How to tank a relationship

I used to never set boundaries.

Instead, I’d wait for people to figure out what I needed, and if they didn’t, I thought they were self-absorbed and inattentive. 

And how it felt to live that way?

I would spend hours with my stomach tangled up in nervous knots, heart pounding just thinking about telling people how I was really feeling and what I needed. 

This left me so drained and frazzled that I couldn’t fathom actually saying those things out loud. I mean, if it was this stressful just thinking about saying it–forgeddaboutit!

And the resentment–whoo, baby, the resentment!

Sometimes I’d feel so angry about people not returning the support I was giving them that I’d get this awful tightness in my chest and a burning tension in my throat. 

I spent a lot of time feeling lonely, like people didn’t actually care about me.

Otherwise, my thinking went, they’d know what I wanted. And I believed this was all I could hope for in relationships, because it kept happening over and over again. 

It really, really sucked. 

But slowly, over the years, I began to learn how my lack of boundary setting…

…was co-creating these unsatisfying, frustrating, and confusing interactions on repeat. 

I also saw how the patterns I learned growing up shaped and reinforced my lack of boundary skills, making it feel as if directly communicating what I needed was somehow “breaking the rules” and being rude or demanding.

It didn’t happen overnight, but I began to see how things didn’t have to be this way.

I didn’t have to wait around for people to magically figure out what I needed and wallow in resentment if they didn’t.

I didn’t have to feel so alone in my relationships…

…feeling as if people didn’t know me and didn’t really care. 

Boundary setting, especially when you’re just getting started, can feel incredibly challenging.

But here’s the thing: With practice and guidance, it will get easier over time–I promise you. 

But not setting boundaries, with all of the resentment and miscommunication that ensues? That never gets any easier. 

It doesn’t matter how many times you wish someone would intuit your needs and they don’t–it still feels crappy, every time. 

If I could go back in time and tell Past Me one thing it would be: 

Start learning and practicing boundary setting now. Don’t wait.

I know it feels scary, but trust me–relationships don’t have to be this freakin’ hard! 

(Also, stop over-plucking your eyebrows, Past Me. Seriously, just put the tweezers down.)

Next week, doors are opening for Get Free: A Course in Setting Boundaries

Your responses to the boundary-setting survey, where you shared your personal struggles around communicating what you need, were my guiding light as I created this course. 

I worked to address all of those sticky situations you told me about where boundary setting can feel like a nightmare.

Things like…

– people arguing with or crossing your boundaries

– not knowing how to say things in a way that doesn’t feel demanding or awkward

– feeling so guilty that you end up apologizing and ignoring your own boundary  

Over the next week, I’m going to share with you three common obstacles…

…that can make boundary setting seem so intimidating, it feels like we might literally die mid-sentence. 

Btw, I can relate: One time, I was SO NERVOUS while setting a boundary that my teeth were chattering. 

Like, loudly enough the other person could hear it.

I didn’t even know that was possible for actual people who aren’t cartoon characters, but here we are. 

I’ll see you Friday, when we’ll talk about the first reason…

…boundary setting can feel super duper scary and how to turn the difficulty dial waaay down.

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