Drink Like a Lady Podcast

HOW TO SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES with "BOUNDARY BOSS" TERRI COLE

April 19, 2022 Joya Dass
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
HOW TO SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES with "BOUNDARY BOSS" TERRI COLE
Show Notes Transcript

You have shared over and over with me, how you need to set clear boundaries. But where do you start?

In this workshop, psychotherapist Terri Cole teaches a specific set of skills that can help you stop abandoning yourself for the sake of others (without guilt or drama) and consciously become empowered in every aspect of your emotional, physical, personal, and professional life.

Since becoming a Boundary Boss is a process, Cole also offers actionable strategies, scripts, and practices that can be used in the moment, whenever you need them. You will learn:

  • How to recognize when your boundaries have been violated and what to do next
  • How your unique “Boundary Blueprint” is unconsciously driving your boundary behaviors, and strategies to redesign it
  • Powerful boundary scripts so you will know what to say in the moment
  • How to manage “Boundary Destroyers”—including emotional manipulators, narcissists, and other toxic personalities
  • Where you fall on the spectrum of codependency and how to create healthy, balanced relationships

_____________

Are you endlessly giving and doing for all of the people all of the time?

Do you feel you are the one people come to when they need something because they know you’ll get it done, no matter what?

If you’re nodding your head, then this workshop is for you

It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing ourselves and our actions as being “nice” and a “good” person.

We’ve been taught to believe that taking care of ourselves makes us selfish and bad. So many of us were raised to define our goodness by putting others before ourselves.

When we give from a place of need and fear, what can happen is we end up resentful, angry, exhausted. We can feel like the people in our lives are taking advantage of us and our generosity. Every relationship is a dynamic, which means each individual is responsible for their 50%.

We need to ask ourselves, “How can I set healthy boundaries?"

Joya is currently enrolling for her 2023 Mastermind here
Looking for adventure? She is enrolling for her 2023 Tuscan Writing Retreat here
joyadass.com

[00:00:00] Joya: All right, ladies, I want to introduce you to Terri Cole. I'm in front of all of you four times a week, and everybody complains regardless of the career that they're in about four things, time management, productivity self-care and building a personal brand. So in the spirit of self-care, I invited Terry today because she is a psychotherapist and she's written a book, as you can see in the background called Boundary Boss.

So today we're going to be talking about strategies, scripts, and practices that you ladies can use in real time when you're having challenges setting boundaries. And Terri this is actually the second plenary that I'm in today talking about this topic of boundaries. So I'm going to start there. Why is it that we have such challenges, setting boundaries and honoring them?

[00:00:46] Terri: Well part of it is that nobody taught us how to do it. Right? So think about the way most of us were raised. I've been teaching this for many, many years and teaching people from 192 countries and never once has someone said, oh my God, yes. I learned this in grammar school, or my parents taught me this.

So when you think about the way we were raised, most of us were raised to be good girls, to not be a troublemaker, turn that frown around. Where's my happy girl. You know, it was all about not making other people uncomfortable. And so not only did we, not, nobody taught us really to assert ourselves. We really start with a deficit in thinking that asserting our boundaries makes us not feminine.

Makes us rude. You have to be, there's so many myths around it, right? You have to be mean or bitchy to do it. You're rejecting people. So I think the first the reason why it's so difficult is that we don't know how to do it. It's very much like speaking in language, you wouldn't feel bad about yourself if you weren't fluent in French, because nobody taught you how to speak it, right? You would know, oh, I need to learn how to do that. 

[00:01:50] Joya: So for purposes of this audience, let's define what a boundary is. I know what a boundary is when I say no, but I also need scripts to buttress that no. 

[00:02:01] Terri: Well, according to Terri Cole, and in my book, I say that boundaries are like your own personal rules of engagement, letting other people know what's okay with you and what's not okay with you.

And that they're comprised of your preferences, your limits, and your deal-breakers like your non-negotiables. But what is required is not just you knowing those things, which many people don't, you need to know those things and then be able to concisely and transparently communicate those things because thinking them and saying them are two different things.

[00:02:33] Joya: So when I was in the plenary earlier today, we were talking about values and what are your non-negotiables, but how do you even tread down that path to understand what those are? What are the lines of questioning that you have to ask yourself to understand that? 

[00:02:48] Terri: Part of it is you have to be dug into your feelings. I'll give you an example. When I was dating a million years ago, I'm in recovery, stopped drinking when I was 21. And I was saying in one of my friends who wanted to set me up with people, I said, but PS, nobody in recovery for me. And she was like, why are you against people in recovery? I was like, no, just one addict in a relationship for me, that's enough addicts in a relationship.

And that was my, for me, that was a non-negotiable. And my friend didn't need to understand that. I didn't need to convince her. I was like, Hey, my non-negotiable is my own. I don't need to tell you why I gave her context because we were friends, but that's like a non-negotiable where I just knew it wouldn't work for.

And so I think that we must know ourselves. Non-negotiables are, for some people abuse in a relationship, someone raising their voice, someone raising their hand, someone relapsing. If you are with someone who's in recovery, that might be a non-negotiable like, if you can't get back on the wagon, there's gotta be a timeframe.

I can't be in this relationship. And some people might say that's mean, but it doesn't matter because your preferences, your limits and your non-negotiables are your own. And you're the only one who knows them, you know? And so that's why we have to be able to communicate them. 

[00:04:03] Joya: So is it, do you recommend doing a little bit of self inquiry with quiet time to understand and make that list for yourself before you start forcing it on the world?

[00:04:12] Terri: Yes. And we're not forcing it on the world, but that's an interesting, that's interesting language, because again, it's like this thought that we're, I'm controlling, I'm controlling me. So what we do is we start with, I always suggest that people take a resentment inventory. Because this is a good place to start because usually if you can identify like who you're holding resentment for, that can be an indication that either you're not speaking up about a boundary, you are speaking up about a boundary and the person is still violating that boundary or that you just haven't been assertive, or haven't been transparent about your preferences.

