Sunday, June 26, 2016

boundaries

In my experience, some people naturally have stronger or less permeable boundaries than others. Very empathetic people tend to have a harder time with boundaries, most likely because they feel very invested in other people’s well-being. Merging emotionally with others, or prioritizing the needs of others feels like a good thing, an honorable thing. Learning that there is a negative aspect to this altruism can be jarring. 
Some people struggle with boundaries because of dysfunctional families of origin. There might be significant emotional distress associated with establishing boundaries due to negative experiences in the past, such that avoiding it feels less frightening. Perhaps our parents taught us that we are to do exactly what we are told without question, and so we never learned to express or prioritize our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. The issue then pops up when we are adults and we find we do not agree with or accept our parents’ worldviews or align with their vision for our lives. But, we may feel guilty for not accepting or not wishing to accept our parents’ dictums. 
Still others just have a difficult time asserting themselves, or feeling entitled speaking up when something doesn’t feel good to us. Sometimes this is about low self-esteem or a sense of not being worthy.
Regardless of the origin of the difficulty, what often happens is that in failing to hold others’ needs, desires, and opinions at an appropriate distance from our own, we find ourselves unable to even determine what we think or feel. We routinely fail to adequately attend to our own needs. We begin to (or continue) to habitually back-burner ourselves, and over time we may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and burdened but not even know why or who to blame for these feelings. 
This is the course intro I wrote for the "Boundaries" mini-workshop I'm teaching recently:  
In other words: 
"Fucked-up people will try to tell you otherwise, but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. They are not judgments, punishments, or betrayals. They are a purely peaceable thing: the basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors. Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and they teach you how to respect yourself.” 
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Next class on BOUNDARIES: Saturday, December 3 from 1-3 p.m. $50 
Email me with questions or use this link to register: PayPal.me/millercounseling/50

the best words come from your mouth, not your fingers.

A client just informed me in no uncertain terms that Facebook is responsible for the downfall of human relationships. Agree or disagree?
Personally, I disagree, but then again, I don't use it for any drama-inducing and I don't carry on secret relationships with people I reconnected with on here. I think the real culprit is text messaging. It is virtually impossible to communicate clearly via text and yet we insist on carrying on deeply personal, important conversations this way. Text messaging allows us to heedlessly toss words at each other without taking proper time to craft what we are trying to say, as we would in a letter, and also costs us the option of managing our message in realtime as we see (or hear from inflection) how it is landing on the other person. There is so much room for error from both the sender and the receiver within the lack of nuance that I'm amazed any relationships survive that rely heavily on texting. I opine that the only real means to effectively communicate in a way that is productive, concise, and respectful is to speak to one another in real life. Preferably in person. One of my favorite quotes speaks to this notion: 

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We will cover this and much more in the USE WORDS (aka Say What the F*** You Mean) class. Next session is Thursday, January  12 from 630-830 p.m. Email me at amy@millercounseling.org for more information or to register.