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Ep. 119 – Boundaries Can Be Life Changing

In this episode Jeff and Doreen discuss setting Boundaries. When you set a boundary with other people in your life, it can be very empowering and can really accelerate the healing process and your growth after divorce.


Jeff: Good day, everybody. Today, we’re going to be talking about boundaries. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Doreen: Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter.

Hey, Jeff.

Jeff: Hey, Doreen. How are you today?

Doreen: Good, good.

Jeff: Good.

Doreen: All right, so this kind of goes with last week’s episode.

Jeff: It certainly does. It’s a great segway from the manual into boundaries,

Doreen: Right? Because we if you listen to last week, we spoke about manuals, which basically is an unwritten operational instruction manual that we have for people in our life.

Many times we have it for our significant others, our partners or family friends. And so hopefully you’ve listened to that podcast episode if you have not. We encourage maybe listening to that one first and then coming back to this one.

Jeff: We also talked about taking full responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions and getting rid of the manuals and focusing on the only person that you can control, which is yourself.

Doreen: Absolutely.

Jeff: And that’s where I think boundaries can really help.

Doreen: And, you know, when we talk about manuals, when we spoke last week, we also talked about how people expect other people to behave or act in certain ways and how we get all emotionally tied up into that. And we can’t control other people. And I think we brought a good point, which was some of us need to really focus more inward and control the things that we can control within ourselves to grow to that next amazing place after divorce.

But yeah, so let’s first what were the episodes? Cause I know that we’ve done some boundary episodes previously.

Jeff: There are episodes eight and nine eight being setting internal boundaries.

Doreen: For ourselves, right?

Jeff: Right. And then nine is external boundaries.

Doreen: And I think after divorce, setting boundaries is something that can be very empowering. But I can also suggest that most of us really don’t, while we have great intentions setting boundaries or wanting to set boundaries, we really need to go back and kind of understand what a boundary is, how we define it, how we tell somebody else what the boundary is. Explain the boundary and then what we do when a boundary is broken. But as we know, Jeff likes to give us the Google’s definition.

Jeff: I do.

Doreen: And so what’s a Google?

Jeff: Well, the definition of boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area or a dividing line.

Doreen: Interesting.

Jeff: Well, that’s such as like a fence around a home for example.

Doreen: Right. Right.

Jeff: And when somebody crosses that line onto your property, that’s where they’ve broken the boundary. They’ve crossed the boundary.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: So in our definition, it’s a little bit different. Here what you’re doing is you’re setting a protective barrier around yourself, so to speak, to protect yourself from other people’s behaviors or actions that you don’t like.

Doreen: Right. And I think that when, frankly, you can learn how to create these boundaries and enforce these boundaries with, of course, love and kindness in a kind way, it can be tremendously life changing, especially when you’re picking up the pieces from your divorce and working on designing your best life.

Because I think a lot of us accept violations of boundaries because we don’t want to we don’t want to hurt other people, we don’t want to hurt ourselves. We just kind of take it. We want to be maybe some of us people pleasers, right? And so we just accept things that we just don’t like. And, you know, one of the main things about our coaching and about our podcast is that you coming off a divorce, you have to put yourself first.

And that doesn’t mean that, you know, if you have children and other people in your life that you aren’t caring for them and loving them and you know, doing what you need to do to be responsible for them. But so many of us just don’t put ourselves first. And you know who you are. You know, the people pleasers out there.

You’re probably smiling right now. I was a people pleaser for a long time myself. So I get what you’re talking about.

Jeff: You know, and the other side of that, you know, boundaries can be mistaken for a controlling mechanism, you know. And of course, once we explain a little bit further, you’ll realize that it’s just the opposite.

But you are kind of more of a protecting yourself from the behavior versus trying to control somebody else’s behavior. Because we talked about in the manuals, we cannot control somebody else’s behavior.

Doreen: Right. So that’s one of the key things we’re going to talk about as far as boundaries is you get to control the what happens if the boundaries broken.