And it's like, we can keep it in our mind where we put it in this file cabinet of resentment. Do you know what I mean? Where we're like, oh, just another reason why Bob's a total idiot. There you go. That goes in the resentment file cabinet, but it doesn't change your relationship with Bob from accounting or whoever it is that you're having a problem with.

So a resentment inventory is a really good place to start. Because we know who the sort of the tough people in our life, we know who they are. It's just a matter of how do we manage that? How do we tell the truth? How do we assert our boundaries? Especially if it's parents. That can be very difficult.

Family of origin. There's a lot of cultural elements that come into play depending on. And you know what I'm talking about, depending on the culture that you come from as to what is the expectation, because we each and every one of us has what I call a downloaded boundary blueprint. And this is in your unconscious mind and it's really a collection. Think of it like an architectural blueprint for a house that someone else designed decades could be centuries ago.

We don't know. It just keeps getting handed down from generation to generation where we feel like, this is how relationships are supposed to be. This is how I'm supposed to be in the world. We should be nice. I should give anybody the shirt off my back. I should prioritize other people above myself.

That's being a good person, right? Many of us learn these things. And so the way that I teach it is we need to go into the basement of your mind. Cause that's where that stuff is, which is your unconscious of your subconscious. And really the questions that I give you to ask yourself are about what did you learn and from whom so that you can make the conscious decision to go, oh yeah, that works for me.

I am consciously choosing that or saying, oh, that was just the way it was for my maternal impact. Or let's say, because you might've been raised by a mom or an auntie or a foster mom. And that doesn't have to be for me. Like I can change the way it is, but you can only do that when you become consciously aware of what is in that downloaded blueprint. 

[00:06:55] Joya: And become a little bit of a detective.

[00:06:58] Terri: Without a doubt. So much of the work that I do. It's so funny. I always describe it like that. You become a detective, but it's so fascinating to dive deep within yourself that, that deeper self-understanding also leads to deeper self-compassion because I have to say most of the people in my crew are very hard on themselves.

It's like they would never be as mean to you as they are to themselves. 

[00:07:22] Joya: How do we stop the auto yes? In line with what our culture teaches us. Yes is the people pleasing, but how do we stop on that? 

[00:07:33] Terri: Awareness is the first thing, like I have these five pillars of self-mastery and transformation and self-awareness is the first one.

So part of it is being aware that you have this reaction to someone asking something of you. So I always give this exercise where you can take like the next seven days and just decide you're giving nobody an instant answer. Because what we do is we are constantly teaching people what they can expect from us and how to treat us.

So if we start by buying time, because it can be hard. If you've been a people pleaser, if you've been a sort of insta yes person, it's really hard to just stop doing it. So I don't say, just stop doing it. I say, just buy time. So when anyone asks you to do anything, you can say, okay, I need to check with this person or, Hey, I need to check my workload to see if I have the bandwidth to help you.

I'll get back to you tomorrow or Thursday. I need you to check my calendar. Thank you so much for thinking of me. I'll get back to you. And then for some of my clients, we would come up with more direct and more honest things like, I have a 24 hour decision-making policy. I'll let you know tomorrow.

Why do we feel like people are entitled to an immediate answer from us? Why. They're not, and I'm not saying don't give it to torture other people I'm saying, teach them that you have a right to think about your answer. Sometimes you just don't want to do something. Right? And it's so interesting how we never think that's a good enough reason to not do it.

We're all like, I need a really good reason. I need to explain it. I need to write a dissertation on my note, but you don't and sometimes just frigging not wanting to do it is a good reason. My friends asked me to go to like outside concerts to places. I do not like them. I do not want to. I like my friends still plenty.

How about let's have brunch on Sunday, enjoy Tanglewood. I don't want to go. And they know I'm not rejecting my friend. I'm rejecting bugs and people talking while I'm trying to listen to James Taylor. That is my preference. That is my right. And I think what is required as we start mastering boundaries.

So you got to change your mind. There's gotta be this pivot so that you get really clear about what is your right in life as a human being, and that all of this, not wanting to offend others and being offended by others. Because usually when we, if we have the disease to please someone saying no to us makes us be like Betty as Sumner.

I cannot believe after all the crap I've done for her. Like we, it's hard to accept someone else's know, especially when you're a people pleaser. I remember my twenties. I would be like, I do so much crap. I don't want to do, I cannot believe that she just said she didn't want to do it. You know what I mean?

I'd be like mad. Really. I think I was probably jealous that she was confident and the people who in my twenties, I thought were mean and harsh and bitchy now I'm like, oh wait, no, they just had boundaries. And they weren't mean at all. Like, you know? 

[00:10:37] Joya: You bring up the element of codependency, high functioning codependency. And I don't think I've ever heard that associated with boundaries. So explain to me what that means. 

[00:10:47] Terri: I will. And I'll tell you how that actual term came about in my twenties and in my life, I was not at all identified with codependency. Even though I was highly codependent, but I was like, codependency, I'm not dependent on squat.

I'm making all the money. Everyone comes to me. I'm not dependent. I misunderstood. And then when I opened up a private therapy practice, after a different career, I started seeing the same thing. So if I would say to my client, oh, Hey, what you're describing? That's like a codependent interaction.

They would have the same response that I had. Are you nuts? Lady? I'm not dependent on anybody. And I was like, oh my God, my clients have no idea. What codependency actually is. And then I realized it's because people are looking at like melody, Beatty, codependent, no more. You have to be involved with, I'm an addict, right?

That it's all about this old school terminology. And it actually isn't. And so I came up with high-functioning codependency because that was my flavor of codependency and all of the women who were attracted to my work and who came into my practice in my courses, it was the same thing. So the differences first, I'll give you my definition of codependency, which is being overly invested in the decisions,

the feeling states, the outcomes, the circumstances of the people in your life, to the detriment of your internal peace, your financial, spiritual, physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing. Now all of us are lovers. Of course we're invested in the people without for it. Obviously there's nothing wrong with that.

