If you missed my conversation on How Healthy Boundaries Can Deepen Our Connections with fellow coach Lucie Tesarova, here's the recording!
Lucie Tesarova of Mindfittery invited me to talk about boundaries, what they are and how we can set them.
This is a topic that is very close to my heart. When I was younger I was taught how to set boundaries in what I call "the traditional way." It wasn't until years later that I realized the damage such an approach often brings about to one's sense of self, and to our relationships.
There is a much better way of understanding and doing boundaries: a way that doesn't create domination and separation, but instead increases your feelings of wellbeing, connection, and peace of mind.
Curious about it? Watch the video above to hear more about it. I talk about:
- Why we can sometimes feel uncomfortable setting boundaries
- Self-consciousness vs. self-awareness
- How we already set boundaries all the time and don't stress about it
- The direction to look to for clarity
- Getting in touch with your needs and wants
- Understanding boundaries as a leader
Psst: Did you enjoy the video? Check out my conversation with Lucie about Resilience
Please note that this is an automated transcript.
Lucie Tesarova (00:15):
And we should be live on YouTube. Now, hopefully
This is working even though please forgive us. This is my first time live streaming on
YouTube <laugh>. So please forgive us any technical challenges that we might be having. But either way, thank you so much Aurora for saying yes to my very first one, Live YouTube, appreciate you, your courage and also your generosity with your time and wisdom. And four, before I give you words, <laugh> for anyone that doesn't know Aurora yet Aurora is a Transformative Coach. Aurora Meneghello, as you can also see in her title, is a Transformative Coach. And I love how you said who works with not just individuals, but also organizations to create the space for the inner wisdom to show up. And she's also Founder of her company, Repurpose Your Purpose, which is a program helping with career change and to discover what's theirs already to create something new. Thank you.
Aurora Meneghello (01:28):
Thank you Lucy! For everybody watching this, it's my first time actually doing a livestream too. So yeah, <laugh> first time together and Lucy is one of my inspirations and colleagues that I really love what you do, Lucy. So thank you for having me.
Lucie Tesarova (01:48):
Thank you. And I'm so excited about you saying yes to this topic of boundaries and healthy boundaries and clear boundaries, <laugh>, I see you're excited also, and how that actually can create deeper connections, <affirmative>, <affirmative>. So tell me more. What are boundaries for you? Yeah, and what's exciting for you about this topic?
Aurora Meneghello (02:11):
What's exciting for me is that it's one of my pet peeves that we really often do boundaries, are taught boundaries wrong in a way that makes us feel we have to separate ourselves from somebody in order to have our needs met or we have to be more forceful. I think there's a lot there where people don't feel comfortable setting boundaries because the understanding of boundaries is not a helpful one. So really when you said you were gonna do this series and talk about this, for me it was like, yes, this is such an important topic to talk about.
Lucie Tesarova (02:57):
So I'm hearing that a misunderstanding about what boundaries means actually prevents people from setting boundaries.
Aurora Meneghello (03:05):
I think so. I think that's very, very common. And so I wanna talk a little bit about where this confusion about boundaries come. What is it that makes us so sometimes unable or confused or uncomfortable about setting our boundaries? And one of the things that I found is that it's too much self-consciousness is not the same as self-awareness. Okay, self-awareness is good, <laugh>, we want more, deeper self-awareness, but self-consciousness is too much thinking about yourself. Yeah.
Lucie Tesarova (03:44):
So self-awareness is being aware of who I am, what I need. How would you define self self-awareness in one sentence?
Aurora Meneghello (03:54):
Yeah, self-awareness is a feeling like you kind of feel your feelings, you feel your sensations, you kind of are in touch with what you need. <affirmative>, it makes you feel more grounded, it makes you feel actually you think less about yourself, a lot of the time you are aware <affirmative>, there's not a lot of effort there.