You might think a boundary is to keep someone else out like you defined it like a you know, a line or a fence or something like this. And away from you, as we will explain, boundaries are different than that. For the purposes of coaching, you will realize that really they do quite the opposite, right?

Jeff: They really do develop strong relationships, intimate relationships.

Doreen: All right. So let’s get going.

Jeff: So how do you set a boundary?

Doreen: Well, you tell me.

Jeff: Well, first there are three parts.

Doreen: Well, I think, can we go back a little bit?

Jeff: Of course.

Doreen: The first thing I think we need to do is identify what boundary is that we want, what the boundary is.

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: And what is going on with you with another person situation that you are not okay with. Okay.

Jeff: Well, that’s the first step.

Doreen: Okay.

Jeff: Is identifying what is the issue.

Doreen: So we are on the same page

Jeff: We are on the same page going backwards at all. We’re going first to full steam ahead. You want to identify the issue and what someone else is doing that makes you upset, right? And or you don’t like, and it just plain outright bothers you. Don’t have to be anything major. It could be anything.

Doreen: And when we when we do this, we got to realize that we want to choose our boundaries, right? We don’t want a person that’s got a million boundaries everywhere. I mean, look, if you need them, you need them. But, you know, some people can go overboard.

Jeff: So you chose choose your battles.

Doreen: Well, choose your day. I say choose your boundaries.

Jeff: Choose your boundaries. Choosing your battles. So you have to you know, if you overuse the boundaries, I think they could backfire on you.

Doreen: Do you mind if we come up with maybe an example as we go through this, the first one, like identifying what someone else is doing that makes you upset?

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: So?

Jeff: You have one?

Doreen: Well, I just had a client that was, you know, we’re coaching her and I was she’s telling me and not too, you know, that her ex is when they talk about children issues he goes off the handle. She explains him as being very condescending, angry, raising his voice like screaming through the other end of the phone kind of thing.

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: That’s how she’s explaining it. So we are working on boundaries. So I think the first thing was identifying that. So maybe we can use that as an example, because she did tell me that we could talk about it.

Jeff: Well, if she’s out there listening,

Doreen: She will be.

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: So let’s identify that one as the issue. So in this case, we have an ex-husband, when they talk about co-parenting issues, raises his voice, is angry, condescending and loud.

Jeff: That’s definitely an issue.

Doreen: So I think we’ve identified that.

Jeff: The second part is making the request.

Doreen: Right. You know, so after you write,

Jeff: After you identify, you want to discuss what the behavior is, take the next step and clearly ask the person to stop doing whatever this something is that they’re doing that’s bothering you.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: It’s pretty simple.

Doreen: So I think it’s this is where the do it with love and kindness. Maybe not so much love. Love for yourself. No, let’s talk about love yourself. Because when you raise your voice and you go to that level to somebody else’s behavior that you don’t like, most of us, you know, it might feel good in a minute, but after we realize, look what he made me do again, you know, I raised my voice. I yelled back, We don’t want to go there. Right?

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: So we want to make the request of I don’t like it when you when we have a conversation about our son and you raise your voice, you’re condescending and you yell at me. So you identify clearly what the issue is. Now, you may get an immediate response from that. Right?

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: So be ready for that. So what you want to do is make sure that you approach it in the right atmosphere as well. Right. You certainly don’t want to do this in front of your child or your children. You certainly don’t want to do it when he is going off. Right. Right. He’s in that angry situation.

No, that is not a good time. A better time might be. Hey, you could text him and say, I want to talk to you about something. When might you have a time? Like five, 10 minutes for us to have a conversation? Really appreciate it. Right.

Jeff: And the other thing I thought of is, do you want to say I don’t like it when or I prefer that you, well, a lot of different ways you can communicate something and really make it sound coming from a different place.

Doreen: Exactly. So you want to choose your words very, very carefully.

Jeff: Maybe write down a few options to kind of help guide you along.

Doreen: Right. Because the way I said it probably wasn’t the best way you want to really come from a place of what’s going to work for this person in your life.