That's called having a relationship. Being overly invested means that when something bad is happening to your partner, it really feels like it's happening to you. And so if you're listening to this watching and you're like, Hmm, I wonder if I am like that. I want you to check your urgency. When your best friend calls you with a problem, are you immediately Googling the answer being like, I know somebody in that industry, I'm going to call them right now where you're texting people.

Are you immediately jumping to fix the problem? That is a codependent response with high functioning codependency. We're so capable that would just make it look easy. And yet we're getting it all done at the expense of ourselves so much of the time. And it's a codependent compulsion. If you can't not do it.

So that's also a bar that you can look at if you can't step back. And instead of saying to your friend, Hey, I know what you should do, really get the fact that you actually do not know what your friend should do. You don't, you are so uncomfortable with your friend being in pain or being distressed. What you really want is your pain to end.

It is a codependency is an covert or an overt bid for control. And at its very core, it is disordered boundaries. Because what are we talking about? We're overstepping over-functioning over-doing auto fixing instant advice giving. All of that stuff, those are boundary issues. So that's how it's connected. 

[00:14:05] Joya: Thank you for breaking that down for me. Now, the next point you talk about as managing the VIP section of your life. Now I've heard, in other context, you need to put a red velvet rope across your business because you want to only work with certain people and you need to set that red bell group early, but that isn't what you're talking about is it? 

[00:14:24] Terri: Well, it is and it isn't. It's basically knowing that you, your life, there is a VIP section in your life. So we can't have high priority and low priority folks all have the exact same access to like our most tender heart. To 24 hour backstage access to our brain or our money or whatever it is.

And so the idea and want to write about in the book is that you make the guests. For the VIP section of your life, you are the only bouncer. Literally you are the one who needs to put up with the rope of the is going to be up. And if we don't, every person who feels entitled to our sunshine, our time, our energy, our brains, whatever it is, they just wander into the VIP section and plop on down and pick up a seat.

And your third cousin once removed is like, I can't wait to go to your bachelorette party. And you're like, hi, I don't want to, like, why does she think she's in the VIP section? Oh, because you're not managing it. And there's nothing wrong with having a friendly relationship with your third cousin once removed, and not letting her come, not inviting her to your bachelorette party because the truth is you don't want her there.

So the VIP section, according to me, is reserved for folks that there's mutuality. You fill up their bucket, they fill up your bucket. You don't feel judged. They're not auto and auto advice giving you to death. And you're not doing the same thing where there's safety, like people who are emotionally safe.

A lot of times, family is not in the VIP section. It doesn't mean you have to not talk to them. It just means that maybe they're not emotionally trustworthy and you could keep them a little, they could be in the mezzanine. You know what I mean? 

[00:16:04] Joya: I think folks get tripped up though, are the scripts that you use to very gracefully say, Hey, third cousin, you aren't actually invited to that party. So what are some scripts that you love? 

[00:16:16] Terri: Part of it is we can start with sentence starters, right? Think about when you need to talk to someone, and you're asking them to do something or not do something, which is not the third cousin once removed scenario, but you, oh, you can always start with, I'd like to make a simple request.

So let's just say it's at work and you have some idiot. Who's constantly on their phone while you're giving your presentation, you can say, oh, Hey Bob, I actually wanted to talk to you about the meeting that was on Thursday. And I'd like to make a simple request that you stay off your phone during the meeting, because a that's part of the rules, but B I found it so distracting.

It was lighting up and it was really like pushing me off my center. So I just would appreciate it if you would not be on your phone when I'm presenting. 

[00:16:58] Joya: Now we all know people that are detractors, who are still, even though you've put up a boundary or manipulative or persuasive enough to want to hit system override on that. So how do you manage that personality type? 

[00:17:12] Terri: I put them in categories. We have the boundary first timer, which is the person you've never said anything to. Even if you think they're a boundary bully in your mind, but if you haven't sent anything, they're still a first-timer. Then we got the repeat offenders.

Then when it's really bad, we have the boundary destroyers, but that's a different category. Repeat offenders. There has to be some kind of, eventually we must add a consequence to the request. Now, if it's a coworker, you may not have the power to add a consequence. If it's your home life and let's just say your partner says they're going to be home at this time.

And maybe it's your night to cook or whatever it is, if they're constantly late and not letting you know, and you ask, Hey, if you're going to be more than 10 minutes, please let me know. And I won't put the food out until I know you're within 10 minutes or whatever it is. It's just a consideration thing.

And if they say, yeah, yeah, I will, I will. And they keep not doing. There has to be a point where you go, okay, this is the third time I've asked you. You keep agreeing, you keep breaking your word. So if it happens again, I'm not cooking for you. I will cook for me and I will leave your crap in the fridge and you can heat it up yourself, which bums me out because I really want to eat with you.

But it's so frustrating. And you keep not keeping your word, which doesn't work for me. So we create a consequence that's kind of commensurate to the boundary crime, right? It doesn't have to be ridiculous or over the top, but for, let's say partnership where you do eat together every night, that would actually be a consequence that the person probably wouldn't want.

And if there is no. If there's no consequence ever, if there's no sort of pain and I'm not saying ultimatum. That's just a consequence. I'm no longer willing to do this when you're, you can't even pick up the phone and let me know you're going to be late. It's just rude. And you've said you would, and you haven't done it.

 Cause some people will be like, oh, it seems like you're being punitive. I'm like, no, but if there's never a consequence, you know who's not changing anybody. Some people will do it on their own and you make the simple request and maybe they didn't know you felt that way about something and they'll be super grateful and be like, cool, thank you for telling me I'm happy to do it.

Then you'll have the ones who don't and I would have clients come in and be so frustrated. They said they were I'm like, yeah, but you're literally in Groundhog day of your own making because you're not doing anything different to the fact that they keep trampeling that same boundary. 

[00:19:40] Joya: What about the lone Wolf syndrome, those who never know how to solicit or ask for help? In other words, be their own best advocate.

