relationships

Navigating Boundaries: Creating Healthy Relationships

By: Carisa Peters

Hey everyone, it’s Life Coach Carisa! Today, let’s dive into the powerful concept of boundaries.

What comes to mind when you think of boundaries? Does it tend to feel controlling and negative? I know it used to be that way for me. Like I have to protect myself from others.

Boundaries really should be looked at much more deeply than this. They are more than mere lines on a map; they’re essential for maintaining healthy relationships and self-respect. From personal space to emotional well-being, boundaries play a crucial role in our lives.

Picture boundaries as invisible lines we draw around ourselves, defining our space just like property boundaries. They’re not about controlling others but about taking responsibility for ourselves and building stronger connections.

Setting boundaries is crucial for emotional and mental well-being. Just as you have clear boundaries around your physical home, it’s essential to establish clear boundaries around your emotions and relationships.

Imagine your emotional space as your backyard. When someone crosses a boundary, it’s like they’ve stepped into your yard without permission.

But here’s the key: you only need to communicate your boundaries when they’re crossed. It’s about responding calmly and clearly, emphasizing self-care and respect for the relationship. Enforcing boundaries isn’t about control; it’s about protecting yourself and your needs. By upholding your boundaries, you create healthier dynamics in relationships.

To create boundaries in a healthy manner, each of us must take the responsibility to get clear on what it is we want and why? Not just I don’t want you to do this to me. It is much deeper. It is knowing yourself so well that you can come from a loving, emotionally secure place and communicate that in a healthy way.

A personal story I will share to illustrate this is close to my heart. During the last six years of my father’s life, our relationship had deteriorated from the less than ideal place it was and now had become virtually nonexistent. He would send me birthday texts, which left me feeling a mix of emotions—anger, sadness, and a sense of obligation to respond. I found myself overthinking these messages for days, grappling with their impact on me. Through introspection and self-love, I realized that I had the power to control my own feelings and reactions, regardless of my father’s actions. Taking ownership of my emotions, I responded to his messages with honesty and resilience, staying true to my authentic self.

It is a loving…’if you do this….I will do this’. It really felt good.

Remember, setting boundaries isn’t selfish; it’s an act of love, both for yourself and others. Start today and watch your relationships grow!

If you found this blog helpful, consider sharing it with other moms who might need to hear this message. And if you’d like to watch my video to go deeper on this topic you can find it here.

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” – Tony Gaskins

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Understanding Your Context Filter

By: Jill Pack

One of the first things I work with my clients on is understanding the difference between thoughts and circumstances. This is one of the foundational concepts to understand if you want to create something different in your life. Understanding the difference between the two allows you the opportunity to act instead of being acted upon. 

For example, my husband is my circumstance, and I am his. The words we say are also circumstances. They aren’t necessarily good or bad. They just are. There isn’t a problem until we each have a thought about the other person and what they said. 

Now, does that mean we have to love what the other person says or does? No, of course not. But we empower ourselves to be our best selves when we realize that it is the way we are thinking about what they said or did that causes us to get upset, not the actual words or behaviors. Understanding this allows us to decide on purpose to act in a certain way instead of reacting to the situation. 

But there is another part to this. There is a space between the circumstance and a person’s thought. 

It is called the Context Filter. 

A context filter is like a pair of special glasses that everyone wears, but each person’s glasses are different because they are made up of their own stories, what they believe, what they think is important, and where they come from. These glasses help them see the world in their own special way. This means that when they look at a problem, a chance to do something, or when they are talking to someone else, their glasses make them see and think about these things in their own unique way. This is how they decide to handle different things that happen in life. 

Some things that make up a personal context filter include: 

  • Past Experiences & Outcomes or Results in our life 
  • Culture (ethnic, religious, family, regional, etc.) 
  • True Self (divine self/spirit/soul, natural abilities, personality, genetics) 
  • Current Emotional State 
  • Core beliefs 
  • Values 

All of these things make up the lens through which we view life, so it makes sense that we think the thoughts we do. 

