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The Roles in Dysfunctional Families and Connection to Codependency & Boundaries with Sharon Martin, LCSW| 11.22.2023

In this episode, Kristen sits down with Sharon Martin, a psychotherapist and author specializing in codependency recovery. They delve into how challenging childhoods and family dynamics can lead to codependency and share some helpful strategies to build healthier relationships and boundaries.

You'll Learn

  • The challenges individuals face in setting boundaries and navigating codependency recovery.
  • Common misconceptions about codependent behaviors.
  • The importance of self-awareness in navigating the journey towards mental health and codependency recovery.
  • Strategies for fostering independence and healthier connections.

www.sharonmartincounseling.com

Resources

For counseling services near Indianapolis, IN, visit www.pathwaystohealingcounseling.com.

Subscribe and Get a free 5-day journal at www.kristendboice.com/freeresources to begin closing the chapter on what doesn’t serve you and open the door to the real you.

Subscribe to the Close the Chapter YouTube Channel

This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Kristen Boice

Welcome to the Close the Chapter Podcast. I am Kristen Boice, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counseling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode so be sure to subscribe Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. Today's episode is an episode that every person needs to listen to, especially if you struggle with people pleasing, kind of that fawning response if you fall into the category of codependency meaning you feel like in order to feel okay about yourself, your partner, your kids all have to feel okay. And we break down so much we look at dysfunctional families the roles in dysfunctional families and I hate the word dysfunctional family but you get the idea where nobody's perfect. So I don't want to paint this picture of a perfect family where we develop ways defenses, if you will protective parts. In order to gain belonging, love connection worthiness and a family system. We talk about codependency what is it exactly. And then how to set boundaries. It was such a good conversation. And I'm so excited to introduce you to my guest. If this resonates with you share it on social because I think this can be helpful to so many people, you're probably going to learn to listen to this a couple of times because there were so many such good information and so many pieces that will be important to integrate into your life. So let me introduce you to today's guest, Sharon Martin D s. W LCSW is a psychotherapist and author specializing in codependency recovery. For the past 25 years, she has been helping adult children recover from difficult childhoods, overcome feelings of unworthiness, and learn to set boundaries. Dr. Martin is the author of two books, the CB T workbook for perfectionism, and the better boundaries workbook. She also writes the popular blog conquering codependency for Psychology Today, and has been featured in various media outlets, including psych central WebMD, women's world and highly sensitive refuge. Those sound very powerful. And I think this is an episode that we're really breaking down the root of codependency we're looking at how did we develop it? How do we work through it. And it really starts with becoming more self aware of your patterns, your behavior, and then a willingness to dive into childhood not to blame but to create insight. And I definitely think you want to grab the workbook at Kristin KRISTNBO Ice, Krista de forgot the D Boice b l i see e.com forward slash free resources. So you can get the free journal that would be helpful to take notes, I think with this episode, and let me know what you think. Did it resonate with you? What were your takeaways you can share it on social or just send an email, go to the website, you can send an email or tag me on social at Kristen D Boice. So let's dive in to all things codependency boundaries, dysfunctional families. And let's take a deeper dive. Thanks for listening. And I can't wait to see what aha moments you have. Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. My guest today I have followed her work for a long, long time. She speaks kind of my love language, which is talking about family systems. I love talking about families, our family of origin, and diving into boundaries codependency, and she has been on several friends podcasts that I adore. And so I just am so excited to have the honor and privilege to introduce you to Sharon Martin today. Welcome, Sharon to the podcast.

Sharon

Thank you, Kristen, I am so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. And thank you to all of you who are listening out there podcast world as well. It's great to have this chance to talk about these issues that I think are super important. And I know that yeah, we have a lot in common in terms of our professional interests in the focus of our work. So I think it's going to be a fabulous opportunity to really delve into some of those things today.

Kristen Boice

Yes, so thank you so much. I thought we'd just get started with how did you get into the field of working as a counselor as a psychotherapist. Tell us your journey, though. See, that's interesting. Sure.