[00:19:50] Terri: Okay. And it's not even just not asking for help. It's not allowing help. Right? It's literally forget asking. That was when I was in my twenties, it was, would never even be in my mind, but I would be going to Europe with a huge bag and I would, the cab would pull over back when nobody had Uber and the guy would get out and I'd be like, I got it.

Don't worry about it. I'm literally not even letting the cab lift my 7,000 pound bag into the, so used to being, hyper independent. And for me, I think part of it is not wanting to owe someone, but it was so automatic when you're an over-functioner, when you're a high-functioning codependent.

You're so used to being like, I got it. I got it. I got it. That the idea of burdening quote, unquote, someone else or asking someone else or owing someone else is something that is very uncomfortable. But we can also only do that for so long because eventually you get burned out. Who has all that bandwidth for all the people all the time? And then to do it ourselves being the lone Wolf, it really doesn't work forever.

 In your twenties, you can do it, but there comes a point where you just don't have the bandwidth to do it. And what you're doing, I remember when I first met my husband, who's very capable, and probably the first capable boyfriend I ever had in my life. And he would always want to do things for me. Go get the tickets so I didn't have to stand in line, come pick me up and then drive me back to the city, which I was like, I could take a train that makes no sense. And my mother was like, why do you keep blocking him from doing these nice things for you? Like you're the only one who can do nice things for others. Think about the joy that it gives you.

To add value to his life. Why are you depriving him? She's like Terri, every time he offers to do something nice and you shut it down, imagine that he's handing you like a Tiffany's box and you're like throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. Would you ever do that? And I was like, of course not obviously.

And I've really got that. I was on such autopilot of this hyper independent thing that I didn't even know how to let someone in until she actually brought it to my attention. And then I was like, wow, this feels amazing. Other people can do things. Oh my God, I have so much more time. You know? 

[00:22:07] Joya: And then finally, before we turn it over to questions, there are the lies that we tell ourselves where we excuse the bad behavior of others rather than have the tough conversation.

[00:22:19] Terri: Yeah, this is falls under the psychological defense mechanism or of denial, right? Of minimizing. Where let's just say your sister is a bear when she's PMs, but she's like me screaming at you, like inappropriate, not cool stuff. You can say to yourself oh, you know, I know she's always like this. She didn't mean it. Cause she's always like this when she's PMs, that's fine. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it because you know, she's going to feel better in a couple of days. That's fine. But that is a lie that we tell ourselves, even if she is more of a bitch, when she's PMs thing, it doesn't mean behavior.

Right? Exactly. And there's nothing unloving about saying, Hey, I get that you're feeling ultra-sensitive, but I'm not your punching bag. You want to talk about how you're feeling. I'm here for you. You want to go get ice cream, I'm here for you. You want to somehow make me the bad guy and be mean and say terrible things to me.

And then act like you didn't do that. That doesn't work for me. And that is more loving because here's the thing. When we say yes, when we want to say no, when we minimize the crappy behaviors of others, we're not being honest. We're really not. So what happens is what we're really doing is giving the people in our life, corrupted data about who we are, how we feel, what we want.

And eventually, like I've had women come into my practice, the six or seven decade of their life being like, Hey, everything's on track money in the bank, kids went to Ivy league, this, one's getting an MBA, like my spouse still, go to soul cycle three times a week, golf, you know, whatever. Why do I feel so empty?

And I'm like, cause nobody further knows you. And that is empty. A life of checking boxes is not satisfying. It's like doing what other people think that we should do. And that is a disordered emotional boundary. And it's so painful. 

[00:24:11] Joya: Terri this is the moment that's my favorite because I turn it over to my members to ask you questions and get some live one-on-one coaching.

So who would like to start Dina or Shreya?

And Shreya, while you're asking a question I'm going to go get my computer cords so I'm stepping away for one second. 

[00:24:27] Shreya: So first of all, I just want to say, love your voice. The way you speak, I feel I could just listen to you and it's, I just love your voice. It's a very soothing, and you have a lot of spaces, so I was really tired, but I really wanted to attend this and I feel like I'm getting what I wanted.

So was just wondering, so I have a couple of things. I'm definitely in the high-functioning codependency thing now that you spell it out. But, it's of course it's part of my training. It's part of my heritage, be the good wife, be the good daughter-in-law, I'm just meant to manage it all.

But I don't know at this point I have. I have matured. I do say no, I do know a little bit, but what is that mind between love, this is where I'm confused, right? I know you said, I do want to help him fix things, but I love him. Is that not why you would want to? I'm just confused between that line of love and then going above the line of love.

[00:25:33] Terri: Yes. It's such a great question. So here's the thing about love. It's really loving to be supportive of your partner to be in the foxhole with them. Right? Right? If they're having something like, Hey, should we brainstorm this? But what's really, really loving is having faith that your partner is going to figure it out. Actually having faith and not feeling like you have to insert yourself into the middle of their situation, because if you don't, it's not going to be handled.

So what I teach clients and in the book is that you can create a different conversation, always starting with, "Alright baby, what do you think you should do?" Like, what is your gut say? Even people come to me and they're like, I want to know what you think I'm always like, but before I want to know what you think, because nobody is more of an expert on you than you.

So let's, so we learn to have more expansive conversations, not feeling like we have to be the savior of all the people, even our partner. And having faith in their ability and showing that faith and same thing with children, right? When we jump in with kids, we're, codependently like, ah, I think they're going to fail.

I'm going to help them. I'm going to stay up till two in the morning and finish the thing that they didn't do. It's such a disservice because that's not the way the world is. No one else is going to do that for them. They're not learning consequences for actions. Like we want to teach kids critical thinking skills and real life is not going to be somebody staying up til two in the morning, finishing their work PowerPoint for them.

