Tag Archives: feelings

5 Reasons Why You Need Boundaries in Your Relationships and Life

Have you been feeling drained, tired, stressed out, and exhausted?  Do you feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?  If so, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

So why exactly do you need boundaries in your relationships and life?  Here are 5 reasons:

#1 – They give you a sense of self

When we don’t have boundaries in our lives it implies that we don’t have a solid sense of self.  We will tend to take on other people’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values rather than to have our own.  This is commonly referred to as enmeshment.

When we are enmeshed with another person it means that there is no distinct boundary between you and another person.  There is very little sense as to where one person ends and the other begins.  One or both people will then have difficulty identifying their own unique individual experience and how it differs from the other person.

When this is present, it implies difficulty in differentiation from a parent in early childhood.  This doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “bad”, as it is quite common for most people to have experienced it at least somewhat in their development.

Being enmeshed can be very stressful, draining, and overwhelming.  Relationships can easily get “messy” and a person can feel like they have no control over themselves or anything in their lives.  As a result, a person’s natural tendency would then be to try to control other people, which is codependent.

Learning to recognize our own internal experience and then setting boundaries in a way that honors our internal experience, helps us solidify our sense of self with the external world.  It also helps create less stress and more balance in our relationships.

#2 – You are able to decide how you want to be treated by others

When we have boundaries we are able to effectively tell a bully that we will not tolerate their behavior.  We are able to leave a relationship that isn’t serving us in what we know is in our highest good.  When we have boundaries, we are able to enter into relationships that do support us in our own personal growth and healing.

#3 – You are able to make life decisions that serve and support you

When we have boundaries, we are able to say “no” to that job that is potentially wearing us out by working overtime for little pay.  We are able to say “yes” to taking new career path without getting locked into feelings of guilt or “what other people will think”. 

#4 – You are able to make choices that are better for your health and well-being

By having boundaries, we are also able to make better choices for our own health and well-being.  We are able to say “no” to smoking that cigarette or having a glass of wine and, instead, say “yes” to having some green juice and going to the gym.  We are more aware that we’re going to feel shitty after eating that brownie, so we’re able to turn away and eat something healthier.

#5 – You feel empowered

When set boundaries in our lives, we feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives.  We are able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people.  We are able to be in relationships that are healthy, balanced, and equal.  And we have the ability to create a life for ourselves that we’ve always dreamed of.

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Click to Tweet: When set boundaries, we are able to feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How will learning to set boundaries in your life support you in creating a miraculous life for yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

Essential Guidelines for Introverts Living in an Extrovert’s World

The original version of this article was published on JenniferTwardowski.com on August 7, 2013 as one of my very first articles.

I’m an introvert.

Always have been and always will be. My energy drains quickly when I have to be around groups of people for a long period of time and sometimes it takes days for me to fully recharge.

Though I love teaching and leading others, I hate being the center of attention and would prefer one-on-one interaction any day over being in a group.

If you’re an introvert yourself, you know exactly where I’m coming from.

As an introvert and recovering co-dependent with this underlying desire to “please” people, there were times where I really felt unsettled and out of control. I felt like I just kept going down this assembly line of social expectation just because everybody else seemed to be doing it. Until, of course, I reached a moment where all I really wanted to do was jump off and run out of the building.

Not really the best way to handle things is it?

So here are a few general guidelines that I’ve found work for me to help maintain a balance between social connection and alone time:

1. Know that it’s OK to leave a social event early.

If you’re at a social event and you’re completely drained, tired, and all you want to do is go home and recharge, then know that it’s OK to leave early. You can say something like, “Sorry, I’m feeling tired so I’m going to head home.  I’ll catch up with you later”.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in leaving an event early! Honor yourself by acknowledging your own feelings and you’ll feel much better!

2. Set one-on-one meet times with friends.

If you’re at all like me and do so much better communicating one-on-one than in groups, then set regular times to meet one-on-one with friends. Set up regular weekly meet-up with the same friend for coffee, lunch or dinner or you may want to switch it up as you feel it’s appropriate.

If your friend happens to be an extrovert, then they may not always understand your intent for “one-on-one time.” So in order to avoid them bringing other people along, you can let them know that you only want to spend time with them. There’s nothing wrong in saying something like, “Hey I’m setting this up so only the two of us can chat cause I’d really like just spend time with you. So if you don’t bring anyone else I’d really appreciate it”.

And if they ask if they can bring someone along, then there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’d rather you not bring them” if you don’t feel comfortable with it right now.

