VETgirl Q2 2020 Beat e-Newsletter


JEANNINE MOGA, MA, MSW, LCSW Chief Happiness Officer, VETgirl, LLC


Boundaries are the dynamic and flexible system of ‘yes’s’ and ‘no’s’ that defines (and helps us to maintain) our identity and our well-being. Boundaries serve as the limits communicating where our ideas, physical space, emotional experiences, and time both begin and end. These limits can shift based on relationship, situation, and culture, but they always play an important role in how we feel about ourselves and the way our lives are managed. Boundaries, whether they be physical, material, time-based, or emotional, can be too loose (“porous”) to serve any protective function. Those of us with porous boundaries often struggle with saying “no” (even when we want to), which leaves us to feel resentful, tired, and perpetually taken advantage of. It’s super tough to say no when we fear what will happen when we turn down a request; it’s even tougher when we fear missing out on something important that we otherwise don’t have the time or energy to engage. The other side of the coin is represented by those of us with rigid boundaries. Rigid boundaries arise from a different kind of fear related to over-sharing, exposure, overstimulation, and/or exhaustion. In our efforts to protect ourselves from all of these things, we sometimes say “no” compulsively, which then leads us to feel isolated, left out, and marginalized. The unfortunate latent function of rigidity is that others may well stop asking for our contributions, our involvement, and our feedback.

boundaries for health and well-being means fighting the cognitive distortion gremlins at every turn. Boundaries are more often useful than catastrophic, which is what our distortion gremlins lead us to believe. 2 DEFINE YOUR VALUES, GOALS, AND NEEDS What is most important to you? What are you unwilling to give up, regardless of the stakes or payoff? What decisions and actions will most clearly reflect your goals and your needs, not just now but in the near future? Clarifying your values, your short- and long-term goals, and your most pressing needs in this moment is the first step to creating healthier boundaries. (continued)

So, what is the alternative to the “all or nothing,” porous vs. rigid debate? Healthy boundaries are aligned, defined, asserted, consistent, and realistic; they will likely entail some flexibility as we determine “right action” moment-to-moment and relationship by relationship. And here’s how to get there: 1 REALITY CHECK YOUR THINKING Black and white thinking often reflects cognitive distortions, and those distortions are marked by words like “always” and “never,” “either” and “or.” They might also be led by the popular word, “should” (emphasis on eye roll). The reality of most situations is that we are surrounded by gray area and more wiggle room than we often realize. Defining, aligning, and defending


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