Sharon

I always know how fat how far back should I go on this as far back as you'd like? Oh, yeah. Well, you may be sorry, you asked to actually but no, I mean, really the most straight one word answer to it. And then I'll expand on this as my mom was a social worker and a psychotherapist. So that's really how I got into it is because that's what she did. And both of my parents are actually still really super committed to doing good work in the world. They're really fantastic in terms of trying to improve their community and the larger world. And whether it's environmental things or poverty, or all kinds of stuff, that they're really involved in a lot of great things that they do. So I think those were just values that were instilled in me and my sisters growing up that that was something that we were taught was important. So I ended up going to school and becoming a social worker. And I spent many years working with community, nonprofit organizations, a lot of work on working with the homeless, and in particular, I worked for many years working with homeless youth. And this may seem unrelated to what I'm doing now. But it's actually when I really thought back and saw what the thread was that connected this, it actually all really made a lot of sense to me, I was working with, like I said, for quite a number of years, I work with young adults and older adolescents who had they were living on the streets or in really bad situations where they had essentially either left home because home was so bad, or they had been thrown out that their parents had rejected them. And they were told to leave. So a lot of family problems chaos in a very dysfunctional family systems that were going on that led these young people to be in the situation that they were in. And so no, here I am many years laters. And I've been in private practice for a good 10 or 15 years at this point. And in my private practice work I really started working with, especially with adult children of alcoholics is really where I started my work. And then from there, and has sort of expanded and I think this is representative of what we see in a lot of understanding about families and these types of issues is that it's not just families where there are substance use problems, but there's dysfunction of all varieties, if you will, that goes on that leads to similar challenges for folks that are growing up in those families. So anyway, it's sort of expanded from there to working with adult children who have had all kinds of different challenging family experiences. So now we talk about this more in terms of developmental trauma, we hear this or childhood trauma. This is a way to frame this. Honestly, when I started out in this field 25 years ago, we didn't really talk about the issues in that language. And so I think it's nice to be able to have a term for it at this point and say, that really was traumatizing. And those experiences were formative for so many people. And this is what I hear from so many of the folks that I work with, either individually as therapy clients, or people that have read my books or articles and give me feedback on this is just how impactful these experiences have been for them in terms of who they are as adults, the struggles that they have in their adult lives and in their relationships. And I think often a feeling of why am I not over this? Why is it had such a huge impact on me? I mean, it's both the I wish it hadn't, but also, I think a feeling of like, I've done something wrong again, because it's still causing the problems. And there's a sense that I think once you leave home, or once you grow up that these things should sort of resolve themselves, right. It's our magical thinking, we wish I leave home and suddenly I will be free of those influences or those experiences, which you and I Chris didn't know. And of course everybody listening knows as well, because you've probably experienced these things, if you're listening to this podcast is that it doesn't just go away. And we really have a lot of work often as adults to try to sort of unlearn a lot of the things that we learned growing up and process and deal with those experiences that we have had. So anyway, I guess, a very long answer to your original question. But that has sort of become the focus of my work and working with adult children around sort of the consequences of those childhood experiences. So that's things about how dependency and healthy or unhealthy relationships, perfectionism, people pleasing, boundary setting all those things and general mental health I would say as well, self esteem, trying to feel good about ourselves and overcoming a lot of those issues that

Kristen Boice

are going to dive into all those things. Because that's so relevant to so many of us on many levels. We have something in common. My mom was a therapist, too. Here we go. See there's a tie here. The guy there. Yeah. So let's start with some foundational pieces for folks because some people listening will think Well, I didn't really have a dysfunctional family. My family was it was good. It was fine. It was good. How do you define dysfunctional family? Like what would be your definition? Kristen,

