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Week 4, Session 2: Review and closure

Hello everyone! And welcome to our very final session. We are so excited to welcome you to our final session, whenever you are reading this. Take a moment to be proud of yourself: for making it through the sessions and for showing up for yourself. The work and trust you have put into this process is inspiring. 

Before we get into the goals for the session, as always let’s go over our grounding exercise and fun question. Our last ones! So if you can, please join in. 

Our first grounding exercise is…

Stop and take a moment to listen. Just listen. What do you hear? Birds chirping? Cars outside? Maybe it’s really quiet where you are and all you can hear is your own breath or your heart beating. Notice and name what sounds you can hear nearby. Start with the closest or loudest sounds. Gradually move your awareness of sounds outward, so you are focusing on what you can hear in the distance. 

Even if you can’t get to a place with only natural sound and silence, this is a great grounding exercise, to give your mind a break from constantly filtering out noises. This kind of selective attention can be very tiring, so taking a moment to stop and actually hear all the noises in our environment that we usually ‘tune out’, whatever those noises are, can be very refreshing. 

So, to our content:

The goals for this session are:

  • Reviewing steps to set boundaries as practiced
  • Saying goodbye

Fun question: What was your favourite game as a child?

We want to review what we have learned through the content and homework of this course. You have achieved SO MUCH! You should be proud of yourself. We are. 

Let’s look at some important tips that we need to know when thinking about boundary setting (keep this list close to you!):

  1. Identify your limits: it will be impossible to create any boundaries if you don’t know where you stand. Keep thinking about things you like and don’t like. What brings you joy, what you don’t like but can tolerate, and what you want to get rid of in your life.
  2. Check in with yourself and your feelings. The most common reactions to the lack of healthy boundaries are guilt and resentment. We usually feel guilty when we feel we are disappointing people, and sometimes we feel resentment towards people that have crossed our limits. We feel they are taking advantage of us. Try to connect to how you are feeling and recognise if this is connected to unhealthy boundaries. These are not the only ways people can feel when boundaries are missing or are too rigid. Some people feel sad,  isolated, powerless and/or generally uncomfortable. It’s also key to keep an eye on feelings that might be arising from your past experiences. Ask yourself: Am I feeling like this because of what’s happening now or is this coming from somewhere else? Doing a grounding exercise can help you connect to your here and now and answer this question honestly and calmly. 
  3. Be direct and honest. Practice being assertive. Assertiveness is our best friend. This is the skill to be able to communicate how we feel in a calm and clear way. With some people, we can find that boundaries are unspoken. There is no need to state them outloud or reiterate them - they simply understand where we stand and we do the same with them. That is usually connected to either knowing each other very well or having similar communication styles, views or values. With some other people, it’s not so easy and you will need to be more explicit about your boundaries. As individuals we come with different ideas, needs, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, political opinions and many other elements that will change our expectations of others and ourselves. Being direct and honest about your boundaries is the best way of ensuring you feel respected and comfortable in the company of others. Don’t be scared to voice your needs with new people. Doing it from the beginning often saves you a lot of time and energy in the future as people will already know where you stand. With people you’ve known for a while- it can take a bit more effort but it’s totally doable. We will look at some of the barriers in a little bit. 
  4. Consider cultural and social implications:. You might be feeling uncomfortable about things that have a cultural connotation. This is totally valid. You might be able to recognize if it’s possible for you to raise these concerns with the people around you so that your boundaries are respected. In some other cases, we might feel like the cultural context is the enabling of things we don’t agree with. For example, people in Argentina say hi with a kiss on the cheek. Both women and men do this between them. Let’s imagine you are living in Argentina but are not from there and you find this cultural tradition uncomfortable. You might not like to be touched or kissed by people you don’t know but you don’t want to be disrespectful to the locals or insult them by not engaging in their greetings. This is one of the moments when doing all of these steps would really help. Understanding where your boundaries are, consider if this is something you are prepared to tolerate, think about the cultural implications, and make your decision about where you stand. You might decide this is something you are not prepared to negotiate with and explain to the people you meet in Argentina that you prefer shaking hands. Considering whether or not to assert a boundary, of course, does not apply in situations where you are feeling oppressed or abused by cultural or religious reasons, which is never acceptable and you should not have to tolerate. 
  5. Stay kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to set boundaries. Unhealthy boundaries will affect your mood and general wellbeing so taking a step towards creating boundaries for yourself is nothing to feel guilty or embarrassed about. Start small! Like all new skills, it takes time to feel comfortable with them and this is no exception. Starting with a small boundary challenge is ideal to build up your confidence. For example: if you are trying to set a time boundary with work - instead of avoiding doing extra hours altogether, start by organising activities a few hours after work so you know you have to make it. Then start moving the time of these activities closer to the time you want to be done by. Creating healthy boundaries will allow you to feel empowered and it can result in significantly reducing anxiety levels as well as less of other negative emotions such as anger and resentment. It’s a win-win! Be kind to yourself, follow a realistic pace, and start drawing the lines where you need them. 
  6. Review your boundaries. As individuals we are constantly changing so make sure that every now and then you take some time to reconsider if the boundaries you have in place still work for you. If they don't - make some edits!
  7. Get support. If you feel you are struggling with boundaries, consider asking for a hand. Maybe friends or family can help if they know how you are feeling. Seeking support from our loved ones, our community or from professionals can help us look at our difficulties with boundaries in more detail and make some positive changes in our lives. There is no shame in asking for help; creating healthy boundaries can be difficult, and having someone by your side whilst you do this can make a big difference.

And lastly, hold yourself accountable for boundary violations too. It’s not about blame or judgement, but about responsibility.

That being said, it’s time for our goodbyes. Creating the space for this course with and for you has truly been such a joy. We hope you have enjoyed this course, have taken away certain tools to help you understand certain parts of yourself better now, and are ready to apply this knowledge to your daily life. It is not easy, so take your time, but don’t stop practicing. Take your time to process everything we’ve talked about and don’t be hard on yourself if these things continue to feel difficult.

The last homework for this session is… make a boundary plan!

What should this have?

  1. Your boundary styles with key people
  2. Common boundary violations that happen to you
  3. Common boundary violations you do to others
  4. A priority list of what you want to tackle
  5. Example phrases you want to use to assert your boundary 
  6. Your favourite grounding techniques

Remember, this is an investment in your own journey to recovery. Give yourself the best chance to build resilience. You can do this. 

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