In this episode, I am diving into the painful, yet sometimes absolutely necessary, act of boundaries and managing hard relationships. I share excerpts from two books that have helped me along my healing journey, and the role responsibility plays in the parent-child dynamic, even into adulthood. 

I also share an exciting double celebration coming up in September to celebrate my birthday and 10 years of the School of Sacred Embodiment, plus details about the CHERISH retreat happening in the Fall of 2024 in Spain.

If you are navigating boundaries, hard relationships, emotional abuse, or no-contact situations, I hope this episode will provide some useful insight or perspective and deepen your compassion for yourself and others along the way.

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In episode 435 of the Embodied Podcast we discuss:

In episode 435 of the Embodied Podcast we discuss:

(2:18) The hope that this episode will provide clarity and perspective

(4:44) Emotional and psychological abuse and its effects

(8:45) I share some words from Harriet Lerner’s TEDx talk 

(15:38) The paradox of two things existing at the same time 

(20:39) My choice to cut off family after 11 years 

(24:41) Communication around boundaries and differing perspectives

(35:48) I share an excerpt from Boundary Boss by Terri Cole about Boundary Destroyers

(40:22) Jonah Hill’s ex-girlfriend and an example of a boundary request

(52:53) How boundaries don’t automatically create better relationships

Resources mentioned in the episode:

Work with me:

Special offer:

Stay in touch:

Quotes from this Week’s Episode of the Embodied Podcast: 

  • Breakups are much more socially acceptable with non-family members. When it’s family, especially parents — whether they’re blood related to you or not — that’s when people, including the person who needs to go no contact, will deeply question the choice and might even believe it’s wrong.
  • None of us asked to be born to our specific parents. They chose to bring life into this world and that is an enormous responsibility. It’s also a responsibility that a lot of people are not prepared for.
  • It’s easy to forgive people for not knowing what they didn’t know and not being able to do any better at the time, which is how I feel about my parents. 
  • We can have enormous compassion for people, we can even love, appreciate, and respect certain aspects of people and the relationship and things that they’ve done for us throughout the course of our lives. That doesn’t mean that we have to stay in relationship with them forever.
  • And it’s important to acknowledge that boundaries are not about control. They are about having clear parameters for how to interact with you.

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 discussions on Instagram here.

Transcript for Episode 435 “Boundaries and Managing Hard Relationships“:

Elizabeth DiAlto  00:00

Some people are so incompatible, there is no relationship to salvage. With non family relationships, people get this friends and partners people got it. Breakups are much more socially acceptable with non family members. But when it’s family, especially parents, whether they’re blood related to you or not, that’s when people including the person who needs to go, no contact will deeply question the choice and might even believe it’s wrong. Though if a person that wasn’t a parent was treating them the same exact way, they would not question ending or walking away from we’re limiting the relationship. When you ever done a Herculean share of healing work, and nothing has changed in a relationship, and the other person or parties haven’t done a fraction of their part. That is not a failure on your part. Relationships are always 100 100, not 5050.

Elizabeth DiAlto  00:56

What’s up everybody, welcome to episode number 435 of The Embodied Podcast. I’m your host, Elizabeth DiAlto, and today we are diving into boundaries and managing hard relationships. Back in May, I made the choice to go no contact with my parents, this isn’t the first time but in the past, I’ve only ever requested a break for a few weeks at a time, maybe a month at the most. This time, my intention was to take a longer break, and really see what it would be like to not have them in my life. I wanted to be able to feel and go without them. And also give other members of my family an opportunity to adjust to what it would be like if I ultimately decided for the long term that I did not want to be in relationship with my parents anymore. So today I’m going to talk about a few things related to that. And by the way, I titled this episode boundaries and managing hard relationships, because it’s not a case for going no contact with people. But what I’m going to share about my experience will be useful for managing any type of hard relationship in your life, whether you’ve considered going no contact or not. So even if you have no relationships in your life, you have a need or desire to go no contact with, there are going to be plenty of gems in this episode for you, especially around boundaries, which we talked about towards the end. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  02:18

My hope is that through this episode, anyone listening who is no contact with family will feel seen loved and understood. Anyone thinking about it might get some clarity around whether or not it’s the right choice for them. And anyone perhaps experiencing someone deciding to go, no contact with them might get a perspective they didn’t have before. And then of course, anyone who knows someone who has no contact with family, you can get a better idea of how to be supportive rather than judgmental, or just learn to mind your business if you disagree, and just respect the choice. And then of course, as I mentioned earlier, there’s just gems throughout the episode for anyone who has any kind of difficult or challenging relationships in their life. So I want to begin by saying that we’re in different times, we’re a different generation, and times are changing. And no blood relationship obligates anyone to anything, when abuse of any kind is part of the equation. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  03:17

Many of us came into this life to break generational curses and trauma. And part of that is facing the very hard, double binding, and often paradoxical choices we’re faced with, about how to engage with people who raised us and also abused us. And there’s something specific I want to say here, because I’ve heard this from a lot of folks and experienced it myself. I am well aware that physical abuse, though looked down upon more now than in the past, still happens. But a lot of our parents and the people who raised us right like I know a lot of you probably like me spent a lot of time with your grandparents or even great grandparents growing up are aunts and uncles are great aunts and uncles are just other members of your community or people who helped raise and rear you. And in their generations, physical abuse wasn’t looked down upon. It wasn’t even considered abuse. It was just accepted as a form of discipline. So much so that even teachers were allowed to hit kids at school, or like some of us have heard stories of like getting slapped with the ruler, you know, so in a lot of cases, parents who were physically abused, who by the way, again, might not even consider it abuse, because they were raised to think it was just discipline. think that because they don’t hit their kids. They’re not abusive. What’s true is that they’re not physically abusive. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  04:44

