What are the things that truly get in the way of us having excellent boundaries?

This is a super special episode where I’m getting down to the nitty-gritty of the HIDDEN reasons you might not be able to set the kind of healthy, flexible boundaries you need to be fully empowered in your life right now.

For those of you who have been following me up to now know that that learning the skills to set and maintain healthy boundaries is the only path to real empowerment. But what really holds us back?

I’ve identified the top four hidden boundary killers and I’m revealing them in this video, so have a watch of it because raising your awareness around these sneaky behavioral patterns is critical to your success so you can express yourself in a real way and become the #boundaryboss you know you’re meant to be.


1. The Pregnant Pause

If there is a lull in the conversation do you get uncomfortable? Does it feel like an awkward silence to you?

Making small talk to fill the silence (or avoid feeling awkward) is an especially common experience for women. It is a learned behavior that can be compulsive and is mostly unconscious. We’re conditioned by our families, culture, and society to make sure everyone around us is comfortable, which creates a tendency towards codependency and people-pleasing. What happens when you do that is that you’re building a wall of words between you and someone else. In this way, filling in that pregnant pause is a block to communication and real intimacy instead of a bridge.

When your boundaries are in order, you learn what is and what isn’t on your side of the street. You realize that it’s not your job to make sure someone else feels comfortable all of the time. Instead of fearing an awkward silence, you could learn to enjoy a “pregnant pause.” When you rush to fill the space, essentially attempting to remain “in control” of the conversation, you close the door to deeper intimacy. Imagine how different your relationships might be if you created expansion and allowed the pregnant pause to be an invitation to learn more about others.

Embrace the space. Take a breath. Stay present.

2. Not Saying What You Mean

This can show up in the most insidious ways…because it can be such a casual habit. For example, you have to get off the phone and you say, “I’ll let you go now.”

What you mean is that YOU have to go, but instead you say something different…something more “polite.”  Or how about the dreaded “Oh, I’m fine,” when you’re NOT fine at all? What we’re doing is sending encrypted messages and thinking that we’re being clear when we’re being anything but clear. We leave it to other people to read between the lines of what we mean and how we feel.

Why do we treat each other this way? It’s oftentimes a way for us not to have to speak up and say what’s on our minds. In reality, it’s just not truthful and not great for relationships. Most of the people in your life are not that fragile…and neither are you. We owe it to ourselves and to others to learn how to stand in and express our truth with grace and kindness if we ever want to be authentically known by others and ourselves.

3. Misnaming Emotions

Can we please stop saying “I was annoyed,” when how we really felt was super pissed off?!!
It’s so important to just say what it is and to be able to identify and express our true emotions, appropriately. Yet in our culture, so many of us are taught that our feelings of anger, rage, sadness and so on aren’t “safe” or “acceptable”. So we end up “softening” the words we use to describe how we’re feeling. We learn to disavow our anger and that is a one-way-ticket to passive-aggressive behavior and eventual blow-up or break down.

4. Chronic Complaining

Last on the list is, once again, such a habitual behavior that you might not even realize that you’re doing it. How often do you complain about what the other people in your life are doing?
This is definitely a habitual learned behavior. Maybe you learned it from one or both of your parents or caregivers, but once you raise your awareness around this, you can make a shift. Instead of just complaining or nagging, express your feelings around the situation and then attach a clear and simple request for a more positive outcome.

For example: “Hey, I don’t love that this happened. We’ve had this situation before, so I would like to make a simple request that…”. Can you see how that creates a real possibility of things changing instead of just circulating more negativity and resentment?

When our communication is faulty, out of balance or disordered… it impacts our ability to be fully present in our relationships and in our lives. 

Creating a pro-active boundary skillset is how you can start stepping up, speaking your truth and authentically expressing your deepest wants and needs in a healthy, functional way.

I super appreciate you spending time with me and I hope that these concepts help you better understand what might be blocking you from getting empowered in every aspect of your life. I created a little cheat sheet for you on this week’s content, so you have it all in one place, and you can download that here now.

As always, take care of you.

Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.