Sharon

you're giving me a hard question right off the bat. It's hard because I think it ends up making us think that there's this dichotomy there's functional and there's dysfunctional and I think really more accurately is for us to think about it is to what extent to what degree was your family dysfunctional? Because nobody's family is perfect, I think we tend to think, oh, a functional family is one that's got it all figured out. They always, you know, say the right things do the right things, they are emotionally intelligent, you know, they know how to show up for their kids and give them what they need it all the time. And that that never happens. Nobody has parents that always do the right thing and can meet all of their needs. So anyway, when we're talking about dysfunctional families, I think in this context, anyway, we're really talking about experiences where the family felt unsafe, either physically unsafe, or more likely, or more commonly, it's that you felt emotionally unsafe. And that can either be that you felt like you were not having your emotional needs met, right? There's what we call childhood emotional neglect is often the term that we use for that, right that your parents weren't tuned in to what you needed as a child. And so they didn't give you whether that was attention or validation, loving words, they didn't notice when you were struggling with a problem or with a difficult emotion, and they didn't help you through those experiences. Or it can also be that you had parents that were verbally abusive towards you that they said things that were hurtful to you that they emotionally unsafe, that could be like a manipulative person, it could be a parent who is what we call him mashed, which is, it's hard to explain, because it's sort of too close of a relationship, which sounds like what's the problem with that, that sounds like a good thing to have parents who want to be close to you. But there's really a lack of boundaries and an unmatched relationship, it's difficult for the child to develop a sense of self. And that means they don't feel like they're an independent, separate person. Instead, you feel like you're an extension of your parents, you have to do what they want you to do, you have to believe what they want you to believe. And if you don't, they often can be very angry with you. Or you could have parents who are very distant Oh, they could be sort of a narcissistic parent, or a parent who was more self absorbed, or they could be somebody who is really, it could even be a parent who's working very hard has three jobs is out of the house is just is not present for you. And again, that can be that emotional neglect, it could be physical neglect, that's a piece of that. So there's a whole number of situations. But I would say probably the common theme is that sense of I don't feel like my needs are getting met. And or it feels like it's an unsafe environment. For me, I don't feel like I have that structure, that containment that somebody who is going to be there to protect me and look out for me, which I think is really central to what kids need, whether they may not consciously be aware of that maybe when you're a bit older, but children are vulnerable, and they need parents to help them navigate the world and navigate their inner worlds as well. Yeah, I don't know if there's anything that you want to add, like I said, I think it's

Kristen Boice

stinky to this job. Yeah, cuz I think the whole key with the measurement is you can't individuate and separate and be your own person, it's a threat to the family system, it's a threat to the parents. And so you end up to belong in to get the AG not get your needs met you kind of people please, you almost don't even know you're doing it. It's one of those almost, because it's a role you kind of took on let's talk about roles and families? And what types of roles are there in families? And how do they show up in dysfunctional families?

Sharon

Well, when we think about a family system, what we're talking about is that everybody has a part to play in this dynamic. And the whole system works to try to maintain the system, that it'll make it sound very vague and complicated. But I think if you actually think about your own family, and the patterns that you would see sort of the repeat behaviors that you would see yourself, your siblings, your parents play, you do start to see who's playing what power and that everybody is trying to get not consciously but you just see this repetition of whether it's the same arguments, it could be a situation where mom and dad have a big argument dad leaves for dad drinks too much and the police get called and then you know, your sister's crying and you're trying to console your mother. Again, it can look a lot of different ways for a lot of different families. But again, there's often a sense of okay, the specifics might be a little bit different. But this is a similar situation that we keep finding ourselves in and we keep repeating the same parts that we're playing. So oftentimes, clients will recognize that okay, I have been playing this power since I was a kid and I find myself doing the same thing here in my adult really Shouldn't chips, and sometimes that's where you really recognize that this is not working well for B, it may have been something that you were doing as a kid. And I'm not gonna say that it was working per se as a child. But it made a lot of sense. Everything that you were doing was something that you were doing to try to cope with that really difficult, often scary experience that you were having. And as kids, we don't have resources of our own, we don't have a lot of coping skills, we don't have much life experience. So we're really limited in what our options are. So we do the best that we can, right. And so things like distracting ourselves or people pleasing, or overeating or restricting our eating. These are all just examples of things that we did, because they were the best coping skills we had at the moment. And again, we kept doing those because that was our role. That was our way of handling the situation. And like I said, oftentimes, the older we get, the more self awareness, I think we tend to have, hopefully, that'll go right, right. And we start to say, Okay, this was the best I could do as a kid. But now I would like to learn how to do something that's a healthier option, something that's going to work better for me that's not going to have unintended consequences that are not working.