And you probably know some of the buttons that you can push. We don’t want to poke the bear here. Bear, right? So we want to come from a place maybe something like, you know, I really enjoy that we are trying our best to be co-parents. I think we’re doing a good job. And, you know, there’s just something that’s been weighing on me a little bit, and it’s when we have a co-parenting disagreement, from my perspective, you raise your voice and you can be condescending and in fact yell at me.

And this is something that just doesn’t feel right for me. Okay. But you don’t have to explain more than that, right?

Jeff: True.

Doreen: Okay. So what’s the third thing?

Jeff: The third thing is you have to establish a consequence, right? You know, there has to be a consequence that you can control and only you can enforce the consequence.

Doreen: Correct. And that’s where most boundaries lose their?

Jeff: Effectiveness.

Doreen: Effectiveness? That’s a good one Jeff. In other words, you can tell somebody, Hey, I don’t want you to do this and you can identify it, you can tell the person, but if you don’t have the power to do something to stop the behavior or to protect yourself from the behavior, then it’s not a good boundary to set.

Okay. So just keep that in mind, because there are some situations, I’m sure in most of our lives that we want to set a boundary, but we can’t control the other side of what we’re going to explain right now. So in this situation with a husband, ex-husband, I’m sorry, raises his voice during conversations about the child, she now has told him in a kind way she doesn’t appreciate this. Now, what’s the third thing she might say?

Jeff: Well, before you go on, I want to say one other thing. You said If you stop the behavior, you’re not going to you may not stop the behavior. Right. You should be ready for that. But you may not have to deal with that behavior.

Doreen: I stand corrected. What I meant to say. Let me clarify was that you stop the behavior from affecting you.

Jeff: Very good. Yes.

Doreen: Okay. So what would be the example for the third, which is establishing the consequence? This is where you will let the person know what you will do if they don’t comply with your request.

Jeff: And it could be something as simple as, you know, you’re raising your voice. Now, if you continue, I’m going to get off the phone.

Doreen: Right. But I think we need to go back. We missed a little bit of a clarity here.

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: We identified

Jeff: The issues

Doreen: The issue. We let him know that he was raising his voice and we didn’t like it, but we now would continue saying in the future, if we have conversations in which you get angry, condescending, raise your voice or any of those, I will end the conversation.

Jeff: Right. It was kind of like a request into the consequence.

Doreen: Correct. So you have to identify first decide the words you’re going to say, talk to the person in a loving kind way and explain what you will do if the behavior continues. We have to talk about our son. So we you know what we’re teaching you, what we’re conveying to you as far as coaching.

We have lived all of this and we had a situation when our son was a teenager. Like the later part of teenager, I would say 15.

Jeff: He was driving.

Doreen: So would it be 16, 16 through 18 where he was just not abiding by our rule, which was that you are home.

Jeff: Curfew.

Doreen: Curfew by whatever time. Right. And this we were talking primarily about during the week. So I’ll let you take it from there. We couldn’t figure out. I mean, we tried all the things like he would come in late, the house would be disturbed. The dogs are running the alarm. I mean, barking. The other kids are waking up, you know.

Jeff: And in some cases we were waking.

Doreen: We were waking up. It was just a mess. And then, of course, Jeff and our son are arguing and, you know, it just doesn’t make for any anything good. So we couldn’t figure out explaining it like, please don’t do this, can’t do this, trying to take away certain things. We just didn’t know how to establish the boundary. So go ahead.

Jeff: Well, I believe you came up with the great consequence of if you come in 10 minutes after your curfew, the front door, the back door, all the doors will be locked. Right. And as tough as it was.

Doreen: Well, let’s explain this.

Jeff: Well, go ahead.

Doreen: Let’s explain a little more, because we thought it through. We thought through what would happen if and you should think about this what would happen if he if we asserted the consequence. Right. Right. So we thought, okay, if he comes in 10 minutes after curfew and the doors are locked, we would expect that he would be self maybe knocking on the door.

He might be calling us. And we also knew that he could sleep. We have we had a fenced in back area. Yeah. Patio with, you know, patio furniture and a couch and all that back there. So we said well he, I guess he’ll sleep on the couch or in his car or in his car.