Lucie Tesarova (04:22):
So it sounds like connection with ourselves, with that deeper lever in a way when we are aware or present with ourselves and it's a feeling sensations, needs, <affirmative>,
Aurora Meneghello (04:35):
<affirmative> Self consciousness is a lot of thinking and preoccupation about ourselves. So usually, you know, you can see the two areas where people, if you get confused about boundaries is either you get confused over let's say somebody asks me to do something, somebody needs my help and is it bad if I say no, should I help? And then you get very confused about that. Are my needs selfish? Should I be more generous? So there's a lot of this thinking about what am I doing and judging it. And sometimes even judging the other person. On the other hand is when we're not very good at doing boundaries because we overstep our boundaries and in other people's boundaries, if they really cared about me, they would do this. And then there's again, a lot of self consciousness but it's not an openness on what the other person maybe needs or is seeing something. It's again all about me in that sense. And so this is all very innocent. It's not like you're bad if you do this, we all do something like this at some points. But I think that's where, those are two areas where very broadly we get confused then on setting boundaries. Where are my boundaries? What is a healthy boundary? What should I say? When should I say something?
Lucie Tesarova (06:10):
So what I'm hearing are two different ways of perceiving maybe. So the first one seems like being connected, feeling our feelings, <affirmative> being present with our feelings needs. And the other one seems more judging, thinking a lot, <affirmative>. So being in our head versus being connected with our bodies and feelings. <affirmative> kind of the kind of connected to what you're sharing. And also when we are more in our heads, then we lose touch with our needs or try to overthink it.
Aurora Meneghello (06:46):
So there's a deeper part of us <affirmative> that is behind our thinking. This is why mindfulness, meditation, going for a walk where you're really looking at your surroundings is so powerful. This is how sometimes we get our best ideas, driving, we feel like we're not even present, but we are driving and yet we get these wonderful ideas. So our thinking mind is very helpful to a certain point, <laugh>. So if we come from what I call the deeper self, our wisdom, then the thinking mind can be in service to that. And it's very powerful. It's great to come up with strategies, very helpful in a lot of things. But when the thinking mind takes over, and in the case of I lost myself now and I don't know my boundaries, that you can take as a sign of you are overthinking it and there's an over preoccupation on who you are, what you're doing that is not in touch with that deeper wisdom.
Lucie Tesarova (08:01):
So kind of the signs of us being in that other mode that doesn't serve us that much is the confusion and the preoccupation. Before we kind of go further, what would you say are boundaries? I'm hearing that they're connected to our needs. <affirmative>, how would you define boundaries?
Aurora Meneghello (08:22):
<laugh> That's a good question. So to me, boundaries are a consequence of being in that deeper self. In other words, if you have a sense of when you are in your wellbeing and you have a sense of when you are in that deeper awareness and you have a sense of relaxation and you recognize this in the other person, they have their own wisdom, they have their own way of knowing themselves, then you naturally set boundaries. And we do this all the time, by the way. We set boundaries all the time. Think of a friend of yours that says I don't know, Lucy, do you feel like going to the movies tonight? And you may say, Oh, I'm really tired, I can't. And you're sitting in yourself. There's something in your space, <affirmative>, you're very aware of how you're feeling. You just set a boundary.
Lucie Tesarova (09:29):
So what you're saying is we don't have to think about it too much, but kind of sense what feels good and what doesn't feel good
Aurora Meneghello (09:37):
<affirmative>. So that's a big part of it. And the other part that creates, again, if you step away, I find, let me take a step back and let's say like everybody, I ended up in this boundary conversation years and years ago because I had trouble setting boundaries. So I was taught in a very traditional way that setting boundaries meant that I have to express my needs. I have to make sure I teach people how to treat me. I have to stand up for myself. In some conversations, I was told how oh, women have trouble sometimes to be assertive. So you have to be assertive. So in other words, I had to change my behavior, <laugh> and my speech. Well that helped to a certain point, what really happened is that I got more confused.
