Podcast: Boundaries


Lindsey and therapist Nicole Velez discuss what boundaries are and how to set them firmly in order to live with more peace and less feelings of burn out.


Host: Lindsey Steffen, LMHC
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Nicole Velez, LMHC


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Speaker 2: (00:41)
hi there. I'm Lindsay Stephan, a licensed mental health counselor at wellspring and cohost for wellspring on the air. Tova is out today, but I'm excited to talk with Nicole Volos, one of our therapists at wellspring. How are you Nicole? I'm doing well, thank you. How are you? I'm good. So good to have you here today. So today we're going to be talking about boundaries. And this topic applies to everyone. So no matter if you're younger, older, male, female in school, working, have a family, whatever the case boundaries is, something that we can all be implementing daily if we want to stay focused on our goals, our responsibilities, and our passions. So just to start off, what's the definition of boundaries? What, how would you define that, Nicole? So simply put, I would say boundaries. This is my word that I use for boundaries, but I like to call them safeguards.

Speaker 2: (01:34)
And so we're putting safeguards around our priorities, our goals, the things that our needs are roles, right? And so like an example is a fence around your home that's a boundary. Nobody should cross it that no invaders check come into your property. Right? And so same thing with bumpers in the bowling alley. When we're in the bar, you know, our kids put the bumpers up because they want the ball to go straight. And so we gotta keep boundaries so that we stay focused so that we don't allow others to invade and we don't give control to other people in our lives. Yeah. And maybe boundaries as you're talking, I'm thinking boundaries are different for everyone because I'm an adult and I still use the bumpers. So you have to hold onto some of those old one. They're very individual and personal. Absolutely. You're right. Yes, yes.

Speaker 2: (02:25)
And the truth is we're given stewardship by God to make decisions and what to do with our time, our relationships, our responsibilities and roles. So it's essential that we are able to guard those things through boundaries. God is, I got a boundaries. And so it, it's essential that we have boundaries in our lives. Yeah. So I like what you said, God is a god of boundaries. So tell us a little bit how our boundaries, Biblical, maybe some of our listeners would be curious about that. So loving others does require boundaries. We cannot honestly say yes to someone and be loving with someone if we can't comfortably say no. Also. So if we are internally saying no and externally saying yes, we're actually being pretty dishonest with ourselves and with other people so we're not truly loving. If we are somewhat hypocritical right in, in what we're giving, if we're not giving fully, we got to remember God looks at our heart, what's going on inside of us.

Speaker 2: (03:27)
You know, we can say yes to a lot of things outwardly, but inside are we bitter about it, right? Or we resenting that we said yes. Then there's an incongruency there that's not loving. So too, as you're talking, it makes me think that having boundaries, it takes bravery because yeah, inside you're wanting to say no, but we say yes out of whatever. I'm sure you'll get to people pleasing or whatever. The reason is we don't set boundaries, but sometimes when I counsel kids and I talk with the parents, you know, I tell them, hey, it is to say no to your kids is actually the more loving thing. Absolutely. Right. Cause it's tiring. It's called tough love, right? Yeah. No is a way of loving. And I think that's really important for all of us to consider. Like when we say no, we're actually, when we say no to our kids for so many things, um, I know Lindsay, you don't have kids.

Speaker 2: (04:16)
But even with friends, when we say no to a friend because we are guarding our time, we we have priority and we're saying to them, I love you but I can't do this. You know, because I also need to consider what I love for me. Right. And for our kids too. Like, you know, no, you can't be on social media till 10 you know, nine o'clock I dunno, I have a 10 year old. So you can't be doing certain things. You can't, you know, you have a curfew. No, you can't come home after, you know, 11 o'clock at night, whatever it is. Those are safeguards. Those are guarding the safety of our kids. So yeah, another way is about, you know, boundaries and are they biblical and what does that mean is obeying God demands boundaries. And this is, this is so key. I mean, we know that Jesus approves of some things and doesn't approve this other things, right?

