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Boundaries for Advocates. Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher . Confidentiality. All LAP classes are highly confidential , this includes mentioning names of people in attendance
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Boundaries for Advocates Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher
Confidentiality • All LAP classes are highly confidential, this includes mentioning names of people in attendance In psycho educational classes like this one you will be talking about your life-you can set your own boundaries about how much or little you disclose to others • The main purpose here is to increase awareness of boundaries leading to changes in behavior-the academic content is of secondary importance • Introduction exercise-Where in my life do I have good boundaries?-What boundaries do I want to learn more about in this class?
Importance of Boundaries • In helping lawyers with practice and personal problems we notice that many are created by a lack of healthy boundaries • Almost all of the complaints made by clients or the Law Society can be traced to poor boundaries-the Law Society is aware of this-hence the CPD credits!! • “Burnout”, for example, has its roots in poor boundary setting • Many people know a lot about boundaries but are poor at putting them into place in their lives
Boundaries and Relationships • Although we will focus on work boundaries in this course, healthy boundaries are the basis for good relationships in life and we will talk about personal relationships as well. • Many relationship problems have their roots in poor or no boundary setting • Difficulty in boundary setting depends on who you are setting the boundary with-setting boundaries around, a telemarketer, your mother, a friend or your boss all have different dynamics and levels of skill required
Healthy Boundaries • Good boundaries are usually learned in childhood, unfortunately so are bad boundaries! • Most people have good boundaries in many areas of their life but often have gaps-depending on parenting • Most advocates are good students which sometimes also means they are good at pleasing others-this balance between caring for self and caring for others is where boundary problems arise
Characteristics of Healthy Boundaries • I must have awareness that a boundary needs to be set and that the problem I face is a boundary problem-this is not as obvious as it may seem • Appropriateness-I need to decide whether a boundary should be set or if I should just let it go-In some cases a boundary could be set but it may not be worth the time or effort • Clarity-Boundaries must be clear and unequivocal-fuzzy boundaries are as bad as no boundaries • Firmness-People will often test your boundaries-do you really mean it? • Maintenance-Boundaries may need to change or be redefined over time
Characteristics of Boundaries • Flexibility-some boundaries need to flexible-in some cases even dropped • Healthy boundaries are not: • Set by others- this works when you are little; but as you individuate you need to set your own boundaries-usually with some resistance from your family! • Primarily Hurtful or Harmful- Boundaries often create some pain but this is not the purpose-a good test is if I don’t set a boundary here what will the long term consequences be? • Controlling or manipulating- This is different than boundary setting
Characteristics of Boundaries • Manipulating is trying to influence or get something indirectly-Controlling is invasive or domineering • In boundary setting I decide what will happen if the boundary is not honored-if I am controlling I want someone else to change their behavior! • A Wall- is not a boundary, it is inflexible and cuts me off from people, places or experiences
What are Boundaries? • Various definitions:" how far we can go with comfort go in a relationship. It delineates where I and my physical and psychological space end and where you and yours begin.” • Boundaries provoke real experiences within us-thus in my relationships with people places and things, the boundary is real • Another definition: “A boundary is a limit that promotes integrity”
What are Boundaries? • One example is your skin, another is the walls of a cell in your body • A good metaphor is that of the wall of a cell, that is a semi –permeable membrane • “To know when to allow in and when to keep out, means you have a choice in your life, and means you will be an active rather than a passive participant in it”
Boundaries • Healthy boundaries will enhance your relationship with your self, your body, your health, friendships, marriage, work, your integrity • Poor boundaries can limit your life and cause misery • It is useful to know where you have erected defenses instead of healthy boundaries • This workshop is about handling life in a way that protects your time and energy for the things that really matter to you.
