Category: Relationships

Why Your Boundaries are Not Working

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“I keep setting boundaries and they are not working!” Said the distraught and frustrated person.

Boundaries are often misunderstood and therefore, improperly used. Thus, having little to no effect on the disrespectful or hurtful situation you are trying to remedy. So, let’s have a little Boundary 101 lesson on what boundaries are, why they are not working and how to set them effectively.

Step One – Setting a Word Boundary  

This will look something akin to…

“I feel disrespected when you often make me the butt of your jokes in social settings. I’m requesting that you please stop doing it.”

Your person will respond in one of two ways:

(a.) Understand and honor your request which allows both parties to continue forward happily. Or…

(b.) Disregard your request and continue to do it.

With response (a.) you’re good to go!

With response (b.), unfortunately, you’re not finished yet…

Many people think a boundary is set only with words and if you’re lucky, it will be. But if our person chooses to disrespect our Word Boundary, we must be prepared to back up our words with action.

Step Two – Setting an Action Boundary

The difficult part about Action Boundaries is oftentimes the most effective action/boundary we could choose may be the hardest or scariest one to set. We are terrified what might happen or what we’ll lose if we stand behind our words with action. Thus, we repeatedly use words over action in a feeble attempt to feel “safe” by disrupting as little status quo as possible. This is where we become the most frustrated.

Ugh… I don’t want to go further with this. Why can’t my person just heed my [word] boundary?!

The answer is simple. Because your person is not motivated or has reason to introspect or adjust him/herself. (Self-reflection is something many people avoid like the plague unless motivated or inspired to do so) Additionally, you have shown your person over time that your worn-out words mean nothing. They can continue to say and do as they please because there are no consequences.

what you allow

By providing a “consequence” or action behind your boundary, you will provide the necessary motivation and inspiration to introspect because they will lose something of value if they continue with the same behavior.

Setting healthy Action Boundaries is in direct proportion to our level of self-worth. When we have a healthy self-worth in place, a firm boundary is easy-er because our joy, worth and value are not reliant on another person.

Healthy self-worth says: I understand my value and won’t allow another person to minimize it no matter what. My job is to take care of me.

When we are continually hurt or disrespected, we have two choices only:

Put up with the crap. Yay, I get to live with this for eternity.

Or

Remove yourself or something from the relationship/situation until your person acquiesces to your respect request. There is hope this situation will change!

Action Boundary Sample:

 “I will no longer attend _______ with you because I will not put myself in position to be disrespected by being the butt of your jokes.”

And don’t attend again.

Ever.

Unless or until Mr. or Mrs. Disrespectful stops making you the butt of his/her jokes.

Are you getting the picture here?

For a Boundary to reign success, the offender must feel a consequence of their action. Otherwise, they will have no reason to introspect into why he/she is being a shit in the first place.

Boundaries Serve Both Parties

The best and most awesome part about boundary setting is it can serve both parties. Our boundaries and clear sense of self-worth can shine light on our person’s dependencies, controlling tendencies or disrespectful behaviors and potentially start them on their own healing path.

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It’s important to remember what others are doing is oftentimes a pattern set in place long ago and they may not even be aware how detrimental their behavior is. When they begin to receive the message enough, they will eventually have little choice but to take a good hard look at themselves.

Above all else, remember this…

If words are not working, back them with action.

 You matter.

You always have.

They will not respect you until you respect you by setting a boundary that says: I’m worth more than that!

Get it?

I knew you would.

Ladies: Is Your “Number” Getting Too High?

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There’s a pop culture term for the amount of people we’ve had sex with. It’s called “your number”.  The mere fact this is a thing within our youth, says a lot. People are always paying attention to how we conduct ourselves sexually.

Historically society has made promiscuity okay for men, but multiple partners takes on a completely differently meaning for women. Throughout the centuries, one might typically be called a whore or a slut if her number is too high suggesting she is giving away the “cookie” (as Steve Harvey refers to it) too often and easily.

However, I see a high number in a completely different way. So, let’s take the words whore and slut out of this conversation because judgment will only interfere with this very important message.

Without even knowing you personally, I can bank on a few reasons why you continually give up the cookie too soon:

  1. You believe sex will secure the relationship.
  2. You believe a man’s sexual desire for you means he is interested
  3. You have no idea how truly valuable you are.

