Recognizing our Limits

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

Before I get going on this blog post – I want to let you know I sent out a survey in my most recent newsletter.  I would love for you to take the survey (it’s only seven questions) so that I can begin planning what I want to talk about here on the blog moving forward as well as for other things we are developing – courses, the podcast, curriculum, etc.  Your thoughts and your voice matter and I would so love to hear from you!   You can subscribe to the newsletter and blog posts here. I might even make a printable with the steps below and include it in the next newsletter – let me know if that would be helpful!


Hi Ladies!  Happy Summer!

I just love this time of year.  I love the warm weather, the water, the laughter, the refreshments.  I love seeing my kids run around with smiles on their faces – playing and being creative!

One of the things that goes along with summer is that people come out of hiding after a long Colorado winter.   It’s fun to see everyone again – for the most part.  I had a “situation” come up a couple of weeks ago where someone wasn’t too happy with me.  Without going into all the details – suffice it to say that after the interaction, I threw myself on my bed, crying and feeling so raw – and as I was lying there, I realized – within me was a little girl that was heartbroken – and this is what made the situation so very painful.  The little girl within.

{As a side note – we all have the child within us that we are continuing to help “grow up”.}

I ended up fairly quickly recognizing that I didn’t stand up for myself during the interaction – I froze.  This happened a lot as a little girl, too – I didn’t know how to use my voice.  I made sure everyone else around me was okay.  And when I did use my voice, it was often met with resistance.  What precipitated my cry on the bed was a reenactment of what I would go through as a child.

So as I pulled myself up – I knew what I needed to do and what I could do – I could use my voice.

What followed was a back and forth interaction between me and said person and I was able to put into practice a lot of what I teach to the ladies that are in my support groups, the ladies I do coaching sessions with, and my team of women that help me help even more of you on a weekly basis via groups and 1:1 support.

I want to share with you the steps I put into practice as I navigated yet again a wonky interaction with a fellow human being on planet earth.  Here is the play by play-

1 – I started with just recognizing that I wasn’t okay with something and sitting with it.  I know this might sound super elementary – but a lot of women struggle to just recognize – “I’m not okay with this” AND THEN – pausing.  We don’t HAVE to do anything  else yet – all we need to do is recognize it, say it and pause.

I’m sitting here contemplating – why has this been so hard for me?  My MO for years has been to half recognize I’m not okay with this or with that and then I just tell myself “oh well” and then I move on and my “circle” continues to grow smaller and smaller because I’m not protecting myself.  For myself, I haven’t been able to comfortably sit with the awareness of having a limit (and the discomfort that brings) so it’s been easier to ignore my limits.

Thank goodness – we are always given opportunities to learn and grow – and as I have been working on limits and boundaries and taking up space – I recognized I was not even close to being okay with the interaction and then I said it out loud (well, actually via text) – “This is not okay with me.”

2 – Next, I asked for what I needed.  In this particular situation – I needed to have a conversation.  In this conversation I wanted to make it really clear that moving forward, I would be fine to talk as long as we could both express our points of view. {Boom!} Unfortunately, it became really clear that this person wasn’t interested in a follow-up conversation.

This is where it can become complicated.

3 – I needed to pivot and set a boundary or series of boundaries to protect myself.  So I thought through what I needed to protect ME.  This can feel empowering and truly is how we can take our power back when someone doesn’t respect our limit.  I looked at this from several different viewpoints.  Specifically:  relationally, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Here is what I came up with:

Relational boundary – I don’t need to engage in small talk with this person at this point.  (This could get awkward given we see each other several times a week outside.

Physical boundary – I can’t walk by their house – feels too vulnerable right now.  If I am biking or running, I feel safe but if I am walking I will go a different way.

Emotional boundary – I am going to be careful not to give this person power over me or my feelings.  (What this means is – I will be really aware of my feelings and if I start to feel insecure or scared or like this person isn’t going to treat me nicely – I will acknowledge those feelings but not compromise what I am doing out of fear.)

Mental boundary – I am going to be really careful to not make up stories in my head about what this person might be saying about me, thinking about me, etc.


Keep in mind that these boundaries are pretty personal in nature – they aren’t so much about the other person but rather they are about ME.  Also – it’s important to remember that the closer the person is to you – the harder it is to set the boundaries.  It will affect you more.  Since I don’t live with this person – this is actually much easier (but still a challenge for me).

By doing this work – my circle (or all the things that makes up who I am and what I need to protect) is getting bigger.  And that’s a good thing because ladies – it’s important that we take up space.

This betrayal process does a number on the amount of space we take up – we can explore this another time if you would like, just let me know in the comments.

Bottom line is – There is a systematic way we can go through this.  It starts with recognizing our limits, stating we aren’t okay with xyz, figuring out what we need, and if we can’t get protection there – setting boundaries.

As always, I would so so so love to hear from you. I make it a point to respond to every comment these days.  Sometimes it takes me a while,  but I do it!

xo – Shelley

photo credits here and here


4 thoughts on “Recognizing our Limits

  1. DJ

    June 29, 2020  |  09:54 am

    Boom!!! This post rocked, thank you! I appreciate the straight forward approach and clear steps to follow.

    For several years (we won’t talk about my age at this point! 🙂 I found myself not even hitting step one. What I mean by this is that I failed to even acknowledge I was uncomfortable with something. Sure I was quick to acknowledge when the food I ordered wasn’t right or my phone bill was wonky, but when it came to close relationships and “negative feelings” that was a different story. Unfortunately, I had the faulty thinking that the Christian thing to do was to stuff my emotions, forgive (telling myself “as far as it depends on you live at peace with all men”), and move on. Little did I know these actions weren’t really true forgiveness, I was wrecking my mental health, and I was loosing more and more of the real me. Today, I’m learning to slow down and take notice the uneasy feelings in my tummy or the sarcastic remarks that come from my mouth and then ask myself: What’s really going on here? Am I perfect at this? Not by a long shot! Am I growing in this area? Thankfully, yes!

  2. Joy

    June 29, 2020  |  01:18 pm

    Loved this! What’s funny is that when you first said that your circle kept getting smaller, I thought you meant your circle of friends ….. which is what I’ve seen happen to myself: When someone steps on my toes and I’m unwilling to be honest with them about it, I just cross them off my list of “safe” people, so my circle of people I’m okay with keeps getting smaller and smaller.

    I can see that being able to ‘use my voice’ and stand up for myself and set boundaries in healthy ways could well work to enlarge both kinds of circles.

  3. Jane

    June 29, 2020  |  03:15 pm

    Just wanted you to know this could not have been more spot on for me right now. Very similar experience and I, too, and trying to ask myself why my responses have been programmed in. When a friend’s ridicule, disapproval, rejection, or disdain hits my heart, it makes me want to run, faint, hide, disappear! Why does my friend feel so justified in responding to me so harshly? Like you, I spoke up for myself (even being extra considerate to my friend), with no response from her. I especially love how you encourage us to not make up stories about their responses…. What does it say about me that I can’t accept moments of impasse with others? I want their approval, but that’s not always possible because we live in a very complex world.


    June 29, 2020  |  03:36 pm

    I need help w Boundaries, finding my voice, and taking up space.

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