And listen, we can give people their flowers for that, because anything the next generation does better than the last deserves to be honored and celebrated. What’s also true, is that emotional and psychological abuse is a whole other thing and A lot of people are abusive in this way, without realizing it. A lot of people have been abused in this way without realizing it. And because it doesn’t leave visible bruises or scars, it flies under the radar when addressing my parents emotional and psychological abuse earlier this year, which I’ve been facing that for many years, but I really decided, I don’t even know that I decided, but it was really thrust into my own awareness in a just a bigger way than it ever had been before. I just reached my limit. And right before I went, no contact, one of them said to me, you don’t know what you’re talking about. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  05:39

You don’t know what it’s like to be abused. I live to that. And again, they were only equating abuse with having the shit beat out of them. Zero awareness, that lying, manipulation, gaslighting, constantly yelling in the house, whether it was directly at me, or not sharing inappropriate things with their kids about each other, and exposing kids to addiction, and not only to their emotionally unstable behavior, but bringing other emotionally unstable adults into our lives, all results in emotional and psychological abuse. And I found a great article on this recently at very well And I’m gonna link to that in the show notes, which you can get it on Tim forward slash podcast.

Elizabeth DiAlto  06:28

And the article which is called what is emotional abuse by a woman named Sherry Gordon, it’s just a great article for anyone who wants to more deeply understand emotional abuse, whether it’s because you were on the receiving end of it, or you think you might be doing it, or just in general to have an awareness about something that’s pretty rampant in our world and in our culture. The thing I appreciate most about the article, though, aside from clearly and specifically illuminating different forms of emotional abuse, is the second part of the article that offers tips for dealing with emotional abuse. Because when you’re a person who’s been emotionally abused, it can be hard to understand the difference between abusive behavior and healing behavior, especially when they sound similar, which they sometimes do, for example, on the list of types of emotional abuse, is refusing to participate in the relationship. And then under tips is avoid engaging. And there’s a difference between giving someone the silent treatment, for example, or withholding, which are both ways of not participating in the relationship as a manipulation tactic, and avoiding engagement as a form of self protection and preservation. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  07:45

And this is an important distinction to note. abusive people do things to control or manipulate others, which not only demonstrates a lack of respect for the other person, but also a lack of respect for themselves. People who were healing, do things to better care for themselves and build their respect. They realize that no one else is going to take better care of them than they can take care of themselves. And they make the hard choices to do that. abusive people are always looking for someone else to do the heavy lifting, so they don’t have to take responsibility or face the consequences of their actions. They’ll very often blame you and act like you’re the one who’s abusive or mean, or make themselves the victim for how you are responding to their behavior. And Harriet Lerner explains this really clearly and beautifully in her TEDx talk, which is called Why won’t he apologize. And she’s speaking in the context of apologies, but what she says also applies to other ways people can’t Don’t and won’t take responsibility for themselves. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  08:45

Now, I know sometimes people are just listen to the podcast and they’re hearing my voice. And they hear me say something, and they’re like, Oh, that’s great. I need to share that or I need to write that down. So let me just be very clear that what I’m about to read to you comes from Harriet Lerner’s TEDx talk, this is not my quote. Okay, so I’m going to very specifically tell you begin quote and end quote. Okay, so begin in Harriet Lerner’s words, who is a renowned clinical psychologist by the way, the more serious the harm, the less likely the apology will ever be forthcoming. In order to apologize, a person needs to have a big sturdy platform for self worth to stand on. From that higher vantage point, a person can look out at their bad behavior and apologize because they can see their mistakes as part of a much bigger picture of who they are as a human being. But some people stand on a small rickety platform of self worth. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  09:41

They can’t let themselves really see the hurt that they’ve caused, because to do so would flip them or threatened to flip them into an identity of worthlessness and shame. The non apologizer walks on a tightrope of defensiveness above a huge canyon of low self esteem. And that’s the end of Harriet Lerner’s quote there. So this is really important to understand and abusive people are like this too. For people who just wouldn’t abuse others, certainly not intentionally, it’s really hard for us to imagine that people would choose to do that. And when I say people would choose to do that, again, I don’t mean when it’s unintentional, right, because some people just don’t know what they don’t know. But once a person has brought your behavior up to you, and told you, it’s harming them, that you would continue to do it is the thing that a lot of us just can’t wrap our brains around, which is one of the reasons why I’m a big advocate of reminding people that, you know, logic and reason are only ever going to take you so far, there’s just so much that we will never be able to understand because we’re not built that way, or we can’t relate, or we wouldn’t do it ourselves. That makes it really hard. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  10:55

Because sometimes when when you can’t understand because you would never do it, you also have a hard time believing it’s actually happening. And that’s a way in which I can certainly relate to having gaslit myself around all this for a very long time. So back to going no contact. First of all, I want to mention and acknowledge how hard of a decision it is. And what a last resort it is. It’s interesting how a lot of people assume that people who make these types of decisions, haven’t deeply thought and felt them through, or done everything in their power to avoid it. And it might be the case sometimes that people have just like flippantly or lazily made the choice, or apathetically made the choice. But with people I know and have encountered who are estranged from family, especially parents, this is not the case. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  11:45

I saw a meme shortly after I made the decision to go no contact with my parents, that really moved me and was really just validating in a moment that I needed it that said something like, I judge people whose kids don’t fuck with them. Because no human being on Earth wants to love you more than your own children. The child, especially when they’re adults, nine times out of 10 has really good reasons for not wanting a relationship. Now, obviously, that nine out of 10 times stat is not verifiable. But the point here is that more often than not, when an adult is choosing not to have a relationship with their own parent, there’s a really good fucking reason for it. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  12:27