I would get into, but now am I too assertive now? Am I not assertive enough? So it created more thinking in self consciousness, more judgment, either on myself or the other person, right? Now they're not respecting myself or I'm not good enough at setting these boundaries. And it didn't make me feel more connected neither to myself nor to them. Sometimes it made me feel more powerful in that sort of like, I am stronger than you power. But I started to notice that when I'm feeling safe, when I'm in a loving space, when I'm in a peaceful space, when I'm aware of how I feel and I'm in a loving awareness of the people around me, <affirmative>, I didn't need to think about setting the boundaries.
I could just express how I felt and what I needed. And when other people express their boundaries to me, like they said, I might say, Hey, do you wanna grab lunch? And they might say, Oh gosh, no, I'm really busy. Well, okay, I mean that's where they are at. So what I found really helpful was to get away from the question, am I setting the right boundaries? How am I doing boundaries? All of that, which again took me outside of my wisdom and into rules or outside in. And instead when I focused on self-awareness, being in touch with myself, being aware of am I tired? Am I hungry? Am I cranky? Or am I relaxed? What do I need right now? Being in a more open, understanding place of other people, they have different experiences than me, different needs, reality can look different. <affirmative>. And also understanding that it's a lot harder to feel ourselves and to express ourselves when we're feeling insecure, when we're feeling scared, when we're feeling anxious. So the practice for me became not so much how do I set boundaries, but how do I rest in my wisdom? How am I present and open to other people's experiences? And then I trust that in that moment feeling myself there.
If I speak authentically, if I honor everybody's choice, not just mine but the other person's <affirmative>. And if I can stay open to the connection, my ability to set a boundary, meaning - to say what I need, to express myself authentically, and to take a no from the other person or a yes or whatever it is - spontaneously appears.
Lucie Tesarova (13:48):
So it seems like that, as you've mentioned, so boundary is a natural consequence of kind of us, I'm paraphrasing here knowing what are our needs? <affirmative> and kind of responding to the invitation, let's say from the other for dinner, or do you wanna do this or that? Or even to ourself, do I wanna do this or that? Kind of finding the answer or the wisdom, if that's the wisdom might be what is your definition in the wisdom? Before I continue actually <laugh>,
Aurora Meneghello (14:26):
Well all the definition questions. This is hard. This is hard <laugh>. It's that deeper knowing...You know how you sometimes at this moment when you just feel like an idea comes to you and insight comes to you there's not a lot of effort. That's our wisdom.
Lucie Tesarova (14:49):
So in the frame of the boundary, sounds like the inner wisdom would manifest in a way of we are connected to how we feel and are, you've mentioned also authentically. So we are authentic with ourselves instead of pushing, I shouldn't feel this way or I shouldn't need to have space for myself, let's say, or whatever that need is. That feeling is. So it sounds like we are honoring and connecting authentically with ourselves, our own needs, feelings, values, <affirmative> and creating the opportunity and invitation when we communicate what kind of yes, no, what's okay, what's not, with the other. We kind of invite them to also connect with us on that authentic level because we give them the space to also authentically say yes or no to our invitation.
Aurora Meneghello (15:47):
Exactly. And so one of the things that gets us in trouble with boundaries is when we attach a lot of meaning to it. So either we attach meaning like there's something wrong with me if I don't set boundaries for example, or we question, is there something wrong with me if I wanna help? Is that, oh no, maybe I shouldn't help or I should help, that kind of thing. But also we get in trouble when we are encouraged to set boundaries to control other people's behavior, which is also one of those traditional things that I think I was taught at the beginning. And so it's very, again they, it's never mentioned, never seen as a form of manipulation, but it really is. Okay, so I'll give you a really silly example.
Let's say I wanna collaborate with somebody, another coach on an event, right? And I come from that mode of boundaries being kind of coming from that. I need to make sure I say what I need and make sure I treat it the way. And I'm like, I have a very busy life. I don't like to have a lot of meetings. I need things to be Google docs and emails. Maybe we can have a check in by phone half an hour and I really need to set my boundaries here. I'm tired. I need that. Yeah. Well let's say the other coach, let's call him, I don't know John. And John is the opposite. He's like, I really like to talk for a couple of hours together. I need to have frequent check in. Now there's nothing wrong in any of these things, but you see that the more I attach to, if John now doesn't do the way I'm saying, he's not respecting my boundaries. Well if he has the same thing, well if you don't participate with me, you're not respecting the way I wanna be treated. Now we are in a very separate, and there's a lot of meaning, there's a lot of ego involved, there's a lot of, I now have a problem because you don't do what I need, all of that. If I instead am authentically present to what I need and express that and I have it that he likes to collaborate in a different way.
