Hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets!

Self-care is Self-preservation

Episode 106

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on the topics shared during last week’s interview with Debra Hallisey. She revisits the concepts around relationships that Debra shared from her book, The Caregiver’s Relationship Contract. In addition, Rayna explores how to set boundaries and navigate renegotiating them. Be sure to download the free resource Rayna provides related to these topics.

    • All relationships require boundaries.
    • Understanding your emotions can help you see if your boundaries are as strong as they should be.
    • Healthy boundaries ask others to respect your uniqueness, your choices, and your autonomy.
    • When caregiving, the needs are legitimate and real, but your boundaries need to be there as well.
    • Remember the quote from Anne Lamont, “No is a complete sentence.”
    • When setting boundaries, say, “I want to help, and this is what I need to be able to.”
    • Check out Debra’s book to view her suggestions to better navigate these conversations.
    • Download a FREE tip sheet here in the resources.
    • Please help spread the word to other caregivers by visiting the podcast platform you listen to and leaving a quick review of just a couple of sentences. 


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Boundaries. There are a ton of great quotes about boundaries. Let’s start with “No, it is a complete sentence.” by Anne Lamont. Then there is Boundaries are part of self-care. They are healthy, normal and necessary.” said Doreen Virtue. Setting boundaries is not about keeping people away rather than. It is a powerful act of self care.” Michelle Maros. There are tons and tons of quotes about boundaries, but how do you feel about boundaries? Are they confusing to you? Hi, this is Rayna Neises with A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. And I’m glad that you’re here with me today. Last week on episode 1 0 5, I interviewed Debra Hallisey and she wrote a great book. The Caregiver’s Relationship Contract, How to Navigate the Minefield of New Roles and Expectations. And throughout her book, she talks a lot about a contract or that agreement that you have with others to respect boundaries. And I think it’s so important as a caregiver to understand that your relationships change and those boundaries need to change as well. I think one of the most important things about understanding boundaries is understanding yourself and why it’s okay to have boundaries. As so many people say boundaries can be really tricky. They can feel like we’re saying no, which is not a good thing, but that’s not true. A boundary is just allowing us to know where we stop and another person starts. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s necessary in order to be healthy, we have to have boundaries. There’s an old proverb from the well loved Robert Frost poem.” Good fences make good neighbors.” And a fence is just a boundary. So really understanding that good personal boundaries really do set you up for good relationships. They require communication, which is a key to all relationships. Boundaries are those invisible lines of protection that you draw around yourself. They let people know your limits on what they can say or do around. And healthy boundaries they give you freedom and relating to others. If you make a boundary solid, you’re building a wall, but if your boundaries too weak, you allow others actions to harm you. So it’s not always clear where our boundaries are or need to be. And that’s where your work comes in. Recognizing and steadying, the signs of ignored or ineffective boundaries is really a good place to start. It lets you see the symptoms. There are clues that help you to know whether their boundaries are too soft. Or if they’re not being communicated clearly with others so let’s take a look at a few of those things which are the symptoms that can help you see things that might be telling you, you really, aren’t applying a boundary in a place where it needs to be. Again, as a caregiver, all of .The relationships that you’re in, all relationships require boundaries. And I think they become even more necessary in caregiving because of the stress level that we live under on a normal day, it’s higher. And because of the stress that you live under with the caregiving ongoing, then the stressors of other areas of your life can push you over the top faster. So really understanding your emotions can help you to see if your boundaries are as strong as they should be. One thing to notice is if you have an aloofness or a distance between you and other people, when you’re really unwilling or fearful of opening up your space to others, or when you build walls to ensure that they don’t invade you emotionally or physically, that is definitely a defensive state to be in and it’s really not necessary, or it shouldn’t be necessary. So it may be a defense against krul, behavior abuse or neglect that you allow to happen. Either currently with that relationship or in a relationship in the past a person with healthy boundaries draws lines over, which they don’t let anybody cross. They recognize they can say no. You might also find yourself having a chip on your shoulder with a person or a situation and that kind of attitude kind of declares I dare you to come to close. It’s often the result of anger from a past violation or ignoring of your physical or emotional space by others. You know, again, those healthy boundaries, they mean that you’re able to speak up when your space is being violated, leaving you free to trust that you can assertively protect yourself to ensure you’re not hurt. Over- inmeshment- being immeshed. This can kind of be a game. The rule is everybody has to do everything together. Everyone must think, feel, and act in the same way without deviating from the group. So you might find that to be true within your family dynamic. And you might find that that inmeshment is really impacting your ability to draw a boundary because that makes you different. Then the group, a healthy boundary acknowledges that you have a right to explore your own interests, to be your own person and to have your own emotions. Another response to an