Right? So there's nothing wrong with saying, Hey, I'm here for you. I think one of the most powerful things you can ask your partner is how can I best support you? Right? You know, I used to say this to my husband who is, I can't, he has an artist for a living. And in the beginning, when I used to say that he, you know, he's a little, he's a little can be sarcastic and he would say, you could learn to draw, like I would say, that's really not kind, right.

I'm seriously asking you what I can do to add value. And you're being sarcastic and I don't like it. And he's like, no mean, I'm just kidding. I'm like, but you're not. And it's not funny. So please don't do it. I mean, of course he got over doing it, but when we start changing the, our boundary dances in our conversations, the other person notices like that, we're doing something different.

If you normally jump in and you're like, I have 17 amazing ideas to fix your problem. If you don't do that, they're kind of going to be like, where's your 17 amazing ideas. Like, so, so it's, you got to get a little bit used to in changing the dance, there'll be a little bit of discomfort. But you can do it in this loving way by saying, Hey, I'm most interested in what you think, how was this for you?

Do you want to say more about that? So we just learned to have more expansive ask more expansive questions rather than providing answers. And Hey, if after that, the person's like, okay, but if it were you, what would you do? I'm not saying we can never weigh in, would just don't want to instantly attempt to fix like override them because we're so uncomfortable with them being upset.

[00:28:53] Joya: Diena, what is your question for Terri? 

[00:28:59] Diena: I echo the voice is lovely. It's a great discussion actually, and it's very deep and it has a lot of layers that you're putting on there. So it's a really, there was more in here than I expected actually. So if we go to the it's in, in relation to the same question, but maybe a bit of a learning unlearning process.

It's always easy to understand what you're saying on paper, but then to live in and really do it as a whole other ball of wax. Right? So everything you're saying makes full sense and I catch myself. So if you're conditioned or what you said from your return, all the way to be the helper answer and relied on for that, and that is your natural way.

And you realize it, there's also something in it for you that is a deeper, I don't know what the right word is. Satisfaction is the right word. Fulfillment maybe that comes in that relationship. So yes, you want the other person to come to their own. So I've done a lot of learning in the area that you said and letting people get to their own answer and helping them at the same time, if you've always associated connection with the moments that you help people. How do you learn to feel connected when you've disconnected that half, but you still want to feel at a heart level connected? I don't know if I'm making a question that makes sense. 

[00:30:18] Terri: I completely get the question. It makes total sense. You're basically saying when you are the helper, when people come to you, they're like, she's got great ideas.

She's the rock, blah, blah, there's this need to be needed. This sense of importance because we're in the middle. And I definitely was. And in some ways still am the person that people come to. And of course there is a satisfaction, hence why I became a psychotherapist and I moved it all into a career where it was appropriate in some ways to help people get to their own answers.

So for you making a different heart connection, With the people in your life, it isn't that you shun them. It isn't that you are not there for them. You're simply changing the conversation to be more about having faith in their ability. And so instead of jumping to, and again, it doesn't mean you'll never give advice.

You just don't want to auto advice give, because what you're doing there is it creates this disconnect between you and the person. Because again, think about it this way. You are centering yourself in the middle of their problem. And I have to say, I learned that in therapy, my twenties, and it was so painful and it was hard to change, but it was so painful because I really did.

I have three older sisters and I, you know, so many friends and I was like, I'm like mother Teresa. I'm just like a lover like that. You know, I'm just generous. I don't know. And then my therapist was like, well, what's really happening is you are uncomfortable with them struggling. And you really want your own pain to end.

That was like, wow, that is so not mother Teresa. And it's not me getting to know this other person. Right? What are their thoughts? What are their ideas? So I think that there's a balance, Diena that you can hit this balance of having the first stop be all right, tell me what you think.

When did this happen, ask those expansive questions and then if that person, and then you can say, rather than I think this is what you should do. If I do want to give advice, I can say, Hey, I had a similar experience. I don't know if it will help you. It helped me and I'll share it with you. If you're open to hearing it.

I always ask for permission and even with my grown kids, and sometimes they're like, I'm good. I don't need to hear it. I'm like, okay, I guess I will not be fixing that problem. But if we ask if the person is feeling respected, and feeling like you believe in them and really the same thing with kids, right?

Growing kids, teenagers, if you're like, you're doing the wrong thing. Ah, always asking, what do you think you should do? Your instincts are good. I trust your instincts. Tell me what you think. This is setting someone up to be a decision maker in life to have better deductive reasoning and critical thinking.

You know? So I don't know. Did I answer your question? 

[00:33:20] Diena: No, it did. There's definitely is that it's learning how to also then feel the same connection when you remove the thing that started connecting you in the first place. And then how do you replace that with a, nothing's altruistic, right? 

You still do things with people because inside there's something that's there for you as well. So it's, you've removed this piece that made that happen. So now how do you refined in yourself and not the importance? It's actually the connection. It's a little different than, but I guess importance in that person's life or connected at a meaningful way.

[00:33:52] Terri: Yes. And it's, you're really talking about loving that it that's a different kind of love and a different depth of intimacy when you're really interested in what the people in your life think, because we know what we think. 

[00:34:08] Joya: I have a question and then Shreya has another question. I've always been unapologetic about the five people I surround myself with.

And so the moment that I get a whiff of bad energy, or if I'm feeling like this person is not forcing me to grow in the way I want to, I'll just sort of fade to black. But historically that doesn't sit well with the person that's left behind. And I don't feel like I have the scripts on how to address that person, even though I've put up a very firm silent boundary.

[00:34:36] Terri: Yep. Right. So it's really a fancy way of saying ghosting someone where you're just energetically, I put you on the energetic hit list, which is cutting chords. Seeing you drift away, I'm drifting away. Sometimes I think it's appropriate to have a conversation and we can talk about what that can sound like.

Other times I put people on the energetic hit list and it fades away because a lot of times, if you're an overfunctioning codependent, I didn't realize how many relationships I felt obligated to keep going. Even though I didn't friggin want the relationship, I'm like, wait a minute. I'm initiating contact with this person.

