Posts made in October, 2013

Common Boundary Challenges (Boundary Series, part 2)

Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Skills Building | 0 comments

Common Boundary Challenges (Boundary Series, part 2)

[The following entry was originally posted on Melissa’s Purposeful Living blog at]

Boundary. What comes to mind when you read that word? A wall? A road block? When first introduced to the concept, people often think of boundaries as barriers, cutting oneself off from relationship, or isolation.  While some boundaries are this rigid and exclusive, most more closely resemble fences with gates. The let in the good and keep out the bad.

A few years ago, the movie Yes Man was released. In it, Jim Carey played a character who said “no” to everything.  In doing so, he missed out on opportunities for fun, companionship, and advancement at work. Later on, he decided to always say “yes.” Doing so put him in unsafe and undesirable situations at times.

The  goal of boundaries is to be able to say “yes” and “no” effectively and with equal ease. “Yes” to the good. “No” to the bad. That’s where each of us has our own challenges. Read below and see which one or two boundary challenge patterns you experience the most.

Compliant: Those who tend toward compliance have poorly defined boundaries. They are like chameleons, always changing, depending on the environment.  They have difficulty saying “no” and thus tend to say “yes” to the bad. They are often motivated by fear and guilt. As a result, they often take on too many responsibilities.

Avoidant: Those who tend to be avoidant have difficulty recognizing their own needs and withdraw in hard times. They have difficulty seeking the help of others and tend to say “no” to the good. They mistake boundaries for walls.

Compliant-Avoidant: Some folks struggle with both of these issues. In essence, they have boundaries where they are not needed and lack boundaries where they are.

Controlling: Those who tend toward a control pattern disrespect the boundaries of others. They can be manipulative and aggressive. They have difficulty hearing “no.” They look for ways to motivate others to take on the responsibility that is theirs.  They lack discipline and impulse control. They often feel unloved.

Non-responsive: Those who tend toward non-responsiveness ignore the needs of others or are too absorbed in their own needs to even notice the needs of others.

While each of us has been known to do all of the above, we tend to experience some more likely than others. In what area do you most struggle? Saying “yes,” or saying “no”? Letting in the good, or keeping out the bad? Being sensitive to the needs of others, or allowing others to help you get your needs met? Which is your area for growth?

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What is a Boundary? (Boundary Series, part 1)

Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Family Wealth, Skills Building | 0 comments

What is a Boundary? (Boundary Series, part 1)

[The following entry was originally posted on Melissa’s Purposeful Living blog at]

If there were only one skill I could teach, it would be boundaries. In both my professional life and personal life, I have observed that there is no more powerful skill than the ability to have, communicate, manage, and maintain healthy boundaries. This applies in our home life, personal life, work life, social life, and spiritual life.

Boundaries are the key to health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, disappointed, frustrated, afraid, angry, resentful, depressed, anxious, or anything of the like, read on. This series on boundaries can help.

First, what is a boundary? Boundaries can be tangible or intangible. Tangible boundaries include fences, walls, property lines, and even our skin. They tell us where our ownership and responsibility begin and end. They keep in the good, such as pets, children, and organs. They keep out the bad, like thieves, rain, and viruses. Examples of intangible boundaries include words, time, and emotional distance.

Whether tangible or intangible, boundaries serve the same purposes. They help define us, so that others know who we are and aren’t.  They tell us where our responsibility and ownership end and where someone else’s begins.  They help let the good in, such as love, joy, and success, while keeping out the bad, such as pain, abuse, and fear. Boundaries serve to protect our values, feelings, beliefs, talents, and limits. Because they are individualistic, they must be communicated in order to be known.

Boundary challenges are common among families and family businesses. The reason is the multitude of roles each person plays. Dad may be  a boss and a husband. Mom may be a wife and an investor. Uncle may be a vendor, a brother, and also a friend. Cousins may be co-workers, partners, and competition for leadership.

The lines can easily become blurry. How does a father give critical job performance feedback to his son? How does an aunt tell her nephew he is not the best candidate for a job? How does a niece tell her uncle she is being treated unfairly?

My favorite analogy for this situation is the wearing of hats. Each hat defines our present role and thus shapes our behavior. Here’s a story I’ve heard…

A father calls his son into his office and puts his “Boss” hat on. He stands behind his desk and tells his son, his employee, he is not well suited for this line of work and is thus being fired. The father then puts on his “Dad” hat, sits down by his son, and says, “I heard you lost your job. How can I help?”

It’s a beautiful example of boundaries done well. The truth was spoken and handled respectfully. Critical feedback and the need for change was expressed. Relationship was valued.

Nurturing healthy boundaries is a delicate process. One only you can do. One you must do to have healthy relationships, both with others and yourself.

The next entry in the Boundary Series will be “Common Boundary Challenges.”

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