In today’s episode, I’m joined by Kristen D. Boice, LMFT, a psychotherapist, coach, speaker, Close the Chapter Podcast Host. Kristen and I talk about how to set healthy boundaries:
- Signs that you need to set boundaries
- Why is setting boundaries difficult
- How to determine and communicate boundaries
- Examples and scenarios for setting boundaries
What are Boundaries and Why are they Important? with Erica Kesse, LPC-MHSP
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Carrie: Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD, episode 84. if you’re just finding our show, I am your host, Carrie Bock, and our podcast is really focused on reducing shame, increasing hope, and developing healthier connections with God and others. Today we’re really focused on that third goal as we do a follow-up episode on boundaries.
So back on episode 70, wee had an episode about What are Boundaries, and Why are They Important? with Erica Kesse. That was more of an ideological episode, more on the theory of boundaries, and this episode is going to be more practical. So I’m really excited to have found a guest who can. Walk us through the practicality of what it means to set boundaries.
I know that this is a very important topic for people who struggle with anxiety and something that I’m constantly working with clients on because when we don’t have healthy boundaries, we end up being, we take on too much and we end up becoming more anxious about it. It’s interesting. Kind of before we get into this conversation, I am in the season of No right now, which has been very interesting for me because.
I have had to say no to a lot of different things. I’ve said no to professional events and trainings. I have said no to personal meetings with people and it’s just reminded me how saying no to all of those things because in my season of life right now, I have a six-month-old. I have a husband with some health issues and some other family things going on that this has allowed me to say yes to the people and the priorities that are most important to me, even though sometimes it hurts to say no because some of the opportunities that are coming my way are really good and things that I want to do, and sometimes it’s just not the right season to do those things.
So today I have with me Kristen Boice. So Kristen, welcome to the show.
Kristen: Thanks Carrie for having me. And in your intro I was thinking this speaks to so many people to have the season of saying “no” so you can say yes to what matters the most in your life. And it’s not always easy.
Carrie: No, it’s not. So tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Kristen: So I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I have a group private practice with 15 clinicians. We specialized in trauma, EMDR, and brain spotting here in the Indianapolis area. My passion is helping people feel centered in who they are, that it’s okay they have their own thoughts, feelings, opinions, and they’re able to have a voice without feeling guilt and shame over what they need, what they want. And having more clarity, confidence, compassion, calm in their life.
So that’s really what I feel passionate about helping people really find their center, find that anchor point within themselves so they can feel more confident in their decision-making and self-doubt.
I find a lot of people doubt even when they set a boundary or make a choice, and they’re like, “Ooh, are they gonna be upset with me? Did I make the right decision? Was that what I should?” The “should” Is that what I should have done? So that’s what I feel really passionate about. And then I have a podcast called Close the Chapter where we focus on closing, what doesn’t serve you and opening the door to possibilities.
Carrie: Good. I like all of that. That all sounds really great. 15 people is a pretty sizable group practice too. I’m sure that did not happen overnight. You have stuck the course and built the thing.
Kristen: That was definitely Holy Spirit-led. That was not me. I’m just the vessel and my team is very centered in that, and that’s really at the heart of what we do.
It’s we’re just the vessel to help people find healing. So it’s not one of those things that I went out and created. It kind of created itself, so to speak. I mean, yes, I’m managing it. Really, I never solicited one of the clinicians
Kristen: That’s all God-led. So it’s really been remarkable to be a part of it and it’s been an honor and a privilege to walk clients through the healing journey.
Understanding Boundaries and Their Importance
Carrie: Absolutely. So I’m curious for you, like when you know, like we were talking last episode in terms of identifying that a boundary needs to be set, like maybe an internal feeling of anxiety or anger, what internal cues like do you personally experience when you know like, “Okay, it’s time for me to set a boundary here.”
Kristen: My body will tell me the cue, so I might get a pit in my stomach. I might get that. Oh, I can see, for example, you have a family member that you know is gonna activate your nervous system and you can see them texting you or calling you, and I can immediately feel that in my nervous system, that butterfly in my stomach, or that adrenaline rush or that.
My body might even tense up in my shoulders or my jaw might get tight. Yeah. So my body is the first thing, my nervous system to tell me to check cuz it can zap your energy that if I’m not protecting that energy, that can wipe me out from being the mom I wanna be from being the partner, I want to be the wife, the leader of the team, the best clinician I wanna be.
If I’m putting my energy towards something that’s gonna zap. Yeah, so I’ve learned energy is so important and if I don’t honor that, then I don’t have it to give where it’s most important to me. Yeah, and that’s so relevant in terms of self-awareness of just us being tuned in to what our body is trying to communicate to us.
