When we let fear hold us back from setting boundaries, we miss out on healthy relationships and real love.

What keeps you from setting clear boundaries with the people in your life?

Are you afraid of judgment? Being thought of as high-maintenance, mean, or controlling?

Or maybe you don’t know HOW to set boundaries in a way that works?

In today’s episode, we’re talking with Terri Cole, licensed psychotherapist and author of Boundary Boss: The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen, and (Finally) Live Free. In her book, Terri teaches her readers how to set boundaries in a way that will help us live healthier, happier lives.

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I have to be honest (always!): I rarely finish a book. But when I received my copy of Boundary Boss, I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in three days! 

As I was reading, I kept thinking about you, my listeners. 

If you’re searching for ways to live an authentic life as both fully human and fully divine, you need to set boundaries.

Boundaries aren’t about being bossy or controlling or selfish. Boundaries are about making clear your preferences, desires, limits, and deal-breakers to live a more honest, embodied life.

Among other things, clearly and consistently communicated boundaries:

  • Are an act of self-love and self-respect
  • Show you to be a trustworthy person
  • Prevent feelings of bitterness and hurt
  • Hold everyone accountable in a relationship
  • Helps you attract the right people into your life

But setting boundaries when you haven’t before can also be scary.

Fortunately, boundary-setting isn’t all-or-nothing. It comes down to doing the next right thing, one baby step at a time. In Boundary Boss, Terri walks us through those baby steps in a way that is accessible and totally doable.

Join us in today’s episode to hear more about how feeling empowered and respected really is possible.  

Notes from Episode 348 of the Embodied Podcast with Elizabeth DiAlto

  • The importance of having boundaries with yourself,
  • How boundaries are an opportunity to teach people how to treat us,
  • Navigating saying yes when you mean it and no when you mean it (this is especially hard for recovering codependents and people pleasers!),
  • How to deal with boundary violations and enforcing your boundaries with people who don’t respect them,
  • Energetic boundaries.

…and more

In episode 348 of the Embodied Podcast we discuss:

  • [9:15] How boundaries build trust and keep you from second-guessing yourself and others
  • [11:33] How communicating your boundaries is a generous act and does not make you “high-maintenance”
  • [19:36] How enforcing boundaries helps you attract the right people and repel the wrong ones
  • [22:20] The power of direct communication to strengthen relationships
  • [28:05] The different forms of communication and why we use them
  • [34:07] How we can determine what our limits are to be able to start communicating them
  • [39:34] What the different types of boundary pushers are and how to deal with them
  • [44:44] What a “VIP Section” is and how to be discerning about who we allow in it

Resources mentioned by Terri and Elizabeth in the episode:

Quotes from this Week’s Episode of the Embodied Podcast

  • “Many of us were trained to think that having a preference was burdening someone else.” (6:25)

  • “Make sure that you’re not confusing compatibility or easy-goingness with compliance.” (7:34)

  • “How people respond to boundaries shows you if people want to be in the same kind of relationship with you that you want to be in with them.” (37:25)

  • “It is my responsibility to clearly and cleanly and effectively communicate what it is that I want.” (47:48)

  • “Disordered communication is the foundation for disordered boundaries.” (50:01)

How was this episode for you?

Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below OR share the episode on Instagram, tag me your stories @elizabethdialto, or send me a DM!

About the Embodied Podcast with Elizabeth DiAlto

Since 2013 I’ve been developing a body of work that helps women embody self-love, healing, and wholeness. We do this by focusing on the four levels of consciousness – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

In practical terms, this looks like exploring tools and practices to help you tune into the deep wisdom of the body and the knowing of the heart, which I believe are gateways to our souls. Then we cultivate a new relationship with our minds that allows the mind to serve this wisdom and knowledge and soul connection, rather than override it, which is what many of us were taught.

If you’ve been doing self-help or spiritual development work for a while, these are the types of foundational things that often people overlook in pursuit of fancier concepts that often aren’t practical or sustainable. Here, we will focus on building these strong foundations so you can honestly and thoroughly embody self-love. If you’re feeling it, subscribe to the show, and leave us a review wherever you listen from. You can also keep up with show updates and community discussion on Instagram here.

Transcripts for Episode 348:

– [Elizabeth] Hi and I am so excited. All right, people watching this on YouTube, I’m just gonna show you. I wore my Golden Girls t-shirt for Terry Cole because you are a friend. Like that theme song like, Thank you for being a friend And you’re hilarious. So I just felt like I’m gonna wear my Golden Girls but I’m so upset. It’s not even in the frame. It’s fine. So many people listening to this, they’re like I can’t see your t-shirt. It doesn’t matter. This is your fourth time. You’re the only one.

– [Terri] Yeah, I love it.

– [Elizabeth] Podcast guest friend of the podcast. Number one friend some people might argue.

– [Terri] Best friend of the podcast.

– [Elizabeth] Embodied Podcast’s BFF, Terry Cole, is back with us today because finally she has written “Boundary Boss” for all of us.

– [Terri] She did.

– [Elizabeth] Everyone get the book. We also, so, you know, this is my first interview that I’ve done in over a year.

– [Terri] I’m so happy to gently bring you back into the fray .

– [Elizabeth] We’ll try to keep it gentle. So, all right. I’m obsessed with the book, “Boundary Boss, The Essential Guide to Talk to be Seen and Finally Live Free.” Boundaries are one of the most liberating things in the world. So, but before we get into it, I always… This is called the Embodied Podcast now. Now you’ve been on the show for every name. On Tame The Wild Soul, Truth Telling and now Embodied. And my opening question is how how’s your body? How are you feeling in your body today? What’s going on over there?

