Listen to this episode with Angeline Simonovich to learn about the importance of boundaries, and how they can free you and support you in having healthier, more satisfying relationships.
Angeline Simonovich is a leadership coach and organizational development consultant. Her mission is to empower humans to start living a life more authentically aligned with their values and purpose, and to remove the proverbial mask we all have a tendency to wear as we walk on this journey of life. Having lived through a decade of life filled with trauma, shame, and emotional armor, Angeline experienced the power of embracing her life experiences in order to become more resilient. Holding boundaries as the foundation of her work, Angeline has helped individuals get clear on what they want out of life and understand themselves better through identifying values, goals, priorities, and purpose. Angeline truly believes that once we are able to show up as we are, every aspect of our lives will feel more aligned, and we’ll start to realize that we’re all actually more alike than we are different.
We recorded this episode on October 20, 2022.
Contact and follow Angeline on Instagram – asyouare.coaching.
You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.
Yourself is the person that you need to take care of and love because you are guaranteed to have yourself for the rest of your life. – Angeline SimonovichTweet
Timeline of the Chat
00:11 – Defining boundaries
04:28 – The Importance of Boundaries Work
09:09 – Do values and boundaries change over time?
15:47 – Examples of boundary statements.
16:17 – Boundaries and Family Expectations
17:27 – Approaches to setting boundaries
20:40 – Recommended Resources
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I need this. I want this. I’m not comfortable going to that person’s house because of the way they speak to me. That’s a boundary. – Angeline SimonovichTweet
- Use WOOP to Overcome Obstacles
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, Nedra Glover Tawwab
Boundaries can also shift. Our needs can shift. We are very fluid beings. We don’t have to stay the same. – Angeline SimonovichTweet
Transcript of the Episode
[00:11] Damianne: So we’re going to be talking about boundaries and just to make sure that listeners are on the same page in terms of what we’re talking about how do you define a boundary? Or maybe what is it not? What do you see people commonly misinterpret a boundary as?
[00:24] Angeline: Oh, those are both great questions. I would say a boundary, defining it, is twofold. A boundary is a need that is expressed, and it is also a demarcation line to say this is where my responsibility to you ends and the responsibility to myself starts. That’s how I would define what a boundary is. It’s not a, you know, great wall that prevents relationships from happening. It’s not a way to sabotage relationships. It’s not unkind. Those are the things that I think boundaries, people think they are. They’re not aggressive like people think they are.
[01:03] Damianne: And I think that’s interesting because that brings up the question for me, too, or do you have to communicate it for it to be a boundary, or can it be something that controls your own behavior?
[01:14] Angeline: Yeah, that’s a good question. So boundaries, there are many different types of boundaries, right? So boundaries with self, I would say, is the foundation. We all have boundaries with ourselves. So what is that?
For example, my boundary, I need seven hours of sleep minimum a night. So it doesn’t matter if I’m having a grand old time at night or doing something, you know, that I don’t want to leave. I will make sure that I get out of whatever situation I’m in to get into bed, to have that seven hours of sleep. And you know, people can be upset about that, right?
I can be at a dinner or a party and someone says like, why are you leaving? We’re having a great time. This is my boundary to myself, right? I need my seven hours of sleep. So if somebody asks me, I’m happy to share that boundary, but it’s something that I know that’s unspoken for myself, and I know I’m at my best when I have that seven hours of sleep.
When it comes to relationships, let’s say, I don’t believe boundaries are typically stated, and this is not right or wrong until they’re breached. That’s when we communicate to others because how would they know otherwise? Sometimes we don’t even know our own boundaries. That’s my perspective on it.
This is something important to say. I’m not a licensed therapist. I want to make sure that that’s said out loud. These are all based on my own experiences in therapy, in coaching, in life. Life has been the biggest teacher for me. So I just want to make sure I let that be known that I’m not a licensed therapist, who are incredible in helping me learn what these things are. So I’m just sharing information that I’ve.
[02:48] Damianne: Maybe this is a good point. Tell people what you do.
