Mandy Hale said, “It is necessary and even vital to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” And author Shannon Adler said, “Courage does not happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
Challenges start when you don’t know the answer, and most often, it takes courage to stand up to the challenges and barriers in your search for the answers to the questions you’ve been avoiding your whole life.
Today, my special guest is Nedra Tawwab, a sought-after relationship expert and a licensed therapist with 12 years of practice in relationship therapy. In this episode, she will talk about why boundaries are the only way to feel at peace, how to set boundaries for ourselves, what we should do with people in our lives who continue to cross these boundaries, the common issues in relationships that don’t work, how to become better communicators in our relationships, and why therapy is so important for so many people. There are so many exciting things to talk about in this episode of The School of Greatness, so let the class begin.
Nedra Tawwab is a well-respected licensed therapist with more than 12 years of practice in relationship therapy. She is also the owner and founder of a therapy practice group called Kaleidoscope Counseling, where she helps people cope with worrying, depression, and trauma. She also counsels couples with communication problems and those whose relationships are challenged by infidelity, helping them reconnect with each other and improving their relationship for a better quality of life.
Nedra earned her graduate and undergraduate degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She also earned a certification in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and another certification in working with families and couples. Nedra had advanced training in adult counseling, specializing in childhood emotional neglect.
Nedra Tawwab is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, available on Amazon and her website, was an instant bestseller. She runs a popular Instagram account where she shares practical tools, practices, and mental health reflections. The New York Times featured her among the Instagram Therapists as among the new Instagram Poets. Instead of poetry verses in typewriter fonts, they share creative graphics that encapsulate the “aha” moments of mental therapy sessions. The Guardian also featured her social media advocacy for reaching out to those suffering silently from mental problems.
Every day, Nedra Tawwab helps people create healthy relationships by guiding them on how to implement boundaries. She believes that lack of boundaries and assertiveness are the usual causes of most relationship problems. She uses her gifts in helping people create healthy relationships with themselves and others. And in this episode, Nedra Tawwab will tackle some critical relationship issues.
Personal boundaries are essential in healthy relationships because they provide the foundation for your expectations, behavior, and how you communicate with others. But sometimes, setting the limits can be challenging and difficult, especially if you want everyone to be happy. Nedra Tawwab has some thoughts to share about why it can be difficult sometimes to set boundaries.
“Because we’re emotional beings. When you talked about us having emotions and feelings, we feel that when we set boundaries … we’re constantly thinking about how [this might] make them feel. … And it’s really a process we go through that takes us away from setting the boundary with the person because we’re so scared to really execute what we want because we fear [for] the reaction of what they might say or do if we set the boundary.” – Nedra Tawwab
We often react differently when we don’t get what we want or when what is happening around us isn’t what we expected, resulting in frustration or hurt feelings. Whether it is an intimate relationship or a family or business relationship, when the boundaries we have set are not met, we feel violated or abused. But sometimes, these things happen due to a lack of communication or alignment with the boundaries set by each person in a relationship. So, how do we align boundaries?
“We find the alignment when … we wait until something has happened 100 times, and now the person sees it as really offensive that you’ve come to them after the hundredth offense. And you’re now saying, ‘Why did you do this?’ [or,] ‘I need you to do this.’ … It’s much easier when we are more in tune with ourselves — where we really tap into our feelings of discomfort, frustration, being angry — and act, instead of waiting until things are at a point where we can’t take it anymore. And so if we speak boundaries sooner, it’s much, much easier to set boundaries.” – Nedra Tawwab
When you set boundaries, you have to communicate and talk about your expectations. Oftentimes, boundaries are not discussed. Instead, they have become self-imposed boundaries unknown by the other party. Your partner will only know such boundaries exist after several months of observations on your reactions to certain things and actions. The alignment only happens after several frustrations, arguments, and quarrels — sometimes to a point of a breakup. But if you take the proactive approach by discussing boundaries with your partner, you can avoid a disaster.
But before discussing boundaries with those around us, it’s best to know how the word “boundary” is defined.