Which also reminded me of a video I saw a while back from a woman who was a parent and older parent, talking about how her kids didn’t talk to her. And how ungrateful they were, after everything her and her husband had done for them, and blaming it on her kids being millennials, as if every millennial is entitled and disrespectful, and no parent could possibly be to blame for why their kid wouldn’t want to talk to them. And this is kind of like a common stance or position that parents take. I did so much for you, I sacrificed it did all these things. And it’s kind of like you signed up to be a parent. That’s part of the gig. No one actually asked you to do that, like your child didn’t actually ask you to do that. Right? In a non spiritual or Akashic perspective. None of us asked to be born to our specific parents. And so we didn’t like they chose to bring life into this world. And that is an enormous responsibility. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  13:32

And it’s a responsibility that a lot of people are not prepared for, really not built for. And these are often the situations that end up in abuse and estranged relationships. What’s beautiful, is often those situations also end up in phenomenal and amazing and beautiful healing. I have a girlfriend here in Miami. She’s a bit older than me, and has adult children who are in their early 20s. And we were sitting on the beach with her one day, and she was telling me like the point at which she realized and this was more as her kids were, in their later teen years. Some stuff as she was doing her own healing, she was realizing some stuff, she really fucked up with her kids. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  14:12

And she asked each of her kids individually to go to therapy with her, so they could talk it out. So she could really apologize so she could really own up to and acknowledge what she’d done. So they could acknowledge and learn the impact that her behaviors had had on them was a super beautiful story of very intentional healing that she initiated. And she took responsibility for and now for the whole rest of her kids lives. That gets to be part of their story. That gets to be the foundation of their adult parent child relationship. Which is such a freakin beautiful thing. So when people take zero responsibility, unlike my friends often have no curiosity around their Heart, like the woman in the video I referenced, that makes it really hard to have a relationship, right like that woman could have potentially been making an entirely different video if she was only willing to examine, or even just consider her own park. And as any user of the internet can imagine, but comments were absolutely lit up with people suggesting that she put some attention on herself. So here, I also want to talk about how it’s possible to have appreciation and love for people and still not want to be in contact with them, because they’re not safe or healthy for you. Period.

Elizabeth DiAlto  15:38

Something you hear me talk about a lot on the show, if you’re a regular listener, is how more than one thing can be true at a time, including things that seemingly contradict each other, or are paradoxical truths. My parents are very caring, generous people. And they did a wonderful job with all the physical stuff I never wanted for food, shelter, clothing, educational activities, even when I was much younger, and money was really tight. Physically, I felt very safe. And I also never doubted that they loved me. Though, in many ways, their love was not the unconditional love that they claim to have. Their love was codependency rooted in expressions of their own traumas, fears, worries, pain and insecurities, often emerging from disassociated states, as well painted as love the very often the real root being misunderstood attempts for control. Right. So both of these things are true.

Elizabeth DiAlto  16:34

Do I believe my parents loved me deeply? Yes. Do I also know that there are ways of loving, we’re coming from extremely traumatized and wounded places that caused more harm than good. And a lot of cases also, yes. And when you understand how this stuff works, it’s easy to have compassion for it. It’s easy to forgive people for not knowing what they didn’t know, and not being able to do any better at the time, which is how I feel about my parents. What’s also true, though, is that doesn’t negate or reduce the impact of their behavior in the past, or current behavior that they have consistently shown they are either, and I’ll never really know, unable or unwilling to change. And when you bring things like this to lay in a family unit, in hopes of healing together, and people cannot or will not address their issues, some very unfortunate choices can sometimes become the only viable options like going no contact. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  17:32

Something I talk about a lot when it comes to healing is that certain things might just be unresolvable, and unworkable. And that is not a failure to heal. That’s just how it goes. Sometimes, some people are so incompatible, there is no relationship to salvage. With non family relationships, people get this friends and partners, people got it. Breakups are much more socially acceptable with non family members. But when it’s family, especially parents, whether they’re blood related to you or not, that’s when people including the person who needs to go, no contact will deeply question the choice. And might even believe it’s wrong. Though, if a person that wasn’t a parent was treating them the same exact way, they would not question ending or walking away from we’re limiting the relationship. When you have done a Herculean share of healing work, and nothing has changed in a relationship. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  18:25

And the other person or parties haven’t done a fraction of their part, that is not a failure on your part. Relationships are always 100 100, not 5050, I’m 100% responsible for my part, you’re 100% responsible for your part, the variable is what those parts look like, that’s going to be different person to person relationship to relationship. And it’s not a compromise to be the only one doing any work to heal and do better. That is self sacrifice, and it’s not sustainable. So I want to say a little bit more about how going No Contact is not a fun or easy choice. And for most people, it’s not made lightly. You know, for people in family units, family systems, extended families making choices like this, where other family members that they’re staying connected to remain in contact with the abusive people. This can bring up a lot of tension for a lot of different reasons. Because you know, the people who are still in contact who might feel obligated or you know, whatever is their reason, even if they’re being abused as well might have resentment for the person who’s gone no contact for like freeing themselves. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  19:31

You know, in some cases, it’s a matter of courage. Some people just don’t have the guts to do it, because it’s fucking hard. And it’s sad, y’all. And again, it is hard for so many different reasons. And for some what makes it so challenging is dependency, not codependency, just regular dependency, which is not a bad thing. Humans need each other to survive. And in some cultures, some places some environments, some dynamics, people depend on each other differently when I was in Puerto Rico last month, studying Spanish, I got to see this in a whole new light hearing from people other than just my own family about their experiences in a land where devastating hurricanes are a possibility year in and year out. And some people might have access to resources that you need to survive. Cutting off relationships simply might not be an option. And access to resources is often a reason why people stay in relationships. And that is not a reason to judge anyone. This was actually one of my drivers for financial independency throughout my 20s and into my 30s. Some of you have heard me mentioned before, how I was fortunate enough to have my mom as a financial safety net, as I was building my business. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  20:39