3. Set some time in your week for your own “introvert time.” 

If you’re constantly around people at work or school and then come home to be around people again, then be sure to set some time for your own alone time. Exercise by yourself or spend some time reading or writing early in the morning or late at night. Perhaps even set time every week to paint, make crafts, play music, or some other hobby to do by yourself.

In America, it seems that the common place for introverts to hang out are at coffee shops. There is the noise of coffee makers and quiet conversation, but it can generally the introvert’s dream place to read or do some extra work without being bothered.

If, at any moment, you’re struggling to find a balance between your recharge time and social time and you’re not sure what to do, then honor your feelings in that moment. If you are feeling drained or overwhelmed, then acknowledge that you are feeling that way and do what you feel is needed to feel better. You and only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings and are able to act in accordance to them. Nobody else can or is responsible to do that for you.

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Click to Tweet: You & only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings & are able to act in accordance to them. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

If you’re an introvert, how can you adjust you day today to have more quiet time for yourself? Maybe get up earlier or stay up late? What can you do to help balance your relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Simple Shift in Communication That Will Transform Your Relationships

Relationships are complex. In fact, I’d actually go so far as to say that they are probably one of the most complex things in this world. There’s a lot of different aspects and dynamics to take into consideration when trying to improve relationships.

Yet, despite the intense complexity, there are some super simple shifts in communication that we can make in order to transform the dynamics of our relationships.

The one that I am going to address today is probably one of the most important. It has nothing to do with changing your communication in order to accommodate to the other person. In fact, it has little do do with others at all. Rather, it all boils down to you being able to really focus on you.

The simple shift in communication? To speak in a way that uses the word “I” or “me” in order to clearly state how you feel to others.

For those of us that are people pleasers, this simple little change in communication can be very difficult because we are so familiar and comfortable with focusing on other people rather than ourselves. It is also likely that we are surrounded by friends and family members who focus predominantly on others as well, so it is harder for us to make the change. However, when conscious effort is made it can make a huge difference in clearly establishing where another person ends and you begin.

Many of us are walking around talking about or complaining about other people and things. We spend all of our energy saying thinks like “Jack didn’t do X, Y, Z” or “Sally has Z going on in her life now” but we never actually say what is going on with ourselves. Rarely do we ever simply talk about us.

Not only that, but in the moments when we are attempting to refer to our own experience we talk in general terms like “Dealing with X was so frustrating”. Other times we state our frustrations but focus completely on the other person by saying something like “Jake is such a pain. He never gets his work done in time”.

Other times, we may even do the thing that’s even worse: We refer to the other person when we really mean to be talking about ourselves (I used to be terrible at this). We may do this by saying something like “You know, dealing with Maggie is very stressful” or “You know how hard it is.”

When we express our frustrations and emotions like this we are actually detaching ourselves from our own personal experience. In other words, our way of communication basically telling the world, “I’m not owning my own experience. I’m not acknowledging how I’m feeling. I’m not taking personal responsibility for my own experience.” Rather, we focus on the experience of the other person when what we should really be doing is identifying how we feel and what is difficult for us.

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So what does this shift in communication look like in context? Here are some examples:

“My mom keeps ticking me off. She keeps complaining about X, Y, Z and doing…” can instead be “I feel so stressed and upset because my mom does…”

“My ex-boyfriend had so many problems that I didn’t even know how to deal with it…” can turn into “Dating my ex-boyfriend was really hard for me, because…”

“There’s so much work I have to do for school. Why do they have to give us so much work?” can turn into “I feel overwhelmed with all of the schoolwork I have to do right now.”

Ultimately, it’s not very proactive to continuously talk about other people and how they are impacting us. It’s more proactive to simply state how we feel and express our own experience by expressing it using “I” or “me” in our sentences and to state how we feel.

By doing this, we actually open the door to allow ourselves to receive the very thing that we desire deep down: Emotional support and understanding.

Upon making these types of statements to clearly stating how this experience impacts us, we can then take the next step and (if others are open to it) say what we need right now. That can simply be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or advice.

Being clear, open, and honest about how you feel through your communication with others can really help transform an imbalanced relationship into a balanced and supportive one.

Today, I challenge you…

… to start focusing more on how you feel and to begin to share your experiences by using the words “I” and “me” and to state how you feel.

Get out a pen and paper or journal. Write down a stressful or difficult event or experience from this past week that you have had that you shared with someone.