Speaker 2: (05:02)
And so Jesus did not do what everyone asked him to do, nor was he always available for everyone. And so he definitely said no to all that his father said no to. Right? So God says no to certain things. He said no to those things too. And when we think about how many times he had to set boundaries with Satan, remember those four times in the garden? And he had to know Satan, you know? No, no, no. And as hard as it was for him, he had to be consistent and he had to set those boundaries. And so he was obedient to God by saying no to Satan. And so it's essential that we remember that obeying God requires boundaries, right? We shouldn't, you know, do many things that are dishonoring to God. And that's a, that's a part of being obedient and having boundaries.

Speaker 2: (05:45)
So I feel like you just debunked a big myth that Christians have to say yes to everything or be willing and available at all times to kind of serve until you're completely spent. Yeah. And I think that's really important and it goes into, you know, loving others well requires that we also say no to things. You know, we can't love everything and everybody all at the same time. There's no, we don't have the capacity as human beings to do that. So we have to choose, um, even Jesus as you know, God in human, he had his boundaries to guard that human side that needed to rest or be. That's right. That's right. There was limits he had to put on himself. So he had the energy, the strength to do the things that God wanted him to do. So we are to do the same.

Speaker 2: (06:29)
Yes. I tell some of my clients, I say, I actually want you to be a little selfish this week. Like, just tend to yourself, love yourself, care for yourself as well as you do for everyone else. You know, people who are very much serving and helpful maybe on the Enneagram if there are too, just like pouring out all the time. But it's, I tell them your love tank is empty. You're trying to serve out of a place where you have no energy, no capacity. So you have to kind of refuel your own juice, whatever that means for you. Going for a walk, you know, going to a worship service or exercising, whatever you do to kind of fill back up. Be With friends, family, I like to say, you know, it's time to do some extra self care. It's time to maybe sometimes the word selfish can be somewhat, you know some for, for some people like, well you're not supposed to be selfish if you're a Christian.

Speaker 2: (07:20)
No, no, no. We're not talking about that. We're talking about taking care of yourself because if you do not take care of yourself, you've got nothing to give to other people. Like you just said. Exactly. And so you're just giving out of like, you got nothing. And so how are you really encouraging or feeding or other people if you have nothing for yourself. So that's really important for us too, to remember self care is not selfish. You know, self care is essential. It's Jesus did that. He took care of himself, he went away, he rested, he ran, he prayed. These are things that we are required to do if we're to be the best that we can be and the best that Jesus wants us to be. Yeah, I hear you just talking about balance, like taking care of others and also taking care of yourself and that's how you continue to be able to keep your system going.

Speaker 2: (08:05)
Basically you can't serve or like you said earlier, you'll be bitter serving out of a place of empty. And really if God's looking at our hearts and we're just worn out and tired and don't have that love and joy, then maybe we need to step back and maybe not serve that week. You know, maybe just refuel and then we can go back and be our best self in that situation. That's right. We'll give ourselves that permission. Yeah. And so, and that now that you're talking about serving, it's perfect. Serving others requires boundaries. We cannot serve or please everyone who ask us to, we must set the limits on our use of time, energy, looking to God to guide those. And we must identify the true need of others, whether we should fulfill that need or they can fulfill it for themselves or somebody else can fulfill it.

Speaker 2: (08:51)
We are not meant to fulfill the need of everyone every night of everyone. That's so good that goes into codependence. Absolutely, yes. Or maybe are we getting our worth from serving are always, you know, fulfilling every need. Like you're saying. And maybe it's not, that's not what God's calling us to do. Maybe we're supposed to be serving here but not over here with this person. And so, yeah. And another piece of that is we tend to handicap people if we give too much or try to fulfill for them what they can for themselves. So we do have to be cautious of that. Can this person do that on their own or do I really need to do that for them? And so that for me as with my kids, I asked myself that, can you go get that at the in the fridge or, or do I really need to do that for you?