I really believe that God gives us that for a reason, just that internal sense to be the first. And I’m just curious, I know I’ve talked with clients who have said, I just don’t even feel like I have the right words or the right language because maybe boundaries were never modeled for them in their family or in other relationships.
Practical Steps to Setting Boundaries
Carrie: And what kind of help would you give those people in terms of like tone of voice and word choice that we want to use, like when we’re setting boundaries? This is the one thing I feel so passionate about. We’ll even do role play, like, okay, I’ll be like, You’ll be you. I’ll be the person you’re setting the boundary with so they can get more comfortable in their own nervous system to say it.
Kristen: So the first thing I recommend, kind of the first step is take a deep breath. Hmm, that’s good because we wanna anchor in and feel centered. So I like feeling your feet on the floor, kind of feeling yourself present in this space, in this time. So it might take three or four breaths to get kind of centered to get the courage to say what you wanna say, to get the clarity.
And I encourage people. The second thing is, if you’re nervous about it, to write out what you might wanna say, for example, So let’s say your mom is blowing up your phone, . You’re like, I love you. So I will say the acknowledgement sandwich. I love you and I can’t talk right now. I will text you when I have a moment, something like that.
And the “I love you and it’s not, I love you, but because the “but” kind of take it, erases, it kind of feels manipulative. So I like to do the acknowledgement piece first. You don’t always have to do that. Or let’s say someone invites you to do something at school and you’ll say, Thank you so much for asking.
And right now I can’t, let me know the next time and I’ll see if I have the. Or the time. So what you’re doing really is creating a positive on the front end and the back end for people. I’ve heard some people say this, I don’t know if they call it the compliment sandwich or the criticism sandwich, something like that.
I called the acknowledgement sandwich where you’re acknowledging that the person’s intention was pure on the other side, like they want, And it’s not always, but for example, if like the school wants you to volunteer for something, you can understand that they need it. Sure. I know you really need a volunteer and I so wish I had the time to help and unfortunately right now I don’t.
Thank you so much for asking that. Acknowledging that intention on the front end and setting the what you can and can’t do. That’s the boundary. What can and can’t I do. So it might even look like, thank you for asking for me to bring, I don’t know, xyz. I can’t bring that, but I can bring chips and salsa like so I’m saying what I can’t bring, like I can’t make a homemade dish right now and homemade brownies.
However, I’m more than happy to bring chips and salsa. So you can’t say I’m giving you kind of benign examples, but you can offer like, Here’s what I can do, here’s what I can’t do. Those are nice f. And the tone of voice. So if it’s more of a harder boundary, for example, it might be a family member might feel really activated or triggered by that family member and really taking the deep breath.
And if you cannot respond, where you’re gonna be more intense and maybe have more of an angry response. Where it’s, you’re not gonna be real regulated. I always recommend take a pause. When you do feel like you have the, you’re more centered in your response. Maybe you pray over your response, you feel more clear in your tone of voice texting so hard.
But if you’re saying it verbally, where you can soften your voice a little bit, you can still be clear and direct. People are afraid. I don’t, I don’t wanna be nasty. You don’t have to be nasty at all. I can be very loving, but very clear and direct in my boundary. So I know you really wanna connect right now cuz that’s why they’re texting you and I’m not available.
I will reach out when I have a moment and I’m not sure when that is, but I’ll reach back out when I have a moment. Or if you’re on the phone with somebody, let’s say they’re getting really intense on the other line and you can feel your nervous system kind of getting really activated. You’d say, I love you and I need to get off the phone right now.
Overcoming Challenges and Reaping the Benefits
Carrie: That’s good. So sometimes nasty. I’m just clear and sometimes you can plan your boundary setting if it’s an ongoing issue that you know that happens such as mom gets into rages on the phone, and then you can say, Okay mom, I just want you to know when if you start to escalate or if you start to raise your voice at me, I’m going to get off the phone.
Just so that you are aware of that, and then you can tell ’em kind of ahead of time and then when it happens in the moment, like you’ve already prepped the person, right? So then when it happens, it’s not a surprise to them anymore. You’ve already, then you’re just enforcing the boundary that you’ve already said.
Okay. You know, remember when we talked that if you started yelling, I was gonna get off the phone, I’m gonna get off the phone now going through the next thing I. A lot of times when people don’t have the confidence, they come, their boundary comes out like almost like they feel like a mouse is talking like, Oh, please don’t, Well maybe if you could not do this, and it’s this long drawn out thing.