– [Terri] Feeling good. Did a 37 minute trampoline workout. That was pretty fierce and I’m into it. So that was great. But I was sweating for like three hours after that. So I think I just stopped sweating now, even though I took a shower, of course, right after. I feel good though, I feel pretty… I meditated for 20 minutes when I woke up this morning. So if I can get those two things in, I’m in my body. If I skip either one of those, I’m like half in my body.

– [Elizabeth] Yeah, I hear you. Okay. So the book is out. You have this incredible body of work around boundaries. Who are you finding is like, if there is one, the most like unexpected kind of person who’s like getting their hands on this book and being like, “Oh my God, I didn’t know I needed this.” Is that happening at all?

– [Terri] It’s happening with actually a straight men which is interesting because the book is more for CIS women. Not exclusively, I really worked to have inclusive language, but I wrote from my experience, which is predominantly with CIS women. So the hetero and gay men, same sex loving, are both finding it, which I find interesting and saying, “This applies to me, this feels accurate. Thank you.” So that’s great, I love that because I wanted it to be for everyone but I didn’t feel like I could in good conscience write it that exact way because I don’t have the experience for them.

– [Elizabeth] Yeah, well, I’m sure all of your CIS women are super grateful that that’s happening and props to you on the inclusive language. I know we actually talked about that when you were going through the process, which is cool.

– [Terri] Yes, you actually really helped me. I was like, “Hey, can I say something?” I was like, “Say anything, all the things.” Since you had an early copy and this is exactly why I gave it to you. It’s ’cause I know you would tell the truth.

– [Elizabeth] And I was like, “Oh great. ‘Cause I made a list .”

– [Terri] Like, I’m glad you said, “Yes, hold on, I’ve got a PowerPoint.”

– [Elizabeth] Just in case you said yes. Your Virgo friend has bullet points. So you and I did a little IG Live last week. And one of the things that I really wanted to dig into and we can go through the general bones of the book, But whenever I interview people who’ve written books on the podcast, I’m like, just get the book. If you want the general bones like I want to talk about some juicier stuff than that.

– [Terri] Agreed.

– [Elizabeth] So much of this is just about being able to effectively communicate with the people in your life around, and this is what you said, ’cause I wrote this down. Your preferences, your desires, your limits and your deal breakers. So let’s talk about preferences. Why is it so hard for people to communicate around their preferences with folks?

– [Terri] Well, part of it is many of us were trained not to, and to think that having a preference was burdening someone else. If you were raised in praise for being a self abandoning codependent, if you were raised as a woman in more of the traditional sense, we were taught at least anyone who is, I don’t know. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and even I’ve got people in my courses from every decade growing up. And it’s the same, which is like, be a good girl. Be nice, be self-sacrificing, be kind to others, be generous. All of those things, a lot of times the information, because listen, the thought of being nice, obviously there’s nothing wrong with being raised to be nice, but we got lost along the way. And so we somehow learned that putting everyone else above ourselves or putting other people’s needs or wants or desires above our own or someone else’s preference. So many women who’ve been in my practice and in my courses say they don’t care. They’re like, “No, I’m really easy going.” I’m like, “But I wanna make sure that you’re not confusing compatibility or easygoingness with compliance.” Like I want to comply with what this other person wants so I can avoid conflict. I can avoid being rejected. I can avoid maybe a hard conversation. For some people simply negotiating for what you want, one friend saying, “I really feel like having a Italian tonight.” The other one being like, thinking, I had that last night. I really don’t want that. But whatever. It’s not a big deal. I don’t wanna make a big deal out of nothing. So in the book I talk about the lies we tell ourselves to avoid having any kind of boundary, preference or limit. Conversations where setting a limit, Hey, you know what? I don’t drink. I’m out with a bunch of people who drink and they’re all like, Hey, let’s split the $800 bar bill along with the food bill. I don’t personally care. ‘Cause I haven’t had a drink in so long that anyone who does that, I’m like, “Oh yeah, no, count me out on the bar, people, no.” ’cause there’s no way I’m paying for whatever the hell you’re drinking. But it can be hard in the beginning to, again, the lie we tell ourselves is, well, you know I could seem petty. Like I don’t want them to think I’m petty. It is not petty to not wanna spend 80 bucks on booze you didn’t drink, it’s not. It’s just fair. It’s just equitable. Now, if you have friends that will think that’s petty, then that’s on you and that’s on them. But my feeling is I’d let people know. And that makes me trustworthy, right? Just like it makes… Part of our friendship is that we both know you’re gonna… I know you’re gonna say what is true for you to me and you know the same. So I never have to worry. What I wrote about in the book, I said that on the Live, that there was an interaction about a friend who has such clean and clear boundaries. That was you. I actually said your name, where I had invited you to come do something with me. It was like an event in, where the hell was I going?

– [Elizabeth] Guatemala. You’re going to Guatemala.

– [Terri] And I was like, “Hey, I’m doing this thing with Deb Garden, you want to come?” And you were like, “No, I hate Guatemala. I hate hot weather like that, but thanks, enjoy.”

– [Elizabeth] Guatemala is not my jam.

– [Terri] And the bandwidth saved. For me not having to second guess. You trusting that it’s not a problem. You know what I mean? Like that I want you to tell the truth. Can I tell Vic that I’m here and he can stop whatever he’s doing. That just sounded like a gun, which I hope it wasn’t. But please stop.