When I begin looking at what is part of my personal context filter, I can begin examining it and deciding what I want to keep or let go of. This really is a lot of what coaching or self-coaching is. It is taking a look at what is in our context filter, questioning it, and deciding on purpose what we want in there. 

Here is an example. 

Let’s say you grew up believing that getting a college degree was very important. You went to college and got your degree. You have a successful career and are able to provide for your family. You teach your children that education is important and you believe that attending college is just a given. You value learning and education. You believe that a college degree is key to living a fulfilling and productive life. Of course, college is the logical next step after high school. Then one of your children decides college is not for them and you can’t believe it. It doesn’t make sense to you. 

Can you see your personal context filter at play here? 

Viewing their decision, which is your circumstance, through this lens shapes your experience. You feel sad and disappointed because you are making it mean that everything has gone wrong and there is no way that their life can be as good as it could be if they were to go to college. It just feels so true. 

Yet, how do you show up in your relationship with your child when looking at the situation through this context filter? Are you behaving in a way that helps you be the parent you want to be? Do you feel more connected to your child? My guess is the answer is “no” to both of those questions. 

Again, it doesn’t mean you have to love their choice, but it doesn’t have to derail you either. 

This is when your emotions can be a clue that it is time to take a deeper look into your personal context filter. Examining those things that may not be serving you in your relationship with your child. Curiosity is key to shifting your lens. 

What if you are wrong? What if it is possible that your child might even be happier if they don’t pursue a college education? What if they are learning exactly what they need to learn by not going to college? What if whatever they decide to do, it will all be ok? What if your belief is just your opinion and it isn’t the same as your child? What if that is really ok? Of course, you might feel disappointed. It makes sense because of your filter. Let yourself feel that. But, what if you can still be the parent you want to be and have a very connected relationship with them whether they choose to go to college or not? 

Using your emotions as clues can help you use questions like these to help you shift your personal context filter. Then you can begin showing up in your life and in your relationships as the person you want to be. 

We don’t want to judge or be critical of our personal context filters. That isn’t the point. Objective self-examination or awareness opens the door to change. Of course, we view life through the lens we do. It makes total sense because of how we were raised, the experiences we have had, and the things we value. We can validate that and still decide to change our filter. 

The work I do, as a life coach, is to help people take a deeper look into what makes up their personal context filters, question them, and decide what they want to keep and what they want to let go of so that they can show up in their life and relationships as the person they want to be. The person they like being. When we take the time to really look at the lens through which we see life, we can begin to see how this filter affects what we make it all mean, the emotions we feel, our behaviors, and our overall experiences. 

Click HERE to listen to this week’s podcast episode to learn more! 

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The ONE best thing you can do for your dating life!

By: Laerke Nielsen

If you are single, there are a million different things you can work on to pave the ways to attract the loving and committed relationship you dream of. Just take a look at all the things you see on Instagram… 

Some of this is indeed very good to focus on; letting go of the past, healing your relationship with yourself, getting clear on what kind of partner you are looking for, and stepping into the version of you who truly feels like the amazing catch you are and who knows that there are plenty of men who would love to go on a date with her!

All this is important – it’s the inner work that you want to focus on mainly before dating.

But when you get yourself out there – in the dating world – what really makes the difference between whether you continue to date until you meet the right match, or you quit the journey or decide to settle with someone you are not that excited about, is this one thing:

It’s if you know how to ENJOY dating!

Because the reality is that most women actually don’t enjoy dating. They’d rather skip the dating and go straight to the relationship!

They dread going into the dating apps and setting up a profile, chatting with the men in there, going on yet another date with “a stranger” that they don’t even believe will be interesting. And I get that, that’s how I felt for a long time. I almost expected it to be a waste of time.

The downsides of not enjoying dating is that you not only go on less dates, you go on them with a different energy, and you are not having a good experience. Going on less dates that are less fun, makes you withdraw even more from dating, most likely not meet the man of your dreams, and in the end you either quit, reminding yourself that you do already have a good life as a single woman, or you take a long break. You might even feel tempted to compromise your dreams and desires and settle with a situationship with a man you aren’t really that crazy about.