What I’m hearing you say is really keep it short and more direct, so we don’t want anybody to miss what we’re trying to communicate to them in these situations. Just be short, clear. And one of the things I think that I really wanna emphasize on the back end is people think, well then they won’t be upset with me if I just say it a certain way.
If I just, And that’s when we go on and on and on cuz we’re trying to manage their response or their reaction or their emotions and we can’t. So when we go, okay, they may respond well and they may. and I can’t control how this is gonna land for the person. I can only manage how I say it and feel really good about how I said it and feel like I came with a regulated as much as I could, nervous system, and I said it in the most centered way I could.
Kristen: So what was my centered message? My centered message is It’s not okay. Maybe it’s not okay to yell at me and I’m gonna get off the phone. Now. We had, I kind of explained the ba, you don’t even have to say the word boundary. I explained if you start yelling, I’m gonna get off the phone. I love you and I’ll talk to you later.
It’s more your centered message and your centered in your nervous system. Those go hand in hand.
Carrie: And even, I think adults and children respond similarly because when we think about setting boundaries, a lot of times we think about that in terms of discipline with children, No, you’re not allowed to run in the house.
Those types of things. And. If you give this long, drawn-out explanation about now if you run and this could happen, that could happen, and your message of what you’re trying to convey can actually get lost in the shuffle, rather than just saying, This is the line in the sand, and I think adults are similar.
I mean, would you agree with that? Like just respond similarly to the message? For sure. I think one of the most important things is if we aren’t clear and direct, the person has no idea. I’m working with couples especially, they’re like, Well, you were, I know you’re really trying to be helpful, which is nice.
Kristen: That’s a good front-end kind of acknowledgement. But then they go on and on and on and then they’ll say, And I just wish we could have a little more connection time. And I’m like, “Okay, what are you exactly saying?” Oh, you want the person to put the phone down when you’re at dinner, turn the phones off so you can have more connection time.
So that’s more clear and direct rather than making it this big, broad invitation where the other person feels so overwhelmed and lost and not clear on what you’re saying. So it can be helpful to the other person’s nervous system, even though they may not like it to be more specific. Then they can decide whether they wanna do that or.
So if someone says, I would love to have where we put our phones away for dinner, would you be willing to do that? And they say No, then you’ve got it. Then you have to deal with your own feelings around that.
Carrie: Yeah. I think this is good because I know that I’ve worked with a lot of women who think that they are communicating something to their spouse.
And I won’t understand it, what they’re trying to communicate that they’re saying. And I’m like, Okay, so let’s boil this down to like, what is it that you actually want? Knowing what you actually want can be a really good precursor to setting a boundary or communicating with someone else about something.
And that I think you can kind of queue in just being more mindful internally. What is it that I would like in this relationship? I want more connection. Okay. So if you had more connection, what would that look like? Oh, he wouldn’t be texting on the phone during dinner. Okay. Well, that’s a pretty clear behavior that could be changed by someone that you’re asking.
I think sometimes If a man hears, I want more connection. Well, I mean, that could. 20 different things, you know, what does that mean? So I think that this is a really good concept for people to, when they’re creating the boundary. I like what you said earlier, and I wanted to circle back around to it and not miss it.
You talked about writing down what you want to say, and I definitely have made some bullet points on a post-it note for things that I wanted to make sure that I communicated to people in my life, especially when I knew they were gonna be hard, heavy, emotional conversations. Sometimes you can’t be a hundred percent regulated, you know you’re going to be nervous in that conversation or you know it’s gonna be hard.
And you may forget things because of that emotional reactivity you were talking about. So just having those one or two points, that’s kind of like the bottom line message that you wanna come across with, I think is so valuable and beneficial.
Kristen: Yes. I’ve worked with several clients where they had an emotionally unavailable parent.
What does that mean? Like they didn’t, the parent wasn’t available to acknowledge their feelings or hear what they had to say. Really be attuned to them. So I had one client and what I had typically as I’ll do a letter writing exercise where you’re writing, this is not to give them, this is for you to get clarity on what are you wanting specifically from like what are you hoping to get out of this conversation?
Right? Yeah. So they write the letter and then we do three bullets of what are you asking for? What are the three central messages, what are your centered messages that you are trying to communicate? And you put it in the three bullet points. And then when you go into the conversation, it’s okay to take the letter.