Speaker 2: (09:39)
Can you get your cup of water right? And so I say, bye bye, you can do that. And then I'm just allowing them to be more independent, allowing them to take care of themselves better rather than me doing it all because we tend to do that more. So I was just thinking, we did a radio show tova and I some weeks ago and it was on helicopter moms and snowplow moms. But really how, what you're saying at handicaps kids, because they don't feel a sense of empowerment and independence. Autonomy that I can actually do things myself. That's absolutely. Yeah. So then there are 16 year old boy and they're like, hey mom, can you give me a cup of water?

Speaker 2: (10:15)
You're going to college and a couple of years you need to be able to do these simple life things. So that's right. That's right. Another way that boundaries are biblical is selfishness could not survive boundaries. And this goes back to what we were talking about, but godly boundaries are based on love and not self-seeking. So boundaries are intended to protect God's children and ensure his purposes are accomplished. They're an expression of our sacrifice and our efforts and so are they risky? Yes. Boundaries are risky because they will evoke negative reactions from other people. Some people do not understand and and have a hard time respecting boundaries. That's so true. Not everyone is going to be okay or love the boundaries you set. I actually, I plan for people to respond negatively and so you set yourself up to know you're going to have to counteract with something else because I tell my clients that too.

Speaker 2: (11:09)
I say, okay, you're setting your boundary with your mom, your boyfriend, whoever. Okay. Just plan on them not liking in anything else. Just icing on the cake. That's great if it goes well, but yeah, people don't like when we tell them no. Yeah, especially if they're not used to it. That requires at that person take responsibility for their inappropriate behavior or have to take care of whatever they need to take care of without that other person. And so that puts them in a place where I don't know what to do with that other person, but that is not our responsibility when setting boundaries, because boundaries are for us. They're not for the other people. And oftentimes that's actually a misconception. We think we're setting boundaries for the other people, but the truth is we're setting boundaries for ourselves. That's what happens with the other people is not our responsibility.

Speaker 2: (11:54)
You're not fixing them. You're just protecting, safeguarding yourself. Right? Exactly. So yes, not everybody will be okay with boundaries and you need to be like Lindsey, you said, prepared for that. Really prepared for them to keep pushing. And you need to continue to be very stern with what you think is the right boundary. It's like consistency, especially we talk about parenting, you know? Yes. Like if they know they get away with it one time, then we'll push it again. And it's the same with the adults in your life though, if you're setting boundaries, you're not consistent and kind of staying from, like you said, when people say, okay, she's kind of wishy washy on this, you know, and so I would like Lindsay, to give you an example of a boundary, I had to sit with my mom. Um, I love my mom dearly. She's awesome.

Speaker 2: (12:38)
When she comes to visit a couple of times a year in the summer, she usually calls me and says, Hey, I want to come, can I come? And then she tells me like some dates a couple of years back. My mom came for two weeks and my husband and I sat after that and said, you know what? That's too much. It's just too much. She knows she stays in my house, but for us it starts getting kind of chaotic. You know, the kids are out of routine and so we're like, you know what, we need to cut it from seven to 10 days. And so I tell them what my mom, the next, you know, the next time I said, mom, we need to cut down the time you come for seven to 10 days. Um, that's just what we feel comfortable with. And she's like, okay. But the next time she decides to come, she'll tell send me dates for longer than 10 days.

Speaker 2: (13:20)
And I said, Mama, stay with the seven to 10 days, you know? And she's like, okay. You know, but I have to consistently remind her and it's not a bad thing. I mean, she's just wants to get away. You know, my mom takes care of her mom who has Alzheimer's. She wants time away, she wants time with my kids. So I totally get all that. But we have a limit and I love you mom. And she comes, she cooks for us. She's hangs out with my kid, takes my kids places and love having her. But there's a limit. Yeah, I love that. Cause you're right. Even what you said, like with your mom, there's not evil or bad intent or motive, but it's just the healthier balance for everyone and for our relationship. Because once the those tend go days go by, we could start getting a little feisty each other.