– [Elizabeth] So I love this. And as you were saying that I was also just realizing, I was just thinking back to times… That check thing, what that brought up for me is I was thinking of times in my 20s when I was really struggling financially and I’d be out with people and I would intentionally like maybe just order an appetizer or something. ‘Cause I didn’t want to like, not be social, but I knew I couldn’t afford certain things, right? Like that, that place, some people can relate to where you’re like going the bathroom to like check your card balance to be like, oh, like, oh. Like I’ve certainly been in that precarious place many times in my life and where I was afraid to communicate around a preference was because like I didn’t want people to know. That was an insecurity, right? Like I didn’t want people to know I was struggling. So I was just thinking, as you were saying that, of all the ways also we are concerned about what people might think or how people might judge where we are in our life, or what’s going on with us because we are ashamed of it or we’re insecure about it in any given moment. And one of the other ones that came up for me as you were saying that is ’cause I know this was me, that like, ah, cool girl, easy going I’m low maintenance because there’s such a stigma on being high maintenance, but not just a stigma but also a misconception. ‘Cause having needs and preferences period is not high maintenance. It just makes you a person.

– [Terri] Yup, and having the skills to express them to make the boundary requests, to share your preference with someone is really a generous act of self-love because it means you want it to be known, but it also gives the people in your life accurate information about you. It doesn’t mean that they’re always going to acquiesce to what we want and that’s not what it’s about. boundaries and effective communication of our preferences, desires, limits and deal-breakers, that’s basically letting people know. ‘Cause those things, think about it. That’s what makes up who you are. Those things. They are unique to you. Whatever they are, they’re fine. Like nobody has a right to tell you they’re wrong. Again, it doesn’t mean that everyone is going to be like, Oh, okay, that’s your preference. That’s always what I’m gonna do, but for sure, they’re not gonna do it if we don’t tell them. I mean maybe they’ll stumble upon it, but you’re much more likely to get your need met or to get what you want. And there’s nothing wrong with getting what you want. And again, all of these things, I feel like the the myths and the negativity and there’s such a myth about being female. I mean, being a woman. I don’t know if saying female is the right way to say it. So I think it’s about being a good woman. What we learned, she would give you the shirt off her back. Put your shirt back on. She would give anyone the shirt off her back. Why Betty, why? You’re gonna be cold. And not everyone deserves your fucking shirt. Like that to me, without discernment, it’s just such a setup to for the martyr complex. To feel victimized, to feel under appreciated, to feel used by others when literally we’re driving the train of what is happening. So, and I understand the conflict. That’s why I wrote a book about it because if I’ve had clients for the past 25 years feeling conflicted about this. But there is a way, and I think that removing those myths sort of, at least looking at those myths. When we look at the lies we tell ourselves, as to why don’t we make the boundary request? Why don’t we set the limit? So in the book, I walk you through the process of getting very aware of the ways that we like bullshit ourselves. Where we’re like, Oh yeah, when that person screamed at me I know they didn’t really mean it. They’re just really stressed in the fourth quarter this time of year.. Like we make excuses for their crap behavior, right? And then who gets off the hook? Well, they get off the hook, but also we get off the hook. ‘Cause now I don’t have to have the conversation about why Bob is acting like such a douche.

– [Elizabeth] Okay, this is reminding me. I’m like laughing because I’m remembering, we all have, for those of you who have been listening to the podcast for a long time and have heard other Terry Cole episodes, one of the big things that we’ve talked about before is codependency. And so Terry really helped me many years ago really start to heal and get out of codependency. And for the most part, I’m very rarely codependent anymore but no one is above a codependency relapse. And in my last relationship, I was dating a man who was a single father of a young child. The kid was not even two yet when we were together. And so I was constantly making his life and his experience more important than mine because it was like pretty subjectively, more challenging than my life in the moment, at the time and whatever. And I remember I was on a walk with a girlfriend like telling her all these things that all this stuff that I did for him on Father’s Day that he didn’t ask me to do, obviously. And classic codependent thing being like, I’m gonna do all these things for someone. And then I’m going to be upset when they’re not like so excited about all the things I did that nobody asks me to do .

– [Terri] We are grateful.

– [Elizabeth] So I’m just remembering me like anticipating all these things that he might really like love and enjoy on that day, and then at the end of the day, asking him like, “How was your day?” And he literally listed like three things about the day before he even mentioned anything of, and, or related to my presence or anything I did. And in that moment, I wasn’t even… I was like it’s stung a little bit, but I was like, oh, this is absolutely on me. We’re doing this thing again where I’m like, oh let me bend over backwards to think I know what anyone needs or wants rather than like asking or having a direct thing or being like, whatever. So it just reminded me of that because the next thing that I was gonna ask you were around the lies we tell ourselves around desires because that was me like projecting my desires onto him. Like what I would want.

– [Terri] But here’s the thing it’s also so human. So we’re still gonna do that because it’s part of human nature. But instead of just doing it, instead of just going with the projection, next time you you would check in some and be like, would that be good? Does that sound good to you? We wanna surprise people though sometimes and it feels fun to do that. We want it to be a surprise. So I totally understand where you were coming from, but it’s that moment when you felt disappointed, the moment when you felt stung by the lack of excitement or the lack of appreciation that’s how you knew. You were like, oh right. That was sort of-

– [Elizabeth] I totally set myself up for this.

– [Terri] Yeah. Yes, you did.

– [Elizabeth] Funny now ,years ago it would have been like ah, I would’ve been like, he doesn’t love me.

– [Terri] Right. It could be devastating. But what you were saying about kidding ourselves about our desires and that in a way that goes back to what you were saying about being like the cool chick and being like, whatever, everything’s fine. Like, I don’t need anything, like I’m low maintenance. That story, as if you said having needs, wants, desires is being high maintenance, which it’s not. And as if there’s something really valuable about requiring very little effort from another. And I think about how not low maintenance I am in my life, in my marriage and my… I don’t say it that way, but is there something required? There’s something required to be in my life no matter who you are, right? Like friends, I don’t got time. Like I’ve got really solid sort of boundaries in that way but I’m also, I’m positive that I’m worth it. You know what I mean? Like I think I know with Vic sometimes, he’s done a fucking day at the BG there though, but we both have our things, but it’s also worth the energy. Yes. If I’m talking to someone, I don’t care who they are. Do they need to not be scrolling on Instagram? Yeah. That makes me high maintenance? I don’t give a… Like I literally do not care, right? Someone’s like, I’m listening. I’m like, “Oh no you’re not.”