Kristen Boice

Yes, I agree. I love talking about the birthplace of codependency as we're segwaying like, here's a dysfunctional family. What we're calling dysfunctional family, everybody's got dysfunction in it. I don't even like the label dysfunction. And it helps serve the purpose of explanation of how we kind of got to where we are. So we have roles that we take on and then how do we develop codependency let's start with defining what codependency is, and how to get to be what we call quote, unquote a codependent. Yeah,

Sharon

and and I'll maybe preface this with the same thing here is that I don't think the term codependent is a particularly great descriptor or a great label that most of us feel like, Oh, this is really feeling good for me to understand this about myself. I mean, what labels do sometimes feel like, okay, now I can sort of define what this is. But anyway, it's a term that I use as well, really just because it's what most people understand. It's a term that's commonly used. I wish we had a better one. But nobody has come up with something better that has stuck people have truck paid, but then nothing else is stuck. So for the time being, we're going to just use codependent. Even though it's not really particularly accurate term anymore, the way we use it, what we're really talking about is focusing on other people's needs, rather, to the extent that we are really sacrificing ourselves in a variety of ways, our own needs, our own interests, goals, things that matter to us could be our values, we're really focused on other people taking care of them, what do they need? How can I make sure that they're okay, sometimes this is the rescuing, it's trying to problem solve and make sure that other people aren't getting into trouble or having horrible consequences for their actions. That's sort of the classic picture of a codependent, I think that most of us have. And again, I mean, these are all related to those childhood experiences. Again, if you can think back about what that was like for you. And if you resonate with the idea, or you're having some codependent traits, and really think about what were the situations where, in your best interest to take care of other people, or how did it benefit you, if you were hyper aware of what everybody else in the family was doing. So that you could protect yourself, you could do whatever it was that you had, again, your limited options here to try to keep yourself safe and avoid situations that were uncomfortable or abusive or scary or difficult in a variety of different ways. Again, these are all survival skills, if you will, there are ways that we get through those difficult experiences. And again, by paying attention to what other people need and trying to meet those needs. Sometimes even before they know that they have that need, right we're trying to prevent bad things from happening is really what a lot of it comes down to. There's a sense of, okay, this helps we feel in control, because everything really feels so out of control. It's so scary. I can't really stop adults from doing things or even other kids. But we want to feel some sense of security safety control. And so this codependent behaviors will give us a sense of control. We're not really in control, so problematic because it's that false sense of control. And when we try to control other people and situations, well, first of all, I mean, it often just doesn't work because we can't actually make other people do the things that we think that they should do. And so that creates relationship problems. It causes frustration for us because we're trying to force something that quite likely other people don't want to do or they're not interested in that solution or are even interested in solving that problem. And so we ended up not being able to solve the problem. But I think then creating additional problems in the relationship. And just again, like I said, the sense of frustration is immense when you are trying to control other people and situations that you in fact, cannot. And then the other problem pieces, and we start to feel responsible for other people and their problems. And that doesn't work. Because those aren't problems and situations that we can actually do anything about, we often get very confused about the difference between influence and control. If we're talking about our partner, or our children, we have influence, our control is really very limited. But we tend to overstate that and fix that. Okay, I can get them to do things. But generally, what we're talking about is influence. And that's not the same thing. It's not nothing. But it doesn't mean that when I suggest something, or wants you to do something that you're going to do it. Yeah,

Kristen Boice

I think these are really, I love how you put codependence as you trying to meet the needs of other people. And people think, well, that feels like I could meet their need, and I could, if I meet their need, then there'll be happy, then they won't be mad at me, then they'll be pleased with me. And then there will be this tension between us. And then things will be good.