We’ve always had a volatile relationship, though. And I knew that I would not want to need that safety net forever. I knew I would want to get myself to a place where I had my own savings, I had my own cushion, like I could be my own safety net. And I wouldn’t need anything from her, I needed to be able to stand on my own two feet, and not need her help ever again. So now that we’ve acknowledged that, let’s keep going. I mentioned earlier that going no contact with people, especially family is often a last resort option. For me, it took 11 years of trying everything else, to not have to make that choice of doing my own healing work resolving my own trauma, setting boundaries that were constantly violated, having courageous conversation after courageous conversation, and making little to no progress. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  21:27

Occasionally, one or both of my parents would show some positive progress, but it never lasted. trying everything. And nothing changing enough to make the relationships viable, eroded any hope I had for a better experience, I used to say I would never cut off my parents. And I really thought that some of you have heard me say that in podcast episodes, I know that I have said on the show in the past, I am not the type of person who would cut off my family. Well guess what? It wasn’t until it was no longer a choice. Until it was the only option if I was going to preserve and protect my own emotional and psychological health and safety. I get into this point is different for everybody. We all have our limits. And it’s not like there was just some some big eruption or some big violation, it was just more of the same. And it was just nothing changing. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  22:17

That made me make my choice. And we all have our limits. And let me tell you, 11 years is a long time. My limits were essentially defined by my compassion, which is practically endless. But I had to realize at the point at which I crossed over from being compassionate, to being overly tolerant of abusive behavior, that I just could not sustain being on the receiving end of and also enabling the damn behavior by now taking a big enough stand against it. So this is why I’m always saying explains it, but doesn’t excuse it. Because again, we can have enormous compassion for people, we can even love, appreciate, and respect certain aspects of people and the relationship and things that they’ve done for us throughout the course of our lives. But that doesn’t mean that we have to stay in relationship with them forever, or that we’re even going to be able to stay in relationship with them forever. So now I want to talk about the different responses from people who don’t understand making this choice. And people who do. And as always, in the podcast, whenever I share personal stuff, I know that my experiences aren’t universal. And I’m not sharing because I think anyone should be making the same choices I’m making. You just never know what sharing might illuminate for others, related or unrelated. Sometimes it just takes hearing something to spark a thought about something else that really helps to highlight an experience or a situation in your own life.

Elizabeth DiAlto  23:45

And so the reason I want to talk about this is because we all know people who are no contact with members of their family, for a variety of reasons. And I really want to acknowledge, by the way, something I hadn’t realized until I went no contact with my parents. And I was chatting with a dear friend of mine in the queer community. So it’s very common, it’s much more common actually, for queer folks to not be in contact with their parents, because a lot of people’s parents in very extreme case disowned them when they came out, or also just had such heinous responses to it, that they couldn’t honor themselves and be in relationship with their parents. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  24:21

And so I just want to acknowledge my own just ignorance around how common of an experience that is for queer folks. And as well, just as I was, you know, sharing it with people, this is what was going on with my life. I realized, even like, close friends of mine, I didn’t know had parents they didn’t talk to, right. And sometimes it’s one parents, sometimes it’s both parents. You know, sometimes people’s parents are divorced, they’re close with one, they’re not close with another one. It’s, again, just far more common than I thought it was. And so it’s important as a person who might have somebody in your life who has no contact with some family members, to hear what I’m going to share now about how people react and respond to it. Because just like with grief, Right, it’s important to understand how to respond to people who are grieving. You know, depending on what they’re grieving is the grief fresh Is it new, like, there are certain things, you know, that are so unhelpful. And in some cases, so hurtful to say to people going through stuff like that this is similar. So I’ll give you a couple examples of, you know, friends of mine, and people I know and how they responded. So a good friend of mine, who had had the experience of being no contact with her family for a while, shared her experience with me, when I told her what was going on. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  25:30

And while she was sharing, she mentioned how she just had to set really good boundaries. And she wasn’t exactly offering it as a suggestion for me. But she wasn’t not doing that either. She was a mix of compassionate and also a little condescending, kind of like, I figured this out, you should be able to also. And the problem with that is, it’s not helpful. It’s not helpful. And it’s also like, quite dismissive. And also, just arrogant, right to assume that because they figured it out, or because their situation was even figured out a bowl that mine should be, you know, that’s a little dismissive. And we’re getting to boundaries a little more, a little later in the show. It’s a wonderful thing, by the way, when boundaries, solve the issues and create better connections, which is what my friend shared, right? Like, she was just like, you know, I finally, I just had to figure out the right boundaries to set. And it’s great when that works. And it’s very sad. When it doesn’t, someone I don’t know, well, at all, this was interesting, I was on a first date with someone, dude seemed great. We were having a really great conversation, we were talking about everything, really getting to know each other. And, you know, he asked me about my family. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  26:47

And I paused for a minute, because at this point, I was about maybe like a month and a half in to not talking to them. And you know, I was still tender about it. But also, this is a person I don’t know very well. But so I didn’t really get all deep into it. But just for the sake of transparency. And because I’m not a person who avoids real things. I said, Oh, I actually don’t talk to my parents. Or I think I said, I’m not talking to my parents right now. Because at that point, I was thinking there still might be a possibility of reconnecting. And this man who on day one of meeting me, just responds by saying, well, we’ll you have to, you have to figure that out. You have to, you have to talk to your parents, right. And his dad, his mom was alive, but his dad has died. So his argument, which is a popular argument from people who have lost parents, was, once they’re gone, you’re gonna give anything for another moment with them. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  27:48

