720.370.1800 - Intl 844.331.1993
Select Page
How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Have Friends

How to Stand Up for Yourself and Still Have Friends

Can you have healthy boundaries, and still be “nice?”

Have you ever felt taken advantage of, not heard, or just unappreciated? So many of us know what it’s like to be ignored in meetings, to be interrupted when we’re talking, or to feel invisible at a party. It’s no fun to be walked all over. Yet this is a very common experience. As a life coach and therapist, I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with that have experienced just that and don’t know what to do about it.

There are several misconceptions and fears around speaking up for oneself that block us from being assertive. And, let’s face it, most of us haven’t had anyone sit down and teach us the tools and skills involved in setting boundaries.  But boundaries are, in fact, some of the basic building blocks of assertiveness, confidence, and even self-worth. They are the invisible bubbles we create to help us be safe, happy and respected.

If you are like most clients I’ve worked with and, really, most people, you might think being assertive and setting boundaries is selfish, will make you look like a braggadocios bully, or even leave you without any friends (or all of the above, am I right?). So let’s correct some of these fallacies about boundaries once and for all and clear a path to assertive living!

Misconceptions, Fears and Realities About Healthy Boundaries

Misconception #1: Boundaries are Selfish

The classic example of setting a boundary is saying “No,” whether that looks like letting a colleague know their behavior isn’t okay with you, not giving a friend what they want, or letting a family member experience the consequences of their own behavior. You might be thinking, “But if you are a good friend you don’t say no,” or “Isn’t it selfish of me to ‘abandon’ someone I care about?”

Here’s the good news:

The Reality: Good, generous, kind people set boundaries. By protecting us from being spread too thin or just put in uncomfortable situations, saying no and setting boundaries allows us to give more of what we can. Boundaries free up our resources to help those we care about more effectively. In fact, setting boundaries with our loved ones gives them the opportunity to become more self-aware and grow. In short, boundaries help us and others be our best selves.

Misconception #2: Boundaries are Aggressive

We’ve all had the pleasure of knowing a social bully. He’s the loud office mate who overpowers everyone else in meetings or the girlfriend around whom you always find yourself feeling small and meek, intimidated. Often, being assertive gets confused with being aggressive. But wait…

The Reality: Calm, Humble People Set Boundaries

Aggressiveness involves infringing on the boundaries and rights of others and usually steps on other people’s feelings.  It is a highly emotional, intense state of being associated with the fight in our flight or fight response. Setting boundaries assertively, on the other hand, requires we be calm and unemotional in order to communicate clearly and detach from the outcome (something we’ll talk more about a little later).

There is a spectrum of assertiveness. On the one extreme, there is aggressive behavior. On the other is passive behavior. The “sweet spot” of healthy boundaries happens somewhere in between the two. Here’s a handy diagram to help clear things up:

Aggressive ———————Assertive———————Passive/Aggressive—Passive

Misconception #3: If I Set Boundaries, People Won’t Like Me

Yes, I know, you’ve probably experienced setting a boundary and losing someone. The pain of that lost relationship lingers with you and seemingly forever solidifies the mantra “I’m never putting my foot down again! Look what it cost me.” The truth is that sometimes being assertive or setting a boundary does filter out unhelpful relationships from our lives. And, regardless of the healthiness of the relationship, it hurts.

The Reality: Likable People Set Boundaries

It’s also true that people like to know where they stand and what to expect. Setting boundaries requires us to be consistently authentic. This predictability makes people feel safe and naturally drawn to you. Respecting your own boundaries also builds the respect others have for you. After all, healthy people are drawn to healthy people.  If you desire more healthy, fulfilling relationships in your life, a good place to start is by focusing on your own, healthy boundaries.

Want to Have Healthier Boundaries? Where to Go From Here…

Remember those mysterious tools and skills I mentioned earlier? Now that we’ve begun to clear some of the obstacles in your path to assertive living, let’s give you a toolbox to take on your journey.

