How to Set Healthy Boundaries

Let’s talk about boundaries. A boundary is a line that marks the limit of an area, a divide, margin or confinement. Boundaries can be threatening to certain personality types, however the ability to exercise healthy boundary setting and maintenance is a skill. Learn how to improve this skill with four experts below. This blog post is an excerpt from the podcast: Your Voice; Your Power with Anika recorded in 2019 right before the holidays. This topic is timeless so we want to share these amazing tips today. To follow along, download the Boundaries Checklist.

Let’s dive in.

When you hear the word: boundary, what comes to mind?

What do you think about?

Who do you think about?

Boundaries can be classified into categories: physical, sexual, emotional or mental, spiritual, financial, and time. When we break it down, we have to be intentional in each area specifically. It's a fluid concept that will be tested over and over again. The more you get comfortable with recognizing the tests, the better you will get with exercising your power without apology.

To help shed light on this important topic, I have enlisted the help of 3 experts in the field of personal development and leadership: Linda Clay, Monica Zimmerman and Dhylles Victoria.

Meet Linda Clay:

Linda Clay:

Hey, how are ya? Thank you for having me inviting me here today. I'm a business coach and lifestyle strategist. I help entrepreneurs create the life they want first, and then build their business around them and get through all the stuff that goes with that.

Meet Monica Zimmerman:

Oh, hey, let's just jump right in boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

I'm a transformational coach and emotional leadership coach, I work with women in terms of stepping into their greatness. How does one do that? Well, boundaries is the beginning. Boundaries equate to your success, no matter if it's relationship, or if it's business, If you're walking your dog across the street, you got to have some sort of boundaries to get to the other side. So I'm here and I'm grateful to be part of this diverse panel. And thanks, thanks so much.

All right, Dhylles, tell everybody who you are and what you do.

Meet Dhylles Victoria:

My name is Dhylles Victoria. I am a publicist and media story coach, I secure media bookings for aspiring influencers who are ready to share their powerful story after overcoming struggles so they can inspire world change right now.

Get the Boundaries Checklist...

Anika Wilson:

So we're going to to start off with Monica because Monica is the one that keeps me in check when it comes to boundaries. It's so funny, whenever I see her name, I think about boundaries. Whenever she says anything, I see her as my conditioning coach, like when you're running track, and no matter what they say, you know, they mean business. That's Monica. So let's start off with Monica and tell everybody a little bit about why this is an important concept for you.

What made you really emphasize this topic in your life, your business and in the lives of others?

Monica Zimmerman:

Well, I, I've been in the game for 25 plus years of either in middle management, running facilities, facilitating for others, hiring I mean. I was also a midwife for 16 years and it's interesting to see. New mamas and families really have to set boundaries with who's going to see the baby who's going to hold the baby. So I learned a lot from watching that whole process and in my own personal life setting boundaries with my own family, which is the hardest thing anyone can do. The closer they are to you in terms of relationship, the harder it is to set the boundaries and, you know, I just, I can share what I know. I have some secrets that I use that I'll talk about. It's helped me immensely and they're simple, nothing big and grandiose.

It's just simple, practical information.

Complications of Implementing Healthy Boundaries

Anika Wilson:

You know, it's interesting that you say that it's practical, because boundaries have been a struggle for me my whole life and it has impaired progress and caused immense pain over decades of my life. I didn't know how to implement boundaries, especially with my family. Family dynamics complicate the ability to initiate and maintain healthy boundaries. Especially as the youngest child. Cultural differences also play a major part too. When you incorporate mental illness, physical illness, trauma, divorce, loss and other components that can cause boundaries to be more challenging, it calls for real deal strategic change management and intentionality. Boundaries aren't automatic, and when dealing with certain dynamics, they're just not there.

When you come from certain backgrounds (cultural differences), you're not really allowed to implement boundaries. To put those (boundaries) in place. You don't feel that you are allowed. Knowing when you can and how to execute them, that's the key. We often feel that we don't have a right to, and so then you have extremes built up from suppression. Those extremes are what cause chaos, the inability to execute or maintain healthy boundaries.

Monica Zimmerman:

Yes. There's a great book. I'm going to jump here real quick, great book called “The Book of No: 365 Ways To Say It and Mean It,” by Susan Newman, PhD. There's 365 No's to say each day, and I found the book amazing. So I just want to throw that out there.

Be in the know, you know what I mean?