And the thing that people who respond like this don’t understand is that for some of us, while our parents are here, every moment with them is potentially abusive. People will also compare their situations and often, he’ll be like, well, he was like, Well, my mom does dot dot, dot, like describing all these things. I mean, he was describing is just like annoying things that his mom does. He was not describing abuse. Sometimes people describe real abuse, in which case, it’s important to remember that other people’s tolerance for abuse, willingness to stay in abusive situations, or again, for reasons of like dependency or resources, who have to stay in connection with abusive people in their lives. There’s no reason for us to make the choices they make. Not to mention, as well, that a lot of people are in delusional and denial realities, because they need to just survive. People will say things like they’ve moved on, they’ve gotten over it, they just deal with it. It’s not a big deal. Meanwhile, their lives and their behavior shows that they actually aren’t okay with it at all. Often people who say things like that are addicts, or people with a slew of unhealthy coping mechanisms were people who just live their lives, mostly disassociated from reality, because they’ve conflated pretending it’s not happening with getting over it. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  29:15

Meanwhile, it’s wreaking havoc all over their lives, and they just can’t see it. Hello, everybody quick break in the show. And if you’re hearing this commercial, it is leading up to September 2023. Where we are celebrating two things longtime listeners and followers know that every year around my birthday, which is September 14, I always like to do some kind of birthday sale or some kind of birthday offering. This year. We also happen to be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the School of sacred embodiment. So it is a double exciting celebration this year, coming in September. Two things that I am releasing that I’m super excited about. Can I say the word exciting I more times in this little announcement are the chairish retreat, which is happening in the fall of 2024. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  30:06

This is going to be a retreat about self love and body love and reverence. It will be happening in southern Spain, October 31, and November 6 2024, if you want the details about that retreat, and if you want to receive like the first offer, which is going to include a discount of 10%, for the 10 year anniversary of the School of sacred embodiment, get yourself on the retreat interest list by going to untamed forward slash retreat, dash interest. And as well, I will be launching my body love and reverence course in September, you do not need to get on an interest list for that I will be announcing that far and wide and giving everyone and anyone an opportunity to join that. And that’s it, y’all, the birthday anniversary celebrations are coming, stay tuned, they begin on September 18.

Elizabeth DiAlto  31:01

Another friend of mine, who this actually brought us closer, and I was so appreciative, I almost didn’t tell him because he as much as I love him can be a little bit of a man Splinter here and there. And I didn’t know actually where he stood with his own parents. I knew his dad had passed, but I decided to tell him and his response was, welcome to The Club. I totally get it. My mom did her best. But being a single mother of three, growing up in the hood and London, it kind of drove a little bit crazy. And she just really, really mistreated us. And she’s not a person, I could be in contact with. Not a person I can have a relationship with. And we talked about that. And we we then, you know, kind of talked about the way people respond to it. And again, the way people be like, Oh, but it’s your mom. Oh, but it’s your family. And it’s like, yeah, but this is literally the most abusive person in my life. And so I appreciated that, you know, I appreciated the camaraderie, being able to relate, and also just learning more about his personal experience.

Elizabeth DiAlto  32:04

Another friend of mine, not a dear friend, someone who I know. And I like very much. But you know, we haven’t spent too too much time together. Her response, I appreciated probably one of the responses, I appreciated the most out of anyone I told. She said, I trust you, girl, I don’t even know you that well, but I know for sure is that you’re a person who would have exhausted every option and tried everything possible before to me making a decision like this. So I know if this is the choice you made that there was no other option. And I was like thank you so much. Because even not knowing me that well, she really saw me felt me and understood. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  32:42

And I loved her assumption, because it was the truth. That of course I did everything in my power to avoid having to make such a choice. People often ask what happens when they die like this is a common Well, what are you gonna do when they die. And we just have to navigate that, personally, if my parents remained the same, and we can never be in a relationship again. Of course, I’m gonna go say goodbye when they’re on their deathbeds. And pray that they can grasp that, of course, I have forgiven them. I just couldn’t have them in my life. Of course, I have the appreciation for them, and honor and respect for the parts of them that are again, loving and generous and caring to the best of their ability. Obviously, if that’s how it goes, obviously, not everyone gets a deathbed. And of course, if they don’t like I will go to their funerals. You know, I’m not like, not even angry at them. I’m not like fuck these people. I’m just like, these are unfortunately people I can’t sustain a relationship with. And so yeah, that’s hard. And I’ve talked to people over the years, who had very difficult relationships with their parents. And I’ve asked people, when their parents have passed, like, how did it feel? Were they relieved? Were they sad? Do they feel like they’ve missed out? Do they regret their choices? And almost every single person has said to me, it’s a mix. A couple of people that have said, it was a relief. And I appreciate the honesty on all ends of that spectrum. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  34:00

So want to get into boundaries now. And this is something you know, I love talking about boundaries. Someone recently in our free mighty networks group, the free world. So community asked a question about boundaries. And it’s a free group. So I don’t answer questions in there. But where I did direct her to was if you Google my name, Elizabeth D, alto boundaries, right? Just type that in Elizabeth II alto boundaries. What’s going to pop up are episodes of this podcast where I’ve talked about boundaries, if boundaries is in the title, and episodes of other people’s podcasts where I’ve talked about boundaries, as well as episodes on this podcast where I’ve interviewed other people about boundaries, like my dear friend, Terry Cole, who I’m actually going to mention in a few minutes, because boundaries are so important. And again, it’s just something I’ve been exercising. You know, this is something I’ll always be grateful to my parents for, you know, I’m grateful that they’re abusive people now, am I grateful that I got like a master’s degree in boundaries from having to set and have so many boundaries with them, despite the fact that they Just like cannot control themselves and always violate the boundaries, constantly setting them in an attempt to stay connected to them was incredible training and practice for me. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  35:09

