith.

A willingness to let go of things that are not in your best interest.

A willingness to be alone.

A willingness to honor your dreams.

A willingness to be vulnerable.

A willingness to laugh and not take yourself so seriously.

A willingness to piss people off.

A willingness to celebrate every little accomplishment along the way.

A willingness to live with conviction.

A willingness to love unconditionally.

A willingness to detach from outcomes.

Be seen.

How Empowered Feels

It feels like I know where I belong.

It feels like I know why I am here.

It feels like knowing when to listen and knowing when to speak.

It feels like being centered.

It feels like knowing exactly the right time to say “no thank you”.

It feels like being authentic.

It feels like letting go of my old story about myself.

It feels vulnerable.

It feels like walking towards my fear, instead of away from it.

It feels like when I stop making excuses.

It feels like loving myself more than I thought was possible.

It feels like my truth.

It feels like connecting with my purpose.

It feels like when I forgive and let go.

It feels like being a grown-up.

It feels like stepping out of the fog and into the sun.

Why I stopped believing in Plan B

For the longest time I thought that I always needed a backup plan. Otherwise known as Plan B. You know, the thing that you will do when the thing that you really want doesn’t work out.

I thought that having a Plan B was….

being smart

being careful

being prepared

having options

creating a safety net

The problem was that having a Plan B always led to having a Plan C which eventually led to a Plan D and so on….

I woke up one day to realize that I had veered really far off-course. I was living the backup plan to the backup plan. What the?

I have come to understand that when you constantly think about Plan B, then you are robbing your Plan A of the energy, commitment and focus that it requires to come true. Your Plan A never stands a chance when it is competing for your attention with Plan B. Plan A get sabotaged with fear and worry when we believe that we need a Plan B waiting in the wings.

I have made the decision that now there is only Plan A. There is no other option. Only Plan A gets the spotlight and all my attention.

I eat Plan A for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plan A is the song that is stuck in my head. It’s the first thing that I think of when I wake up and the last thing that I think of before I go to sleep. I tell those closest to me about my Plan A, so they will help hold me accountable to my dream. I never invite Plan B to the party.

Identifying Plan A takes tremendous work, focus and effort.

It means risking and revealing who we really are.

It takes courage and total commitment.

It means being ‘all in’.

When we go ‘all in’, we are fully aligned with what we desire. From that place of desire, we will take deliberate and intentional action towards realizing our dream.

The result? Plan A every time.