Boundaries • It is hard to define or understand yourself without a clear understanding of your boundaries • It requires a good understanding of our inner life-our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions ,choices and experiences. It also includes wants, needs, sensations, intuitions and unconscious factors. • Many people go to extremes with boundaries, either being boundary less or being overly ridged, or flip-flopping between these
Boundaries and Codependence • Much of the popular literature about boundaries has been written about under the rubric of Codependence(unhealthy caretaking of others or doing things for others they should be doing for themselves) • Healing Codependence requires learning new boundaries • See table 15-2 which shows characteristics of the true self and Codependent self • Many people have some level of codependence
Types of Boundaries • Boundaries cover a huge part of our lives and can be internal(intra-psychic)within your own mind or external (inter-psychic) dealing with other people • Boundaries can be physical or mental/emotional or spiritual • See table 1.1 for list of these types of boundaries • In general, physical boundaries deal with what happens with your physical body, your privacy and your possessions • In general mental boundaries deal with your beliefs, choices, decisions and how you spend your energy
Testing Your Physical Boundaries • Stand close exercise • Crazy driver exercise • What did it take for you to set your boundary? • What gets in your way of setting your boundaries? • Did you set a boundary it at all?
Not Setting Boundaries • Due to the difficulty in setting boundaries many people chose not to set them at all • This will result in frustration, passive aggressiveness, inner conflict and a general limiting of your life • Many people will run up against their tendency to be a “people pleaser” in this class • If you want to live life large you need to understand and set healthy boundaries
Resistance to Boundary Setting • Even though it is simple enough to understand boundaries many people have trouble setting boundaries for fear that it will hurt the relationship • In many cases great damage can occur to a relationship if boundaries are not set or discussed • Often it is a case of short term pain to facilitate long term gain • Boundary Dilemma-get into groups of 4 and discuss the boundary dilemma in the workbook-is this happening in your life?
Formation of Boundaries • Families can range from being fairly dysfunctional where boundaries were ignored, confused, or commonly violated to families that were fairly functional • It is quite rare for any family to have excellent boundaries in all areas of life • You learn your original boundaries in your family but obviously people change and you may now have healthy boundaries in areas where they were unhealthy in your family and vice versa
Protective Boundaries and Expansive Boundaries • In general there are two types of boundaries-those involving the protection of physical and psychological space and those involving the extent of interaction with your world • Physical boundaries are simple to understand-they involve the protection of your body and possessions-car exercise • Psychological boundaries are much more difficult to understand or even detect
Protective and Expansive Boundaries • Almost no person will tolerate being hit by another person but surprisingly many will allow the most severe psychological boundary violations • Expansive boundaries can be described as how large you live-some people live large and impact almost everyone around them-some live small and barely cause a ripple-some do both at different times and with different people • You will be treated in the world the way you teach others to treat you
Boundaries and your Family of Origin • Many of your boundary issues began at home (because parenting is an imperfect art) so boundary problems can come in several varieties • Too Ridged -also called walls-these are absolute rules that can be too confining: you can’t ever play in the living room • Too Flexible -where the boundaries change easily or are not enforced-one day you are allowed to do something the next day you are not
Family Boundaries • Too Distant: When the parent is very distant, rarely touches, abandons the child or spends little time with the child • Too permeable: when a parents identity becomes immersed in the child’s-this sometimes happens to mothers and daughters • Too closed: some parents have very ridged beliefs such that new ideas can’t get in-it’s their way or the highway-these parents are often cut off from their feelings and can’t handle disagreements
Family Boundaries • Enmeshment: this is where a person doesn’t distinguish themselves from the other at all-they take on the others attitudes ,beliefs, interests, friends, goals as if they were their own-they even speak for the other • Exercise: Groups of 4-Think /Pair/Share- what were the boundaries like in your family? Which ones were healthy/unhealthy?
Assessment of Boundaries • Lets complete the survey titled “Examining Your Personal Boundaries’ • Read the scoring Page in areas where you have high scores (usually) or very low scores (never) • You may or may not agree with the scoring-if you haven’t experienced boundary problems in a particular area it’s probably not a problem • Complete Personal Boundaries test discussion • Think/pair/share
Workplace BoundariesProblems Saying No • “Burnout” is actually not a primary problem -it is a symptom of poor or non existent boundary setting • Poor boundary setting has many underlying causes: people pleasing, unwillingness to say no, poor boundaries in family of origin, fear of standing up for yourself, lack of understanding of your own core values, poor emotional self care etc.