– [Elizabeth] I’ll wait.

– [Terri] This is exactly what I say. Yeah. I say, “Hey, if that’s important, I can wait.” And if they say “No, I’m listening.” I’m like, “No, I need you to listen with your ears and your eyes.”

– [Elizabeth] Yeah, and again, what I love so much about boundaries same thing I love about like marketing and copywriting and like all these things we do in our businesses is like you will compel the right people and you will repel the wrong people. I love repelling the wrong people.

– [Terri] Yes. Me too. But that’s the whole thing though. The whole thing is that if we communicate, like I just did something about boundaries and dating that just came out. And it’s like early and often, expressing our boundaries because isn’t it so much better to not be two years in, and then you’re revealing the stuff about yourself and the other person’s like, “Oh, hello. What? No, none of that was discussed.” If you’re thinking about dating, like what are the appropriate kind of boundaries? Someone says, “Hey, I’m gonna call you Friday. We’ll have to make plans. We’ll see each other Friday night.” And then they call Friday night at 11. Right, bye. So instead of… But a lot of times, especially early on, my clients would say to me, or they texted, what’s up type of thing at 11 when they were supposed to actually go out that night. And they’re like, I didn’t really know how to respond. And I’m like, well, you have a choice. You can either collude with this fake reality that this person just served up to you or you can go, “Oh what’s up? when I didn’t hear from you. I just figured you had a flaky moment. But anyway, I’m actually just about to hit the sack with a good book.” Or whatever it is that you would wanna say. There’s a way to say, you said you were gonna call and you didn’t. So I’m not just pretending you didn’t say that. ‘Cause that’s frigging weird. And it’s also not being truthful.

– [Elizabeth] Totally.

– [Terri]  The more you can say that. And if the person’s like, “Oh, you know what? Oh my God, my bad you’re totally right. You’re totally right. I’m sorry.” Then you’re like, oh, they could have been busy. They could have got the days wrong. There there’s all kinds of things. If the person is like, “Well, I mean you don’t have to be a bitch about it.” Or like, “Why are you so high, mate?” You know what I mean? Hi, get out like-

– [Elizabeth] Qualified. You’re good. Good to know.

– [Terri]  Bye.

– [Elizabeth] I love, okay. So this is one of the things that I have loved being single for the last few years mostly, to be able to practice my boundaries. Like I know a lot of people be moan singlehood but it’s such a great chance. Dating is just opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to practice boundaries. And I love that so much. I had an experience couple months ago with a man. We were not dating. This was a straight up pandemic boo. It was what it was. And this is why something that I love geeking out on with you, especially is the power of direct communication. Because something that you’ve noted more than once already which is so important is that we need to communicate. But then there is the matter of effective and ineffective communication, right? And there’s so many people who ineffectively communicate because they’re not actually directly saying the thing that the other person needs to know. So what happened was, let’s call it a miscommunication. which I’m giving big air quotes to that. Was he was gonna come over. There was like a rough timeline on it. And so once that timeline had kind of passed, I was like, “Hey, just let me know your ETA. Like I’m here.” It wasn’t that it actually wasn’t that big of a deal. ‘Cause there was a window within where I was kind of expecting him. And then like his phone had died. He got back to the city. I’m in Oakland, for people who don’t know the Bay Area. That’s just a detail because it would be inconvenient to come back. And then he’s like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Phone died. I ended up getting food after golf. And I just got back to my place. I had to drop off my friend.” In his mind, that was his way of telling me that he was not gonna be able to make it. In my mind, I’m like, cool, so are you going to still gonna come or should we reschedule? And no response until the next morning, at which point I had sent a couple messages to be like, “Hey, like, did you die? Like what happened?” Like I got ready. I was here. I was waiting for you. Like we had a plan. Like, I know this is like nothing serious but this is just not how I roll with people.

– [Terri] With anybody.

– [Elizabeth] And he was like, “Geez, like, I’m so sorry. It was poor communication on my part. But to me like this, isn’t the end of the world.” I’m like, it’s something end of the world to me either. I just don’t roll like this. Like, this is shitty. It felt so to be shitty to be sitting here not knowing if you were coming or not, or truly like I’m a New Yorker. Like I was raised by people who, if you don’t communicate you’re dead in the ditch. I don’t know where these ditches are but apparently they’re all over the place and you might be laying in one. It was so fascinating. And then from here on out, I was just like, again, if that was someone I was thinking about seriously dating, that would have been a deal breaker, but because it wasn’t, I was like, okay, cool. Like this actually is the most casually I do anything. But now I know in terms of my expectation around. So like literally the next time we set plans I was like, “Hey, I’m here. If you show up, I’ll be excited. If you don’t it’s cool. If you think to send me a message, great.” But he never did it again.

– [Terri] Right, but again, there is such an aversion for many of us, men and women, to be direct.

– [Elizabeth] Totally.

– [Terri] So he was fine with telling you a litany of things that he did without being direct about the fact that it was no longer coming.

– [Elizabeth] Totally. Why would you want to do that by the way? As a therapist.