Sharon

Exactly. That's exactly where it goes. And then that feels like wonderful, right? They're going to be happy. And then by extension, I'll be happy. But it's very unbalanced, because it's all about the other person's needs. And very little about your own needs. Again, because this is one of those things that develops within us is this ability to suppress our needs. So we don't really even know we have a need until it's enormous sometimes. Because again, that's that survival piece from childhood is don't ask for anything, don't need anything, either. Because it's going to be dangerous in a sense of what if you do ask for it, because people are going to be angry with you for having a need, or you're going to be constantly disappointed, because people are not going to come through for you. And so you stop asking you stop needing anything. And then it feels like Oh, problem solved. But it's not problem solved. Because you still have needs because you are a human being and everybody has needs. And we can't have a satisfying relationship if I am always about your needs. And then there's very little coming back from the other person in terms of their interest in meeting my needs. And again, I need to take some responsibility for that. Because if I'm not ever saying I have a need, I can't expect people to be mind reader's. But again, the codependence will often find themselves in relationships with people who have a lot of needs and are often either very vocal about those needs, or they're really quite obvious that they're struggling with some major issues in their lives. It's very easy for that pattern to recreate itself, where here I am, again, taking care of other people, and my need just fall by the wayside. And I make excuses for that. And I say that's okay, their needs are more important than mine. Very familiar pattern. And there's a certain amount, I think, if we're honest, there's a certain amount of that self esteem that we garner from that, that we feel good at trying to help others because again, those are values that as a society, we think are good, and they are, right, what we're really talking about just bringing some balance back to our relationships. And this is one of the things that I talk with people a lot is that we're really just trying to reset things back to a balance point here, because things are so far out of balance in our lives, that it's not that we want to be selfish and have everything be about us. And oh, my needs are more important than everybody else's, no, but I need to just make sure that they're getting equal time here, right again, because this is both something that I need as an individual and I deserve to have my needs met. But it's also a part of having a healthy and fulfilling relationship with other adults is that there are some mutual give and take in relationships. Otherwise we're going to go in to constantly be unhappy and our relationships they are not going to be fulfilling if they are so lopsided, that it's all about the other person all of the time. Okay,

Kristen Boice

this just came to me as we were processing a little bit you're sharing would you call a codependent and this is a black and white I love gray and slim and gray. So it's not just a black and white bucketed answer. I just think for simplification. Would you call it someone that is a habitual caretaker because we frame that as positive too. And I don't mean caretaker of caretaking someone that's ill or something along those lines. I'm talking about an emotional caretaker. That person would be classified or we could say people pleaser. We kind of use that term a lot as a codependent. Would that be another way to say it to somebody that's like ah I'm not really a codependent but I am a people pleaser, but I do I am kind of a caretaker. Yeah, you put those in the same category.

Sharon

I mean, I would essentially I tend to think of codependency as a spectrum. So that again, this is not a you're codependent or you're not a codependent, it's to what extent Yeah, hell I love about drums. Right? Does that fit for how big a problem is it creating for you and your life and your relationships. And again, if we think about this on this continuum, this spectrum, we think about the way that we are socialized. And I think especially the way that girls and women are socialized. And we see a lot of overlap, self sacrificing people, pleasing, caretaking, mothering, those are on the spectrum, right. And if we're going to talk about when does that become codependent, right it? It is it's gray, I would say well, think about how many problems is that causing for you? How much distress is it causing for you? Are you able to do that caretaking, but also still prioritize your own needs? Are you aware of that you have needs? Does it feel like there are other people in your life who are interested in meeting your needs things along those lines. So again, our goal is not to stop being caretakers or not be concerned about other people's emotions, because that's not a good goal. It's not likely it's not realistic. And it also just feels like now we've missed the point of having relationships with people in the Aux one in the

Kristen Boice

app. Yeah, like, a truce can be true. I can get I seek Yeah. And I can have my boundaries at the same time and see what I need. And you can say what you need. And both are okay. Yeah,

Sharon

I think a great segue into thinking about boundaries, because boundaries are the way that we can put some limits on this and protect ourselves from, I would say, being taken advantage of by some folks, intentionally or unintentionally, and allowing ourselves to be manipulated or used in various ways, because we can't be vulnerable to that. Because again, if we don't pay attention to the old behaviors, the old ways of thinking the things that are those default settings that a lot of us have, we will easily fall prey to people who unfortunately, want to take advantage of that big cart that you have in that cart, caretaking nature, and use it all for themselves. Instead of people who are really interested in having that mutual relationship with you. I