inappropriate boundary or lack of a boundary. Is that feeling of invisibility, in this situation you just would like to be not ,seen you like to be not heard so that your boundaries are not violated at all. If they don’t see you, they can’t walk on you. Right? Healthy boundaries when you stand up for yourself will be visible and they will be heard so that others can learn to respect your needs and your personal space. You might also find a feeling of disassociation if you blank out or you go away during stressful emotional events, that really is a result of being out of touch with your own feelings and being unable to assert your limits. So healthy boundaries, they allow you to assert and protect yourself from further violation or hurt and they allow you to choose to end relationships with those who will not respect them. With healthy boundaries. You can begin to feel your own feelings again and feel good about having those feelings. You know, there can be also a feeling of being smothered or feeling like you can’t have any privacy of your own. If you’re not living with appropriate boundaries, when another one is overly concerned about your needs and interests, or when there is nothing you think feel or do is your own business that intrusiveness can really make a difference on your emotional and physical space leaving you feeling overwhelmed. And like you’re being strangled by this attention. Healthy boundaries again, asked the others, respect your uniqueness, your choices and your autonomy. So those are some emotions and feelings that you might be experiencing if you’re not applying boundaries appropriately. I hope that that’s helpful when you stopped to think about that because oftentimes we ignore the emotions when they actually are just warning signs for us to pay more attention to things. When we think about boundaries and how they impact us and caregiving, we have to learn to pay attention to what boundaries we might need. There might be activities as a caregiver you’re being asked to do that you don’t feel comfortable with. For me personally, one thing that really comes to mind when I think about my caregiving season with my dad was at end of life. We had a hospice team, but it was a really short period of time between bringing hospice in and dad’s passing. And during that period of time, we were given medications and we were told, this is the range at which you can administer those. This is the period of time and when she can administer them, but I felt really uneqipped to make those decisions, Is it time? How much, when should we go up? Are we giving him enough? That was really not comfortable for me. I was thankful that there were others that were available to make those decisions that had a better understanding and more experience in that. So for me, the boundary was, I’m really not going to do this. This is not going to be my wheelhouse. Right. I’m going to allow those that are more comfortable with this to do that. Another boundary that I drew during my caregiving season was the necessity to shop and totally care for two households. My sister obviously had her own household with elementary age and middle school, age children, I had my own household with a high schooler and the farmer and my own pack of dogs. And so I just really was aware of I don’t want to spend all my time running errands, buying groceries, doing a lot of those things to keep the house, where dad was living. I wanted to focus on time with him and the things that I needed to do while I was there that only I could do. So for that reason, I ask that we have other people step into those roles. That was just a boundary that I felt like was really going to help me be able to give my best while I was there. Did that mean I never ran by and picked up something that we needed or that I didn’t help to make sure that the list was equipped with all of the needs. No, I definitely was a part of the team in that, but I didn’t take on that responsibility. And I think that’s one of the important things as we’re thinking of caregiving is there are a lot of needs and there can be boundaries that you laid down with those needs that say I’m not the right person to do this. And that’s okay. The key is making sure that you find someone who is. Especially when it comes to asking our loved ones, not to do something. For example, if your loved one is getting to a point that you don’t feel comfortable with them mowing the grass, because it gets too hot and it’s not good for their health, then you need to make sure that need is taken care of. And if that’s something you don’t need to put on your plate, then you do need to find someone who can, might be a grandson, might be a neighbor kid who needs to make a little bit of money, but the need needs to be taken care of. So there is a balancing that needs to happen with caregiving. The needs are there, they’re legitimate and real, but your boundaries need to be there as well. Those boundaries need to be your own understanding of your limits and making sure that you’re offering to get the need met but at the same time, not being the only person who’s meeting that need. So other areas, when we think about boundaries within caregiving might be activities that you have always done. For example, if you’ve always been the room mom at your kid’s school, maybe this year is not the year to do that. If you’re facing a medical challenge and you’re caregiving for somebody who’s in a fragile state, it’s going to take more of your time and you might find yourself not being able to give as much in some of those other areas. Drawing those boundaries clearly say no with the, no, we often find, we need to explain ourselves, but I love the quote by Anne Lamont. “No is a complete sentence.” You can just choose to say no. On this podcast I wanted to take an opportunity to really talk to you a little bit more about boundaries and how they might be impacting you during this caregiving season. I think it’s really important that we understand what boundaries are. We understand that boundaries are good and they’re not something we need to feel guilty over or ashamed of, but rather we need to understand that they help us to be the best person we can be because they allow us to be ourselves. And really thinking about some of the