– [Terri] Part of it is they feel like it’s a soft… They don’t want to reject the other person. And so he’s building a case for not coming back. He doesn’t wanna be wrong. He doesn’t wanna just tell the truth. Like I’m tired, I’m already here because it might sound rude. Hi, being obtuse as hell is rude too, though. And not owning what… Just say what you’re saying. And I think that most of us can really respect that. Even if a harder conversation ensues briefly, what happens is there is a real connection. People beat indirect communication, as you were saying, So you think about what are the ways that we can communicate? We can communicate. We can be passive with our communication, we can be assertive with our communication. We can be passive-aggressive with our communication and we can be aggressive with our communication. Those are the only ways that we can do it. So if you look at passive, especially if we’re dating or whatever, is just sort of going along to get along trying to maybe be the cool chick, trying to avoid conflict at all costs, right? You have a more aggressive one, which is usually the pendulum swings the other way, where you’re trying to micromanage and control. There’s a lot of fear-driven stuff with people who are aggressive in communication. And then we have passive-aggressive, now that’s twice as confusing as all the other ones. Because you’re like, it’s fine as you’re fuming. Is it fine? Or are you fuming? Like what what’s happening? ‘Cause I’m totally confused. I said, it’s fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll get my home like I always do. So should I not worry about you? Or should I be worrying about you from what you just said? Like that very confusing directive and so many of us, why do we resort to passive aggressive? Most of us were raised. I definitely was. I was raised in a family that no anger and I know you were not. But there was no expression of anger. Nobody who was led to be angry. There was no anger. So of course that doesn’t mean there was no anger. Obviously, it just means it goes underground. And then for me, it had to turn into another emotion. So I was allowed to be upset, but I couldn’t be angry. You wanna talk about confusing the crap out of knowing how you feel, confusing the crap out of trying to create effective boundaries when you don’t even know your own feelings. So passive aggressive communication is something that a lot of us, because you need to get the anger out. It didn’t just go away, right? So anyway, all of that stuff most of it is disordered boundaries except assertive communication. ‘Cause that’s the one where you’re just straight up saying what the deal is, knowing who you are can kind of roll with the punches when you need to, kind of assert yourself when you need to, tell the truth. That’s it.

– [Elizabeth] The reason why I asked is because I always wanna come from the place, I know sometimes people are listening and they’re relating on either side, right? And if they’re on the side of the person who’s been passive aggressive or the passive communicator, I don’t want anyone to shame themselves. I want you to know if you’re that person, you’ve had valid reasons for doing that. And it’s just not a great practice. Like there’s many valid reasons to work on that and be better about being direct. ‘Cause it’s just, it’s unclear. And the result, like the impact it has on people. So like the difference is it reminds me too many years ago when I was doing self publishing my book in 2015. I remember so clearly my developmental editor kept telling me, and this is a form of people pleasing right? Like, yes we can… We’ll hit that deadline. We’ll do that thing. We got this. And then they wouldn’t hit anything. And I’m like if you would’ve just told me upfront, it’s not happening, I would have been upset, but I would have been so glad to know because then I could have planned around the truth, right? Rather than same thing when this dude like said what he said, and then didn’t come. It was like, if you would’ve just said, “I’m so sorry. I’m not gonna end up being able to make it.” Would I have been disappointed, yes. But will I then have had to spend the rest of my night being like, is this guy okay? Is he dead? What’s happening? And like really having so much more time in feelings I wouldn’t have. So like as you Virgo friend over here, everybody, I also just wanna make a case for, even though it might feel scary to communicate more directly, and clearly, it saves so much time for both you and other people reduce these conflicts. I mean, there’s so many reasons for it. So you gonna say something?

– [Terri] I am. I’m just gonna say something about the trustworthy factor too because this is what happens if we are avoiding being direct. And what you were saying before, like, dude I wrote a whole book because I was the biggest disaster in my 20s. So there’s not one person listening, watching, that I would ever be judging. I wrote this for you so you don’t spend a decade doing what I did spend a decade doing and being like the biggest boundary disaster ever. So there’s nothing I can hear from anyone that makes me go, I can’t believe you would do that. I’m like, oh, I’ve done it all. I’ve done that too. So I got you. But with trustworthiness, this is the thing. And for me, it came early in like my mid 20s, Let’s say my therapy life, where I had a therapist. And I just said, “Oh, I was late for work today. I just told them I had a flat tire.” And so at the end of that session, she was like, “Okay, so today we’ve established that you’re a person who lies.” And I was like, “What? What do you mean? I just said I had a…” “Well, did you have a flat tire?” I was like, “How did you know?” She was like, “Right. So then that is a lie.” And I was like, “All right, well, thanks for saying that I guess.” And then the next week I came in and I was like, “You know what, though? I really actually don’t want to be a person who lies.” And she was like, “Good, so now we’ll work on that because all you have is your word.

– [Elizabeth] Totally. Another gem of my dating life was realizing how many people lie all the time. Like when you just aren’t oriented to something, you just forget it’s on the menu of options when it’s time to make a choice. And that is something that has really blown my mind to see, that like people lie all the time.

– [Terri] I really dislike it a lot.

– [Elizabeth] I’m curious, we talked a little bit about preferences. I feel like preferences and desires kind of bunch together. So I won’t necessarily get into desires. But what I did wanna dig around in with you is how do people even know what their limits are?