What if you enjoyed dating?

On the other hand – if dating was something you really loved – the process itself; connecting with new people in the apps, meeting them on a date, discovering this other person in front of you – while discovering new sides of yourself and how you can connect with a man – if this was fun for you – you wouldn’t mind dating until the day you met your Mr. Right.

When its all of a sudden a fun and exciting journey, you show up on dates in the energy of a woman who enjoys life and is less attached to the outcome of each date. This makes you come across as much more confident and attractive to a man, than when you dread it.

But what if I really don’t like it?  

Enjoying dating is a skill that you can practise. It’s not about gaslighting yourself or using toxic positivity on yourself. It’s about seeing the potential to learn, grow and have fun on each date. To commit to yourself that regardless of the man – YOU are going to have a good experience. It might not be a great experience, but it will be good in the sense that you decide to set an intention and to learn something new every time.

Imagine I could tell you with 100% certainty that you will meet the man of your dreams on date nr 35. It’s going to be amazing, you will both fall in love and live happily ever after. But you can’t skip the line. You have to go through the first 34.

Now how will you make those 34 dates enjoyable?

Use a Discovery approach and see dating as self-development journey

First you have to step into owning that you can influence your experience a lot on a date. You want to keep your mind open to possibility – anything can happen in this new connection – you could be positively surprised and you want to practise curiosity.

So ask yourself what you need to think in order to feel open to possibility and curious to get to know the man?

And then you can decide on some fun questions to ask, or things to share about yourself and your life, that will live up the conversation.

Think of dating as a discovery process – you are getting to know a new person and you also discover new sides of yourself. You can learn a lot about yourself in dating, it’s actually a great possibility for self development.

I give my clients dating challenges; I give them something to focus on, or a skill to practise on their dates. You can do that yourself by setting an intention for the date.

For instance you could decide to observe your inner critic – pay attention to what self-critical thoughts run through your brain and prevent you from being authentic on the date. This can help you identify triggers that activate your negative self-talk.

Or you can also get curious about how fast your brain is trying to make a judgement about the other person – especially on a date, we are wired to assess and judge instantly, and it’s a fun challenge to try to keep the door open and not make a decision about the other person that fast.   

Observe your mind as a scientist and notice the thoughts that make you want to either hide your true self or make a quick decision about the man in front of you. This can bring you a lot of insight and self awareness.

Practise being present and listening  

Another intention could be to practise deep listening; listen to understand, not to respond. Get really curious about what is behind the surface, what is driving this man, what are his dreams and fears etc. Ask questions and set aside your own desire to talk for a moment.

This can have the bonus effect that he feels inspired to open up even more – and you might experience a side of him that you wouldn’t if you had both been busy talking and trying to impress each other (as we normally are on dates).

Being able to be present and listen to understand is such a rare skill – we live in a time of constant notifications and distractions. If you can become really good at being present and just listen, you give one of the greatest gifts that you can possibly give to another human being.

But the real reason you want to do this is for yourself. You want to give yourself a chance to see that side of him, because otherwise you could be missing out on a really interesting man, without knowing it.

And then after each of your dates, you can evaluate by asking yourself:

How was this date an important step in my journey – even if he wasn’t someone interesting for me – what did I learn?

I call this approach a discovery mindset. This will allow you to enjoy dating – so you can stay in the “game” until you meet your ideal partner, and avoid feeling drained or bored!

It’s a skill I highly recommend you to develop, and if you want my support on how to actually do this, I invite you to book a free consultation call with me on   https://www.laerkenielsencoaching.com/

You can also listen to my Podcast; Smart Women’s Dating Podcast: https://smartwomensdatingpodcast.buzzsprout.com/share

or follow me on Instagram @laerkethelovecoach.com

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3 Words That Will Transform Your Relationship

By: Andelin Price

The words we say MATTER!  Every word we use carries with it a vibrational frequency.  If you want to get into the science of this idea, you can look it up.  But the fact is, words carry emotion. 