Speaker 2: (14:04)
It's, you know, invading space now, you know, we, you kind of, it can get a little tense. So to avoid all that and keep our relationship healthy, we, we set this great limit and she's, you know, I've, I've had to continue to set it and she wants to push it a little bit sometimes, but it's okay. You know, it's great that I can set it and I love, I love you mom. I'm just thinking, I was like, should I reference with mine? We recently had this doctor, she'll come and I love it. She came recently, but then she's like, okay, maybe a couple more days and we'd just joke about it now I'm like, this is probably it. Like, I need to get back to my roots yet, you know, cause you're here and I love being with you. So I'm not maybe going to the gym or having quiet time as you know, I'm kind of, I'm losing my own root sense of routine.

Speaker 2: (14:46)
And also with that point said we also should feel okay and setting boundaries with our families, our closest PBL in our lives, which can be the hardest people to set boundaries. Oh the hardest for sure. So, but it's important to maintain healthy relationships with the people we love. You know, and I think to some family you will, it's going to be harder at first with family, but if they are reasonably healthy then you can get to that place if you're consistent. Yeah. And also I do encourage you at the beginning it could be even a little ugly. It might, you're like, wow, this is not going how I wanted, but it's a good payoff if you stick with it. So. Okay. And I would just want to say one last thing about this and I'll reference Dr. Henry Cloud, which isn't like expert expert on boundaries, but he said this, a good test of a relationship is how a person responds to the word no love, respects, no control, does not Ooh and love. So you can sit with that for a little bit and figure who is loving you and respecting you and who is really wanting to control you. So it makes me think of first Corinthians 13 the glove is patient and kind doesn't demand its own way food. All right, that's good. Well with that we'll take a break. I'm Lindsay with wellspring on the air and we'll be right back.

Speaker 1: (15:59)
Wellspring now offers professional Christian counseling at six locations in Dade County. Therapists are now taking clients at two new locations, one at Crossbridge, Miami Springs, and key Biscayne for more information, (786) 573-7010 or wellspring miami.org for more information.

Speaker 2: (16:20)
Welcome back. I'm Lindsay Stephan with wellspring on the air. And I'm here with Nicole Valez. And if you missed the first part of our show, we've been talking about boundaries, why setting boundaries is necessary, why saying no is actually a good thing often. And our God is a god of boundaries and it's biblical to set boundaries. So we're going to continue the second part of our show talking about why is it difficult to set boundaries sometimes and then we'll go into consequences if we don't become firm and setting our boundaries. So Nicole, why don't you tell us, why is it hard to set boundaries for us sometimes. One of the main reasons why it's difficult for us to set boundaries is because we do not know or check in with ourselves about the truth of the situation at hand. So what is my truth in this matter?

Speaker 2: (17:06)
What is the truth about this situation? So we would ask ourselves, do I have another commitment? Do I want to do this? Do I want to do the [inaudible] question? Yeah, right. Am I interested? Is this good for me? Is this consistent with my values? Does this feel invasive? Will this take time away from other important things in my life? Is this a priority for me? So these are questions we should be asking ourselves. We don't just, Oh yeah, I can do that. Like, because you know that that person that's asking us is like someone in authority or you know, someone very important that we shouldn't put let down. No, no, no. What is the truth about this situation for me? Can I do it? Do I have the time? Do I have to consult my family to do this? Right? That's my priority. That's my, my main people, right?

Speaker 2: (17:56)
So do I have to consult people? So we do have to do a check-in and the check-in can take time. It doesn't mean that we have to respond to the person right away. Right? We can say, you know what, I'm going to have to think about that. I'm so glad that you asked me, but let me think about it. Because I do need to consult with my family, with my work, whatever it is. And take your time. You know, in making this decision. Sometimes we feel like we have to respond right away and give an answer. And we really don't. We have to give ourselves permission to check in with ourselves, check in with our families, check in with work, whatever commitments we have to decipher, is this something I can do and I'm willing and I'm going to enjoy and I'm just going to be all in.

Speaker 2: (18:36)
Right. I love that. Yeah. Cause I think a lot of people say, Oh, I make my best decisions under pressure, but when I look back on my life, that's never been the case. So I'm like, I just need to stop, be mindful these, our therapeutic mindfulness. Take a moment and think exactly what you said. I love, do I want to do this? Because I think life is full of enough things that you don't want to do, but you have to do. So why would I add 10 more of those things into my week unnecessarily that are going to make me bitter, resentful or tired, whatever, you know. Yes. And negative consequence. So just simply check Nicole. I'd say, okay, do I, do I have the time? Can I do this? This is something I want to do. And take some time. Just step back, be mindful with yourself.