I said, why am I doing that? Because I felt they expected me to, and I didn't want to disappoint them, even though I really didn't want them in my life. And they were definitely not in my VIP section. So. I don't think that I think the energetic hit list, which is a funny that you use, describe what you did.

Cause it's exactly what I call it. That can be appropriate and can work. It's like a blessing release feeling, good luck, I'm just feeling like good luck to you. If it's someone who is persistent or it comes back and it's like, did I do something wrong? Then it is appropriate to have a conversation and just say, I'm really busy and I don't have the bandwidth for this friendship and I'm sorry, and I've enjoyed our time.

And I wish you well. Same way how you ditch someone on a dating app. I don't think we're a match. I wish you well, rather than ghosting because then energetically, you're still attached to that person. So by saying it, is it fun? No, of course not. Can you do it? Of course you can. And it's so much cleaner and if the person's like, so wait, bye.

You don't want to be friends and you're. Exactly. That's correct. Like you just have to, it's the truth about how you feel and what happens when we let third cousin once removed. When we dial into her reality and go, we let her think. We feel about her the way she feels about us. We're setting everyone up to fail because it's like a pity relationship, which is terrible for them.

And you're resentful as hell because they're intruding on things that you don't want them in. So it's like, I love you. We're family. And my bachelorette is just for my close friends. You don't consider me a closer, no, you're a close cousin and I appreciate you. And yet this is just for my close girlfriends.

And if the person is like your mother's, like, I can't believe you're un buddy buddy or whatever the fallout is. You're like, Hey man, it's my bachelorette. I can see you disapprove and I'm sorry you do. And yet this is about. I need to draw for myself. I'm not mad at Betty. She's just not in my inner circle.

And that's the truth. And we have that hard conversation, maybe one time and then we're liberated. And when we let other people's reality dominate our reality, like you were saying about the five people who were like, I still want to be in your five people. And you're like, but you're not, there's so much more bandwidth that we're losing.

That is going to not saying what we want to say, because we're still thinking about it. I would still be ruminating about, should I have it? Should I not? Should I text? Should I email? Should I just not, should I just suck it up and invite her? All of those questions? When you get better at boundaries, you're able to go, what is my truth? And here's the thing. I also want to be really clear because you know, some people would be like, you can count on me to tell you the truth and they're really just judging the crap out of you. Like they're telling you their truth. I'll tell you the truth. I can't believe you painted your house that ugly ass brown.

You're like, no, that's actually not the truth. That's you just being judgmental. So stop giving me un-asked for advice and criticism, please. I didn't ask you for it. I'm not talking about that truth. I'm talking about the truth that resides on our own side of the street, right? That actually is our truth and how you feel matters if you think it does, because think about it this way, your, how you relate to yourself, sets the bar for every other relationship in your life.

So if you believe that you should, over-function overdue, over-give prioritize Betty's feelings over your own. You will inevitably attract people who agree. With that low self-assessment if you don't rest, when you're tired, if your self care sucks, you will attract people who were like, cool, she's going to do all the work and she should.

I like it that way. So again, so much of the focus of the work that I do is really building a loving and solid relationship with ourselves and focusing on the fact that what you think and how you feel actually matters and needs to matter more than what cousin Betty thinks. It needs to matter more. And when you were in a long-term partnership, both people's feelings need to matter, right?

That's why we have preferences limits. And deal-breakers because not every boundary request is the same. If you're in a good partnership, I always say to my husband, how important is this to you? Right. If he's asking me to go to some symphony or some crap, I do not want to do, and he'll be like, it's really my favorite.

I really want you to come. I'm like, great. I can't wait to get dressed up and go. He's honest though. If he's like, man, that's a business thing. You don't have to come and down. I don't care. I'm going to do a drive by. We can be honest with each other, but whoever it's more important to at least in my marriage.

That's the thing we do. 

[00:40:14] Joya: Shreya has a question. 

[00:40:16] Shreya: So my question is about the VIP list. I'm not at that level of even five people. I like my birthday. I have birthday lists like a hundred people, 50 people. I think I like everyone. That's the truth. I think I like everyone and I find it hard to put the, make the VIP list.

If that makes sense. I know like my husband's one, but apart from my husband, I can't even put close friends on like this. I feel like I just like everyone, what do I do? What do I do with this? I liked everyone. I don't have a VIP list. Yeah. 

[00:40:53] Terri: My question would be well, we'll reverse engineer, the VIP section who knows you? 

[00:41:02] Shreya: I think my husband. 

[00:41:04] Terri: That's the vibe that I got from what you said, who fills up your bucket?

[00:41:11] Shreya: So my friends do, there are friends who do fill up my bucket. I mean course. Yeah. 

[00:41:16] Terri: So there's mutuality when they talk, you listen, when you talk, they listen. You're not always like the emergency contact that they come to for all the things it's there's mutuality. You don't feel judged by them. You feel loved by them.

 

You love them. Those people in my estimation can be invited into your VIP list because they're there in your VIP section. It's being mindful. Cousin, Betty, who's not a VIP to you. Doesn't get the same access to you. It's really about who do you twist yourself up in a pretzel for? Who do you rearrange your schedule for?

That is where I like the distinction with the VIP list. Because not everyone, even if you like everyone, there's no way to have high priority people and low priority people. If they all take the same place in your life, you're not going to be building really satisfying relationships. Because of course we, all of us have lower priority folks in our life, friends, acquaintances, my husband's friends who work in the same business.

So we see them twice a year and it's great, but like they're not in my VIP section, you know? So part of it is really thinking about it for you. It's not just about who you like. It's about who knows you or who are you allowing to know you because so far it's your husband. And maybe you have some, a couple of trusts for emotionally trustworthy friends.

What does that mean? They're not competitive with you. They're not going to throw crap in your face. They don't wish you to fail. Cause we all have frenemies. We've all in life had frenemies who are like, can't wait to see us like fall on our face and be like, yeah, she's so perfect. But look at that, you know, that's, that's not a friend, right?