Tips for Setting Boundaries

  1. Be Specific and Clear: An effective, helpful boundary ensures you and the receiver are on the same page and creates a built-in safety net for any inevitable, pesky push-back. A good rule of thumb is to use an if/then I statement that includes a consequence. For example, “If you don’t stop talking to me in an angry tone, I will leave the room.” It’s always a good idea to set a consequence that affects the receiver more than yourself if possible and — I can’t stress this enough! — one you can stick to!
  1. Make Boundaries Realistic: Don’t set yourself up for frustration by setting a boundary no normal human being could satisfy with consequences only a heartless robot could enforce. For example, rather than stating “If you ever cancel plans with me again, I won’t speak to you for the rest of my life!,” try “If you stand me up again I will be very upset and tell you how I feel.” Don’t bluff; give yourself permission to be where you are and set a boundary you can own.
  1. Let go of the Outcome: Finally, know that setting boundaries is not an effective way to manipulate or control. Those are actually great examples of poor relationship boundaries! When you set a boundary and know how you will respond if it isn’t respected, you are taking care of yourself.  For example, if you tell your partner “If you don’t pay bills on time for the next month, I will take over our financial responsibilities,” be ready to accept it if your partner gets you stuck with another late fee. Letting go of the outcome doesn’t mean not feeling emotions such as disappointment or sadness. Rather, it means knowing you are prepared to manage these emotions and respond in an effective, helpful way that honors your boundaries.

So, go ahead, try out something small. Your path is clearing up nicely. We’ve pulled up the weeds and you have a good starter-kit in your toolbox. You’re on your way to assertive living! You know how to find me if you’d like a companion as you go through your journey.

Kathleen Stutts, M.Ed., LPCC

Why You Keep Falling in Love With The Wrong Person

Why You Keep Falling in Love With The Wrong Person

Do you attract the wrong people? Do you keep having toxic relationships?

If so, you’re not alone.

You’d be surprised at how many people come to us for life coaching, breakup recovery, individual therapy, or dating coaching hoping to achieve one goal: Having a healthy relationship. (And how to stop getting involved in unhealthy ones).

They show up to therapy or life coaching because they have, over time (or after the latest heartbreaking breakup) become aware that they are engaging in “non-ideal relationship patterns,” over and over again. They keep getting involved with narcissists, or people who treat them badly. They keep choosing emotionally unavailable men, or aggressive / controlling women. Whatever the sad pattern is, they want it to stop.

Above all else, they want to work on themselves to heal, grow, and ensure that NEXT time they get involved with someone they can love and be loved in a healthy relationship with a good person. And so we dig in.

Identifying Your Blind Spots

The first stop in figuring out why you keep choosing the wrong man or wrong woman is uncovering what unconscious motivations are driving your choices. Getting outside help in understanding your toxic relationship patterns can be a wise move, because of the entirely subconscious nature of the problem.  You don’t consciously choose bad relationships — no one does. You choose what feel  in the moment, are good relationships…. and then wind up having bad experiences. (That are often mysteriously, eerily similar to the past experiences you thought you were trying to avoid).

Unhealthy relationship patterns can happen for many reasons. Sometimes it’s old, unfinished emotional business from the past. Other times, your self-esteem or feelings of self-worth can get in the way. Yet other times, the root of the problem is imbedded in way you communicate or set boundaries with others. Because you are a complex, unique, individual, your truth will not be exactly the same as everyone else’s.

Avoiding Toxic Relationships

However, there is one very common thing that most people have done at least once, and which will almost always lead to heartbreak: Falling victim to “Black Hat Love.” Learning how to spot the one fatal factor that makes you most vulnerable to getting involved in toxic relationships can help you stop the madness, and finally create the happy, healthy relationship you’re longing for.

And that’s what I’ll be teaching you about on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Have follow up questions for me? Leave them in the comments!

xoxo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Why You Keep Falling in Love With The Wrong Person (And How to Stop)

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: “Bad Love,” by So Brown

Subscribe to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast on iTunes & Stitcher. (Don’t forget to rate and review!)

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast is Now on Stitcher!

Are You Over-Focusing on “Chemistry?” (And Ruining a Great Relationship?)

Are You Over-Focusing on “Chemistry?” (And Ruining a Great Relationship?)

Afraid something’s wrong because you’re not “feeling butterflies?” Think again…

Chemistry between two people is important, especially when you’re dating. Because, let’s face it, it’s not enough to be partnered with a kind, stable, thoughtful, attractive, interesting, and fun person, is it? No. Mere decency, values, and character won’t cut it. You want to feel the feels. You’re craving “chemistry.”