Jeff: In the car on the couch.

Doreen: And you have to, you know, he was like probably 17, almost 18 at this point. Right. So?

Jeff: Well, we got the phone calls. We got the knocking on the doors and we didn’t answer. We didn’t respond.

Doreen: It was hard.

Jeff: It was very, very difficult. And that’s why I thought this would be a great example, because this was it was very difficult for especially me, because, you know, of course, Bill and you two, we love him very much.

It was very difficult. And that’s probably why he’s gotten away with so much, you know, with me, you know, when he was younger. So but that was his last day of being late.

Doreen: And the consequence that we didn’t think through was because you have, you had I mean he’s in his twenties now and he’s just amazing doing so well.

But you had shared custody with your ex. He just decided that he didn’t like certain rules, that we had, certain boundaries we had established and he knew the consequence is and he spent more time at that point with his at his mother’s house, who did not. Right. So we had to make a choice as a family that certain things were just not acceptable for us.

So boundaries can be used with children as well. You know, this isn’t an almost adult child. I mean, he was an adult technically in Florida. That would be 18, but he was pretty close to it. And we want to say that when we talk about boundaries, these work very well with children. And most people already do this. They’ll say to their child something like, you know, if you don’t clean up after you plate after dinner or something like that, there’s no time in the video.

Or if you haven’t done your homework, then you don’t you won’t have video time or whatever it is, right. Or phone time. The problem that we have is that most of us many times just don’t enforce the boundary. And we know from therapist and the experts that with children, enforcing boundaries is key and they crave the discipline.

They need the direction, right with adults and especially someone like your ex that you’re trying to sort of boundary with. Probably not as challenging emotionally for you to just assert that boundary and then live by it. Right. It is what it is.

Jeff: And you know, our sons especially another great example of that, because I think the reason he had gotten away with it for so long is the consequences were not enforced for many, many years before that.

Doreen: We tried very much. And the next thing I wanted to talk about is that when you assert your boundary, you do not have to explain why. The example that we had given you about the ex and explaining if you raise your voice, if you are condescending, angry, I will end the conversation. And she doesn’t need to go on to say because it’s I don’t deserve this or it’s just rude or there’s none of that, you know, you don’t have to explain this with a boundary.

Now, with our son, for many years we had tried it, tried explaining and getting him to understand that when you come in pass curfew, it’s disruptive, it’s disrespectful. You wake up the whole house, you know, all of that. That was not registering as much as it would seem like common sense. It wasn’t registering. And many times when you want to explain something to someone and want them to be rational and just come to your side of the understanding and have an moment, typically that doesn’t happen and that’s why boundaries with enforcement are so powerful.

Jeff: I think the reason why what you just said is so true is that when he was coming in late, waking us up, whatever, whatever the consequence was enforced on us, he had no consequence yet. So we were the one being woken up. We were the one that was being disturbed. So the consequence was enforced on us right when it got turned around and the consequence was on him.

Doreen: It was like aha moment.

Jeff: It was aha moment. Yeah. He had something to lose.

Doreen: Exactly. So another thing we wanted to talk about, I think I touched at it on it at the beginning was if you identify yourself as a people pleaser, this concept of boundaries and establishing boundaries is probably going to be more challenging for you. It was for me and I address actually it was episode number 32 about people pleasers, and I would highly recommend that you listen to that episode if you believe that you’re a people pleaser because it’s very hard for people pleasers to assert something on someone else.

Usually it’s because of how they think the other person will think of them, right? You know, it gets in, it gets more deep into people pleasing.

Jeff: And I think that makes it a little bit easier to set a boundary if you do come from the kindness and come from love and the way you approach the person because people pleasers, they don’t want to hurt the other person, they want to please the other person.

So it might be a little bit more difficult for them. For an example, myself and my son, our son, we had a definitely, you know, spent you know, son, we love you. We’re doing this because we care about you.

Doreen: And while we didn’t have to explain that, you know, we chose to we chose to because he was still a child.