Kristen Boice

find too, that it's almost like when you are uncomfortable sharing your own, you're not even like I'll ask a couple Well, what do you need and like, I don't know, your it's like, and I haven't even thought about it. It's almost like if one person does share what they need the other person that the codependent is like, Well, I gotta meet all these needs. And if I don't, they're gonna leave me it's like a fear of abandonment, a fear of being dissatisfied, which is the other person done in a healthy way, sharing what they need, it's not a threat, they're just communicating clearly, indirectly, less empathy, they're not being rude, but the other person feels then responsible back to your piece on responsibility, they take it on as I've got to meet all those needs, or the person is not gonna be happy with me, and they're gonna leave, or they set a boundary and that other person feels like they failed or brings up shame. So let's talk about boundaries. And what does it mean? And how do we communicate a boundary? boundary?

Sharon

Sure, a couple of different purposes for us. So I think most of the time we think about a boundary as a limit. So that's something that we are going to set in order to protect ourselves in some way. And this can be again, emotional or physical. But it can also be things that we are boundaries that we are setting limits that we are setting for ourselves around how we're going to use our time, our energy, our money, things like that. So I like to think of those boundaries as things that are going to make sure that I am doing the things that are most important to me, I'm using my resources for things that matter to me, rather than just sort of haphazardly, saying yes to everything, doing things without consciously thinking about whether they are in line with my goals and my values. And we also want to remember that boundaries also define who we are as people. So this goes back to what we're talking about in enmeshed family systems where we don't have boundaries, there isn't the ability to have privacy, there isn't the ability to have a unique sense of self so that I can have my own ideas and values and goals that are different than my families. If we think about as children grow up, there should be an sort of a natural process of that individuation. And that's just sort of this fancy word of saying becoming yourself becoming your authentic self. And usually we think about teenage years as this place of experimenting, but really, I think Think we're doing this to different extents, throughout childhood experiences is we're trying on ideas and different personality traits, we try different friends, we try different extracurricular activities, we see what we like, we're in this process of figuring out who we are. And of course, this really continues throughout our whole lives. But anyway, childhood tends to be a place where we do a lot of this because that's the developmental stage that we're going through. And then we usually think older adolescents, young adults, when we separate more and more from our parents, right? And again, that's a very active time in this room, am I going to be what do I want to study? What kind of work do I want to do like to marry? Or what do I want to do with my life, essentially, and we're figuring out who we are. But if you are an unmatched family, where there's no ability to do that, you're very constricted, I mean, you're essentially going to be who your parents say you're going to be, you're going to do what they say that you're going that they want you to do. And so there is no ability to separate, right, and that's that boundary. So I can have a separation of this is me, and this is you over here. And we're two separate people. And that's okay, right, we can be in relationship with each other, we can be close, we can communicate, we can trust each other, all these relational things, but there isn't a sense of like I have to be your clone, I don't have to be just like you, it says if that's threatening for the parent in the meshed family, is they need you to be just the same. They don't know how to tolerate that you might have different ideas, or want to do something that they don't understand or be something that they don't understand.

Kristen Boice

And really, really like, this just was a beautiful way you just articulated a boundary because we hear the word boundary all the time. Now it's like we'll set a boundary, we'll do this with boundaries, how you just set it in relation to family systems, that's really the origin of boundary. I think that's the birthplace of where boundary came from. It's okay for me to be me, it's okay for you to be. And those two truths can coexist when I grow and evolve into who I am meant to be my authentic self without you feeling threatened by that. So if I go to a school further away, I'm just using this as an example. But she want me to be super close to home. And that feels too scary for you, that feels too threatening. And I'm not going to pay for a school if it's not within certain miles of home, because I'm too threatened by you leaving as a parent, you're not allowed to have a boundary Meaning I'm not allowed to say what I what works for me what I want. That's a beautiful articulation. I've not heard from anybody when we talk about boundaries of really, that's the birthplace of a boundary. Therefore, why do we struggle with boundaries? It makes sense, right?

Sharon

Because if you can't be a separate, unique, independent person, then you can't set boundaries without mom or dad being upset with you. Yeah. Or without you feeling guilty about it. Yes, like you're doing something wrong, because it feels Yes, I'm threatening this relationship. I'm saying you can't be all up in my business are telling me what to do. And I can't make my own decisions, even though I'm 50 years old. Right? So that's where we get into those problem pieces with it is that we did aren't really feeling like we are separate people. And it's hard to separate from your parents. If your parents won't let go.

