How to Set Healthy Boundaries, With Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab

How to Set Healthy Boundaries, With Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab
Photo: Micaela Heck/Angelica Alzona

This week we’re learning how to recognise our boundaries and enforce them with help from therapist and relationship expert, Nedra Glover Tawwab. Nedra is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself. Listen to hear Nedra’s advice on how to approach difficult boundary conversations, how to stand firm in them even when it feels bad, and how to help ourselves and our loved ones get out of codependent relationships.

Plus, stay tuned to hear a special farewell segment for Alice, who is leaving Lifehacker and The Upgrade this week. We are going to miss her so!

Listen to The Upgrade above or find us in all the usual places podcasts are served, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and iHeartRadio.

Highlights from this week’s episode

From the Nedra Glover Tawwab interview:

On why you shouldn’t feel guilty about establishing boundaries:

It’s not always letting someone down as much as it might be bringing them closer, because sometimes when we have unhealthy boundaries, we start to avoid people. We start to put them in this space of I don’t want this person around, not answering their phone calls and those sorts of things. When we start to implement boundaries, we may start to see some changes in their behaviour, in the relationship, and we’re more open to being more connected to them. So it’s not always this awkwardness. It can be a situation where they come closer together.

On why you should be careful not to set too many strict boundaries:

I think with rigid boundaries, sometimes you have all of these rules, like, “I don’t do this with people. I only do this. People can’t do this to me. Things are like…” And it keeps you safe, you think. But it also keeps you in a bubble and people away from you. And it is quite healthy to have different boundaries for different people because maybe some people don’t even need the same boundaries. Or maybe you want to be more flexible with this boundary. But if you have these hard rules of never saying yes to certain things or never trying certain things, it may be very hard to be open to new experiences or even finding out things that bring you pleasure in relationships that you didn’t even think about.

How to start recognising what your own boundaries might be:

I think vague resentment is a wonderful place to start because that is a feeling…just noticing what you’re feeling. So whether that’s you’re angry or upset, you’re frustrated. You say something like “Why would they do…?” All of those things could be the potential for a new boundary. Don’t let those things slide and give them another opportunity. It sounds like there is something that you prefer instead of what has happened. So discover what that thing is.

For more of Nedra’s advice, we recommend listening to the full episode.

Episode Transcript

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