Most men are driven by a primal need to disperse his seed. It is built into his physiology to procreate. He is easily turned on visually and when touch is added, he’s quickly pushed to the point of no return. Most often he will do or say anything to get what his body is craving. Remember the Meatloaf song “Paradise by Dashboard Lights?

Considering these hard facts, it’s almost stupid how easy it is to get a man to have sex with you. (To be frank, it’s really no great accomplishment)

Then once in throes of tongues, thrusts and sweat, the cookie-giver tends to think: Look how much he wants me. I’m special and different than all the other women. He won’t be able to live without me!

Until he loses interest and stops calling. Ouch.

goodbye

Why? Because to a man sex is never about securing a relationship. Period.

There’s a sad truth afoot here, ladies… men can pretty much get their rocks off with anyone, even with himself.  You are not special and you are not different than any orgasm before you.

At least not yet!

When we have sex with a prospective partner too soon, we mistake his sexual desire for love and affection. Sure, he may think you are cute and funny, but he hasn’t even gotten to know you. All that happened was you provided an outlet for his innate primal desire.

Even if he does stick around for a bit, he hasn’t connected to your personality, your values or your soul. He wasn’t given the time. The only thing that’s been established is you are willing to screw. Is that really what you want your worth to be judged by?

I didn’t think so.  Please read on.

The point when a man truly connects with and commits to a woman does not come from sex. It arises organically when the woman keeps a steady pace of abstinence until the man has earned the right to be with her.

I’m not making this up. Any emotionally healthy, self-aware man will tell you this.

Emotionally healthy men are highly attracted to and stay with women who are confident, know their worth and formulate healthy boundaries for him to honor and respect.

Unless or until you start treating yourself as valuable, your number will continue to increase without the payoff of a lifetime partner you so desperately crave.

Let’s break this down into 3 Simple Truths:

Simple Truth #1:

Your vagina is not your worth.

 If you could readily adopt that idea, I’d stop writing right now. But chances are you don’t yet fully understand.

Stop listening to the BS society and the media throws at you. Your eyebrows, hair, clothes, toenails and fancy Cirque de Solei sex positions is not what secures an emotionally healthy man. He may enjoy those things, but they will not ensure a lifetime commitment. Sure, there are superficial dudes out there who only care about how you look on his arm, but all you will ever be is a thing to make him feel better about who he is.

Not really what you’re looking for is it?

Simple Truth #2:

A man wants a woman who is authentic, open-hearted and acts in alignment with her own worth.

After years of poor choices and behaviors stemming from my own unworthiness, I learned a man is truly looking for a woman to feel safe with. Yep, you heard me! He craves safety and intimacy just like you do.

A woman tossing out the cookie left and right does not yield safety I assure you.

A safe woman is one who understands her value and is willing to act in accordance with her worth thus becoming a shining beacon amidst a tumultuous hurricane of cookies flying everywhere.

When a man feels authentic truth, self-worth and integrity within a woman, he will do what it takes to secure her to him. This is the point she becomes special and different. And if he doesn’t, he is not a man of integrity and you should move on as fast as possible.

Simple Truth #3:

Men desire connection and safety just as much as women.

An emotionally healthy man will choose a woman who makes him feel safe over a flamboyant romp in the sack every time.

Have you ever stayed in a relationship too long waiting for him to commit only to watch him marry the next woman he meets? What did she have that you didn’t? Oftentimes, a man doesn’t even know what he is looking for until that glowing, confident, self-assured women whirls into his life. She can be a game changer for even the most steadfast of bachelors.

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Sisters, there is a way out of the ever increasing “numbers” game and into the arms of a wonderful man so listen up.

Step One: Recognize you have a pattern of giving up the cookie-too soon.

Step Two: Let yourself off the hook. You are not a whore. You have only mistakenly believed that you could gain love by offering your body. Give yourself grace and forgiveness for acting in a way that did not support your highest self.

Step Three: Stop dating until you do the work to heal your self-worth and unequivocally know you are able to protect and support your sacred self in your next relationship.

And always remember there is nothing more attractive and stimulating to an emotionally healthy man than a woman who values herself.