Kristen Boice

It as long as you feel guilty. That is I have so many clients, a wife. So YLC will say how you feel they get real big. I'd like now never tell my parent that. Are you kidding me? No way. And they're like, I would feel the guilt and the fear takes over. And almost like they go to their defensive shutdown. Like I'm just gonna avoid any kind of those conversations, because it's not worth it, they're gonna get too upset to dysregulated. So I'll pretend I'll go along a placate I'll say what they want to hear.

Sharon

I have sadly known quite a number of people who have not felt like they could really live their lives while their parents were still alive. Yes. And like I said, that's very sad. And I think there are probably a subset of parents who would say, I don't want you to do anything that I don't agree with. And there are other parents who I think really don't realize that they are holding their kids, their adult children back. So lots that there's just a lack of awareness on their part that their child is suffering to this extent, in part because their kids had never said it's just been the way it has always been. So we've worked

Kristen Boice

on our own self it is tough as a parent if we work on our own self that we can tolerate the discomfort of them individuating and separate like being their authentic self. So if they say they want to go to whatever school that's far away, you can go you can sue that part of you that scared and fearful. If we don't do that work, we fall into perpetuating would you call that codependent parent?

Sharon

Yes. And I think it's we're sort of getting into the nitty gritty of what's the difference between how dependent parenting and having a meshed relationship with your adult child. I think for our purposes, it's fine to use them interchangeably. There's technically a slight difference. But by and large, we're really talking about the same thing. Yes, where there's that over reliance on another person for emotional needs, that sense of needing to take care of them. Right. So we've got a mismatch in the relationship. And of course, parent child relationships are not the same as romantic relationships in terms of our expectations. But as children grow up, the relationship between the parent and the child tends to work should become more equal over time, right? As we when our children are young. I mean, it's very different in terms of expectations and power and the roles that we're playing. But as adults get there, we shouldn't feel like we are, I don't think emotionally responsible for our parents. I

Kristen Boice

think what happens to and I know we're almost out of time is we recreate a parent child relationship romantically. I see it a lot my office, it's like, okay, one person feels like you're parenting me and one person feels like well, you're acting more like the child. And I think that can dysfunctional families. It can transcend into that in romantic relationships, where it can play out as a parent child dynamic or Child Child dynamic. So but you're right.

Sharon

Often that codependent relationship feels like a person that we tend to call the codependent in the relationship is the one who's trying to parent right, the problems, fix it and make sure people are okay, take care of everybody's needs. And again, even the partner or the other person who's having a lot of struggles, even if they are aware that they're having a lot of problems in their life. Nobody appreciates being treated like a child when they're an adult. It usually doesn't work. Because they've been there done that doesn't feel good. I mean it right. It often feels very condescending, you know, to have somebody telling you what to do. We're offering you advice, when you're not looking for that.

Kristen Boice

I think that is so true. The condescending because you're like, Do you think I'm stupid? Do you think I'm an idiot is kind of what people will say, right?

Sharon

I mean, I think you know, codependence, by and large, have very good intentions in trying to take care of people and trying to make sure that they don't end up in worse situations. But there is I think it's an offshoot of that wanting to feel in control is there becomes a sense of like, I know better than you do what you need. And that's the part that starts to feel condescending, because you don't you think you do, but you don't. Because how can you know what somebody needs more than they do? I don't think it's possible.