And it’s important to acknowledge about boundaries that boundaries are not about control. They are about having clear parameters for how to interact with you. We’re all familiar with MDM quote, you teach people how to treat you, that’s what boundaries are. Boundaries are like letting people know like, here’s the guide, here’s the map for how to be in relationship with me. People can either agree to them and respect them or not. And then it’s on us to adjust accordingly. Again, my family has proven to me over and over again over the last 11 years that they cannot respect boundaries. And this is not just my parents, numerous members of my family have shown me this. There are what Terry Cole calls, boundary destroyers, and interior calls book boundary boss. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  35:48

There’s a whole chapter on boundary destroyers. But I’m just going to share this one little part with you. It’s from page 186 of the print book. And again, if you’re listening the podcast like I am about to read your words from Terry Cole’s book, these are not my words. Okay? Terry says true talk boundary destroyers will often disregard your boundaries because they feel entitled to your time care and attention. They are primarily concerned with their own needs, not yours. Attempting to assert your boundaries with a boundary destroyer can be frustrating, confusing, proactive boundary plans that are effective with boundary first timers or repeat offenders, or less so with boundary destroyers, because the normal rules of engagement don’t apply. Trying to reason with a boundary destroyer whether a family member or co worker, romantic partner ex boyfriend can be crazy making, why? Because boundary destroyers tend to be all about themselves and their agendas with excessive self involvement eclipsing empathy and compassion, other people manner only to the extent that you can serve their worldview, their version of reality is the only reality. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  36:52

And that has been my experience with people on my family. And what’s important, you know, in that paragraph, she mentioned other like boundary first timers, boundary, whatever, like that’s a whole Those are terms that’s lexicon from her book. And I highly recommend that book. By the way. I’m in her endorsements for the book. And what I said about it was an a brilliant balance of stories, instruction and opportunities to reflect, assess and practice what we’re learning. Terry Cole has written the book on boundaries we’ve all needed for friggin ever. And I really stand by that it’s so excellent. I reference it all the time, I recommend it to people. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  37:25

It’s a really incredible guide book on boundaries. That said, it is also important to acknowledge that boundaries take an adjustment period, right. So if you set a boundary with someone for the first time, and they violate it, because they’re just like the reorienting, they don’t understand yet that you know, it’s okay to give people an adjustment period. But when people continuously and repeatedly, over the course of a long time, violate the same boundaries over and over and over again, that’s a different situation. In my case, there are boundaries that I’ve been setting with my parents and other people in my family for over a decade. And I will say that is one of the things that really pushed me into going no contact with my parents, seeing the same friggin boundaries still being violated 10 years later, again, like that is not workable. That is not resolvable, if someone was going to change if someone was going to do something differently, they would have figured it out within a decade. And not to mention for me, I should also I didn’t say this earlier, I’m 39 years old right now, at the time I’m recording this my 40th birthday is less than two months away. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  38:42

And there’s really something for me rounds, I always do talk about the birthday portal, the month before your birthday, treating that time like a review period. Like what went well this year, what didn’t go well, what do I want to leave in the past? What am I taking into the future? You know, what did I learn? You know, what were my wins? What are things that I am still grieving or things that happen? When he failures, you know, whatever, it’s just like an assessment, a great time to reflect and assess, going into 40. To be honest, I’ve treated my whole 39th year as the birthday portal into 40. Like reviewing the whole decade of my 30s. And over and over and over again. What was coming up for me was stuff that I have to deal with, with my parents that I was realizing I’m just not willing to bring that into a fresh new decade of my life. Y’all it does not have to be a decade for you. 11 years is a lot of time, even just a few years. There’s a lot of time, if people cannot adjust after a very long time. Again, it is sad to say there’s just likely not going to so let’s review some boundary stuff, some other boundary stuff not related to me, although I will give you a few personal examples later. But and this is the last thing we’re going to do in today’s episode. I like to keep these solos a bit shorter. And I know this is getting kind of long boundaries are not about telling people how to behave in their own lives on their own time, outside of your relationship, their requests we make of people for how to interact with us in ways that make us feel safe, seen loved, and considered, in ways that make being in a relationship with them, no matter the type of relationship sustainable. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  40:22

Of course, having a boundary or making a request for a boundary doesn’t obligate anyone to accommodate it. And when they refuse or can’t, again, that is on us to choose how to engage with those people. A great recent example that many of you probably saw out in media and social media land is Jonah Hill, an ex girlfriend of the after Jonah Hill posted in shared a text message, a list of controlling requests to this woman who was a surfer and a model. Now I want to pause and say something here, because we had a really great conversation about this in the free wild soul community. And on that post, a couple women mentioned, well, this is from two years ago, while we don’t know the whole context, and here’s the thing. This is internalized misogyny, right when a woman speaks up about a way that she has been abused or harmed or manipulated. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  41:13

And people want to do all the What about right, well, what about this? What about that? We don’t not like, listen, and it’s not even just a woman, when anyone tells you that they’ve been abused? Why are we looking for conversations about the circumstances? Those are valid conversations, by the way, but when brought up in response to the conversation about the abuse or manipulation, it’s a derailment and a distraction. Right, let’s focus on the task at hand. And let’s have separate conversations about the other things, then we could look at the thing globally. But what was super relevant here was that the text message she shared, right, regardless of if you think it’s ethical or not, for someone to share a private message publicly, text message she shared was a bulleted list of air, quote, boundaries that Jonah Hill was trying to set with her for being in a relationship with him. Only they were not boundaries at all. They were that she not serve with men. I don’t remember if I already mentioned that this woman is a professional surfer and a model, that she not served with men, that she not have inappropriate, boundaryless friendships with men, that she not model, that she may not post pictures of herself in a bathing suit, or be friends with women in unstable places, from her wild, recent past, aside from getting coffee, or lunch or something respectful. So let’s talk about why those are not boundaries. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  42:42