Right. And when you’re part of your I believe that. And I think we’ve said that as part of your responsibility as a parent is to teach our children. Right. And we talk about that in the previous episode on the manual about it. Part of our job as a parent is to teach them the operational manual of life, whatever that is, for your family, right? It’s right. So right.

Jeff: And I don’t think we explain to him why. I think we just came to him that we love you and this is what we expect of you. So at that point, we did because we had already done it. And I think that when you’re a people pleaser, I think that would really, really help you.

Doreen: Exactly. Let me just do one more quick example. I know we’ve talked about this numerous times and but, you know, let’s say you have someone in your life that’s always late for lunch or meetings or whatever you guys do, like not business, okay? Because business is different. But, you know, if you’re someone that has a friend, for example, that’s always late and it kind of ticks you off and we all know who those people are and if we are the person that’s always on time, we’re not on time.

Okay. So you can say to your friend, Look, I really enjoy having lunch with you. It’s something that I really look forward to. I don’t like it that that I’m usually here ten, 15 minutes waiting for you. And so what I’ve decided is I still want to continue to have lunch with you. I can’t wait, you know, to try all these new places that we’ve been talking about. But the next time you’re more than 10 minutes late, I’m going to go ahead and leave and then we can talk about maybe rescheduling. Right.

Jeff: That’s a great example. Great example. And then, of course, you have to get up and leave when it’s 10 minutes late, right?

Doreen: That’s not really that you’re trying to teach something to someone. Yes. And with our son, we were trying to teach him about curfews and responsibility and priorities and things like this. But when you’re dealing with adults, you’re not trying to change your friend’s behavior. Again, that’s the manual. You’re trying to protect yourself from what you don’t like. And in that circumstance, sitting around by yourself for 10 15 minutes waiting for your friend is something that you know and that example you don’t like.

Then you just take control of it and you go on with your day. Yeah, Usually the it does have an effect on people, right?

Jeff: I mean, it’s that simple boundary allows your friend to behave the way they want to while allowing you to protect yourself, your emotions, and of course, something very important in your time

Doreen: It really boils down to loving yourself enough to be honest with the people in your life. Be real with them and be real with yourself. You know, one thing that I would say when I was established in my boundaries, you know, throughout my life when I learned this, is that this is for me and for my family, this is for the people that I love. And I have to love myself first. So remember to set boundaries, though, from a place of kindness and at the right time.

That’s very, very important. Proper boundaries come from a place of love. If you’re angry, mad, frustrated, just upset, not in a good mood, whatever it looks like that is not the time again, to do that. You want to simmer down, go take a walk, really take your time. Think about the best time to approach it.

Jeff: And remember that if you’re willing to have the courage to honor yourself, tell the truth and protect yourself, you will see an increase of peace and intimacy in your relationships and your future life.

Doreen: The respect that comes along with it is tremendous.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Doreen: Absolutely. So using opportunities that are uncomfortable, which I know for many of our listeners, setting these boundaries will be just try it out for size. You’re going to feel uncomfortable, try to establish it, see how it works for you. And of course, as always, if you have any questions, you want to run it by us, please come visit us.

Jeff: Yes, you know, look us up on the website. Our website is

Doreen: We only are taking a limited number of clients right now. We do one on one coaching and it is a six week coaching program with six amazing videos where one of the video topics that we get into is about boundaries.

But I’m not going to spoil your curiosity, which I know you have about all the rest of the yummy stuff in there, but you get six videos, the worksheets, and then we have coaching, right?

Jeff: You can reach out to me. I’ll spoil it for you.

Doreen: Yeah, you will. And you get to come in for a complimentary session and try it on for size, see what you think about it. So we only have a few spots open and we look forward to hearing from you or someone you might know that might be interested.

Jeff: Very nice. Well, next week, another episode.

Doreen: Yes, sir.

Jeff: Until then.

Doreen: All right, everybody, have an amazing day. Be kind to yourself and others, and we hope you try the boundaries on for size. Let us know. We love to hear from you.

Jeff: Sounds great. Bye bye.

Doreen: Bye.

Jeff: You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash

Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.

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