Kristen Boice

I agree. I think that's a really good point. What are the top three recommendations you have for someone wanting to set a boundary? Like where do they start? To understand

Sharon

what it is that you need? What are you trying to accomplish with the boundary? So a boundary should be rooted in a need, I need something? That's where I start with the boundary? And then you want to figure out, what are my options? How can I get this need met? Sometimes the need is going to be something that I can meet myself, it's an action that I can make, it's a change that I can make on my own? Or do I need to ask somebody else to change their behavior. And this is where I often we will skip over that possibility that it's something we can do on our own and think, Oh, I got to ask somebody else to do something. And that's not necessarily wrong. I mean, sometimes we do, or sometimes it's a viable option. But again, we need to remember that sometimes people are not going to be willing to make those changes. And that doesn't mean we have no options, right? We want to remember that some situations we can make a change, they just tend to not be the changes that we want to make. Because let's be honest, if I mean, I would prefer you to do the changing, it's not easier, I'd prefer you to change than for me to have to change. So sometimes it feels like it's not my top choice, but it is still a good way to get that need met. And I've lost track on it. You know what, how many steps online now, but anyway, we want to evaluate? Is it working, and then we're going to keep adjusting, we want to remember that setting boundaries is not a one and done situation in most scenarios. So sometimes we need to keep setting the same boundary. If we feel like this is a good approach. Or if it's not working, we want to come back and say, Okay, what are the other options? Is there a different way for me to communicate this? What is it that's not working here, do that troubleshooting piece, so that we can try to fine tune the boundary until it's working better for us.

Kristen Boice

I love your first step, figure out your need. That is essential. I think that's your roadmap. That's your navigational system. If you really don't know what needs you're trying to get met, whether for yourself, it doesn't mean that other person is going to meet that need. It's for yourself. It's I think that's a beautiful way to articulate a boundary. Yeah,

Sharon

I need to feel respected in this relationship. I need to save my money. I need more sleep, what is it that I need? And people we often skip over this and I'll tell you the other thing is by focusing on understanding what your need is, you're also going to avoid doing things confusing boundaries with ultimatums or punishing other people because it's unlikely that you're gonna see my need is for you to suffer. That's not mine. Right? My need is to be understood or my need is to feel respected. I can frame it in a way that is actually based on what my need is, and therefore I'm sure that the boundary I I'm setting is for me. And it's not for somebody else's detriment, I guess I would say,

Kristen Boice

would you say be clear and specific about the knee? Yeah, I

Sharon

mean, you want to be clear with yourself, I mean, the clearer that you can be I think the better the boundary will be. But also, we want to be clear and specific will if we're going to be communicating the boundary to other people. Absolutely. I guess we could probably have a long conversation about that, and just getting into communication, because it's tough, you know, especially if you really didn't learn a lot of communication skills, or see people communicate and how the ways and there tends to think it's just universal, that we tend to think that we're being clearer than we are because we understand what we're saying and why we're saying it. But we have to really explain things in a lot more detail for other people to understand them.

Kristen Boice

Yes, we might have to have a part two on communication around boundaries. Where can people find your books, your resources? Yeah, perfect segue.

Sharon

So the books, the better boundary workbook and the CBT workbook for perfectionism should be available from most bookstores. So those are on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, wherever you tend to buy your books support your local bookshop, hopefully they have it there. And then on my website, live well with Sharon martin.com, is where people can find all the rest of my articles that's

Kristen Boice

been so delightful to talk to you. I feel like we could go on for hours. Because you have so much wealth and wisdom of information and your heart, you could just feel it coming across when you're sharing your passion in helping others. So thank you so much for being here today. With us. I was so grateful. Oh,

Sharon

thank you. It's my pleasure. And yes, I agree. There's much to be said. They're complicated issues. So yeah, for everybody who's listening, they get slow. I would say it's a lot to digest, depending on where you are in that journey. But hopefully that has been supportive for people. And thank you again, Kristen. It's been great to be here.

Kristen Boice

Yeah, thank you, you might well listen to this podcast a couple of times, because there was so much depth of wisdom. So feel free to listen to it. Again. I feel like there was different pieces and nuggets, I just sometimes listen to things twice because it sinks in deeper and then a third time you're really grasping the concepts more. So I always say if this felt like a lot, you resonated on many points, just listen to it again, if you need that support. And sometimes when you're really starting this journey, it's helpful to have encouragement along the way and let the service have encouragement that you're on the right path to self discovery and self empowerment. So thank you for being here and listening. And I'm so grateful for your sharing and your work. Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoy this episode, click the subscribe button to be sure to get the updated episodes every week and share with a friend or family member. For more information about how to get connected visit kristendboice.com. Thanks and have a great day.