Anika Wilson:

All right, Monica what is your first topic?

Monica Zimmerman:

So here's the thing I'm just going to to jump into the list because we're here and people will have a short amount of time.

1. Assess the needs of your family:

So I assess the needs of my family. When we go away (holidays) to relatives, my kid's going to overeat on sugar, he's going to stay up too late. He's going to give me more disrespect than ever because, you know, he's trying to be his own individual. People show off and whatever, whatever.I accept that. So my leash is a lot longer. I don't have to be hovering so much around him. As long as I know, that's the game we're going to play once we go to the relative's house and kind of just let hands off. Hands Free. There's no, I don't have high expectations. I'm not set up to fail. Yeah.

2. Realistic Expectations

That's a really good point. Realistic expectations, you know, he's going to stay up late, he's going to be cranky. I'll let the grandparents handle that.

Expectation management: be flexible and realistic when determining what you will and will not expect and/or except compared to your norms. When we do not adjust our expectations, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. When we have zero expectations, we settle for less. Set realistic expectations.

3. Peace

I'm going to to go out here and take a break. Take a break as often as necessary to find realignment. When we're are in stressful situations, it is extremely important to maintain control. This can be achieved multiple ways: taking a time out, retreating to a safe space or communicating your feelings to others peacefully. That means think before you respond to situations.

4. Alignment

So get aligned with your parent, your co parent and your spouse, or united force. Okay? What are we going to really be? What's our focus? Is it to make sure that a, b and c are taken care of, or are we going to let that go? As long as you get on the same page with the person, you're traveling with your co-parent, again, your spouse, your wife, your husband, whomever in terms of how you want to parent, dependent upon the environment you are in. In this case traveling for the holidays, because it's oftentimes different at someone else's house than your own house because their rules vary. Whatever the case or circumstance may be.

5. Pause Clause

Potential arguments may arise. There's no guarantee but when you change environments, there will most likely be disagreements here and there. So, retreat to another room, you have the pause clause. I used to say when I worked for my pregnant moms, there's a clause where you can pause in your agreement. Right? So I'm going to to take five minutes, and we're going to go in another room. We're going to talk about what you just said or did needs to be addressed. I'm not going to air the dirty laundry in front of the relatives. Since these gathering occur maybe once a year, twice a year, in that instance, the kind of vibrations you want to put out into the world of how you are perceived, are dependent upon how you handle conflict. So we just take a moment. We're going to agree that we're going to step aside and take care of our business in another room. I don't allow any unkind behavior. I don't care what day it is. I don't care what house I'm in. I don't care what shoes I'm wearing.

6. Disrespect is Never Tolerated

It doesn't matter if you paid for my house. There's no reason to be accept unkind behavior from anybody. So that's a firm expectations set around me. Even more so during the holidays, next, change the subject or redirect the subject. Yes.

7. Change the Subject, Redirect

We discussed expectations, so we already know what we will and won't accept. So there's a conversation you're just not into. Hot Topic arises and you're like oh no. So redirect or say nothing. You know, you don't have to participate in that. You also know, other people's reaction to you is their reaction, which has nothing to do with you. Which kind of goes back to the Four Agreements. Are you familiar with that book?

Dhylles Victoria: Yeah. amazing book. Oh my gosh.

Monica Zimmerman: So do you want to speak who said Dhylles? Yeah. Do you want to speak on that. Talk about the book by Don Miguel Ruiz The Four Agreements changed my life.

Dhylles Victoria:

Yeah, I was on the elliptical. Four years ago reading a book, during my workout. And I realize I'm supposed to work out my brain and my mental and my emotional health. On that note, not so much the physical. So it helps me with boundaries, where my mom and my family was concerned because I was always The people pleaser saying yes to everyone, because I didn't want to be a disappointment. I didn't want to feel like I was rejected because growing up, that's how I felt. So it taught me, just more self love than anything else and self respect and making sure that I'm priority. Not to put myself last as I was doing. So that's what that book did for me. So I learned to say no, and oh, but also to know kn-o-w. So that's what that book did for me.

Right. And speaking back off of what Anika said, my mom, being that she was in and out of my life, when we did get together, it was kind of like, wow, I have her here. So I want to make sure I make the best of everything she wants me to do and say everything she wants me to say, oh bla bla bla bla, and afterwards, she was like, this is just BS. Like, I can't do this.