[02:52] Angeline: Oh yeah. I am an organizational development consultant as my full-time job. I coach and I consult leaders of mostly Fortune 500 companies on their people strategies, so how do we get people more engaged? What’s working about our company? What’s not? How do we have better meetings? How do we prioritize better as a company, et cetera?
I’ve also started a leadership coaching business where I help others and empower others to show up as themselves. It’s called As You Are Coaching because I feel so many of us walk around with this mask on, this mask that we think people want to see because we’re not gonna be accepted for who we truly are. And when I was able to do this work, it literally changed my life. So I’m here to help others uncover their values, who they are, what their purpose is, truly stand in their own power of their individuality, and see the magic that could unfold when you are authentically you in life. That’s another big part of my life that brings me a lot of energy
[03:58] Damianne: And if somebody’s listening and they’re thinking, Oh, I wanna know more about that, where is a good place for them to go?
[04:04] Angeline: I have an Instagram page. That’s the best place to reach me it’s @asyouare.coaching and there you can either message me and I also have a link to book a free discovery call, so a free chemistry call to see if working with me would be a good fit. Sometimes that doesn’t have availability but feel free to message me as well, and we can always work something out because I just love meeting new people.
The Importance of Boundaries Work
[04:28] Damianne: And where do boundaries come up in your work?
[04:32] Angeline: A lot. They come up a lot. I would say the majority of people that I work with don’t actually understand the boundaries that they have with themselves, which then leads to them feeling what I like to call remnants of resentment in life, whether it’s resentment towards their spouse, their boss. And they don’t realize that a lot of it has to do with the inner work.
I would say self boundaries start first. We actually figure out what are your boundaries. What do you as a human being need? So many of us don’t know that. We literally walk through life thinking that we have to be a certain way, and if we express those needs, aka boundaries, then we’re doing it wrong or we’re not entitled to have these needs.
Then we figure out and uncover ways in which that shows up in the relationships at work, with family. Family’s a big one.
[05:29] Damianne: When you introduced yourself a bit about your work, you mentioned values, and that has been something that I’ve noticed ties into well, boundaries, and everywhere else in life. Because how can you know what’s okay and what’s not okay if you don’t know what you value?
[05:47] Angeline: Absolutely. Yes.
[05:49] Damianne: I had a recent episode where I shared an online resource that people can use to help them figure out their values because I think how it often shows up for people is there is this niggling sense of, I don’t like that, or frustration or unhappiness without actually pinpointing what is the cause of that?
And so I wonder, as you talk to people, how does this come up? Or where does it show up? Is this part of a diagnostic process or how often do people know that they have a boundaries problem?
[06:21] Angeline: Yeah. Well I love the tie-in that you have to values first. There’s a very fun activity, I would say, that I do with a lot of clients where we do a value sort. We look at a list of a lot of values. We do an exercise where we help narrow down, what are my personal values? What are the things that are very important to me and by which I make my decisions if I was truly being authentically me?
So we start off there and we think through every area of your life in terms of where am I feeling unfulfilled and what’s missing in that area. So is it In your relationship, in your work, in fun and leisure? There’s a big tie in, right? Let me give an example.
So one value for me, wellness, like my physical wellness means everything. Mental health is part of physical health to me. So my value being wellness , the boundaries that I need to place are the boundaries that enable me to optimize my wellness. The sleep boundary is a big example of that. I don’t want to sacrifice my health so that I can be accepted by other people.
We are social beings, we want to be accepted. This idea that we have that if I let people know what my needs, they’re not gonna want me in their life, or they’re not going to invite me to the next event. If that is the case, there is another look into that relationship,
[07:45] Damianne: Like Maybe that’s true and maybe that’s okay.
[07:49] Angeline: Exactly. I can’t tell you for sure that that’s not gonna happen. But do you wanna live your life with that only accept you when you’re in those people pleasing moments, where you’re living for pleasing them versus living for yourself.