That's just a dysfunctional relationship of someone who, anyone who you think. And then when you can't tell good news too, cause you're like, I kinda know she's gonna be jealous. Get him out of the VIP section. They don't belong there. Anyone in your VIP section should be like, go you. Oh my God, they've got like a placard with your name on it, jumping up and down for joy for your success.

I don't know if that was helpful, but there you go.

[00:43:24] Shreya: I need a checklist on a whole manifesto thing to go through to get this done. I'm like, oh, okay. So now I can take these people and do this. I'm sorry. Can I just continue on this question? I know you mentioned family and family somehow. So for example, I'm just going to be open.

Like I have my sister, she doesn't live here. She's a younger sister. She necessarily doesn't fill my bucket. I know that she loves me too much, but she's always the person in need. So does that mean that she can't be a VIP and I can't do everything I want for, do you understand my question? Right?

 Yes. Not two ways. It never was. I was always the older sister and she's always asked for help. 

[00:44:07] Terri: Yep. Here's the thing. This is where you check your resentment. If you don't feel resentful, that's okay. I have younger friends in my life who it's always about them and I'm more like a mentor. I don't go to them to get my bucket filled.

I don't think they can. They don't have life experience I'm looking for. I'm super selective about whose opinion I would solicit about anything. Even people I love to death. I'm not asking you about my business or what they think, or they don't have experience, you know? So I feel like with your sister, it's all about how you feel.

If you're comfortable in that role. If that feels good to you, if you don't feel used and abused, if you're not angry or you don't feel resentful, then she can be, you know, it's okay. Like you can continue that role. There's no judgment. Cause listen, it's all about how you feel. All of this stuff is about how you feel.

So if you like being her older sister and more of a mentor than a friend, you don't need the mutuality. It's okay. But that's a choice. And as long as it's a conscious choice, then everything, anything you choose is okay. But does that make sense? 

[00:45:19] Shreya: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a conscious, yeah. If it's a conscious choice, then it's okay. 

[00:45:24] Terri: Because it's not a compulsion, right. It's if you can't not do it, then I think most of the time that is some kind of a compulsion and we're talking about overfunctioning in relationships, that's a codependent compulsion. If we're talking about drinking alcohol, that's an addictive compulsion. Right. 

[00:45:43] Joya: Diena what is your next question? 

[00:45:46] Diena: I think my wrap in there too. So it's when you have people that have, challenges and setting boundaries with those people, when they're really important, you know, you have an addict brother or you have, mentally deficient, whatever, and. I think that, how do you make those boundaries at how do you reconcile with yourself?

Because are things where you would want to do it no matter what, and it's, I don't know. Or you just feel like that's the right thing to do because the consequences are so high that you can't let it go. Things like that. So how do you reconcile boundaries when there's a difference between saying, I don't want to be your friend because you don't make me happy then I don't know if this person's not going to be alive if I don't show up or what does that mean?

Where, you know what I mean? So they kind of boundaries on those, right. Or my grandmother is going to fall down the steps and die if I don't go there and I have to give up my friend time, like there's different levels of giving up. So how do you work on the bigger giving up part? 

[00:46:49] Terri: So I can tell you quickly. I've had a lot of addiction in my family. And this is how I actually learned about overfunctioning codependency. In my twenties, one of my sisters was in a bad situation, in a abusive relationship, literally living in a house without running water, like no exaggeration. Okay. The guy was a crack addict.

It was just very bad. And I just, I was throwing money. I was just like, oh my God, what can I do? And I was crying and my therapist saying, what am I going to do? And she was like, let me ask you something. What makes you think you know what your sister needs to learn in this lifetime? And I was like, I think we can both agree.

She doesn't need to do it with this idiot, living in the woods with no running water and some abusive crack head Dewey. And she said, I cannot agree to that. I don't know what the lessons, how your sister needs to learn her lessons in life. And I said, so what are you saying? And she's like, let me ask you, do you know why you're so distraught?

And I was like, because she's my sister. And I feel like I need to help her. And I don't want her to die. And she was like, some of that, and you've worked really hard to create a harmonious life and your sister's life kind of being a dumpster fire is really messing with that piece. And you really want it to end, you really want your distress over her chaotic life to end.

And I was like, wow. Okay. So what I've learned was that it wasn't my job. And I was like, so what do I do? She's like, how about I draw a boundary, tell the truth. So I was able to go to my sister and say, listen, I love you. And I can't listen to you talk about this abusive idiot anymore. Like I can't, if you ever want to get out though, I'm still here.

Nine months later, she's like, hello. I would like to get out now. I was like, I'm getting my car. And it was, I felt guilty. I was terrified all of those things, but here's the plus side of what happens when you have those boundaries? I didn't save my sister. Right. So she could still be the mess up. She could still be the one.

She was like the scapegoat in the family. She saved herself, even though yes I helped when she was ready, but she got to be the hero in her own story. Not that I saved her. Sometimes people don't make it. I had to roll the dice because my therapist was like, you don't have the power to save her from herself.

You have to have. That whatever is going to learn. She needs to learn it and we don't know why, but she needs to learn it this way. So I don't know if that's helpful at all or not, but it was this understanding that I really thought it was on me. And then I was being loving by trying to save her and do all the things I was doing.

And in the end, yes, I was uncomfortable for those nine months. And we talked a couple of times, but you know, of course I was still worried, but it was so much less, it didn't dominate my life in the same way that it had. And I also, and my sister got sober, went back to school, has never been in an abusive relationship since, and I know not every story ends that way and it's not like it's all sunshine and roses, but there's a reality that we take on these things.

And this is where codependency. Is the enabling action because we're so afraid not to take the action. And this is where alimony can be incredibly helpful or narrow non, depending on what the person's problem is. Because we have to learn that it is not on us to save the person. Different talking about your grandma, have a meeting with the family.

Hey, you know, can we get help? Do we, you know what I mean? The addiction thing is one. The helping grandma and not wanting her to fall down the stairs. That's a whole other thing, but it can't only be on you. There's gotta be other people to share the burden of making decisions about how grandma can be safe.