Anika Wilson

You know, it's eggshells, everything. Living your life on eggshells is a horrible feeling. I want to say something about what Monica said. She said, you do Don't have to participate. Exactly. Monica and I, were talking one day about the anticipation of conflict. It causes anxiety, just the anticipation of being in an environment that you're familiar with the dynamics, despite knowing that you are no longer submerged. There's something about revisiting the past the allows vulnerability to creep in. When we're in our own environments, we are able to control what or actions and the access of others to our world. Then you go back to a situation that really has pretty much prompted all of our careers, the past, as we have all been inspired by our pasts, creating businesses to inspire change.

8. The Growth Mindset (change management)

We've decided, okay, we're not doing this, we're going to do it a different way moving forward. Yet, there are instances where you have to go back, with the growth mindset.Your perspective is different. For many the challenge is integrating the new you into your old world. As women, we face that challenge over and over throughout our life span. We evolve through seasons and roles. We grow into moms, wives, CEO's, and confident women, though the integration is the hardest part. Although the confidence has been improved, old environments can cause the old feelings to emerge if the healing process is under construction. There are still times when we don't feel that we have a choice about what we participate in or what we're around. Acceptance, expectations and implementation.

Anika Wilson:

Monica also mentioned going into a different room, finding a safe space to have a conversation rather than in the midst of the family drama. I know in our family, everything goes down where it begins and ends. It's really hard to control the environment when you don't feel that you have the right. However, by choosing what we respond to, don't respond to and what we participate in, is empowering.

Take control of yourself in any situation, despite being called : "Too good, or bougie, or brand new". Whatever? I'm okay with that. It's called growth.

9. Learned Behavior

Linda Clay:

To that point, if I can, I know growing up, you actually weren't allowed to be yourself. There was a, I think it's a generational thing. I brought it up before we started. It was a scripting, so you have a family of children, and each one of them are put into a role that you then carry over into your adulthood. It's taken me years to understand that process and how to get past it. I'm still learning about how to get past it, Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about muscle memory. So much of what and how we react today in our adulthood, comes from situations we went through when we were children and sometimes we don't even recognize it. We're just reacting because that's what we've always done. It really came to head with me, since my oldest daughter has battled with substances since she was 14. She's in her 40s now, and she's homeless. She's gone through these huge challenges. Well, they affected me too. It wasn't until I stepped back and, I actually took a course on tough love that I realized that I don't have to take this, you know, and I actually had to go, Okay, I can't fix it. There's no band aid. There's nothing I can do as a parent. She's got to do this herself. That was the first time I set a really tough boundary. Fast forward years later, she's still doing drugs. She's had a, you know, unbelievable life. I could feel it sucking my energy, again. And so I had to say you know what, sweetie, I love you, I will always love who you really are, but I can't be around you until you're clean. When you're clean and you're ready, let's get back in touch. I didn't talk to her for over two years, it was the hardest boundary to set in my life. I think it goes to that whole point of we've got to look at ourselves, we've got to put those boundaries in place and honor ourselves in this whole process.

Anika Wilson:

That is very true. I know for me, it's very hard to set boundaries because I think abandonment issues contribute to me being a people pleaser like Dhylles mentioned. It's just always been who I was, it was my way of seeking validation that I didn't get as a child, and that stays with you. I sought the affirmation from my father's love, which was a huge void despite my mother trying to fill it as many can relate. When we talk about childhood issues, it's not a matter of blame, or finger pointing, it's simply recognition of a problem that needs to be resolved to gain confidence as an individual, a healthy self-concept. Our personalities were developed in early childhood and we look at the hyper-vigilance, if you look at the anxiety coupled with all of the things that we do trying to build the accolades, and it trickles all the way back to childhood. You also talked about generational curses. I was the youngest grandchild, back in the day we had the child's table and adult table. In our family, you now your place. You don't advocate for yourself, you don't speak up, whatever you get, you take and you shut up. Similar to what Linda said. It's scripted. Now, I look at these concepts from a psychological perspective and it attributes to how we think and view ourselves as adults. I think I'm the youngest on the call, and I'm 37, and I'm just now finding my voice. That is why I created the show titled: Your Voice; Your Power. When you're, muted, gagged, bound or muffled by society, people, jobs, relationships or whatever, and you're not allowed to advocate for yourself or speak up for so long, going through life trying to find a way to say what we really feel. It's crippling. It's paralyzing. So when we talk about implementing and executing boundaries, it contradicts what we're taught in our past. It's like, okay, you're telling me that I'm valuable enough that I can determine who has access to me. I can say what I feel and stand for what I believe? You know, that's really hard for a lot of people.

Linda Clay:

Well, I think for women especially they don't they really don't know how valuable they are. No, because I grew up, you know, in the 60s and we have burned our bra's, we were all about woman's rights, and we're going to do all this kind of stuff, right? I was talking to my niece a couple weeks ago, she's 35 and I was telling her, what I'm doing with my facebook group, and she goes, Auntie Linda, women are still the same. She said, they still lack confidence, they are still conditioned to take care of everyone else. Still losing theirselves. Mm hmm. To Monica's point, we need to work as a collective, to help women empower themselves to stand into their power because they got it. I mean, they are Earth changing and not be apologetic.

Right, and Yes no apology. My sister asked me that all the time, I'm like you I'm a people pleaser. I grew up as the middle child. So I had my younger brother, and my older sister. My grandfather was German. So I was always trying to please everyone, the Peacemaker. I was going to say the peacekeeper.

Anika Wilson:

It says a lot about the environment when you have a peacekeeper. It's unknown to most people, they don't see it that deep, but it's a red flag. When you have that a peacekeeper in an environment, it's a symbol of the dynamic. It just kind of, don't worry about it. It's okay if that person is trying to keep the calm. They're needed to manage the chaos. It carries into your life and normalizes chaos transcending into your environment and relationships. You have to learn that you can stop this before it happens. Women don't have value and it scares me because our teenagers, are facing additional challenges to the one's we faced with the addition of social media and self-image.

Right? Right.

Monica Zimmerman:

I wonder too, if I interject here, how many of those women are highly sensitive? I'm going to throw that in the mix. If you know there's chaos, you're seeing something happening in the room, and you want to try to fix it. You have that depth of processing, which is one of the traits of being highly sensitive, and I'm an extrovert. So people like oh, my gosh, you're an extrovert. Oh, yeah, I'm super sensitive. I just tell you about it. That's because we sense things and it's a trait people are born with is 20% of the population. I find a lot of my clients are only 20% are gems.

20% of the Population are Highly Sensitive

Yes, we all are. And let me tell you, everyone on this call, I believe is highly sensitive from what you just said, all of us, I'm saying this out loud. The reason being, we were the shamans. We are the shamans, the peacekeepers, the priestesses and the priests. We see. So back in the day when we all lived in, you know, huddles and huts and caves and whatnot. The highly sensitive people smell that smoke.

You ever heard that mountain lion and no one else's hand?

So since that's an impending danger, so I use mine as a superpower to the 10th as much as I can, daily, whatever whatever I just share that information so it goes along with being a peacekeeper, great, then do it with integrity, and with boundaries. That's right, then it's okay to be a peacemaker

because you're making peace.

Anika Wilson:

But like you said, Monica for 20 years I did it without the boundaries. I worked in social services I was on call, and I was full speed ahead. It was autonomic for me, as I was doing everything I could to try to keep people from feeling like I felt. Powerless in chaos. Now in business, I listen to you and Dhylles tells me all the time to cut it off, yet hyper vigilance has become a norm. You become so afraid to disconnect. The fear is that when you reconnect, you will have no control over putting the pieces back together. And that goes to show you, that no matter how far we've come, that the impact of our pasts, really affects our today and tomorrow. Like you said, going into the holidays, traveling and going back into environments and such, contributes to anxiety. I mentioned earlier that it's a misconception to assume that the holidays are joyous for everyone. Everybody doesn't get excited about the holidays. A lot of people escaped their families. So when you're talking about bringing all that back together after it has taken years to separate, and to get away, find your identity, find your inner, outer and physical strength it's a scary thought for some. Linda mentioned people who have the relatives who are in active addiction, I have a relative in active addiction. I don't even know what addiction it is because we don't talk about it, and if you ask a question, you don't get an answer. Everybody acts as if everything's okay, and everybody's wearing masks. It's not honky dory.