It’s okay to take the bullet point, post it. It’s okay to take those or put it in your phone to have something to re. Because your brain will then cue when we get anxious, sometimes we can go and fight-flight, freeze Fawn. Fawn is that people-pleasing response or even flop, or you kind of just faint, like your nervous system gets overwhelmed.
This can help you kind of cue the brain on, Oh yes, this is what I was trying to say. You feel more confident and clear. And what you’re communicating, and that can be really helpful when you’re having hard conversations or trying to communicate a boundary, what’s okay, what’s not okay with you, or what you’re wanting or needing. It’s more clear and specific.
Carrie: Yeah. So I wanted to go through a couple scenarios and I think you’ve already gave us some great examples and language and talked about the acknowledgement sandwich. So I’m gonna give you a couple maybe that are hard, more in terms of relationally, right? Like if someone we don’t know ask us to do so.
Might be a little bit easier to say no to it versus when someone asks something of us that we really want to please that person, or we have a close relationship and we’re afraid that somehow that relationship might get threatened if we set a boundary. So I’ll read you one of these and then just, I’d love for you to just respond how you would respond.
Kristen: That sounds wonderful.
Setting Boundaries: Saying No to Close Friend’s Request
Carrie: So let’s just say that your close friend asked you to help with the school fundraiser coming up next month, and now this is not just showing up for it, but it’s planning, there’s preparation, and then actually showing up. And so due to family and work commitments, you don’t feel like you can add one more thing on your plate right now. What do you tell?
Kristen: Thank you so much for asking for me to help with the fundraiser. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. I so wish I could help and unfortunately, I can’t right now. Let me know in the future if you need help and maybe at that time I’ll be, I’ll have more bandwidths.
Carrie: Good. I still feel like you like me when you said that.
Kristen: Oh, good because maybe that’s feel connected.
Carrie: Yes. Like being able, to keep the relational connection because if someone’s asking you to do something, They know that you would be a good person for that. Probably like maybe you’ve done fundraisers in the past, or maybe you are a person that they know is going to show up and actually get the work done that needs to be done. So that is somewhat of an honor to be asked to do something like that.
Kristen: It is, and it feels good to us if we’re honest. A lot of times it feels good that we’re chosen because maybe our inner child says, Well, I was always picked last in gym class, or no one ever wanted to sit with me. And so that little part of you inside says, “Oh, that feels so nice to be picked.”
And yet we know we don’t have the energy or the time cuz it’ll take us away from what we want, need to pour into, which might be our child, our newborn, our husband that needs our attention, our friend, our another family member, or even yourself, right? Maybe you’re just at a burnout. And you’re feeling really run down and your tank is empty, you don’t have it to offer.
And that’s okay. We are so conditioned to be givers. And when the tank is low, I’m not at my best self. And then that brings shame of I’m not a good enough mom, or I’m not good enough wife, or I’m not a good enough boss. Fill in the blank. And. I don’t have the energy to really kind of recover cuz I’m sleep deprived, I’m exhausted, whatever.
I’m giving out too much and my tank is too low, so then I don’t have it to give what matters most to me. Yeah. So it’s so important that we are giving ourselves permission to identify when your tank is low, A boundary is necessary..
Carrie: I interviewed a cancer survivor recently who talked about accepting your limitations, but also not being defined by those limitations. Finding a balance and just respecting his energy level and what he has to give, and he has to say no to a lot of different things due to still being on a maintenance dose of chemotherapy and so forth. It was interesting to have that conversation because I think that it’s hard and somewhat painful sometimes for us to admit our limitations, to admit that we have a low level of bandwidth, or that we’re exhausted right now, or because of our mental health struggles, we’re not able to do something that’s a hard admittance sometimes for people.
Kristen: It is because the shame tells us you should do it. You should be a giver. You should be a good Christian, you should be a good person, you should be a good mom, you should be a good volunteer. The shame stories that we have and the conditioning block us from actually taking care of ourselves. Because once we get to the body shut down, we are really depleted. If we are getting sick, we are getting run down like we are. The body has tried to give us signals all along, but we’ve pushed through and now the body is saying, screaming at us. I am begging you to set these boundaries. I am begging you to listen to me, that I can’t keep going.
But the shame says, “Oh, but what are they gonna think if I say no?” See, the shame stories are big. Yes. And they block us from having the healthy boundaries many times. Absolutely. So watching the shame stories though should, and that guilt really is an invitation for us to go, Okay, I need to kind of regroup here.
I need to take a pause. And sometimes taking a pause to give you some time to come up with how you’re gonna respond is okay. Thank you for asking. Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you. So that pause can give you the space to then reenter and come back with. Thank you so much for asking. I wish I had the time. Unfortunately, I don’t Keep me in mind for next time, or you don’t even have to say, keep me in mind for next.