– [Terri] Oh, you have to just A, be really dialed into your body. And first of all, let’s just all agree that we’re allowed to have limits and deal-breakers, like non-negotiable things where we just go, “No. that is not for me.” That is a hard, no, for me. And what I found with my therapy clients is that if someone didn’t understand it, if their partner was like, “I don’t know, you shouldn’t feel that way. That’s like stupid. Like you have no reason to feel that way.” Too late, man. Like hi, the horse is already out of the barn. What, what are you talking about? Like, I have no reason. I already do feel that way. I just told you. But people will do this if they don’t like what you’re saying. And so knowing that A, you’re the only person who can possibly know what your limits or deal breakers are. And as long as we’re clear. This is where it gets money though. So let’s clarify it. Sometimes people use limits and boundary type things as a lever to control others. So we want to be really clear that when I’m talking about your limits and your deal breakers, that those are things that are on your side of the street. Now, if you’re in a relationship with someone and they continue to go out, let’s say does anybody even go to clubs? That’s just say, if it wasn’t a pandemic, let’s just say. That person wants to go out with their friends five nights a week. But that doesn’t work for you. You don’t like that. You can make a request. And if that’s not gonna change, that’s a deal breaker for you. And when people are like you should never give an ultimatum in a relationship. I’m like, no, that’s not true. You should never give an ultimatum that you’re not willing to follow through. I don’t call that an ultimatum. I call it telling the truth. So that would mean saying to the person, “Hey, I’d really like to make a simple request that we compromise.” I would prefer us to be together every night of the week. Let’s just say that was that person’s preference. You would prefer to be with your friends five out of seven. So can we meet in the middle and do three and four or whatever, something. And if the person isn’t willing or if the person says yes, but then doesn’t do it, you have to, at that point, attach some kind of a consequence.

– [Elizabeth] Totally.

– [Terri] And let them know like, “Hey, we’re getting to a deal breaker point. Like, I don’t want to continue on. It’s not fulfilling me to be in a relationship with you when you’re never home.” So if that’s not gonna change, then I really think that we should think about splitting or whatever. Like we have to have those types of conversations. So again, you’re not trying to manipulate the person to stay home. You’re saying you’re really checking in. Like, are we not compatible? Because if you wanna go out five nights a week and I never wanna go out, basically, that then we don’t want the same things. We don’t want the same closeness or the same type of relationship. And that is a deal breaker. And if that’s your deal breaker, you have a right to it is what I’m saying.

– [Elizabeth] I love this because boundaries and how people respond to boundaries, right? And these things, preferences, desires, limits, deal-breakers show you if people want to be in the same kind of relationship with you that you want to be in with them. This is amazing. I have exited a lot of friendships in like the last five years. And this is the main reason why, right? Like some people they want to be engaging with me in ways I don’t wanna engage with them. And vice versa. One that I left in the fall was actually because a friend and I had had a little like squabble over text. And I thought that we had a level of closeness where it was fine. We didn’t need to like talk to clear it up. But then she left me hanging for a month. To me a month is a long time. She had some stuff going on that I didn’t know about, right? So here we are, again, there’s uncommunicated stuff. All I know is that we had a conflict and this person who is supposedly a dear friend of mine has left me hanging for a month. Which for me that’s not how I wanna roll with my closest people, right?

– [Terri] No, it feels punishing. It feels punishing.

– [Elizabeth] So, I’m like, all right, cool. When I checked back in, I was like, “Hey, I would really like to close the energetic loop on this. Are you available to do that? Or are we at a point where we are seeing that maybe this friendship has run its course.” And in her response to that, that her response was that I was trying to control her or whatever or like make a demand. And like, I’m really not. Like I’ve been hanging out for a month kind of not knowing what’s going on, holding these feelings and not knowing… Like needing some resolution. ‘Cause this is energetically, emotionally and mentally distracting. So like, do we want to close the loop on this thing? Or do we want to close the loop on the friendship? Because like, that’s where I was at the time. I’m like, I’m not engaging these types of behaviors in my super close friendships. I don’t need that person in my inner circle. That’s fascinating to me how I get it though.

– [Elizabeth] I get it. Exactly. I was gonna say, it’s fascinating. Then I was like, actually, no, I totally understand why people do these things. So something else that I really love about your book, I’m gonna shift the conversation a little bit. I really like how you distinguish between boundary bullies and boundary destroyers. Can we talk about what each of those things are and the differences between them?

– [Terri] Sure. So I make the distinction in the book. Because not all people are the same and it isn’t like we approach every boundary the same way, boundary requests. So you’re gonna have boundary first-timers which are people, even if you’ve thought that you wanted to make a boundary request with them, if you haven’t done it yet with that person, then they’re a first timer. Then you have the repeat offenders. So those are people that you have made the request but they continue sort of stepping over that line. And then you have boundary bullies where it seems like they’re always, sort of aggressively looking to get their need met even if it means trampling on your thing. And then we have boundary destroyers. So they go in succession, right? Getting worse as we go. Boundary destroyers, now they go into a totally different category. Because these are folks that are emotionally manipulative like emotional predators. And it can be people with narcissistic personality disorder or histrionic disorder or bipolar. And that doesn’t mean if you have bipolar, this is you. It does not mean that. But a lot of untreated mental health challenges can produce these behaviors. Boundary destroyers the way that I teach it in the book, everything that I teach you up until that point, strategies proactive boundary success plan, language, scripts, all the things you need. When we get to boundary destroyers, those rules do not apply because the rules do not apply to these people. So that chapter is really about the reader becoming fluent in the ways that people who are emotional predators, what are the things that they do to get around our boundaries, right? From love bombing to gaslighting, to flipping the script, right? And you being mad at them about something, were we talking about this on the Live? And then suddenly suddenly you’re like, wait, I’m leaving this, how am I apologizing again? Like how did this person so masterfully take what I was mad about and somehow make it be that actually it was me who did the wrong thing whatever it is. People just straight up lying. Like you were saying like, “Hey, that never happened. I never said that.” Even when you know that they did, now. If you weren’t dealing with the boundary destroyers, there’d be a particular way that you would handle it. So we’re always looking at safety as we talked about, but it’s very important. So I give you a lot in that chapter of have you had these experiences? And really getting clear that there’s whole arsenal of emotionally manipulative weapons that boundary destroyers can use. And this isn’t just romantic relationships. This can be a boss. This can be a parent. This can be a friend. This can be a lover. And the more you know, the better decisions you can make for yourself. The better protected you can be. ‘Cause listen, some people don’t want to go, no contact, let’s say with the parent, but I have ideas of how you can not go through that emotional meat grinder with them every time you would like to make a request or every time your boundary is being trampled by them.