Speaker 2: (19:20)
How do you think people could respond in that moment though? Because I think probably people are thinking, yeah, that's great, but how, what do I say? So this is the second reason why it's difficult to set boundaries, which I love because how do I do it? You know what? What do I say that that is kind right? And it doesn't seem so rash and so, you know, blunt and too harsh. So the reason we, we, we really do not know how to communicate it and so compassionately and gracefully is how we should, right? And so doctor Lisa De, this is a psychologist and someone I follow and she says it, flood it with grace. Right? And so thank you so much for thinking of me, but I have another commitment or I'm just unable to do that. I'm so flattered that you thought of that I would be good for this, but that is such a nice thing for you to do.

Speaker 2: (20:13)
Or I'm so thankful that you included me in this. I appreciate your need to, but I understand your desire, but I'm unable to be there for you at this time or I'm unable to be available. Um, can I get back to you in a couple of days? I need time to, that's my favorite. I need that one because I realized I was like, I really do. It's okay to say, Hey, I don't know the answer right now in this moment, but let me get back to you later and I'm so sorry you're feeling this day. What do you think may help you? Um, right now cause you're not responsible, right for the way they feel, but you can empower them to think about ways that they can, um, find ways to feel better. That makes me think of someone who maybe they're saying, I'm so burned out, like I really need help.

Speaker 2: (21:03)
Can you help me? And I love that last one. Cause you know, it's, it's not actually my job to make you not burn out. But what can I do to help you realize, hey, you are burned out and maybe you need to start setting some boundaries, but I'm not going to come in and burn myself out to fix what's really not my problem. It is your problem and you need to be empowered to know how to fix it. And so on. This no on communicating it compassionately and gracefully. I also want to say you do not have to give reasons. When you set boundaries, you can just say, I'm just not available. You don't have to say, oh, because I have this commitment and this is going on and my husband's doing this and I have to be there for my kid. You don't have to get into all those details.

Speaker 2: (21:45)
Right? Boundaries are a statement. They're not a question. They're not like they're doesn't need anything else. So you just set your boundary and that's it. You're not on trial. We're not determining whether or not you deserve your balance. Somebody might say to you, well, why? Why can't you do, you know? And you might say, well, it's just that, um, it's just not possible for me right now. There's things going on in my life and I can't, you don't have to give details. You don't, and that's another, again, this requires consistency because somebody might push and might push. Then you'd say, well, maybe I can consider another time. Right? If you're willing to do that, you can consider, well, let me think about it being another day or another time, but I'm not right now. I can't give you an answer. Yeah. And you know, again, boundaries are meant to be practiced.

Speaker 2: (22:34)
The more you practice them, the better you get. So at the beginning it might be a little difficult. It might be a little uncomfortable, right? But the more you do it, the more you recognize that the more peace you feel and the less emotional you get, the less bitter and resentful. And, um, there's just a lot of positive things that come out of being able to set your boundaries and not allow people invading. Um, and you're right, the more you practice it, the more you're getting that positive payoff. And then you start to actually believe 100% in the boundaries you're setting. So at the beginning you might not even be that comfortable. I'll talk with clients and say, yeah, you're not going to like it this week. When you set a boundary, they're not going to like it. You're not going to like it. But let's, I challenge you, keep doing it.

Speaker 2: (23:16)
Let's do an experiment. Let's see how after a month, how do you feel? And I've never had someone come back and say, Oh, I regret that we started this process. So I think that speaks for itself, that it starts to feel really good actually after a little bit to have boundaries and to realize, wow, I am. I'm feeling energized. I'm not completely burned out all the time. I have energy for this now and this thing that I enjoy. So you got stick with it. They are a means to freedom. They really are. Boundaries are means to to freedom because Christ says it is for freedom. That Christ has set us free stand firm then. And do not let yourself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. We talk about when we talk about slavery, there can be so many things. We can be enslaved to like what people think, like our reputation.