Workplace Boundaries-Power of No • When you were 2 years old you had no problem saying no, but in this culture it is drilled out of you by teachers parents and friends-so by the time people are adults many have trouble saying no to anyone • Axiom: The damage done by saying yes indiscriminately will exceed any damage done to your relationships by saying no
The Power of No • “Yes people” quickly become weighted down, feel torn or trapped, are overcommitted and overworked and feel taken advantage of • “Yes people” can become passive aggressive this means the anger or resentment goes underground and shows up as not returning calls, being distant, being late or bailing out of the commitment with weak excuses • Having a “giver” type of personality works against you here-the world is full of “takers”
The Power of No • It is not the job of the “takers” to set your boundaries- it is your job and your issue • If you don’t set your own boundaries other people alwayswill-nature abhors a vacuum!! • My definition of Passive aggressiveness is “torturing myself and others for my unwillingness to set healthy boundaries”
The Power of No • Blaming others or anger is often a tip off that boundaries need to be set by you • Why is saying no so hard for many people? • “Terminal Niceness” these people believe it will ruin the relationship if they say no-in fact the inevitable passive aggressiveness is the real danger to the relationship • Lets look at the No credo • Think /pair/share-Where in your life do you have problems saying no?
The Power of No • Poor sense of priorities: some people are unwilling or unable to live their lives consistent with their values because they are unclear about their values • People who are clear about their values find it much easier to make tough decisions-if you value time with your children you will not give this time away to clients, other lawyers partners etc. • Boss/Employee role -plays
People Pleasing • Another reason people have trouble saying no is that they are obsessed about what other people are thinking about them • In my self esteem workshops we call this other-esteem which is a poor substitute for genuine self esteem • Other-esteem is giving your power away on the false belief other people are thinking about you-in other words you have a story you are telling yourself about the story you believe other people have of you (thus you worry about your image)
People Pleasing • If you believe this delusion you will spend the rest of your life on a fruitless search to increase your esteem from the outside • I always say to lawyers: in your 20’s you are very concerned about what other people think of you, in your 30’s and 40’s you start to say I don’t care what other people are thinking about me, in your 50’s and 60’s you realize they weren’t thinking about you!! • It is folly to govern your life to try and please others
Field Inter-dependence • This does not mean you go the opposite extreme and become a psychopath • Field dependence, field independence , field interdependence, field awareness explained • Good relationships are dependent on good boundaries • People with good boundaries are admired and trusted - you can be assured their yes means yes and their no means no-they don’t need hidden agenda
Boundary Behaviors-Problems saying no • There is a boundary problem wherever there is a problem setting limits or where there is a failure to respect other people’s limits • Compliant behavior -this where people have fuzzy or indistinct boundaries-they melt into the demands and needs of other people. They are like chameleons. They are unwilling or unable to say no, like a ship with broken radar.