[00:50:39] Diena: You know, addiction is complicated. It is true. Yeah. 

[00:50:45] Joya: Terri, I have one last question. What do you do when other people don't understand your boundaries? I have set, I am person Y I've set a boundary of person X, the person Z over here is like, I don't understand why can't we all just be together in one happy place.

So what our scripts for managing a third party that doesn't understand your boundaries. 

[00:51:07] Terri: First of all, let's call it triangulation and it's not a person's problem and it's none of their freaking business. So if person Z is trying to weigh in, I would say, oh, Hey person, Z, I appreciate your concern. And this is between me and person

y. That's it. I'm not, I don't engage with triangulation. And if someone tries to grab me into it, which of course family systems forget it. Like it's endless within the family of origin where they're like, I'm going to tell you this, and then you're going to tell them that. And then mom's mad about this and I'm all like, Hey, talk to mom directly.

People understanding though, you know, I just want to say one last thing about this. People understanding our boundaries is not necessary, right? If we love them, I will provide it's understanding the difference between providing context and convincing. Right. I will provide context for my VIP is the people that I love because I want them to more deeply understand if my friend has some important show she's doing, but I can't go.

Cause I have an important meeting at 8:00 AM the next day. And I need to be prepared. I don't just say, Hey, I'm out on Tuesday night. Am I going? I don't care. I don't care. I say, Hey, if I didn't have this meeting tomorrow, I would. So be there, I'll be there in spirit, you know, break legs and tell me everything tomorrow.

Like we love our people. We want them to understand our boundaries and why we're saying no to something. It's mostly when you're codependent, though, there is this overexplaining that goes on. Whether it's to person Z, whether it's to person, Y of like, we feel like we need to write a freaking dissertation on our, no, we need a good enough reason.

You know? And as I've said before, I think you just not wanting to do something can be a good enough reason. 

[00:52:55] Joya: No is a complete sentence. 

[00:52:57] Terri: Indeed. It is. 

Shreya has one more question. Great. 

[00:53:01] Joya: And if we can make it quick, then can wrap by seven. I want to be respectful of Terri's time. 

[00:53:05] Shreya: Sure. Mine has got to do with work boundaries.

I'm in a family business and I'm also the manager. So there's like, not family, but we treat it like family. So what are the boundaries to keep in mind? Cause I'm kind of, I don't want to say their therapist, but everyday I go in, everyone comes in with everything, with all their problems because they're like, oh, she's here to listen to me and I do want to know what's going on, but what's something to keep in mind?

[00:53:33] Terri: I think that it's really important with businesses, especially family businesses, that we have proactive boundaries. That we set people up to be successful, where you're really clear about best practices. Right. You're onboarding stuff, letting people know the best way to communicate. You can't be on call 24 7.

So have hours of like, oh, Hey, if you have concerns and you need to talk to me about them, the hours are going to be on this day. And this day, it gives me 24 hours to 48 hours to get back to you. The best way to contact me. Like at my company, everyone will do voice notes because that's how I want it communicate.

It could be someone else's company communicate the way you want. If someone's like, oh my team, I'd rather email. I don't care. Like then work somewhere else because that's not how we're doing it. When we are, have clear rules of engagement, we set everyone up to be successful. So you can still do what you're doing, but you can create a better built container and let people know as a new person comes on.

All the rules of engagement. These are the hours we work. You can live in London, but we're on New York time. Nobody takes a job with me if they don't want to work on New York time, I don't care what time it is for you. It's only about ward time. It is where I live and that's okay. If someone says I don't like that.

Well, okay. Work somewhere where that's not part of the process, but when we manage expectations upfront with workers, with family, everything is so much more harmonious because we're not trying to put out the fire in the moment that it's happening, because we are aware of avoiding so many fires by being clear about rules of engagement upfront.

[00:55:14] Joya: But what about enforcing them in an existing dynamic? Now everyone's used to the open door policy and foisting their challenges on Shreya. How do you start to now say, well, there's a new boundary in place. 

[00:55:28] Terri: There's a new boundary sheriff in town. Well, you sent out, if you know, you do a meeting and say, Hey, this is how we're going forward to be more efficient.

This is how I'm handling such and such. In the beginning, you're going to have all the people trying to make you do the old dance. All the people kicking you in the shin and trying to get you on the dance floor being like, what do you mean you're eating your lunch? And I just feel like coming in and talking, so I'm gonna, you're going to put something on your door.

It's like, Hey, remember hours of Lala or this and this. If I'm eating lunch, don't walk it. And I'm kidding. You don't have to put that part, but again, we do it with good humor. Don't take it really personally. Cause people are afraid of change. Right. When you think about fear of success and fear of failure, two sides of the same coin, the coin is fear of change.

So people are afraid they're going to lose you or something. They don't, you know, it discombobulates right. It's homeostasis, right? The balance in the system is there. When we change things, it gets all toppled for a little you're in the in-between and then the new normal starts to take hold. But it requires you to stay calm.

Even when people go, I don't like the new way we're doing it. You're like, that's okay. You'll get used to it. It's fine. 

[00:56:42] Joya: Sorry. This is a wonderful hour. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me with you or get in touch with you. What's the best way? 

[00:56:50] Terri: Best way is to, I mainly work with people in groups.

I've gotten lots of courses and that type of thing. I also have a podcast. You can go to terricole.com or I've had a podcast for seven years on apple, which is the Terry Cole show. So you can find it. And I also, if people are interested in finding out more about their own, boundary archetype, I have a free quiz that you can go to, which is just boundaryquiz.com.

And that will really give you your own baseline style, because some people are more of like a chameleon. Some people are more of an ice queen. So the answer 13 questions it's totally free and that I think can be really helpful. 

[00:57:30] Joya: Terri, thank you for your time today. We wish you well. 

[00:57:33] Terri: Thank you so much for having me.