Dear New Wife

FriendsStrangers

Dear New Wife,

I remember the first time I met you. It was at my son’s birthday party. I was pleased to see my ex-husband as happy in a new relationship as I was in my new marriage. I was eager to get to know you, the newest member of our big, loving family!  When we were introduced, you hardly smiled or acknowledged me. Although it took me aback, I continued to welcome you, smile and talk to you, but again, you scarcely acknowledged me. Something didn’t feel right about that, but I quickly discarded it and went on about the business of being myself. After all, it can be awkward and uncomfortable for the new love to meet the ex-wife. 

As months passed, I felt you somewhat warm up to me and life moved forward. We continued with the pre-established status quo of joint holidays and occasional joint vacations with our kids. It was nice. After all, we had been divorced 10 years and had figured out a way to be friends. And man, did our kids benefit from it! So much so that they often told me they never felt the heartache of typical children of divorce. Win!

You see, my own parents had modeled ex-ing beautifully for us and I was so grateful we were able to do the same. It’s the best thing for the children and the circle of family involved. Divorce does not have to equal division, bitterness and hate. It can be the beginning of something new and wonderful!

But something seemed to change after my new husband abandoned our family a year later. It became apparent that my new status of “available” was threatening to you. I tried to ignore it and work around it, but it only gained force like a hurricane slowly making its way toward shore. I was shocked and perplexed.

Couldn’t you see with your eyes and feel with your heart that I was nothing to fear?

My children began to notice their parents’ friendship compromised for the first time in over a decade. They witnessed their father’s kind and respectful behavior toward their mother change to cold and distant. They also noticed how unwilling he was to stand up for or protect them in situations where a father should. It became unwittingly clear he did everything possible to quell your insecurity even if that meant choosing you over them and treating me as if I was a non-person. He put aside his priorities and his personal freedom to appease you.

Perhaps you can trust his devotion to you now.

Sadly though, none of this needed to happen because there’s something I don’t think you understand. Just because people divorce, doesn’t mean they don’t love one another anymore; oftentimes, the love has only changed forms. My ex and I simply morphed from husband and wife to a sibling-type relationship. He became my brother. It was a friendship built on healthy boundaries and respect for each other and their personal lives. We cared about each other’s well-being as family would. We were often told we modeled a new paradigm for what healthy divorce and co-parenting can be. We were proud of our friendship.

Why weren’t you thrilled to have a drama free ex-wife like me?

I tried to ease your mind and calm your fear that Spring morning in Starbucks. For two heartfelt hours I explained my ex and I’s friendship. How he and I would help each other out with tasks from time to time, work together to meet our children’s needs, but not once had we crossed the line of “friends” since our divorce. In fact, we hardly even hugged save an occasional holiday. Our only crime was being nice to one another.

I had compassion for what I was sure was your backstory of pain. I understood. You see, I did not see you as an enemy or someone trying to hurt me. I saw you as a sister. Another woman who did not yet understand her worth or trust in a man’s love. Couldn’t you feel the truth and integrity in my words? But no matter what I said, how gently I said it or how compassionate and transparent I was, it was clear your mind was made up.

My ex and I don’t talk anymore. We no longer share joint holidays with our children. We don’t help each other out with tasks or work together as cohesive co-parents. His relationship with his children has suffered terribly as they’ve watched their father bend and stretch to make you comfortable. They watched the life they knew, enjoyed and felt safe in dramatically change. Where there was once unity and peace now lies the moss covered headstone of a dead friendship.

I’m still perplexed how this situation is better than the amicable situation we had before? Are you really at peace now? I wish I could say you are, but I continue to hear stories of your insecurity aimed toward other people. Perhaps it wasn’t me after all, but you all along.

The good news is my children and I discuss life issues openly and with higher purpose and direction in mind. The years have passed and they have grown and cultivated a new relationship with their father based on forgiveness and compassion for his fear of standing up for those he cares about.

They love him more than anything. Just as you do.

I have chosen to grieve the friendship my ex and I had, keep my distance and settle into this new format of ex-ing. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about him or ever will. Love does not change, but situations do. And when my brother feels the freedom to enter back into my life, I will gladly accept him and you as well.

I pray for you often, sister. I ask God to help you find your worth and self-esteem. I pray you see the gift in peaceful ex-ing and open your eyes to the good woman I was then and still am today.