How did you tell this person the story about your experience? Did you mostly talk about other people involved? Did you say things like “you know”?

Now imagine as if you went back in time to the moment that you shared your story with this person. How could you have told this story differently? How did you feel during this initial event? Stressed? Sad? Upset? Angry? Frustrated? Anxious? Irritated? Write down three sentences that you could have said instead using the words “I” and “me” to describe your initial feelings.

Next time you find yourself in conversation with someone sharing stories try to be conscious of your words when you speak. Try using the words “I” or “me” more often.

*Note: Be easy on yourself when doing this. It will be easier around some people and more difficult in others. That’s okay. It’s a journey and takes a lot of practice. There will likely be times where you reflect back and catch yourself not saying things the way you wanted to say it – that’s okay! The effort is what counts.

Share your thoughts, comments, questions, and realizations below!

3 Steps to Tell Someone How You Feel Without Feeling Incredibly Guilty

We’ve all been there. You know, that moment when you feel like you have to tell someone how you feel or to inform them of a decision you made that you know will hurt them.

I know that at least for myself, it doesn’t seem to matter who it is or the situation involved but every time I have to do it I just feel an insane amount of guilt. Guilt, embarrassment, and shame… all followed with this internal dialogue of questioning whether what I said was worth saying.

Because of this, many of us try to avoid it. We keep dating that guy for longer than we should have because we’re terrified of hurting him. We avoid telling a friend how something they say or do hurts us because we are scared it will cause the friendship to end. We keep going to that therapist or doctor that we’re not completely happy with just because we don’t want to make them feel like they’re not good enough.

The problem with all these situations is that the truth of our feelings are never exposed. We fear hurting the other person so incredibly much that we’d rather stuff those feelings deep within ourselves and convince ourselves that we never experienced those feelings at all.

Sounds like the best solution, right? Well, it’s not all that great.

The truth is that even though we repress all those feelings, it doesn’t mean that the feelings themselves disappeared.

They’re still there; they are still alive within you. The only difference is that now you have repressed them and they’re buried somewhere deep to a point that you are no longer aware of them.

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Tweet: It’s better to say how you feel sooner than later. The longer you put it off, the higher chance of bigger problems later on. @jenilyn8705

These deeply repressed emotions are what the swiss psychologist Carl Jung described as the shadow. We are ourselves not aware of them, but they still emerge in a way so that others can see them. It can be seen in our own defense mechanisms. It emerges in our own unique self-defeating way that prevents us from full genuine intimacy.

The shadow can be very difficult to recognize, but it is important to be mindful and anticipate the need to confront it from time to time.

And so, it is very incredibly important for us to NOT hold back our genuine feelings. If we feel like our roommate is being too controlling or if they’re messiness is driving us crazy we have to tell them. By holding it back it only makes it worse down the road cause the emotions build up within us and we then tend to “explode”.

So how can we break through those barriers of fear so we can express our true emotions without feeling incredibly guilty?

Breathe.

Before you even say or do anything, be sure to breathe and get centered. The more the thing that we are about to share with the person has emotionally impacted us, then the more inclined we are to simply “explode” and let it ALL out right away. This is exactly what we DON’T want to do. So breathe, relax, and ease yourself into saying what you need to say.

Be mindful of how it is impacting the other person.

As I said previously, we don’t want to “explode”, we want to ease into it and share little bits at a time. By doing this, it makes it MUCH easier for the other person because then they are less likely to feel attacked. When sharing, also try to use empathetic communication, which involves saying things to acknowledge that you understand how the other person feels. This also helps to lower the tension.

Know that nothing you can say will ever be 100% perfect.

We can be as cautious as we can possibly be when we share certain things, but sometimes people are always going to find something little that you said and feel offended or hurt by it. Know that you ARE trying your best. Commend yourself for even being courageous enough to share this with the other person. It takes a LOT of risk! You deserve a pat on the back for trying.

Ultimately, keep in mind that what you are sharing is TRUE FOR YOU and because it is true for you it matters. Everyone will experience each situation slightly differently so it’s common to feel like you’re “wrong” if no one else experienced the same thing. Be honest and true with yourself. If we remember that, all the crazy guilt we experience can diminish quite a bit.

Tell Someone How to REALLY Feel Without Feeling Guilty!

Think of something that you want to tell someone but you’ve been putting it off to avoid hurting the person.  How could you say the truth now in the smoothest way possible?  How could you “ease them in” on the truth?

Share what you think would be the best thing to say or share your experiences below!