And we are just present, maybe what comes up for me is actually I can do one hour call or actually it would be good to do sometimes or maybe it will come to me and same for him maybe. Or maybe it will come to me like, John, it would be awesome to work together. I love what you do, but I really can't right now. But you see there's still connection, there's still a presence of I get it, I get where I am and I get that you're where you are at, here where I am, and now we're connected. Now we're opening space. And if there's an opportunity, there is, and otherwise there isn't. Right?
Lucie Tesarova (18:55):
So it's what you're saying, it reminds me of the positive intelligence concept where we have the different parts of our brain. There is a part that is driven and responds to fear, the survival part of our brain <affirmative>. And that has the saboteurs in the language of positive intelligence, meaning the tendencies that used to work in the past to keep us safe <affirmative> but that actually now can be a controlling tendency could be people pleasing tendencies.
Aurora Meneghello (19:32):
And the thing is, if you try to solve it at that level, so if then let's say I'm stuck in this, but I need only emails and short calls and I go into, is it me being too selfish? Is it too much boundaries? Is it people pleasing if I say yes? You see that it's more thinking?
Lucie Tesarova (19:51):
So it's the analytical trying to coming out of fear to protect us versus there's the other part of the sage brain in the language of the positive intelligence where there's the intuition, where there's the curiosity that I heard you kind of saying to be open, meaning be curious
Aurora Meneghello (20:11):
There's wisdom. So the mind that's creating the problem, the overthinking that's creating the problem can never solve the problem.
Lucie Tesarova (20:22):
So we need to get into the other mode, the wisdom mode, <affirmative> actually, and from there the boundary naturally will occur. We don't have to figure that out with the rational analytical mind, <affirmative>, the solution, the boundary, the right thing to say or do will be created or revealed as a result once we are in that other state. Sounds like. Exactly. So now how do you get personally in that? What helps you to actually get into that state?
Aurora Meneghello (20:54):
That's a really great question. So like anything else it's a muscle <affirmative>. So the more you have a practice - not when you're triggered or when you're super angry or insecure - but in general, the more you have a practice of feeling yourself, accepting what's going on for you, deepening that awareness of your feeling like, oh, I'm hungry, I'm gonna get a snack. You are with yourself.
Lucie Tesarova (21:25):
Aurora Meneghello (21:27):
The easier it is when you get scared or something, the easier it is to remind you, remind yourself to get back to it. So a little bit is a practice on that. And there's more, but you ask your questions. Yeah, <laugh>,
Lucie Tesarova (21:40):
Thank you. Sorry. So for somebody that maybe it seems like you've had years and years of practice to be able to be in that state and easy, connect with yourself, your needs, your feelings. Let's say for somebody that's been that has never meditated or created any practices or even doesn't know how that could work, what would be some small step or one or three things that they could start doing today to be able to shift in that space from overthinking about boundaries to being present with themselves? So the boundary, the answer kind of appears from their wisdom.
Aurora Meneghello (22:24):
That's a good question. I would say the most accessible thing to everybody is your body. Even if you are somebody who doesn't usually feel your body much. And I'm one of those people by the way, I'm not super into my body and all that kind of stuff. You can still feel the chair, the body on the chair or <affirmative> or the feet on the floor or I don't know if I have it here. I have a little ball here on my desk sometimes and I can touch it and so I am grounded. So something like that can bring you to yourself in the moment. And the other thing is that we all sometimes spontaneously feel ourselves. So you just start noticing, you don't even have to try. You're just noticing. And you'll notice that with some people some times maybe on Sundays when you get to sleep, I don't know, you actually do feel yourself.
Lucie Tesarova (23:30):
So notice these moments and build on them
Aurora Meneghello (23:33):
Lucie Tesarova (23:35):
And maybe celebrate these moments whenever we notice. Oh, now I actually, I just created a boundary naturally. And I didn't overthink it, I said yes or no.
Aurora Meneghello (23:46):
Yeah, we create boundaries all the time. I think we start calling them boundaries when they're painful, when we got get caught up. Otherwise you're always saying yes or no and you don't think much, it's okay. So the other thing that I was gonna say to start moving into the space is to start noticing when something becomes confusing or hard or painful. And instead of assuming that it's the situation that is a problem, <affirmative>, you start thinking, oh, I got caught up in something.
And when it comes to boundaries is most often something like, I feel insecure, I got caught up in some meaning I made out of this. Or I'm scared or I'm hungry and in a bad mood. It's their feeling. And so instead of them thinking harder about the boundary, you resource yourself a little bit. Let me relax. Let me think less about it and get in touch with myself not to solve it. Just so let me remember how I actually like this person I'm talking to. And a lot of the times we have a lot of things at work. And let me feel a little bit of that and remember that we all have our wisdom.
Lucie Tesarova (25:04):
So sounds like instead of using again the analytical mind to come up with a solution for some situation that something feels off, something is frustrating, <affirmative> sounds like to take a pause from that situation. <affirmative> not react. Mm-hmm <affirmative> not set a boundary by let's say being angry at somebody and saying something but saying maybe can you give me a few minutes, let's say, or can I get back to you tomorrow? Let's say if it's a work situation, <affirmative>, when somebody asks something and we let's say react with anger or we feel the anger rising up saying, you know, can I think about it? Let me think about it, let me take some moment. And then when we are by ourselves or we go to the restroom, <laugh> to be out by ourselves. Let's say if it's a office environment. So you suggest we kind of ask ourselves in a way, check in with ourselves, how do I feel? What is frustrating about this? What do I feel? What do I need here?
Aurora Meneghello (26:06):
Lucie Tesarova (26:07):
What feels good, what wouldn't feel good? And then looking also at the positive aspect of that person or the situation
Aurora Meneghello (26:17):
Have a larger view, right? Because sometimes we get caught up in this boundary thing and it's almost like we get tunnel vision and we forget <laugh>, <affirmative> that hey, this is just another human being.
Lucie Tesarova (26:32):
And so I'm hearing having compassion also for both ourselves, checking in with how we feel. And the other person,
Aurora Meneghello (26:40):
I don't know if I would even say compassion, I would say some lightness around it, some bigger perspective. It's not even personal. I think the other thing that I started to notice more and more is that a lot of the time we make personal what is not even personal. Meaning we have different preferences, we have different views of things. Sometimes the other person is cranky, he's asking us stuff because they are having a bad day and has nothing to do with us. So again, if we move away from the self consciousness and we start seeing from a bigger perspective, here's what I wanna say about that. I was very afraid of doing this because I felt if I don't make it personal, I'm gonna give away my power. I'm gonna be taken over. You have to try it. So give it a try with something that's not too scary for you. And take my word for it one time. Give it a try. When you take a more impersonal and larger perspective, higher perspective view, you actually have more clarity about things. Nobody's gonna take you over. You're just not gonna have such a scary feeling. The clarity actually improves.
Lucie Tesarova (27:59):
So when you say higher perspective, what do you mean by that? How do we get the higher perspective?
Aurora Meneghello (28:07):
You move away from the self-conscious, personal, you start seeing that oh, it's not about me, it's just their preference or I don't know what comes up for you. And this is the other thing about this, that it's a moment by moment wisdom. A lot of the time we talk about boundaries as rules. <affirmative>, you have to set these things, you have to say these things, but you have a deeper, more intelligent wisdom. And if you instead look in the direction I'm pointing towards, which is resting in yourself, relaxing, being aware, <affirmative>, and sort of starting to see where the other person is at without making it about you, but just sort of curiosity and openness and a higher perspective. Sometimes it will make sense to say some things, to not budge. Some other times it will be, Oh wow, they're right actually. Sure, let's do it your way. Some other times there will be a collaborative process. It will be what's needed and it will be okay because, you got you.