– [Elizabeth] Yeah. I love this. And again, I said this in the Live but I’m sure some people did not see the Instagram Live. What I appreciate about this so much I find is lacking in so many bodies of work is when people don’t make the distinction. And when people don’t educate folks on what emotional manipulation looks like. And then also like the nuance and the distinction that there are boundary first timers. We have to give someone a chance to even know what our boundary is. I had someone sharing something with me recently and they said like, yeah, this person would totally like bulldoze my boundaries. And I was like, well, had you set boundaries with them? And they were like, oh snap, I hadn’t, right? Everything happens in like phases and stages and process, right? So if you’re newer and you’re practicing your boundaries there’s so many different things to like do and practice and remember, and we do kind of have to check in sometimes like, wait a minute did I even communicate that? Like, did they even know that was a concern? Okay, maybe I need to restate it. Do they understand what I meant when I said the thing? And like, there’s just, it is so much work upfront. But it’s just so worth it over time.

– [Terri] I mean the payoff for your future happiness, your future intimate relationships, your future friendships, all of this stuff, they’re so much better. And the quality of connection is so much more. And you’re also not wasting so much time with folks who are not high priority people. So this is another part of the book where we talk about your VIP section and really being aware of like who is in that thing. And the realization that not everyone deserves to be and that you are the bouncer, just you. You made the guest list and you put up that velvet rope. And if you don’t do those things, anyone can just come in and plop themselves down and feel entitled to your time and your energy and your sunshine and whatever else. So it’s important that we make the distinction. We do a lot of inventories in the book where you’re really looking like, Hmm, who is in my VIP section? And is there mutuality? Or is it really like my third cousin who’s crashing my bachelorette party or whatever because we’re family says she. No, that’s… And even straight up family. Even if it’s direct, that doesn’t mean like this is where we make the distinction for ourselves. We have this downloaded blueprints and perhaps your blueprint, if it went unexamined, right? It’s down here in your unconscious mind says that all family should be in the VIP section no matter who it is, but you can take a look at that blueprint and go, “No, actually that’s not how it’s gonna be for me.”

– [Elizabeth] Not my blueprint.

– [Terri] That’s what I’m talking about. That’s somebody else’s blueprint. And I don’t want all of those people in there. And I don’t wanna twist myself up in a pretzel for them. And I don’t wanna rearrange my schedule for them. Because if you don’t look at those things and make conscious mindful choices about who you are expending all of this bandwidth on, how do you end up bitter, angry, resentful.

– [Terri] Exhausted.

– [Elizabeth] Exhausted.

– [Elizabeth] What I love so much about boundaries too. Again, I’m always thinking of like both sides of the things or the different areas and the way different parties are affected is there are so many people who like are where they are. Maybe they’re emotionally immature or underdeveloped because no one has ever invited them to like step up, step in or step out. And all this boundary stuff is that’s what it does for people. And even the people who bristle at it at first over time, sometimes they’re like, “Oh, I get it.”

– [Terri] Of course, there’s gonna be a process. Especially in established relationships. People will bristle. You change the dance and they’re gonna notice but we can’t be so thin skinned, right? And I do. I agree with you. Like, I really work. And I worked in the book too to not vilify people who a lot of times, it is not intentional. Some people are not dialed in. They can’t see social cues. They don’t know. Maybe you hinted, maybe you implied and they’re just more obtuse than someone else. So I make a generous assumption about most people because it is my responsibility to clearly and cleanly, effectively communicate what it is that I want. Like how I’m feeling, ask the question if I’m unclear. So what are you saying? And it’s funny, you you were talking about the pandemic boo and said, you did ask the question, like you were so clear, you know, because you’re really good with boundaries that you asked the question straight up. And the fact that the ghosting of the moment and you’re like, you don’t even have to do the hard thing, dude. Like, I literally just did it. And you could have just said, “Correct, I’m exhausted. I’m not coming. I’m sorry about that.” Fine. Like you said there would have been no more bandwidth gone. You would have watched Netflix or done whatever you were doing and had no problem. You wouldn’t have been thinking or worrying about it.

– [Elizabeth]  Yeah. And it also it’s… So the entitlement piece is something that I find so interesting. And to me, that’s a red flag on the way down the road to a deal breaker. Because for me, people’s unchecked and unawareness around entitlement is something that over the years I’ve just realized I’m not interested in. I’m not interested in engaging with that. Like, if they’re going to work on that, cool, like let’s reconnect when you have figured that shit out. ‘Cause to me, it’s just one of the most irritating, agitating things too.