No thank you. I did that for a very long time, and it was a recipe for misery and burnout and resentment.
[08:11] Damianne: Yeah. I have values that I don’t smoke. I don’t. Drink alcohol. And so sometimes people have said, Oh, that makes me feel awkward if like, we’re out and you’re not gonna have a drink. And it’s like, first of all, that’s not on me if you feel awkward. But second of all, I don’t know why my decisions are so significant in terms of how you’re feeling. What is the real problem here that we need to address if you’re not comfortable in this situation?
[08:41] Angeline: Oh, I love that. That’s a great example. I know now more and more people are experimenting with, you know, removing alcohol from their lifestyle. And I don’t judge. You drink, you don’t drink, I don’t care. But when someone else cares that you are making that decision for yourself and it does not impact them, that is definitely an invitation for them to go inward and ask themselves, why is that making me uncomfortable? That’s a great example and I appreciate you sharing that.
Do values and boundaries change over time?
[09:09] Damianne: And I think the other thing with values, and I think of values as being kind of central, is a curiosity that I have about how often do they change or are there times when what we think our values are are different than what they actually are? And what does that mean for boundaries?
[09:30] Angeline: Yeah. Oh, that’s a great question. Values is a very tough one. I want to believe that we have these values as the core of who we are. However, I’m also very aware that our values could change based on many different reasons, including life experiences, right?
We might not realize wellness is a value until something happens to our health, and then we are like, you know what, that is a thing that I wanna focus on. So then I take it back. I do think values have the potential to shift. I don’t think they’re gonna shift in a way that’s, you know, something completely opposite of a value that you have today is gonna be a value that you would have. I don’t think the chances of that are high. But I can see the values shifting, again, based on life experiences.
And in that same vein, boundaries can also shift. Our needs, can shift. We are very fluid beings. We don’t have to stay the same. I’m not the same person I was two weeks ago, right? So yeah, I would like to believe that boundaries can change.
There will be times in my life where I need certain things more than other times in my life. If I ever have a child, my boundary around having seven hours of sleep might not be the boundary that I’m placing on myself because I realize that another value is my family like caring for my family. So there’s definitely potential for things to shift and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Again, we’re not static. We’re ever-evolving.
[10:53] Damianne: I was just trying to think of where have my boundaries changed, and I think maybe one example that comes to mind is in terms of waiting, like how long I’ll wait for somebody when we’re supposed to meet.
[11:08] Damianne: I think there were times in my younger years where I would wait hours, let’s say.
And now, the most recent example, I remember having to meet somebody that I knew was perpetually late and deciding to meet in a place where I knew I’d be able to do stuff so that I wouldn’t just have to be waiting for them. Because I think if I was just waiting for them, I would not wait as long as I knew they would take to get there.
And you’ve said that already actually, but it just clicked for me that we’re not static. We’re dynamic people, and that also means our boundaries are not static and they’re dynamic as well. And so the nature of the relationship impacts the kind of boundaries that we’ll have as well.
[11:51] Angeline: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[11:53] Damianne: So when we think of family relationships, what makes boundaries especially difficult. Well I’m making an assumption that boundaries are especially difficult in family relationships. Maybe that’s not true and you can correct me.
[12:08] Angeline: Well, from what I know and my experience, family relationships are the hardest ones. And I’ve seen that time and time again with people and I’ve seen it in my own life. we grow up with almost this sense of being indebted to the people that have taken care of us, that have raised us.
And regardless of if the parent figure makes you feel that, we sometimes just have that innately, that sense of being indebted. So then it almost feels like a betrayal if we’re not bending over backward for what they want because they did X, they paid for this, they put a roof over my head. I would say that that is the most complex.
Not being a therapist, I don’t wanna talk about what people should do. I can only talk about my experience. My experience growing up was do all the things that my parents wanted me to do, go to all the family functions, go visit them anytime they wanted me to. Regardless of how busy my life was, it would be drop everything for them. And it wasn’t until I started seeing, I would lash out at them a lot. I would be very resentful towards them. I wasn’t pleasant around them, that I really had to look inward and be like what boundaries are being reached that I have not communicated to either myself or them. And I did a lot of work on that. It was very complicated.