How do I know this? I’m a dating coach. And I have these types of conversations frequently:

  • Jen tells me about a date, saying, “I was so excited about him– he’s perfect on paper. He’s exactly what I want. But… he doesn’t give me butterflies. We’re not going out again.”
  • John tells me about the woman he’s been dating for months. “She’s wonderful. I really like spending time with her. I know we could have a great life. My mother loves her…” “But?” I prompt. He sighs, “I just kind of want more passion. I want to see what else is out there.”

Both Jen and John are making the common dating mistake that destroys potentially amazing relationships. They both want to feel the intense, obsessive, “I can’t live without you” craving of early-stage romantic love. When that’s missing, and their relationship feels easy, reliable, and straightforward…  they assume that something must be wrong.

I get it: Chemistry matters. In fact I spend a lot of time working with my dating coaching clients to help them up their own “chemistry quotient” in order to be more attractive to the kind of people they want to date. If there is no chemistry, there’s no future. It’s that simple.

However, in addition to helping people “find the one” as a dating coach, I’m also a marriage counselor. I know what it takes to create a happy, healthy long-term relationship. When I’m working as a dating coach, my number one priority is not just getting people dates, but helping them see the big picture — and what a lifetime of love actually involves.  So I tell my Jen’s and John’s exactly what I’ll share with you now:

“Never confuse anxiety for love. Never prioritize chemistry over character. And never believe that a ‘chemistry feeling’ is a reliable source of information as to whether someone is going to be a good long-term partner for you.”

In fact, the exact opposite is often true: The people who are most likely to make you feel “chemistry” — an anxious churning in their presence, sleepless nights thinking of them, and feelings of euphoria when you’re around them — are often the ones who are the most emotionally (or literally) dangerous for you to get involved with.

For example: A mercurial, highly sexual, unpredictable woman will make your heart pound in a way that the loving, kind kindergarten teacher with a fondness for Dansco clogs will probably not. Likewise, a rakish, troubled bad-boy will light you on fire, in a way that the earnest CPA who cares enough to iron his shirt and show up on time won’t. But who do you want to try and build a life with?

“Chemistry” is a cocktail of lust and danger that wrings the dopamine out of your neurotransmitters. You know that giddy, nervous feeling you have getting into the rollercoaster car before it starts ratcheting itself up for the first big drop? And how, although intellectually you know its okay, your body is reacting like it might be about to die? That’s not a bad approximation to the giddy / euphoric / so-nervous-I’m-about-to-throw-up feeling we can have about someone we have intense chemistry for.

New idea: Feeling this way about someone is actually a danger signal. As I teach in my online dating coaching class, and wrote about in my breakup recovery book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love,” chemistry is strongest when you feel anxious, insecure, or afraid. This is one reason why illicit affairs feel so intoxicating and have the power to destroy a family… and why the very same relationships are so often frustrating and disappointing in the cold light of day.

Feeling attracted to your partner is important. Wanting to be around them is a good thing. Feeling happy in their presence is fantastic. You need those things, and you deserve them. But it’s a huge mistake to believe — as too many modern daters do — that feeling generally happy and attracted to a kind and good person without that roller-coaster feeling is “settling.”

As a marriage counselor I’ve had a front row seat for seeing what happens long term after people prioritize chemistry over character. It’s not pretty. Trust me: It’s terrible to realize that you confused excitement, passion, and anxiety for love, and then tried to build a life with a self-centered, impulsive person who made you feel agony, ecstasy and insecurity…. But who was never able to truly love you back.

I want to save you from this sad fate. You can certainly have a healthy, enduring relationship with someone you feel passionately about. But, if it’s going to work, the person you choose must also have substance and strong character.

To keep yourself on track as you date, remind yourself what true love actually looks like:

  • True love shows you that your needs and feelings are important… instead of jerking you around emotionally and making you feel bad.
  • True love stays loyal, and committed to you… even during the low points of your partnership.
  • True love is respectful, engaged, pleasant to be around, and a good friend to you… even when it isn’t getting its way.
  • True love isn’t a top-of-the-mountain peak experience. True love shows up in small, humble, self-sacrificing ways every single day.
  • Most importantly, true love takes responsibility for behavior, and is willing to make changes… just because it’s important to you.

There’s a huge difference between toxic, crazy-making chemistry and true love. True and unwavering love is not showy. It’s not agonizing. It doesn’t make you feel insecure, or bad. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s reliable. It’s trustworthy. It’s often quietly pleasant. It can also be too easy to brush aside, especially when you’re busy chasing the flash and glitter of “chemistry.”

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
Loading...