Until that time comes, I will be over here enjoying a great life.

Sincerely,

The Ex Wife

Your Failed Relationships Can Change Your Life

The days, weeks and months post break-up are the most important part of our recovery process. Why? Because it is the time we are the most raw and do the most reflecting. During this time, we tend to replay conversations and scenarios in our head and examine all aspects of the relationship.

It is also the time we tend to assign blame to our ex and stand righteously behind why we were done so wrong.

He did me so wrong! I was so abused and mistreated. What a jerk/bitch! How dare she!

Short-term it feels great to the ego to point the finger outward; however, long-term it serves nothing.

When we place 100% blame on our partner and are unwilling to see the part we played (no matter how minute it seems) we will continue to bring our own dysfunctional relationship patterns into every future relationship we have.

Let me explain further…

Each relationship we experience is a classroom for us to grow in. If we look only at the places our ex needs to grow, we will never learn what is intended for us and we will continue to attract relationships that will attempt to show us ourselves.

Do you want to experience another dysfunctional relationship, another breakup? Do you really think you played no part? Does the need to be right and place total blame on your ex really trump your own emotional growth and wellness?

It wasn’t until I experienced the worst betrayal of my life did I finally open my mind to the idea that I had played a part in the downfall of my failed relationships.

I finally recognized I was the common denominator. I was the who allowed my partners to dishonor and disrespect me. That was my contribution. It didn’t matter if my part was only 10% or not as destructive as his; I still had to take complete responsibility for what part was mine. My relationships served to show me that I was not honoring or respecting myself.

Recognize the Common Theme

If we truly open our minds and look close enough, we will see the common theme that runs through all our failed relationships. Here is a few examples of common themes.

I invite you to keep an open mind as one or several of the following may look familiar to you:

• You are fearful of communication
• You are too walled off to allow someone close
• You let your partners walk all over you then resent them for it
• You choose people who are exciting (i.e. Bad boys) rather than partners who are rich in character
• You attract commitment phobes or are one yourself
• You think nothing of yourself therefore you partners treat you like nothing
• You lie to avoid confrontation
• You avoid difficult subjects
• You allow your partner to get away with bad behavior
• You fail to set and maintain healthy boundaries
• You fail to take care of yourself for fear of losing their love
• You have high expectations that no “human” could ever meet

Discovering your common theme is…

The First Step

This is when the magic happens!

We cannot heal what we do not know exists. Once you become clear on your part of the equation, celebrate it!

I am so grateful I discovered my pattern of _______! I will focus on doing the work to heal this disempowered pattern so I may dissolve it for good!

Friends, I could not maintain appropriate boundaries with my partners when they were clearly wrong. I’d pout, cry, talk, talk, talk, and talk, threaten and yell, but nothing would ever change. I couldn’t set boundaries because I was afraid I would lose their love or the relationship would end. I was weak and afraid. I banked my self-worth on how they thought of me and fell short of empowerment every time it mattered most.

I had no idea I was a doormat and repeatedly attracted men who treated me the way I treated myself.

When I recognized my common theme, focused on my healing and learned to transcend my disempowered places, my boundaries became unwavering because I was no longer afraid of losing the love. My emotional health and well-being had become more important to me than anything.

Not long after doing the work, as if by magic, I attracted a man who reciprocally loves and respects me. A man who works with me, grows with me and complements my personality beautifully.

And the same can happen for you!

Open Your Mind and Be Gentle With You

Please understand you are a work in progress just like everyone else. Give yourself grace for the points of healing you discover within yourself. Beating yourself up will only strengthen and perpetuate the unworthiness behind your fearful and disempowered behavior.

Rest knowing your healing will change the dynamic of all your relationships for the better and forever!

Allow a sense of freedom to wash over you as you now have been released from a hidden place inside yourself that has dictated the theme in your relationships. You are now on path to attracting the relationship of your dreams!

Contact me at sweetempowement@gmail.com for a FREE 30 minute coaching session to get your started!

I believe in you!

The Healing Power of Engaged Listening

Last weekend I was walking in the grocery store when I heard a patron ask how a store employee was doing. The employee’s response was, “I’m fine. No use complaining because no wants to listen anyway.”