“When we think about boundaries, we think about them as something with someone else. … A boundary could be a morning routine. A boundary could be, … having some quiet time after lunch. That’s a personal boundary that you honor for yourself. And so that does bring you a lot of peace. And so when we think about boundaries, it’s not just all of these things that we need other people to do, it’s also what we need to do with ourselves.” – Nedra Tawwab
Setting boundaries should also be done toward yourself. Some successful people have high boundaries toward themselves that allowed them to reach greater heights of success. But there is also the danger of having boundaries that are too high. There will be a lot of frustrations when you fall short of your expectations. You will easily get upset, angry, and stressed. Anxiety and depression will quickly set in if there is no alignment with your boundaries. Nedra Tawwab has a piece of advice on how to set the right boundaries for ourselves and in relationships.
“It’s very important that you state what you need — not just the problem. I think the problem [is] … we’re [so] used to talking in terms of problems, … [instead of] focusing on ‘This is what I need,’ ‘This is what I want,’ and ‘This is something that makes me feel really safe and comfortable.’ …. I think the biggest challenge that we have with honoring our own boundaries is self-talk.” – Nedra Tawwab
Communication is essential in relationships. By communicating what you need, what you want, and what you expect from a relationship, everything should be smooth-sailing, and you should experience peace and harmony with the people in a relationship — that is the perfect scenario.
When you communicate boundaries to the person you are in a relationship with, you are also demanding change — change in lifestyle and habits. However, change will not happen overnight. It may take some time for the change to happen, and it requires patience and understanding. You also need to work with the person on how to manage the change so that both your boundaries are aligned. But there are also times when these boundaries are regularly crossed, and the person falls back to their old habits.
“John Maxwell has an interesting quote in one of his books where he talks about changing the personality of your employees, and he talks about hiring the people that you want to have in the role because you like them. Because if someone is not friendly, you can remind them to be friendly and they can do it for a little bit. … We have to be patient because this is something we may have been thinking about and something that is just disrupting our spirit, and this person had no idea. This is new information. Allow them time to process and actually practice as humans. … And so reminding them, … might be a natural part of the process.” – Nedra Tawwab
Effort, patience, and a little bit of sacrifice will make your relationship work. You cannot impose your boundaries all the time. Sometimes, you have to compromise at the start as the person is adjusting to the required changes for the alignment of each of your boundaries.
But what about people who simply cannot conform to your needs? Should you cut them out of your life?
“I don’t think that’s healthy because everyone doesn’t need the same boundaries. And so they’re a unique experience based on the relationship. … Every coworker doesn’t need the same boundaries as you. And so we have to be in a relationship with people and see how things go, and what we’re comfortable with, and what we’re not comfortable with. And that’s how we determine the boundary.” – Nedra Tawwab
Setting up the boundaries is a two-way process that requires sacrifice from all parties concerned. There have to be some compromises to ensure that not just one party is comfortable, but both.
Still, there are toxic relationships where both parties simply cannot come to terms. However, sometimes these are people you could not just cut out because they are a part of your life like your parents or relatives. How would you deal with them?
“Maybe changing your expectations of the person and dealing with it. Maybe … severing ties in the relationship. Maybe … speaking to them less frequently. …. There are so many things. … I don’t think there’s one that works for everyone. … You can’t cut those people off. But could you talk to them less frequently? Do you have to talk to your parents every day, or can it move to a few times a week and see how that feels? So there are lots of things that you can do.” – Nedra Tawwab
You can’t cut some people off from a relationship but there are things you can do. You can modify your boundaries and lower your expectations. By doing so, you can avoid cutting off a relationship while not worrying about your boundaries being crossed.
Guys, this interview is packed with so much value and wisdom from a relationship expert, and I’m sure you will find some life lessons from our conversations. Listen to the full episode for more insights from Nedra Tawwab, and don’t forget to share it with someone who needs to hear it.
Follow Nedra on Instagram and check out the free resources on her website! You can also take the free relationship quiz to find out the relationship reflection result she will send through your email address.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Brené Brown, “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” It’s a perfect quote to remind us to continue to create boundaries in life in our journey to greatness. I would also like to share with you Nedra’s definition of greatness.
“Being yourself! — that is my definition of greatness. … So often, we are determined to be everything else other than ourselves. So I would say when you can become more of yourself … that is greatness.” – Nedra Tawwab
Be yourself, keep on creating boundaries, and do something great each day.