Here’s an example.  When you think of the word darkness, what do you feel?  I immediately feel a little bit lower, heavier, closed off.  When I hear the word light, I feel lifted. My heart opens up a little bit.  Go ahead; try it.  Choose a few words and check in with your body, to see what kind of vibration they carry for you.  A word can be connected to different emotions for different people, depending on their life experience.  

It’s ok if you don’t know the specific emotion attached to every word (that would take a long time!).  It’s enough to know if the word feels more closed or open; more constricting or more expansive. 

How does this apply to Marriage? 

When you were about to be married, what was the advice you received?  Most of us are told things like, “Marriage is hard. You have to learn to compromise,” or “marriage requires a lot of sacrifice.”  (It’s a wonder any of us got married at all, with this kind of advice! But I digress.) 

I am on a mission to change the language we use to describe our relationships, particularly in our long term intimate relationships.  Here are 3 common offenders: 

  1. Compromise 

Compromise sounds good, at first.  It’s like, yeah, I want to be flexible, easy to work with, or accommodating.  But it actually means that everyone has to give up something they want.  So basically, in a compromise,  everyone gets a “sorta crappy” deal.  “Compromised” can mean being exposed to an enemy, or jeopardized.  Not my favorite way to think about the workings of a marriage partnership. 

 Collaboration, on the other hand, feels so much more open.  It suggests that we put our heads together and create a way for everyone to have what they want. We find a way to create here there is enough room for everyone’s needs to be met.  Where everyone gets equal say.  And when everyone has what they need, we empower each other and our relationship benefits.  

  1. Sacrifice 

I’m sure we’ve all been told the importance of sacrifice in a marriage.  The message is something like this: marriage requires sacrifice.  You should sacrifice what you want for the good of the family.  Merriam-Webster defines sacrifice this way: “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.”  And I’ll tell you that when I thought I needed to sacrifice what I needed for the sake of others, it certainly felt destructive to me. 

Sacrifice is a scarcity word.  It says that there’s not enough to go around, so someone has to go without. Because there really is enough to go around, for everyone’s needs to be met (and then some).  

 Rather than sacrificing, I now choose to give. When a child needs my attention in the middle of the night, I don’t “sacrifice” my sleep.  I am choosing to give up a little sleep so that my child will feel cared for.  It’s a worthwhile exchange, in my opinion.  And, when I am in need of some self care, I give myself that, even if it requires someone else to wait until I’m ready to give them my attention.   

I know that when I give myself the care I need, I am so much better able to be there for others.  As the saying goes, you can’t give from an empty cup.  Thing is, I fill my own cup; nobody else can really do that for me. 

Where and how to give of myself isn’t always an easy balance point to find, but sacrificing too much is ALWAYS going to feel  out of balance. And when giving, there is no resentment, only Love. 

  1. Selfishness 

I see a lot of people, women especially,  misunderstanding what selfishness is.  She might want to take some time to connect with friends, get a haircut, or take a nap, but she won’t do it because she’s telling herself it would be selfish.  Sometimes she won’t allow others to serve her because she’s worried of being seen as selfish. 

Selfish feels like such a dark, icky word to me.  It’s not that selfishness doesn’t exist; it definitely does.  But most of the time, a mom who spends most of her time in the care of others is the furthest thing from it.  But due to cultural messaging, she doesn’t know the difference between true selfishness and honest self-care. 

Instead of telling myself I’m selfish for taking care of myself, I remind myself that I can be willing to receive. In the past if a friend or family member offered to help, I would deflect.  I remember a time when we were newly married and had a young child, I had mentioned to a friend how it had been so long since I had vacuumed my home. Instead of saying, “well, let me know if I can help with that,” she asked where the vacuum was, and she vacuumed my living room right then and there. Admittedly, it was a little uncomfortable for me (even though I was thankful for her help). Because I was not accustomed to receiving. When help was offered, I would think, “I should do everything myself. I don’t want to be a burden.”  What I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t allowing others the opportunity to give, because I wasn’t willing to receive their gift.  So not only was I making it harder for myself, I was also preventing them from having the blessing of serving me.  

