Brian Can Help

Dealing with Difficult People: Setting Healthy Boundaries

August 17, 2023 Brian R. King, MSW Season 1 Episode 2
Brian Can Help
Dealing with Difficult People: Setting Healthy Boundaries
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Get ready to transform the way you handle difficult personalities, whether it be that critical relative or entitled friend. In our latest discussion, we promise you'll gain insights into the art of setting boundaries, a skill that is absolutely essential in navigating relationships. We're sharing wisdom from our recent chat with the Empower Women's Community group, where we grappled with the impact of unresolved childhood issues, or 'mother wound' or 'father wound.'

This episode equips you with tools to set boundaries clearly and compassionately, focusing on your needs without getting derailed by others' reactions. We'll explore the consequences of violating these boundaries and emphasize the significance of consistency. We end the conversation with a beautiful quote from Prentice Hemphill which encapsulates the transformative power of setting boundaries, not just for ourselves, but for those around us as well. So come along, and let's embark on this journey towards healthier relationships together! It's never too late, and remember, your growth and well-being are worth fighting for.

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Brian has a Master's Degree in Social Work and is the father of three boys with Autism and ADHD. After receiving the same diagnoses himself, he went on to write 5 books and become a recognized specialist in the field. With a unique approach to helping parents and educators connect with their children who live with these unique challenges, Brian's captivating, interactive presentations and programs continue to change lives around the world. His message of self-compassion, resilience and the importance of working together is one we all need to hear. You can see all the exciting things Brian is up to at

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Speaker 1:

Hey there, friend. We both know that life often brings us face to face with challenging personalities, right? Whether it's a critical relative, an entitled friend or an aggressive co-worker, learning to set boundaries with difficult people is an essential skill, even though it might seem intimidating at first. I recently had a thought-provoking conversation with my Empower Women's Community group about this very topic. Many of the women shared how they felt their spouses didn't take equal responsibility in their relationship. This led to a discussion about wounded people those carrying a lot of unresolved issues from childhood that influence how they show up in life. Now. Many of us can relate to having a mother wound or a father wound two terms I encourage you to look up. Their entire book's written on this and these wounds come from growing up with a parent who was emotionally unavailable. They were inconsistent or even abusive. Both my parents were like this in different ways. Men especially tend to lie to themselves, repress their feelings and adhere to this cultural gender norms of being macho or stoic. It's a lot of unhealthy conditioning that can compel people to mask their vulnerability and avoid looking inward at themselves and all of the things that are holding them back. Now, while we can't control others, we can control our own responses. I know that you've heard this a lot growing up. Right, it's not what happens to you, it's how you respond. Easier said than done, I know. But it starts with recognizing our limits and realizing that we don't have to tolerate mistreatment, even from loved ones. Setting boundaries now requires honesty not brutal, but straightforward, clear, communicating what behaviors you will accept and what behaviors you won't accept. Don't hit, don't manipulate, don't beat around the bush. Be direct with, but with, compassion. You know and affirm this. Even a hammer can be used gently. You don't have to slam somebody over their head to get through to them. Sometimes it might feel like that, but persistence is more effective. Now, when announcing your boundary, don't justify or get derailed by defending it. You don't owe anyone a candid review of the process by which you arrived at your boundary. It's not a sales pitch. You just establish and make very clear what the boundary is. Stay focused on your needs, your needs. If the other person tries to blame or guilt trip, you don't take the bait. They just are resisting a change in the rules because the current rules benefited them so much and their reaction is not your responsibility. Doesn't mean you're cold. This is part of the boundary. It isn't your role to support them in accepting the boundary you've set, because this can provide them more opportunities to try and guilt you even more, and you want people getting you to back down by getting in your head. Now, in addition to setting the boundary, it also helps to give consequences for boundary violation and be very clear and matter of fact about those as well, and for some people it can take experiencing the consequences to let them know you're not joking about this boundary stuff. Now remember enforcing a boundary is not rejecting someone else. You can love someone and still refuse to enable their dysfunction or bad behavior. Now you can offer empathy that they may get upset as they adjust to your new boundary, but don't back down. Healthy relationships require mutual care for each other's well-being. It's a two-way street. It's reciprocal and healthy relationships. There's a wonderful quote from Prentice Hemphill that sums this up beautifully. She said boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously. With practice you can become proficient at setting boundaries gracefully, and often it gets easier once you realize the inner peace it provides. Because with boundaries you teach people how to treat you, how to support you and how to love you, and generally. You affirm you're worth by setting boundaries. While you can't force anyone to change, we can model healthy attitudes and behaviors. In fact, others may begin setting boundaries because they see us do it, and this modeling can motivate others more than any lecture possibly could. Modeling is more powerful than lecture. Don't wait for perfect conditions to show up either to start building your boundaries. I don't even know what perfect conditions would be, so be patient with yourself as you learn how to do this. With commitment to your growth and care for your needs, you'll get better at maintaining a balance here, even around challenging people. So tell me what boundaries do you need to work on? I'd love to hear your stories and let me know what topics you want covered in future episodes. Until next time, take care and thank you for listening.

Intro - Learning to set boundaries with difficult people
Many women in community group shared how spouses didn't take equal responsibility
01:15 Discussion about wounded people carrying unresolved issues from childhood
Both parents emotionally unavailable, inconsistent, or abusive
Men especially lie, repress feelings, adhere to unhealthy cultural norms
Can't control others but can control our responses
Recognizing our limits, not tolerating mistreatment from loved ones
Setting boundaries requires honesty, straightforward communication
Persistence more effective than reacting harshly
Announcing boundary - don't justify, defend, or get derailed
Don't take the bait if others blame or guilt trip
Give consequences for violating boundaries
Enforcing a boundary is not rejecting someone
Can love someone but refuse to enable dysfunction
Quote on boundaries from Prentice Hemphill
Teach people how to treat, support, and love you
Don't wait for perfect conditions to build boundaries
Asks what boundaries I need to work on