Boundary Behaviors-Problems saying no • When people are compliant they don’t say no due to fears like: hurting the others feelings fear of abandonment and separateness, fear of another's anger, fear of punishment, fear of being shamed, being seen as bad or selfish, fear of being unspiritual etc. • Avoidant behavior -inability to ask for help or recognize our own needs or let others in. Avoidants withdraw when they are in need. Boundaries are not walls but rather like fences with a gate allowing in the good while keeping out the bad
Boundary Behaviors • Controlling behavior- Controllers don’t respect other peoples limits-they are likely to see other peoples boundaries as a challenge to try and change their minds or simply ignore their boundaries. They resist taking responsibility for their own lives so they need to control the lives of others. In extreme cases they become manipulative and aggressive bullies • Controllers can be quite dangerous to themselves and others
Boundary Behaviors • Controllers cannot delay gratification so they are unwilling or unable to hear another persons no-also they are usually isolated and alone since the people around them are there due to fear, guilt or dependency • If this occurs in a relationship it requires a compliant partner who has an unconscious agreement to allow themselves to be controlled
Boundary Behaviors • Nonresponsive Behavior- these people are either insensitive or oblivious to the needs of others. They can take the form of supercritical people or narcissistic people obsessed with their own self importance • Most people fall into these categories from time to time or in certain situations or with certain people-some do it more often at work than at home or vice versa. For some people these behaviors are a dominant force in their lives and have catastrophic consequences
Workplace Boundaries • Many boundary issues, predictably, have very unhappy endings-sexual harassment still occurs, office affairs or romances are still common, the impromptu strip tease or telling off the boss, or wearing a lampshade on your head all still occur at the office Christmas party • Parties, retreats and (Fri pm) after hours office events with alcohol, or cocaine or marijuana are gold mines for boundary problems. • Poor office boundaries around sex are a large problem and can cause tremendous grief, but it can pale in comparison to general psychological abuse in some offices
Boundary Setting Tips • If you are resentful or angry with someone or silently fuming or even irritated it is usually the universe inviting you to set a boundary • The Boundary must be appropriate under the circumstances-there will be a consequence whether you set a boundary or not or if you delay it • The boundary may require a consequence involving your behavior i.e.. If you do that again I will leave the room-I won’t drive with you again unless you drive the speed limit
Boundary Setting Tips • Complaining to others about them is not boundary setting- “he is such a jerk, why does he drive so fast?”-this is gossip • Your boundary will be tested sometimes within minutes-expect it- prepare for it • If it is a Physical boundary it is not a debate or a discussion-no reasons are necessary-the boundary discussion should be in as few words as is possible “you are on my foot –get off” is all you need • Do not justify or rationalize- “No” is a complete sentence
Boundary Setting Tips • The more reasons you give the more ammunition you give the other person-you don’t want to invite a discussion • The other person usually will not like it and may not take it well-if they choose to hurt themselves with your boundary it is their issue not yours-don’t buy into it • Be prepared to face whatever consequences that result and be aware that they are almost always less than if you don’t set a boundary • Boundaries are not about control or manipulation
Boundary Setting Tips • Good boundary setting comes with practice, start small and work up to more difficult boundaries- start with a telemarketer and work up to mom • Some people believe that they can’t set boundaries at work or they will be fired, that is quite rare- much more often people quit or get fired or burn out by not setting enough boundaries • Do you really want to work anywhere that doesn’t respect your boundaries?
Boundary Setting is a Career Advantage • If you don’t set boundaries you will burn out, stretch yourself too thin, or do a mediocre job • If you become the office go-to person because you never say no you invite your own boundary crashing party!! • You need to teach some people how to treat you by setting good boundaries-i.e... teach them how you need to be treated • Ask “what is the advantage of saying yes here?
Business and Social • You get invited to a co-workers wedding on a weekend you would prefer to do other things • Where do you stand on these types of invitations? One test is the level of closeness to the person –would you go even if s/he was not a Colleague? • Some people draw walls between work and social contact with coworkers-others are more flexible
Office Power Imbalances and Boundaries • One difference between setting personal and work boundaries is the power differential-you can’t be fired from your family but you can at work • Many people won’t set boundaries due to this fear • Often this fear is overblown-few people are actually fired for refusing to set boundaries at work
Office Power Plays • Some managers in some offices will keep giving you work until you say something-they assume silence is agreement • In some cases not enough work is given; resulting in restlessness or boredom • In other cases the financial pressure to bill can result in very high billing targets • Not saying no or not setting your own boundaries results in anxiety depression and burnout • It is your job to protect your own boundaries-not for others to guess at it • Office Role Plays
Boundary Setting Improves With Awareness- Followed by Practice • As you set more boundaries (and begin to see where you are not setting good boundaries) your skills will improve • Generally the closer the relationship the harder it is to set good boundaries • Allow yourself to try and fail until you get better at it • Practice and patience will allow progress • Closing exercise
Boundary Workbook Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher