What’s Controlling Your Life?

What’s Controlling Your Life?

Life offers many stressors that we unfortunately have no control over. With ongoing accumulated stress, we may get down and feel life is controlling us; but is that really the truth?

Let’s look at the word “boundaries.” Boundaries are invisible lines that show what our responsibility is and what is not. For example, a fence is a boundary that shows what my property is and what is my neighbor’s property. If we would pick our neighbor’s flowers or repaint his house, we would be in violation of his boundaries. Our skin is a boundary that keeps the bad out of our body and keeps the good inside. Anyone who touches our skin without permission is violating a boundary. Emotional boundaries are similar: the purpose is to keep the bad away and the good inside.

In order to set healthy boundaries, we need to know who is responsible for what. We are responsible for our feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes. Others are responsible for their feelings, thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. That means if we say something respectfully to a person who then gets angry, the anger is his/her problem! It also means we can’t expect someone to take care of us and meet our needs – we are responsible for getting our own needs met. Many times we use the guilt trip, manipulation, blame, or irresponsibility (all of which are boundary violations) to avoid taking care of our personal issues. When someone puts a guilt trip on us, blames us for something they did, or are irresponsible for doing their jobs – it is not our job to accept the guilt, accept the blame or do another person’s job.

So what do we do when someone violates our boundaries?

When people are physically, emotionally or verbally harmful, we can physically move away from them. Another great boundary is words: saying “Stop, I don’t like that, I’m not accepting that guilt or blame, and I’m not doing your jobs anymore…” Of course, we can set consequences: “If you keep drinking and yelling at me, I’ll sleep at my neighbor’s house,” (but we must follow through). If we set boundaries in respectful ways, and as a result the other person behaves poorly, that is his/her problem, not ours.

We can’t change another person or some circumstances in our lives. However, we can set boundaries to take care of ourselves and get our needs met. Healthy relationships respect each other’s boundaries. Unhealthy relationships usually have a violation of boundaries.
We only have so much energy. Often we expend most of our energy trying to change what we don’t have the power to change (a person, job expectations, our past, teen’s natural explorations…)Instead, let’s accept what we cannot change, and use our limited energy to decide what to do about it.

If you have boundary issues in your relationships, Kettle Moraine has a wonderful team of counselors to help you sort through it.

Debra S. Graf, LPC

Research Update:

Fatty ‘comfort’ foods may alter brain’s response to sadness
August 1, 2011, USA TODAY
Research suggests that fatty foods do more than satisfy our stomachs. They may also soothe our psyche, serving as comfort foods.

Rose-colored glasses may help love last
July 25, 2011, Los Angeles Times
Research suggests that happy delusions help when looking at your partner in a general sense (but be more realistic on the details).

Blog Excerpt:

As I get older…. I have more appreciation for the “muddiness” of life, and don’t expect it (or myself) to come in a neat orderly package. I like myself more and even tolerate my inconsistencies. Change in myself and others is more OK, and I don’t have to insist we all stay the same.

From the director:

Summer is almost gone already and I feel like I have not made the most of it yet- I haven’t swam enough, looked at stars as often, grilled out as much etc. But I am determined to make the most of the next few weeks! We have Anne Warren starting to see clients on Saturdays. She is a counselor and an art therapist who sees children and adults. Welcome aboard Anne! In this issue Deb Graf has written a great article on Boundaries. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Devona Marshall