Aug 10

“Set Boundaries, Find Peace”: Selected Quotes

Boundaries are expectations and needs that help you feel safe and comfortable in your relationships. Expectations in relationships help you stay mentally and emotionally well. Learning when to say no and when to say yes is also an essential part of feeling comfortable when interacting with others.  Nedra Glover Tawwab, Set Boundaries, Find Peace

Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab has written a practical book about boundaries. In Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself (2021) she “identifies six types of boundaries—physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, material, and time” (Publishers Weekly).

The following quotes will give you helpful ideas about how to set boundaries to improve your life.

Tell people what you need.

Assume that people know only what you tell them, honor only what you request, and can’t read your mind.

Setting limits won’t disrupt a healthy relationship.

Setting boundaries is not a betrayal of your family, friends, partner, work, or anyone or anything else.

Neglecting self-care is the first thing to happen when we get caught up in our desire to help others.

Avoidance is a passive-aggressive way of expressing that you are tired of showing up.

The ability to say no to yourself is a gift. If you can resist your urges, change your habits, and say yes to only what you deem truly meaningful, you’ll be practicing healthy self-boundaries. It’s your responsibility to care for yourself without excuses.

We can’t create more time, but we can do less, delegate, or ask for help.

…I say no to things I don’t like. I say no to things that don’t contribute to my growth. I say no to things that rob me of valuable time. I spend time around healthy people. I reduce my interactions with people who drain my energy. I protect my energy against people who threaten my sanity. I practice positive self-talk. I allow myself to feel and not judge my feelings. I forgive myself when I make a mistake. I actively cultivate the best version of myself. I turn off my phone when appropriate. I sleep when I’m tired. I mind my business. I make tough decisions because they’re healthy for me. I create space for activities that bring me joy. I say yes to activities that interest me despite my anxiety about trying them. I experience things alone instead of waiting for the “right” people to join me.

Those of us who are people-pleasers assume that others won’t like it when we advocate for what we want. Therefore, we pretend to go along in an effort to be accepted by others. But healthy people appreciate honesty and don’t abandon us if we say no.

Once you grow beyond pleasing others, setting your standards becomes easier. Not being liked by everyone is a small consequence when you consider the overall reward of healthier relationships.

Remember: there is no such thing as guilt-free boundary setting. If you want to minimize (not eliminate) guilt, change the way you think about the process. Stop thinking about boundaries as mean or wrong; start to believe that they’re a nonnegotiable part of healthy relationships, as well as a self-care and wellness practice.

Of course we have no way of knowing how someone else will respond to our assertiveness. When someone has a history of rage and anger, it’s understandable that we would avoid setting limits with that person. But we victimize ourselves further when we let our fear prevent us from doing what we need to do.

Aug 03

Worry (Selected Quotes): A Wasted Emotion

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due. W.R. Inge

And some other pithy quotes about worry:

Karen Salmansohn: “Worrying is blurrying. It stops you from seeing clearly.”

Corrie Ten Boom: “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength– carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

A.J. Cronin: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but only saps today of its strength.”

The Buffalo News: “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

Voltaire: “The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”

Mark Twain: “I am an old man and have had a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

Eckhart Tolle: “What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash, one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.”

Ana Monnar: “Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.”

Dalai Lama XIV: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Max Lucado: “How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, ‘Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?’ To which the man responded, ‘That’s your worry.’

Jul 27

Soul Mates: Do You Believe in Them?

Do you believe in the concept of soul mates? If so, here are some views you may dislike:

I don’t believe in soul mates, not exactly. I think it’s ridiculous to think there’s only one person out there for us. What if your ‘soul mate’ lives in Zimbabwe? What if he dies young? I also think ‘two souls becoming one’ is ridiculous. You need to hold on to yourself. But I do believe in souls being in sync, souls that mirror each other.
Richelle Mead, Last Sacrifice

Nothing has produced more unhappiness than the concept of the soul mate. Frank Pittman (1935-2012), psychiatrist

There’s no such thing as a soulmate…and who would want there to be? I don’t want half of a shared soul. I want my own damn soul.”
Rachel Cohn, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

But I’m not going to stop at listing these negative opinions—I’m going to add even more! Why? Because I too do not believe in the concept of having just one soul mate.

To my mind, the idea of finding one’s ‘soul mate’ has about as much basis in truth as the idea that each of us has a doppelganger (an ‘evil twin’) and that if we somehow chance to meet up, a bloody duel will surely ensue, because one of us must die. Shauna H. Springer, PhD, Psychology Today

Moreover, I don’t think believing in one does you any favors. From psychologist Bjarne Holmes‘s post “Why You Should Stop Searching for Your Soul Mate” (Psychology Today):

Research has quite clearly shown that a strong belief in destiny can actually be harmful to you and your relationship. Here’s why. Having the mentality of believing that you’ve found your soul mate is related to all kinds of unhealthy thinking about your love life.

One of the main issues is that believers in having just one soul mate might skimp on doing the work needed to keep their relationship going strong. Holmes offers some tips, which I’m paraphrasing below:

  • Practice and work make for an enduring bond; just having a belief in fated romance—or in finding your “soul mate”—doesn’t.
  • When you’re with a good match, time may indeed lead to feeling that this person is your “soul mate.” But that depth of feeling comes with communication, patience, understanding, and other relationship building blocks.
  • Other beliefs often related to the soul mate fallacy include that your partner can read your mind and that the great sex will last forever. No. Couples have to talk; mates have to continually nurture their relationship.

Where do you fit regarding belief in soul mates? Holmes links you to the following quiz: http://www.scienceofrelationships.com/home/2011/5/6/do-you-believe-in-soulmates-is-love-like-a-garden-take-the-q.html 

Jul 20

Stress Can Be Bad, No Matter the Semantics

Stress: common and expected, not necessarily bad for you. On the other hand, it often becomes problematic.

Much of it occurs in the workplace. As researcher John Medina explains in his book Brain Rules, stress can contribute to both depression and anxiety. Bruce Rosenstein (USA Today) summarizes Medina’s “Rule No. 8”:

Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. People are routinely put under stress at work, yet studies have proved it to be counterproductive and costly. Medina writes: ‘Stress attacks the immune system, increasing employees’ chances of getting sick. Stress elevates blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and autoimmune diseases.’ That increases absenteeism and health care and pension costs.

A large factor in the experience of stress is control, Medina notes. “The less you feel in control, the more likely you are to experience the type of stress that can hurt learning.”

How do you know if you’re under too much of the wrong kind of stress? One tool is The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, or Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRSS), created in 1967 by two psychiatrists.

A widely used instrument since then, it has not been without criticism over the years—for example, for not taking various cultures into consideration or for not including factors other than life events. At the very least, though, it can be useful for visualizing life’s problems quantitatively. For example, “death of a spouse,” at 100 points, is at the very top, ranked right above the 73-pointer “divorce”—this idea alone, i.e., that one specific loss is more stressful than the other, however, has been debatable.

But maybe we focus too much on individuals experiencing stress and not enough on the larger society. In One Nation Under Stress: The Trouble with Stress as an Idea, therapist Dana Becker addresses stressism, “the current belief that the tensions of contemporary life are primarily individual lifestyle problems.”

Alexander Nazaryan, New Republic, summarizes Becker’s views in this regard:

…Becker is especially adamant that the things we point to as the causes of stress actually stem from identifiable, concrete social or economic problems. She takes to task, for example, Andrew Solomon for writing in The New York Times Magazine that ‘poverty is depressing.’ The issue for the poor is money, not serotonin; gay youth don’t need alleviation from stress, but tough penalties for bullies. She even applies this logic, carefully, to PTSD, making the point that war is hell, not stress. There are 175 ways to diagnose PTSD, and some 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were on meds for ‘temporary stress injuries’ and ‘stress illnesses’ by 2008. These men and women may well need help, yet stress, in the end, winds up being a too-easy explanation of why we fight, who does the fighting for us, and how we make sure those fighters are integrated healthfully back into peacetime society.

Becker’s tired as well of the person-centered term “issues.” As she states in a Psychology Today post:

Is it an accident that ‘issue’ has taken on an increasingly personal meaning at a time when our political system seems blanketed in permafrost, and big-ticket social and political issues like income inequality appear virtually insoluble? I think I’m beginning to understand why ‘issues’ has been sticking in my craw. For one thing, I find the inexorable march from the political to the personal really troublesome. But there’s another problem (yes, I did say problem): if everyone has issues, then nobody’s got issues. And I take issue with that.

Many of us these days readily cop to a number of “issues.” One client told me even her “issues had issues.” My own blog tagline used to be “Therapists have issues too.”  My point? Becker’s got a point.

Jul 13

“Maid”: Emotional Abuse At Core of Series

While the highly acclaimed Netflix series Maid, based on Stephanie Land‘s memoir (Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive) has no shortage of important themes, e.g., single motherhood, poverty, childhood trauma, and mental health, what I want to single out in this post is the emotional abuse that lands 20-something Alex (brilliantly played by Margaret Qualley) into her multi-episode life-changing predicament.

Kristen Lopez, Indiewire, sets up Maid:

The audience meets Alex as she’s embarking on a transition far too many have to make: fleeing in the middle of the night, trying not to wake her boyfriend, Sean (Nick Robinson), in order to protect her daughter (and herself) from the emotionally abusive alcoholic. Alex and her child make it out, but that’s only the beginning of where series creator Molly Smith Metzler takes us throughout the series.

At first, though, even Alex herself seems unaware, or unwilling to admit, that Sean has actually been abusive. She doesn’t understand why a domestic violence shelter is recommended to her by a caseworker.

Amy Polacko, Ms: “…Alex is brainwashed by society to believe abuse is purely physical—so the young mom doesn’t even realize she’s a victim.”

The most stunning part of this series that’s taking America by storm is not that it expertly depicts the cycle of abuse. It’s Alex’s metamorphosis along the way—because this mirrors the forces at work in our country right now. Ultimately, Maid begs the question: If a few states are following the United Kingdom’s lead by passing coercive control laws, are we as Americans ready to put emotional abuse on par with physical?

Gina Michele Yaniz, Hollywood Reporter: “‘Maid’ challenges the government’s definition of domestic abuse and urges lawmakers to accept that abuse transcends just physicality and violence, it translates to emotional torture that can ruin someone’s life if they don’t have the resources to free themselves from the shackles of an abusive relationship.”

Psychologist Valeria Sabater, Exploring Your Mind, regarding the specifics of Sean’s abusive behavior:

He doesn’t ever physically assault Alex or her daughter. However, violence is exercised through shouting, threats, contempt, and the desire to isolate and emotionally control her.

An important post for abuse survivors by Amanda Kippert, Domesticshelters.org, first warns of the possible triggering viewers may experience while watching Maid. Then Kippert outlines “The 6 Things Maid Got Spot-On” (and one thing they got wrong).

1. Nonphysical abuse is abuse. 

2. Lack of money is a major barrier for single mom survivors to leave an abuser.

3. Nonphysical abuse often goes unreported.

4. Pregnancy can trigger violence.

5. Childhood domestic violence victims are at increased risk for abuse as adults.

6. Survivors are often treated less-than.

And the thing they depicted unfairly? You don’t need to have a police report to call a shelter.

If you or someone you care about needs help, please consider contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or www.thehotline.org.