Lucie Tesarova (29:22):
So it sounds like the way to create deeper connections with others through setting not setting actually boundaries, but the boundaries are the consequence of when we deeply connect and are present with ourselves first. And we get into that state of being with ourselves where the wisdom kind of emerges and we know say yes to this, say no to this and in what way. So it ultimately will come out. We are not confused in that state anymore. And yes, sounds like the confusion is a sign that we are in our heads. Exactly. Versus connected to that deeper wisdom that already knows
Aurora Meneghello (30:13):
And do you know why it creates connection? Because when people feel that you're being authentically yourself without trying to make them do something, they feel safer around you. You are giving permission for them to be authentically themselves and tell you what they need. And don't we all feel more connected when we can be ourselves and be heard with no judgment?
Lucie Tesarova (30:41):
So I believe especially that is relevant to any leader who may be watching this. So if they want to have a more connected team, if they want to promote the safety and trust on the team, it sounds like it starts with themselves really knowing themselves and always getting themselves being responsible for making decisions out of that state of being versus being stressed out and just being in their heads. Oh my God, just something <laugh>. Yeah.
Aurora Meneghello (31:15):
And also recognizing that more stress, more fear, more insecurity, more pressure, actually makes people less likely to access this, right? Creating a whole series of problems. Of course. So yeah. I hope this answered the boundary question. <laugh>.
Lucie Tesarova (31:34):
Yes, <laugh>. Thank you. So sounds like there's hope for all of us that it just takes practice of shifting into that calm, nourishing, safe, trusting space. And from that there are many multiple gifts.
Aurora Meneghello (31:55):
And I also wanna say I have I mean night and day from when I was younger, but I still sometimes get caught up. It's called being human. Sometimes you'll get caught up and that's okay, that's why it's a practice. But if somebody had told me 15, 20 years ago I could feel like I feel now I don't think I would've believed them. So yes. And it doesn't take 20 years. I think once you start seeing it at play in your life and once you start experiencing, and as I said, we all experience it spontaneously anyway, we're just not looking in that direction. The more you notice, the more it builds on itself.
Lucie Tesarova (32:44):
So I thank you. I see it as an invitation for all of us to already celebrate what's there and celebrate any time that you notice that you just set naturally a boundary that you connected to yourself. And the more we do that, the more we get actually aware and connected. Yeah. So that's one of the possible paths.
Aurora Meneghello (33:07):
Lucie Tesarova (33:08):
Any last words cuz we are a little bit over the time, but thank you for your generosity. Any final words that you would like to wrap our topic of boundaries?
Aurora Meneghello (33:19):
No, I wanna thank you for doing this. I think it's great. I think it's the more we can be ourselves and we can accept other people the way they are, they are, and really rest in that place together, I think the better we feel at home, in our relationships, at work. So thank you. Thank you for creating this series of talks.
Lucie Tesarova (33:42):
Thank you. And if people wanna know more about you, your work, how they can connect with you, what is the best way?
Aurora Meneghello (33:50):
Yeah, you can find me, be
Lucie Tesarova (33:51):
Aurora Meneghello (33:53):
Connect with boundaries, <laugh> healthy boundaries RepurposeYour Purpose.com. You can just find me there. And I have a one week coaching intensive where we do six calls in six days just to reconnect yourself to that wisdom. So if this was particularly interesting to you, get in touch and we'll talk.
Lucie Tesarova (34:15):
Sounds amazing. And we can also put the link under the video so you can find it easily. Thank you so much. And remember to also follow us a t Mindfittery for other talks and more resources around boundaries and more and mental fitness for any leader, any team and their families. Thank you so much. Thank you, Aurora!