That’s a list of things that he doesn’t want his girlfriend to do, for personal reasons, which we don’t know. And we don’t need to assess or diagnose because we don’t know him. But here’s what’s universally true. If he’s uncomfortable with those things, he actually needs to work it out within himself, or just not date someone who does those things. Right. Asking people to change who and how they are and what they do outside of their relationships with us. So we can be more comfortable is not setting boundaries is trying to control them. Now, if you’re uncomfortable, like he described boundaryless friendships with men, on what terms on what grounds, right, asking people to behave differently in their other relationships? Maybe there needs to be discussions around agreements around interacting with other people. That’s okay. But simply saying you can’t have inappropriate, like, what are the terms? What is inappropriate mean? And then this part about women and unstable places? 

Elizabeth DiAlto  43:41

Like that’s also that judgment? And that rule? I don’t want you to be friends with unstable people. What if those unstable people need this woman in their life? What if she’s a stabilizing force? What kind of bullshit is this? Right? So this list was not a list of boundaries, it was a list of things that he was not comfortable about, about her life. That’s a different conversation. Right? Because again, ask people to change who and how they are and what they do outside of their relationships with us. So we can be more comfortable is not setting boundaries. It’s trying to control them, asking people to adjust how they treat us, when things they say or do specifically to us don’t work for us. That’s a boundary. And again, boundaries are something that makes sense to request of people. It’s okay. Right? And, again, even if you’re not sure, Oh, am I am I being controlling? Or is this the boundary? Have a conversation about it? Right? There’s nothing wrong with saying to people, like, let us continue with the Jonah Hill example. And again, we don’t know the engagement or interaction. We don’t know Maybe he had, you know, defined terms of what inappropriate or boundary lists meant, in you know, their relationship or in his estimation, and maybe they had talked about it maybe she about like, we don’t know, right? But for example, if you’re gonna say to someone, you know, your relationship with that person feels inappropriate to me. Can we talk about it? That’s a conversation, right? What feels inappropriate to you be a great response to that?

Elizabeth DiAlto  45:13

Why does it feel appropriate? What does it bring up for you? Okay, totally get like, people can come to agreements about things and understandings. But to call something a boundary, when it’s really like a personal grievance is not the same thing. So here’s some general examples. And some specific examples of things that actually are boundaries. So say, for example, that there’s someone in your life who constantly wants to, like pry or talk to you about something that you’re just not comfortable talking to them specifically about? A great boundary is, you know, please don’t ask me about, you know, insert whatever is the thing you don’t want to talk to them about. It’s not something uncomfortable talking about, that’s a boundary, right? 

Elizabeth DiAlto  45:55

Or it’s something I’m comfortable talking to you about. It’s a boundary. And here’s what school boundary conversations like setting boundaries, can often people who respect boundaries, might be curious and be like, Oh, can I ask why? And here’s the thing, you can either it can open up and lead to a deeper conversation, where maybe you end up changing your mind organically, not because you were manipulated to do so. Or you can just be like, No, I’m just not really comfortable talking about it. Great. That’s the boundary. Right? Another boundary. On the other end of that spectrum, I’m sure we all have met people in our lives who like overshare, or talk to us about things, we’re not comfortable talking to them about, you can say, you know, please don’t tell me about you know, insert whatever is the thing makes me very uncomfortable. That’s a boundary. It’s especially a gray boundary with people, again, who overshare or trying to have like an inappropriate or unwanted relationship with you, or have a deeper relationship with you than you want to have with them. Another example, if you have people who are addicts in your life, or people who just abuse substances, or who behave in ways that you’re really not comfortable with when they’re intoxicated. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  47:07

A great boundary is please don’t call me when you’ve been drinking, or please don’t call me when you’re high. Or please tell me if you’ve been drinking or you’re high. Before we have a conversation or before we get together. I had that experience. Many years ago, there was a man I was dating for a little while, who was high, like all the time. And as a person who just said was like never really into drugs or even weed. At that point. I told him, I’m like, you just tell me like I don’t even know, I don’t know what to look for. I don’t know what the signs are. I could feel it energetically, I could usually feel it. And I’d rather just know, you know, just like, let me know. Here’s a good one. Please don’t touch me like that. You know, everyone’s different with physical touch. Some people don’t like to be touched at all. Some people are like really aggressive, intense huggers. This is an example from my real life. Friend of mine. When I first got to Miami, someone I met super tall, strong, big dude. Like, gives these like bear hugs. But you know, depending on who you are, how tall you are, they could actually be quite painful. And a friend of mine, really, like every time he hugged her, she thought she was he was gonna break her neck. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  48:13

You know, so much so that she asked him like, please don’t hug me like, that really hurts my neck. Like that’s, that’s a boundary. You know, please don’t call me some people come up with like nicknames or you know, some people’s love language is teasing, right. And they want to call you something or something happened and, and they continue to like, call you a name or something that refers to it, or references it. If you don’t like it, ask them not to do it. That’s a boundary. Right? Or, for example, people call me Liz for most of my life. And in 2015, I decided I didn’t want to be called Liz anymore. I want to go by my full name, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  48:46