At this point he was walking by me and I said with a big smile, “I’ll listen to you!”  He laughed, made a few jokes and continued walking by. Most likely he didn’t believe that I’d leave my basket, grab a drink from the in-store Starbucks and tell my partner Doug to come back and pick me up in an hour. But I would have.

All day I thought about the exchange in the store, because I, too, have felt at times that no one cares to listen. It inevitably created a profound feeling of aloneness, isolation and like I don’t matter to anyone. A feeling I don’t enjoy nor do I enjoy thinking someone else is feeling.

I’m going to disclaim that I understand that no one (including myself) wants to hunker down with a chronic complainer who only wants to discuss the problem and never the solution. Those types can be incredibly draining and are usually people we need to instill healthy boundaries with.

However, what about the people who truly need someone to talk to? The ones who are trying desperately to work through a problem, but have no one to bounce it off of? Or how about the ones who may not have many people in their lives and simply crave human companionship?

Would you be willing to show up for them? Could you put your own stuff down for an hour, pull up a chair and lend an engaged ear?

It has been said by many psychological and spiritual experts that engaged listening is one of the highest acts of love.

It says: You matter and I care.

Many of us love to think that we are compassionate and caring listeners, but our behavior proves differently. We zone out when the person is sharing his/her story and/or we can’t wait to switch the topic to us. We jump to conclusions to finish their sentences so we don’t have to listen longer than we want to. We don’t really care what they have to say. We don’t really care about their problem. And we don’t really want to know the dirty details of their life.

Believe it or not, you are doing both of you a grave disservice.

Because engaged listening is not only healing for the talker, it is healing for the listener as well.

When we open our hearts to listen…

We serve the betterment of humanity. By caring about what another has to say, we are literally healing the planet. Imagine how the person felt before you “cared” and how he/she feels now? By actively listening, you’ve lifted another’s spirit. You’ve made them feel like someone cares and when we know someone cares hope and inspiration arise. In turn, their lifted spirit will serve another and so on and so on. The ripple effect of love begins! Win!

We serve our soul. Our soul is comprised of all things high and loving. Our soul yearns for us to live in unity with its nature. Truly caring about another’s situation and giving them our time and attention is living within the bounty of our spirit! Stepping out of self and into service allows us to nurture the deepest part of our being. It restores our energy, invigorates our life path and builds our self-worth. Win!

We evolve while listening. The ego loves to convince us we are all-knowing to keep us in the dark in order to keep itself alive. When we open our minds to what others have to say, we begin undoing of the ego because it leaves us more knowledgeable and wise. Growth, advancement and learning do not happen by talking; they happen by listening.

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This morning I was at the full service carwash. I had two random ladies strike up conversations with me. The first told me all about being married for 57 years and how some days she wanted to take a dull knife to her husband.  (Chuckle, Chuckle) We laughed and chatted a bit more. When she turned to leave, I sincerely wished her a Happy Anniversary. She stopped and turned back to me with a perplexed look and quietly said, “Thank you… That was really kind of you.” I got the feeling she doesn’t receive much well-wishing in her life and was truly appreciative of my sentiment.

The second lady approached me outside and talked to me about her job, divorce, vitamins, hair, roommate situation, car, her sister and her hometown of Chicago! From her stories, I got the feeling she doesn’t have many people to talk to or who truly care about her thoughts and feelings.

When it was time for her to go she cupped my hand in both of hers and said, “I sure enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for listening.” She even gave me a spot of wisdom to take away:

The toes you step on now is the ass you will kiss later.  Ha! Got it!

I often ask God to help me be of service in the world. I ask to put me in the right place at the right time for the right people. As small as those two exchanges may seem, they felt divinely guided to me. Just by listening, I was able to let someone know I care and put a smile on their face. Those two brief encounters set a loving tone for the rest of my day.

Giving someone your full attention is one of the highest acts of love. It is serving to everyone – you and the other person. Even if you don’t get to see the results, rest knowing engaged listening is never in vain because you’ve let someone know they matter and you care.

I dedicate this piece to the beloved listeners in my life: Doug, Sue, Lisa, Ed, Ashley & Kelli. I appreciate you more than you know!  XO

Much Love,

Kristen