Speaker 2: (24:04)
And if we say no to things, what will they think of us that would be being enslaved to what others think. But now considering freedom in Christ that you can make those decisions that are not based on what other people think, but on what Christ thinks and what you think in your life. So that comes from good spiritual and emotional health. That's right. Of course as counselors, we advocate for, you know, going to counseling and working out what are those deeper emotional maybe wounds or traumas that cause you to have to live your life in a way where you must have validation from people and you can't say, no, I've done that work myself in counseling and yeah, definitely that's what you're saying is it stemmed from I needed people to like me and need it most of the time that stems from our childhood.

Speaker 2: (24:49)
Uh, so we definitely do have to dive into some of those wounds in our childhood in order to recognize and re and start saying, you know what, I'm not a child anymore. I'm an adult. I can make decisions now. Yeah. Uh, differently. Yes. You know? Awesome. So of course we always have to say, if you want counseling and you feel like you need to address this boundary thing on a deeper level, please come see us. Yeah. Wellspring, Miami. Dot work. So, well, let's, before we wrap up today, let's talk about, um, what would happen if we choose not to set boundaries. So maybe some people are listening, they're not quite convinced yet. So let's talk about what could be consequences in our life if we decide not to set good boundaries. Yes. Thank you Lindsay. So I do want to remind all of our audience that boundaries are set for us and not for others.

Speaker 2: (25:34)
So some of the consequences you will experience are in yourself, right? So yes, you'll get people that don't like your boundaries and they'll, you know, kind of press on them and maybe even get upset at you. But I want you to look at the consequence that happened within yourselves when you're not setting good boundaries. And some of those are feeling guilty and obligated to do things. Okay. Nobody should make you feel guilty. That is something that comes from you. And so you do need to check on that and say, why do I feel like I have to do this? Like I need to do this, right? Yeah. Resentful and bitter. When we say yes to a lot of things, we are cutting ourselves thin and so now we're like really upset, right? Because Oh, I don't have time. I I, you know, you start kind of getting bitter about the fact that you have too much on your plate.

Speaker 2: (26:26)
Whose responsibility is that? I'm irritable at all of you because I decided, cause I said yes to all of you. Right? So yes, that requires that you look back and say, why am I so bitter at all this stuff? Maybe I shouldn't have said yes to this or maybe I, you know, I needed to do something differently and set certain boundaries. So being resentful and bitter is you gotta keep an eye on that complaining a lot. If you're complaining there's something in your life that is causing you to not feel good, what is it? And get some space from it. Set some limits from it, right? Yeah. We say at Wellspring, fix what you can. That's right. Because we have certain controls of certain things, right? What are those things? And let us implement certain controls over them. What we can't control is not on us, but what we can, we need to look at blame shifting.

Speaker 2: (27:22)
So I'm blaming other people, right. When which really our responsibility or feeling responsible for someone else when we're really not. And so that might require boundaries in our thoughts and our actions and behaviors. And so we also, I mean this is maybe for another show, but our thoughts, you know, God says, take every thought captive to Christ because we also need to be putting boundaries on our thoughts. Yeah. And that's, that's a whole nother thing. Start. Yes. It starts with a thumb and trickles down. It's a feeling and then it's an action. That's right. So yeah. All good points. We could talk forever about nursing. I think there's so much great content. Yes. So. All right, well any last thoughts before we wrap? So really quickly, if you want to know more about boundaries, we do recommend Henry Cloud's book. He's like an expert. He, there's boundaries with marriage, boundaries with kids, boundaries with adult kids, boundaries in general. So, um, he's just amazing and I was a reminder of boundaries are set for ourselves, not for other people and they're meant to protect our most valuable treasures. Yeah. All right, well thank you so much for being here today. You teaching us so much. So hopefully that was helpful to all of our listeners out there. I'm sure it was. And hopefully we'll have Nicole back soon. So for today, I'm Lindsay Stephin with wellspring on the air because hearts and minds matter