So I had to ask everyone I know not to call me Liz anymore. For some people, like there was an adjustment period, they were so used to it. And when they would slip up, I would just remind them it wasn’t a big deal. But even when I meet new people, so you know, Elizabeth is a multisyllabic name. Sometimes he’ll really be like, oh, like, what can I call you something else can I call you Liz? Can I call you, Beth or whatever? And I’ll be like, No, I prefer to be called Elizabeth. It’s my boundary. I like to be called by my full fucking name. Like, it’s not a big deal. Right. Another example, if you live with other human beings, and you have a job where you know, when you come home at the end of the day, like you need to transition or you need something, you need some quiet time. Tell him the people you live with that you need, like five to 10 minutes or more whatever is your time of solo quiet time to transition into being home when you get home from work. A great boundary. Right? If you live with people, or maybe you work from home, hey, when I’m on the phone, or when I’m in a meeting, please don’t interrupt me unless it’s an emergency. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  49:39

That’s a boundary cohabitating is great grounds for boundaries, right? Something like hey, I don’t mind sharing food. But if you finish something, please tell me so I can replace it. Right? Or if you don’t want people touching your food, hey, if my name is on something in the refrigerator, don’t touch it. Right Like so many boundaries. It’s the list is endless, more specific examples that I want to share with you and I chose these to highlight that boundaries aren’t always our preference. So I want to talk about some boundaries that people set with me. And how I responded. And I want to talk about a boundary I recently had to set with a friend and how she responded, because, again, a boundary, if we even have to set a boundary with someone, it’s because they’re doing with something they’re doing something we don’t like, or something, we’re not comfortable with something we’re not okay with something we’re not available for, right? So inherent in boundaries. So you’re going to be asking someone to do something differently. Right, and it might be fine with them. They may not want to, it might not be their preference, but they’re willing to that, you know, there’s all kinds of ways people can response. But once we set a boundary, or once someone sets a boundary with us, it’s on the person who the boundary was set with to respect it. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  50:46

And it’s okay to ask questions if we don’t understand, right. And if we want to, as long as that is not a covert attempt to negotiate the boundary. And if we want to be boundaried people and expect others to respect our boundaries, obviously, we need to do the same. So I’ve been calling my parents by their first names for years, and a few years back, my mom asked me to call her mom, she did not want me calling her by her first name. So I started calling her mom wasn’t my preference. No, I quite preferred calling her by her first name, but it’s her name, and therefore her call, neither my mom or my family has a son on the way. And a few months back, I brought up the topic of voluntary genital mutilation, also known as circumcision with him. And I asked him if him and his wife thought about it, at all had thought about it at all considered it done any research about how it’s becoming more and more of an obsolete practice in cultures, where it isn’t considered a religious or moral obligation. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  51:42

And there are actually numerous studies now on how the suppose that health benefits of it are more myth than fact, he responded by telling me to my my business about it. So despite being passionately opinionated about it, as you can probably tell about how wrong it is to even consider doing something like that to a child who can’t consent to it and doesn’t technically need it for any health related reasons. I never brought it up again, because he asked me not to. We’re hoping for a different outcome like that he’d be interested in having a conversation about it, or letting me send him the information a few of my friends with sons had gathered before they were born to help them make their choice. Yes, that would have been an ideal outcome, but again, wasn’t interested in my input. And I had to respect that because it’s his kid, and therefore his choice. Last example, an example I had to set with a friend recently, I have a lot of really wise, amazing friends, as anyone who listens to this podcast knows who are mistakes and healers. And fairly often, most of the time, I’m open to their advice, feedback, input and insight. But usually, I prefer to be asked before they share things with me. So about a month ago, a friend of mine sent me a voice note saying, she had something she wanted to share with me, and she was so excited about it. And she said, not sure if you’re interested in this. But you know, take it or leave it. Here’s what here’s what it is. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  52:53

And again, she was just excited. She was enthusiastic, she wanted to share. But I did send her a message back later that day to say, hey, please do me a favor. I value your insights, and I often want to hear them. But I’d prefer a few of some of you want to share with me that you asked me first, give me a chance to consent? If not, don’t share it. Right. Don’t share things with me until I say yes. Don’t just share it and then put it on me to decide what to do with it. I actually want a choice about whether or not to even have to hear it. And this is something you know, for me as a person learning how to navigate having ADHD. That’s why I’ve realized, just like letting even my friends like having an open Yeah, tell me whatever you’re thinking, whatever policy doesn’t work for me, because my brain can like really get distracted and derailed by stuff. So I’m back on, you know, asked me first with people. And her response was just no problem. You got it. Right. So boundaries are a beautiful thing. They require courage and nuance trial and error. They’re easier to set with people who are boundaries themselves and respect boundaries, that’s a given. And they’re also never a guarantee that better relationships are possible. 

Elizabeth DiAlto  53:52

But they’re so worth doing. And as I’ve said before in this podcast, and you’ll hear me say again, in the future, we don’t set boundaries with people to disconnect, right, we set boundaries with people to stay connected. If we didn’t want to stay connected with people we wouldn’t bother, right. And so when we set boundaries for people to keep them in our lives, and they continuously violate our boundaries, what happens is that shows us that they’re either unwilling or unable, we don’t want to be in our lives. And maybe just didn’t have the courage to say that, I don’t know. But always worth giving it a shot. And then of course, super important to adjust accordingly. Because, again, the point of boundary is not to control other people. So I hope this episode has been useful or illuminating in some way the shownotes are at untamed forward slash podcast. Links to what’s going on in the school of sacred embodiment can always be found at forward slash links. This was episode number 435. And also, I always forget this depending on where you’re listening, if you’re on like Apple or Spotify, or any of these other platforms. There’s usually notes there too. So often you’ll find links to the resources and whatever, right there on the platform where you’re listening.

Elizabeth DiAlto  55:05

If you want to go check out Terri Cole’s book or the TED Talk by Harriet Lerner that I mentioned earlier, that stuff’s always linked up in the show notes. Alright everybody, thanks so much for listening. We’ll be back next week.