Balancing Work and Personal Boundaries: The Challenge of Saying No
Carrie: I have to admit that we’re gonna start talking about work boundaries right now, and I admit that I’m my own boss and I imagine you’re your own boss and have been for some time right now. But I have had many bosses in my day.
Don’t be fooled. I remember what it’s like to have a boss. Don’t worry. And I think a lot of times people feel like I can’t set a boundary at work because my job is my livelihood and I cannot threaten my livelihood. Will you talk to us about that piece a little bit? Because I feel like we are in the day and age where employers will just push and push and push the envelope to burn people out and sometimes don’t care.
Kristen: This is a whole different world now with the phones and we are mobile. Yes. So the boundaries feel very diffuse and like we feel like we should respond to the email right away, or they’re gonna think they’re, I’m not working, or they’re gonna think I’m not doing my job. So there’s a lot of fear in setting with authority figure, so to speak, where it feels like your livelihood is tied to your performance. And oftentimes I’ll work a lot with clients on, okay, let’s really take a look at what’s realistic for you to be able to do and what isn’t. And the lines are very blurry there, right? Because they feel like they should be doing all of this. And then we’ll walk into, okay, what are you really wanting to say to your boss? pretend like, or I’m your boss. What would you really wanna say to your boss? And it’s. So their brains kind of have to fight flight or freeze response or fawn, right? like we talked about, that survival state response, that they don’t feel like they have a voice. And so we’ll work on, okay, what if we said something along these lines, and this is just an example.
I am so grateful for this job. I love working here, and maybe you don’t. So you have to tweak this based on what’s real and true for you. So it’s authentic. We don’t want it to be inauthentic. Authenticity is good. Yes. So important. And I’m just feeling this sense of overwhelm and here and be specific.
Here’s what I think come up with solutions. What I think would be helpful is if we. Here’s what I think I can still meet deadlines with, and here’s what I’m not sure. I’m not gonna be able to meet this deadline realistically. So I come up with a solution. Here’s some ideas on how I could have so and so really help me with this piece or that piece.
Oftentimes we get into, I’ve gotta do it. Without thinking about other solutions or options. Yes, that’s very true. Not knowing how to delegate or how to work as a team or ask for help. Those are all very important skills to have in these situations. Well, we can say I feel overwhelmed and I kind of feel like I’m knocking at the door of burnout.
Overcoming Shame and Guilt: Setting Boundaries for Self-Care
Those are important conversations now that really a lot of companies are talking about because their employees are burned out. And is this a healthy environment? This is the other thing sometimes we have to explore. Is this a healthy environment for you? If not, and this can be a journey, this is overnight.
Do we start looking for other options that might be a healthier fit for you? Yeah. That you’re gonna be able to have some limits. And so at five o’clock you’re. So some folks just need a healthier environment and it depends on, So it depends on the health of the organization too. So if you have this conversation and it’s not received well, then we have to process on the back end, what comes up for you?
Is this the best fit for you? Is this the best job for you? Now, that’s not always. Sometimes that’s what is a great job, and it is a great. And it’s worth exploration to say, what is my fear if I speak up? A lot of times it’s, I’m gonna lose my job. I’m not gonna get the promotion. They’re gonna think I can’t handle it.
I’m just naming a few, right? Sure. They’re afraid of rejection, they’re afraid of failure. And when we can process what’s really at the root of that? Then we start having a voice. So there’s an important concept here. I think when we talk about boundaries, it’s not talked about often that is essential. And as therapists, you’ve heard of this before, but we look at the human developmental continuum.
I’m gonna throw this out there cause I think it can really be helpful for people when they’re looking at workplace boundaries or boundaries in a family system or in a marriage or in a partnership. There’s a concept called individuation and separation. Okay, This is differentiation.
Boundaries in Family Dynamics: Codependency and Setting Limits
So in a family system, if you’re allowed to have your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and it’s okay, it’s celebrated. It’s a normal part of human development. It’s not a threat to the system. The system can say it’s okay. This is normal for you to question things, for you to kind of integrate what your own thoughts and feelings and opinions about it to land on, what resonates for you.
If we weren’t allowed to do that in a family system, we are gonna struggle with boundaries. That makes a lot of sense. So if we weren’t allowed to differentiate ourselves from the, like the thoughts and feelings and opinions of the family, you weren’t allowed to have your own kind of questioning and exploration and question things, and you could do that in the family and you could feel differently about something and that was okay.