Linda Clay:

Yeah, you know, they can do it. Part of the problem in this day and age is the white noise, it contributes to fantasyland. I don't think our minds are actually built to take in this constant barrage of information and noise and glitter and emulation like and all this stuff. You're trying to absorb it all, and you don't know how to put decent boundaries down anymore. When I was growing up and say like the Vietnam War, that was the first time we actually had almost instantaneous news. I mean, they would put it on TV prior to that. Think about it, people got it off the radio. There's no visual, visual input, you just have the person telling you, or you have, you know, newscasters in the early, late 50s and 60s that were just telling you the news, you go on TV now and the news is a show everything instant, you know, and I don't think our minds can actually take that in. So that adds to the stress. You watch TV now and somebody put this post on Facebook and it was like, I've never gotten a car for Christmas. You know, but you see that on TV? (Oprah you get a car you get a car.)

Dhylles Victoria:

Cuz to me it is tell lies vision. It's just a whole bunch of lies, so I don't even like it. Yeah, me being an empath is too much like I just I can't do it. I'm like, you know what? Screw TV. My fiance, she wants to get a smart TV I'm like you can watch Netflix and all the other stuff that we are not going to get cable when I watch that foolishness. Because it's

the opposite.

Anika Wilson:

I want to know what's going on so that I can mentally prepare for the chaos like. I just have to know. I panic if I don't know what's going on. I try to filter as best I can with what is provided. I feel like a Pure filter.

Dhylles Victoria:

Just go on facebook, facebook, got everything live, live and everything will pop up. That's why I don't miss television. I really I haven't seen I haven't watched TV in three years.

Monica Zimmerman:

Okay, jump in here and tell the next thing real quick. These are my favorite. I also want to talk about what Linda said about self care early on. Clearly the mantra, whatever that looks like for you. Some people it's a glass of wine. Some people it's whatever a walk, it's a run. It's Oprah, Ellen whomever. These are the two things I like to say. When there's a hot topic, if something feels uncomfortable in the room, I am having trouble redirecting the conversation or or not keeping my mouth shut:

10. "I have to go potty".

Because it can happen anytime. It's perfect. You're by yourself unless you have

a little one on you know on the foot. Second of all you close the door. No one's going to to dispute you have to go to the bathroom. No one's going to challenge that if you will. And you can stay in there. 20 minutes, you know, not to get in there. No one cares. No one wants to know. TMI. TMI. TMI. So, I have to go potty is one of my big phrases I like to use and I could stay in there and read my book and hang out and do whatever I want meditate. But it gets me out of the situation in this game. It really is. Yeah, you know, and next is:

11. Work Out

Oh, I have to go work out because I want so and so's pumpkin pie tonight and, and people like oh, because it's appropriate for the situation again. Yeah, I go out for an hour. Go down. We were going to my family in Oklahoma, where they live on a golf course and they have this gym and we're going to walk to the gym. It's been probably an hour and a half their day to day. Great. I'm happy to do so. Just to get out just again, get out of house and offer yourself self care. So those are two things I really like to say. When I get overwhelmed, overstimulated, there's just too much of everything going around going on. That's how I build on my self care.

And no one disputes it. So that's that's my final thing that I like to my go to those my to go tos.

Dhylles Victoria:

Those are great. Those are great. Went to Houston with my fiance's family before she moved to Savannah, it was like a big to do with her daughters and they were upset because she was leaving and how dare she propose to me and how do we get married and yadda yadda yadda. So, we're working on setting the boundaries for that situation. Because even though things are okay, it's still a little uncomfortable for them. So now, the fact that she told them you know, I'm not coming without Dhylles, and if she can't go, I'm not coming for Christmas. So they have to swallow that. They will actually meet me face to face because they haven't met me yet. So I can only imagine what that conversations going to be like. Well, because when I went in May for Mother's Day weekend, it was like, why does she have to come on Mother's Day weekend? That's Mother's Day weekend, and I'm like, it's not a big deal. So she's texting them and calling them and ignoring her and then she's telling them that she was going to propose but she didn't have time to tell them something. When she did propose, it was like oh my gosh, how do you? I'm like, well, when they decided to get married or be with their partners they didn't ask you for permission to do so or for validation. So why the hell do you need to explain yourself to your mom. So we got into that conversation. So we go next month, so I'll keep you guys posted on how that goes.

Anika Wilson:

You know, it's interesting because I've pretty much just cut everybody off in order to get married and be happy. When I tried to do everything with everybody involved, it was about everybody but me. I've had to really adjust in the last four months on how to live my own life, because I've never done that. I've kind of escaped in everybody else. When you do that, you really don't worry about you. But when people say take care of you, the first thing I always say to them is what does tha