– [Terri] It’s like a lack of gratitude. Like it’s a lack of respect at least that’s my feeling of any kind of entitlement. It’s like, no, I mean, I’ve been with Vic for almost 25 years. And it’s like, I don’t feel entitled. Like that guy does not work for me. So it doesn’t matter. What he’s doing for me, everything it does for me, I am grateful for it. I’m verbally grateful for. I don’t feel entitled to it. So someone who I don’t know that well feeling entitled to something, that is definitely a big red flag. For friendships, for anything, for me. It’s like ask, get clear, right? Get confirmation as to what… But again, when we think about what we were talking about before, Elizabeth, it’s like disordered communication is the foundation for disordered boundaries. So that’s why so much of the book is about communication. And yes, it’s about effective boundaries but what do we build that on? How do we communicate them? It’s the words, it’s the strategies. It’s the knowing that you can do it with kindness, with ease with grace. If it’s appropriate, with love. If it’s needed, a little bit more heat. There’s all different ways that you can do it. You’ll do it in your own style. You’ll do it in a way that suits you, right? And I don’t assume in the book or in any of my teaching that I know what that is. I always give you an option to be funny because I use humor a lot, but you may not take me up on it and that’s fine. But everything can be done in baby steps. So if you’re listening, if you’re watching and you feel like, ugh, it’s overwhelming. I so feel you and I got you. And yet imagine that it’s literally the next right action. And then the next, and then the next. And there’s no bull horn telling everyone in our relationships we need to talk about boundaries. Like we’re not doing that. ‘Cause warning people doesn’t do it. It actually just makes people not wanna have whatever conversation we’re trying to have with them. They’re like, “Oh my God.” I mean, ever in your life when someone’s like, “We need to talk.” Have you ever wanted to talk when they did that?

– [Elizabeth] No, even me now, it’s like instant dread bubbles up in my body. And like who hears that and doesn’t want to be like about what? I feel like that’s a boundary. So what are the other things I love about boundaries is once we get like really considerate about our own and again, I love this context of preferences, desires limits, and deal-breakers. Once we get like, start to get super clear on that, it also helps us to become very conscious and compassionate that everyone else has them too or the should, right? And so this is for me funny, where being good with boundaries and formerly being super codependent used to intersect, I would be managing the boundaries other people should have that they didn’t . Like, bitch, you should really have a boundary here that you don’t. So I just wanna like check in and see if maybe you want to. And I stopped doing that too, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with once you’re more aware of your own. And when you are with your close people being like, “Hey like, is this cool with you?” Like, like almost like reflect their preference. I know that you preferred that dah, dah, dah, dah, like does this work? Like you could literally tell me if it doesn’t. Like, kind of like indirectly coaching people to have some better frigging boundaries when you know they-

– [Terri] But here’s the thing though, Elizabeth. Yes and no. I definitely think that that’s okay. Because here’s the thing, what it has to do with me, right? When it has to do with the way that I’m relating to them, if I sense, like you said, that someone is abandoning themselves to please me,

– [Elizabeth] Yes.

– [Terri] I don’t want that. I don’t want it. So I will exactly what you’ve said, I’ll say, “Okay, so this is what you said, is that still the truth for you? Is that what you mean? Because I’m flexible or whatever. Giving sort of them the option and listen I don’t wanna intuit that, I just do. Like, I’m not I’m not trying to, I just feel it.

– [Elizabeth] We got a lot of people listening that are that kind of person, which is why I brought it out. ‘Cause it’s uncomfortable to hold a thing that you could feel even if someone hasn’t necessarily said it. And I feel like there’s nothing wrong with checking in and be like, “Excuse me, just wanna check.”

– [Terri] Just making sure.

– [Elizabeth] Just making sure.

– [Elizabeth] All right. So to wrap up is there anything… I love asking always people. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’re like, damn, I wish we talked about this.

– [Terri] Oh no. There’s so many things we could talk for 17 hours but I created something for your listeners, your watchers.

– [Elizabeth] Oh, yay!

– [Terri] So it’s gonna be about boundaries and codependency.

– [Elizabeth] Yay !

– [Terri] So it’s so good. I think it’ll be really, really helpful. So you guys can get that at boundaryboss.me/embodied. So boundaryboss.me/embodied.

– [Elizabeth] And we’ll put that link in the show notes. This is episode number 348 for anyone listening. So if you go to untameyourself.com/348, you’re gonna find links to the book, links to Terry’s website. She has a great podcast, also YouTube channel, Instagram all of her stuff. And we’ll make sure this boundaryboss.me/embodied gets in there too. So you can get the resource. So, yes. And that’s real. Like we could talk for 17 hours. We will continue to talk for 17 hours. I’m so excited for you. So happy for you. So proud of you. The book is literally so good. And I just want people listening to know. It’s very rare that I finish a book anymore. I start so many books and for me to read something, cover to cover, I almost never do. I like sequestered myself for three days to finish this book ’cause I was like, oh my God, it’s so good. But it’s also just like your way. It’s digestible. You can follow it. You can process it because I think, being a person who’s been practicing boundaries for many years and has a large grasp on it and is very comfortable with boundaries, I was putting myself in the shoes of like so many of my own like students and clients and even just people I know who struggle with it. And as I was reading your book, I was like, man, people are gonna be able to get this, right? This feels doable. It might be hard, but it’s still frigging feels doable. So it’s such an incredible manual that, I mean keep it like by your bedside table. Keep it in your purse. Like pull it out, like mark it up. Put your little post-it notes. Oh my God. I didn’t even see this little gorgeous card picture of you. That was in the beginning of it. So freaking cool. So anyway, y’all, this is the Boundary Bible. It could have been called the Boundary Bible that we’ve all needed for frigging ever. Get the book passive aggressively send it to people in your family if you want . I’m just kidding. Maybe you don’t do that. But maybe leave it around.

– [Terri] Maybe. Why not.

– [Elizabeth] That’s the kind of passive aggression I could get down with.

– [Terri] That’s what I’m talking about. You might make this book.

– [Elizabeth] At someone’s house who really frigging needs it. So again, Terri, as always, thank you for your time. I know you’re super busy. Everyone listening make sure you are following Terry Cole in all the places. Get the damn book and that’s it.

– [Terri] All right. Well, I love you. Thank you.

– [Elizabeth] Love you too. Bye.

– [Terri] Bye honey.