emotions that you’re feeling when you’re feeling overwhelmed might help you to identify when your boundaries are not as strong as they should be. So we’ve talked a little bit about some of those things. They might be aloofness or distance, just keeping everybody away. Possibly having a chip on your shoulder and being really defensive or finding yourself, having to go with the flow with this group of people because you can’t step outside of them. You might feel invisible or want to be invisible very much so you might also feel disassociated or just really kind of blanked out or going away from yourself or others. And you might also find yourself feeling smothered. So these are the emotions to really pay attention, to and realize that these are emotions you’re experiencing you might need to look at that relationship and really see how you need to modify that contract. Where do you put down the line and how do you communicate it in a way that it can be heard? That can be really tricky that as you’re working on yourself, as you’re becoming aware of these boundaries that are being violated, coming in strong and just saying, I never gonna allow you to do this again. You make me feel blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s not a great way to communicate that, probably isn’t going to go well. So once you have clarified your boundaries and you really have decided it’s time to have a conversation about that boundary, you need to just kind of start to install some fence posts. You need to start to kind of look at where the holes might be. Where’s the encroachment happening? How do I keep that out and start to really apply some of the boundaries and you’re going to need to do that by communicating really clearly. For example, I read in Deborah’s book one of the things that she found was that she was having to go to the store many times. In fact, she talked about one weekend. She went to the store like twice in one day to get something for her mom. You want to help and she was there with her and her mom was cooking and she didn’t have what she needed. And so she ran out to. But she found herself resenting it. She found herself experiencing some of these emotions that she didn’t want to have. And she realized, okay, I need this to change. So she came back to her mom and she said, Mom, I really, I don’t mind at all, going to the store for you. I appreciate being able to help and we’re cooking together and I love this part of it, but I need to go to the store once a week. And if we forget to pick something up, I’m going to need you to wait until I can do it later in the week or even the next week, whenever I make my normal trip. She offered. This is what I need and she let her mom know I want to help. I want to do this for you. I just need it to look like this. And again, as she gave some great examples in episode 1 0 5 of how she communicated that with her mom, her book has some amazing charts in how do you use that language in a way that can really communicate your need at the same time, not communicating. I don’t care, or I don’t want to do this at all anymore. She gave some tips on how to word renegotiating those contracts with your loved ones during this caregiving season, how to communicate in a way that allows you to come to an agreement on a new contract, not in a way that will put a distance between you and your loved one and make caregiving even harder. So again, I would recommend if you’re exploring boundaries and you’re trying to figure out how to renegotiate these relationship contracts in your life during this caregiving season pickup Debra’s book and take a look at some of her suggestions. I would also recommend that when you’re applying those boundaries to have those conversations and in the moment when you find yourself experiencing a breach of that boundary, whether it be a tip toe on the line or a push right through the fence, to take a deep breath and calm yourself. Remind yourself, this is your boundary and you have a right to set the limit. And then in a firm composed manner, tell the other person how you feel. When you talk to me that way, or when you assume that I can just drop everything and go to the store for you. That makes me feel like you don’t respect my life. That makes me feel like you don’t think I have anything else to do right now, or however it is that you’re feeling in the moment you want to let them know how you’re feeling, communicate clearly what your limits are. So I understand that you need this. I actually am doing this right now. I can do that for you later, this date, Saturday, whatever it is. Extending that new boundary and saying, right now it’s just not going to happen. And then ask the other person can we make that work today? We often feel that we’re the only one who can do these things. If this relationship is one that doesn’t honor and respect you, then possibly you need to find someone else to do the care, the hands-on part of it. And you need to do the best you can to just have the relationship that is healthy for you. Relationships are tricky in no matter what season you’re in, but I think the stress level that we’re under can make them even more challenging. We want to make sure. That we are not only a caregiver, but we’re also a family member. And I think the best way to do that is by having strong boundaries. It can be really tricky when you have established new boundaries to be able to apply those boundaries. And I’ve gone real quickly over some tips of how to apply that, but I’ve also made a little tip sheet for you. If you would like to download your tip sheet, be sure to check out our show notes page at www.aseasonofcaring.com/podcast. And you can download your free tip sheets. So visit our website today. And if you have a chance, I was so appreciate it if you would visit the podcast platform, you are listening to today and leave a review. A quick couple of sentences is all that’s needed to spread the word and help encourage other caregivers who are in a season of caring. Thank you for joining me today. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of care.



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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Rayna Neises

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