It wasn’t a threat to the system. You’re gonna feel more confident having a boundary. Yes. If you didn’t get that and it was, which a lot of people didn’t right, that it was threatening to the system. You were disciplined, you were punished, you were ashamed, you were not allowed to kind of explore your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
It’s gonna be very scary to say how you feel. So a lot of times what we work on is being able to have your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions without. Threat. Like you’re scared that you’re going into a survival state and trying to fawn or people please, Right? Or you shut down and you just go in a freeze.
If someone gets upset with you, you have, you’re, we’re building that window of tolerance that to tolerate that it’s okay if they have a different opinion. It’s not okay if they yell at you, but it’s okay if they get sad over something that you’re like, Ooh. It’s okay. You’re not responsible for managing that emotion.
So in the workplace, when you can go, it’s okay for me to say, this is what I can do and this is what I can’t do. Yeah. We then have more centeredness and a voice. So that individuation process is very important to explore what we set boundaries.
Carrie: Yes, absolutely. In the sense of, you know, a lot of family dynamics.
There’s a level of codependency, not just in homes with people who have substance abuse issues, but in other homes as well, where it was like, well, we had to do. Please mom at all costs or please dad at all costs. And then if we went against anything on that, there was maybe harsh punishment because it was Dad’s way or the highway.
I find that in those situations, yes, boundaries are very difficult and a lot of times I work with my clients on. Kind of like goals of adolescence maybe that they never achieved. Because I really feel like what you’re talking about is part of a goal of adolescence is like you go out, you explore the world, you decide what you like and don’t like.
You decide what things you wanna take from your family and what things you don’t. And in some situations, That was not allowed. Kids were very sheltered or shamed for having a difference of opinion or thinking on their own. This is definitely very relevant. So let’s say that your boss asked you to take on a large project for work.
It’s not a requirement. But it definitely would help. Your career might say, you aced this project, it would give you a promotion. You’re also in the process of caring for your elderly mother. Don’t feel you have the mental and emotional energy to give your best work to this project, require additional work hours, additional stress, and you don’t want to disappoint your boss and are afraid of maybe hurting your career or not getting that promotion.
Kristen: This is so big to unpack So many, lots of layers. Lots of layers, and it depends on what do you want, Like how badly do you want the promotion On a zero to 10, I have people do a lot of scaling so they can get more clarity on their internal needs in wants. So I’ll go on a zero to 10. 10 being, I’ll do whatever it takes.
A hundred percent. I want the promotion zero. Nah, don’t really want it at. So sometimes we don’t, even if we weren’t allowed to differentiate, we don’t even explore. Why do I want that? It’s like the first step. Yeah. Or are we doing an automatic response, like that’s the next step. I need the promotion and that’s like my next thing.
I’m not even looking at, do I really want it? Why do I really want it? Can I even handle it? So let’s say you do really want it just to play this out. Let’s say you really want promotion and you’re still taking care of your elderly mother. Here’s the bottom line you’re gonna need.
Choosing Priorities: Balancing Career Goals and Caregiving Responsibilities
Kristen: I am much more rooted in reality and the reality rather than the fantasy of what we think we can do.
The reality is you won’t be able to do both well, I mean, you won’t be able to do it all. We know this. It’s a fantasy. If I think I can do it all, something’s gonna give and it’s gonna be my health, it’s gonna be, I’m gonna feel resentful towards my mom. The job I’m gonna go to burnout. So I think the first thing when we look at that is, am I willing to ask for help?
Yes. If I’m not, I’m probably not gonna be able to do this promotion well, and it’s probably gonna be a cost to me. So I think the first thing is asking yourself, what do I want? Am I willing to ask for help? And let’s say you are. Let’s say you’re like, Yes, I can do it. Okay. I think being transparent with the boss and saying, Here’s, and I know this is feeling very, I’m about authenticity, requires transparency.
And that the truth self set you free. Now it’s a healthy work environment. They’re gonna go, Oh, I, that makes sense to me. If you say something like, I really, really would love to take this promotion. This is something I’m passionate about, I really am excited about, and I wanna let you know I’m taking care of my elderly mom.
And so there may be times where I might have an emergency and I’ve gotta buzz out, or I have to take care of my. I’m going to be seeing if I can get some help with my mom. I wanted to let you know up front to be transparent. So my nervous system then goes, Okay, I’ve told them up front. I was transparent up front about my what’s going on so they know, and maybe they’re not comfortable giving you the promotion at that time.