 For the past few years, my husband’s work schedule has often allowed him the time to cook dinner for our family. In the past I felt a little bit uncomfortable when my husband would cook. I saw it as “my job” and that I should be the one doing it.  But now, after a few conversations with him about it, I understand that it’s a gift he wishes to give to me and the rest of the family.  Now I gratefully receive it.  And in receiving, all are blessed with greater feelings of love for one other.  It has created a more expanded and equal partnership for us.  

Being intentional about the words you use can create more expansiveness in any relationship. I know it sounds simple, but it’s true.  I know, because I’ve experienced it.  I have seen the shifts in my own life toward more expansiveness just by changing the words I use.  I would love to hear how this works for you. 

With Love, Andelin 

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Confirmation Bias And How It Hurts Our Relationships

By Karen Edwards, CPQC

We’re all human, so we all deal with confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a phrase devised by English psychologist Peter Wason. Ultimately, it is the tendency of our brain to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existingbeliefs. It’s a survival tendency of our brain to try to prepare us for possible dangers. If our brain believes that “dogs bite”, it will find every evidence of it. If a dog runs up to you on the street, your brain will make that mean it wants to bite you. If the dog licks you, your brain will see that as evidence that the dog is getting ready to bite you. So, of course, you are guarded and fearful and the dog feels the fearful energy and tries harder to seek affection, which continues to scare you. So, your reality is that “dogs bite”.

Confirmation bias is behind most of our limiting beliefs. Whatever we think will be our reality. Our brains make assumptions constantly in an effort to protect us. And those assumptions are naturally going to be negative because that is what our survival brain is there for, to find danger.

I like to think of my survival brain as my default mode. If I don’t choose what mode my brain is in, it will just default to survival and the negative.

How is this hurting our relationships?

First, I believe that one of the best ways of showing love in our relationships is to pay attention. To pay attention to the other person and really hear and see them. Confirmation bias can definitelyinhibit your ability to do that, especially if you have known that person for a long time. Your brain just makes assumptions and isn’t able to keep discovering new things about this person. But we are all changing and growing and there are always new things to discover in our relationships. One way that I’ve seen this in my life is with my son who struggles with ADHD and anxiety. At night, when I’m going to bed, he sometimes comes into my room and wants to talk to me. I have hearing loss, so I wear hearing aids and when I go to bed, I take them out and can’t hear well at all. He sometimes comes in and starts talking to me, I have to stop him, turn on my lamp, scramble, and knock things off my nightstand while I’m searching for my hearing aids. I finally locate them and put them in my ears. I ask him to repeat what he was saying. He says something like “next time you go to the store, will you buy stuff to make pumpkin muffins?” I feel irritated because I’m thinking it could have waited until tomorrow, so I naturally act irritated. He leaves feeling a little embarrassed. The next week he comes in again and we go through the same scenario, except this time my brain says “here he comes with something unimportant to say” so I’m irritated before he even speaks. My brain believes it will be unimportant and so no matter what he says to me, it will be unimportant. It’s significant to note that I really love my son, I worry and think about him all the time and try to come up with ways to connect and help him.

Do you see the problem?This is why I do what I do. Understanding and learning about my survival brain has helped me overcome its negative thought habits in my relationships. I am now able to be more mindful and take each experience with my son as it comes, without pre-judging it. I am able to pay attention and be fully present with him. Healthy relationships don’t just happen, we have to create them with our thoughts. We do not have to stay in default mode. We have access to other regions of our brains that have other tools besides survival…tools like empathy, patience, curiosity, innovation, and discernment.

We can learn tools that help us use our agency in how we think so we can create the lives and the relationships we want. We don’t always get to choose what thoughts come into our heads, but we can choose which ones we keep thinking. My mission as a life coach is to teach these mindful tools to my clients so that they can use their agency to choose what mode their brain is in, instead of living in default mode.

To learn more about working with Karen, please visit her PROFILE

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