That’s a risk you run. But transparency leads to. If we’re hiding, we’re maneuvering. We’re trying to act like we have it all together. That will lead you down the road to exhaustion. Yeah. It will lead you down to the road to unfulfillment and dissatisfaction and resentment. Every time I’m like, play the movie out, I’ll say something to a client like, I’ll go, Okay, play the movie out.
Like you get the promotion and you’re taking care of your elderly mom. Tell me what you see in the movie. They’re like, I can’t do it. I’m burned out, exhausted. I’m like, Okay, so what would you need in order to take the promotion and take care of your mom? So we get more clarity when we play the movie out of what is real for me, What will work for me, what won’t work for me.
And now we have to work on the courage to say it out loud. That’s the hardest part, typically. Mm-hmm. is saying it out loud cause we’re scared we’re gonna, then they won’t consider us for the promotion. But real in the reality of things, when you’re transparent, builds trust, transparency builds trust. It’s whenever there’s a betrayal, we know that transparency is essential to rebuild that trust over.
So when you’re with a boss and you’re transparent, the boss goes, Oh, I really appreciate you sharing that with me. Yeah. If you have a healthy boss, right? I mean, this is mm-hmm. . So there’s a lot of layers to this to consider when setting a boundary. Yeah, for sure. And I’ve definitely been in environments where I was transparent and it was used against me, and of course that made me pull back and not want to be transparent.
So recognizing what your relationship is with your supervisor. How that information is gonna be utilized. I do find that people are much more understanding when we’re upfront about things versus when we’re not. We don’t have to overshare. That’s the other key. It’s you don’t have to give every detail.
It’s a high level, I’m taking care of my EL elderly mom, and if it’s not received well, that’s information for us. , Yes. Evaluate whether the long term, this is gonna be a healthy place of employment. And that’s key information. So like you said, it’s used against you, which has the, which happens, which definitely happens.
Is this gonna be a long term healthy environment for you to continue to work in? Right. And that’s scary for people to think about changing, Right. Their place of employment. And it can also be empowering when they do decide to make a change, whatever that looks.
Carrie: I was in a, what I would consider a toxic work environment for a period.
And what I realized in that process was there were a couple times they would vacillate between, We love you, we hate you. And when they loved me, they loved me. And when they hated me, they hated me. But when they were on the downswing, they would say, Well, we’re just not really sure that this job is a good fit for you.
And I think that I took that inadequacy shame piece, like, Oh, I’m not enough. I’m not living up to the expectations. And it’s so interesting to be out of that environment and to be on the other side now saying they were right. That job wasn’t a good fit for me and there’s nothing wrong with that. It just didn’t fit the fullness of who I was and what I wanted and how I wanted to show up for clients that wasn’t me.
And it’s okay that it wasn’t. Made for somebody else. I could see you even lit up. Like the freedom you felt like they were. Right. That wasn’t the right job for me. It was stifling you. It was like it wasn’t expanding you. Yes. Full gifts was stifling you. Yeah. But it’s hard sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, and I think that’s why talking to someone like a healthy friend, family where a counselor can help you process through some of these things to know like, this is what they’re saying and this is what I’m sensing, and what’s your objectivity on it? Cause you can feel in those type of toxic work environments where the expectations are too high, sometimes you can start to feel a little crazy or inadequate like, Well, I mean I see other people maybe doing this or they’re expecting that I do this, so I must able to do it and that’s just not always the case.
Kristen: Yes. And I think talking through it, cuz sometimes our work environments mirror our family dynamics that we grew up in. Yeah. So it’s hard to see clearly cuz we’re reenacting almost like the same system we grew up in. We just don’t know. Cause it just seems normal to us.
It seems familiar until you start doing your own healing. And then you’re like, Oh, I recreated the same family system dynamic at work. Oh, and I did that in my other romantic relationship. Yes. And there’s the light bulb. That’s why that self-awareness piece and understanding families, not to blame anybody cuz that’s not the idea.
The idea is empowerment to go, I can break the chain of this dynamic. I can see now the parallel between my work environment and my home environ. And how I put myself in that same role and didn’t recognize it. So I wanted to kinda shift gears. I know we’re cramming a lot into this episode. It’s so good. I know that Christians a lot of times struggle feeling like I have to say yes, I’ve gotta help people.
God wants me to be giving. God wants me to be hospitable. And how would you really encourage these individuals that it is okay to say no sometimes. And you’re still a good Christian. I love the and in both. So I can be a loving, caring, compassionate person. As long as I’m having boundaries, I can still be that, but I might be resentful.
I might be worn out. I might be angry because now I’m giving and I might take on a martyrdom role. God doesn’t want us to, like, you’ll have some people, maybe your family system that they were like, I’ve done everything I’ve given, I’ve given here, I’ve given there, and now they’ve taken on this. Look at me.
I’ve done everything role. And they feel bitter and resentment, and it comes in between their relationships that matter the most, Maybe. With their child, maybe with their partner, maybe with their church group. It doesn’t, so that can lead. If we don’t have boundaries, it’s hard to be our best-giving self cuz I’m giving, and there’s resentment tied to it.
We wanna be giving because we are led to be like, Oh, I want to do that because I feel filled up. I now have enough to pour out and I don’t expect anything. There is no ties to needing anything back. I’m doing it because it’s pure agape love, like I’m just letting it flow from my soul. If I’m doing it out of a, I should be doing this consistently, you’re gonna be on the road to resentment and expectations or resentments waiting to happen.
We are just going to feel a level of burnout. And resentment that doesn’t feel good to us, and we’re gonna be like, Why am I even doing this? No one cares. No one even acknowledges me. And when we get to a thank you is wonderful. And I love a good, and, and we don’t wanna do it to get a thank you. Yes, that’s true.
It’s icy on the cake like it feels. That’s why I love acknowledgement cuz it feels so good to our nervous system cuz we all wanna feel seen, appreciated, understood, and loved so much. And when we are filling our tanks up, we can give that out freely and it feels so amazing to just give it without any expectation back icy on the cake.
Carrie: So tell us a little bit about where to find you and what you have going on.
Kristen: So close The chapter podcast is probably the best place to find me. And then on Instagram and Facebook, you know, all the socials at Kristen d Boyce. And then if you want a free journal that I love to give out to my clients and it’s free, you can reuse it. Beause I’m a big journaler and I believe in it in terms of getting clarity from the Holy Spirit. Like it just is so powerful to get centered at kristendvoice/free resources and it will be emailed to your in. And what I love about that is I love how God gave us the breath to kind of come back.
Yeah. Reground us in nature and all these gifts. And if we can come back to ourselves and listen to the leading and have clarity, that is the leading, that is in our fear talking. That’s the Holy Spirit talking. Our nervous systems are freed. And there’s so much healing that can take place when that happens.
So I’m a firm believer in journaling. I love it. That’s why I wanna give it to everybody. I’m like here, cuz everybody’s like, Well, I don’t really like journaling, and what am I gonna write about? And this helps kind of guide the process.
Carrie: That’s awesome. I like that. So since this podcast is called Hope for Anxiety and O C D, we like our guests to share a story of hope at the end. A time where you received hope from God or another person.
Kristen: There’s so many. Really what came through to me when I was praying over this question, I was thinking about a client just came through, and I’m not gonna give specifics, but when I work with people that you feel like, how are they ever gonna recover from this loss or this trauma?
And you think, how can they get up in the morning? How are they gonna move when you’ve lost all your children due to a tragedy? How are you going to ever recover from that? And I’ve seen over and over and over again how God like pours into the pain. And once we work and acknowledge the pain, God can tend to it and walk alongside us in it.
I always think like Jesus walking hand in hand with us going, I know honey, I know it. And I know this is so painful and you can’t understand it right now. Yeah. And I’m right here with you just holding the pain for you. And that’s the privilege of seeing God’s transformation was some of the most painful things anyone could ever go through.
And the second piece that came to me is as a community, we had a school shooting back in, Oh yeah. It was several years ago. No one would’ve ever expected that to happen in our backyard. And as a community, it opened us up in such a way for healing. For us to come together, love one another, and acknowledge each other’s pain and fear.
Yeah, and just so there was so much transformation that happened in a whole community. And as a result, I do a, every other week, this is about me, but as a result, not of just the shooting, but at the pandemic. Mental Health Monday with our mayor on Facebook, and now we’re talking about mental health. We’re talking about all these hard topics that’s transformation.
Like here we are trying to hold the pain and acknowledge people’s pain in the midst of all of this. And we came together despite trauma and tragedy. So those are the two things that came to me when you were asking that question.
Carrie: Mental health Monday with the mayor. That’s a lot of ems, but I like it.
It is. It is. We don’t say with the mayor. I just was adding that piece. It’s just called Mental Health Mondays.
Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of your wisdom. I think this is gonna be very practical for people who are looking to set boundaries and then also identifying throughout.
We kind of identified some things that get in the way of people are struggling with anxiety of setting boundaries.
Kristen: Thank you so much for having me on, and the work you’re doing.