My mother was ill before she passed away. I thought I had to do everything to just be there. And I did that for a long time. So doing the work truly was in service of the relationship with my parents because we had a more trusting, pleasant relationship that was open and honest versus feeling like I was kind of shackled in a cage that I had to do what they wanted me to do. They couldn’t see the authentic me. And thankfully, it turned out to be a very respectful two-way street in terms of our relationship. But the first couple of times those boundaries came out of my mouth, I was terrified. It was not a fun experience at all. But I’m so proud of myself for doing that, and I’m proud of them for reciprocating that. Some people won’t have that privilege of having their parents actually understand, but it is about the way you communicate too.
[14:22] Damianne: Yeah. I’ve talked with some people who have broken relationships with their parents, like intentionally broken relationships, because of this inability to set and follow boundaries. And I know for myself, I was just relating to what you said about resentment sometimes, and then realizing, well, you are not doing anything about it. You’re not putting up any kind of resistance to this behavior that you don’t want. And so if you don’t say anything, how could you be so mad at them? Well, it’s very easy to be mad at them, but what could you…
[14:57] Angeline: And you’re like, watch me.
[14:59] Damianne: But what could you potentially do here? Well, first of all, maybe this is actually not a boundary that I want to set. This is not a battle that I want to take for X, Y, and Z reason, or maybe not now. Or maybe there are some areas where you really do want to have a conversation or a simple, not easy, but a simple one is that we could change some of our behaviors sometimes in those situations to play out a boundary, even though we don’t say out loud a boundary.
[15:28] Angeline: That’s so well said. Setting a boundary doesn’t mean you have to sit somebody down and say, well, here are my boundaries and this is how they’ve been breached and this is how we’re gonna go moving forward. Doesn’t always have to be that. It could be a simple statement of, I need this weekend to myself to get some things done. That’s a boundary.
Examples of boundary statements.
[15:47] Angeline: I need this. I want this. I’m not comfortable going to that person’s house because of the way they speak to me. That’s a boundary. Again, it sounds so simple. It’s just I’ve seen it in myself. It’s very difficult at some points for people to even say that. But yes, getting there, being able to do that and showing yourself that respect and loving yourself versus putting your needs aside to love other people or to think that that’s how you love other people, is very powerful.
Boundaries and Family Expectations
[16:17] Damianne: For some people, it has to do also with the culture that you come from. The relationships between parents and children or between different family members could be very different depending on the culture in terms of respect or hierarchy. Those types of things play out as well as factors that you have to consider for yourself, your family dynamics, when you’re thinking about where could you start putting in some boundaries and starting with the small leaps first.
[16:45] Angeline: Oh goodness. The expectations that could come depending on the background, the culture. I personally am a first generation American. My parents are from Iran. There’s a lot of expectations in the Middle Eastern culture of what your role is as a child and this expectation that you take care of your parents when you grow up, that they have you, they raise you as well as they can, and then the relationship shifts, the dynamic shifts, and you have to parent your parents. And that is a very difficult, potentially traumatizing moment when that pivots and something I’ve experienced. It’s not an easy one to navigate with respect.
Approaches to setting boundaries
[17:27] Damianne: In your own experience or in working with people, are there some approaches or some steps that you found to be helpful with establishing boundaries?
[17:37] Angeline: Yeah. There are. We could sit here and say, you know, take out a notebook and start writing out all the boundaries that you have. We can get there but I think there are a lot simpler, doable things. I think first what I ask clients to do is just pay attention. Pay attention throughout your day of when you feel remnants of resentment, or these like bitter bits of bitterness towards others. Then try to ask yourself like, gosh, am I feeling that way because I said yes to going out to coffee with this person and I don’t really wanna go because I’m tired. Pay attention. And I think you can really surprise yourself at how many times you abandon your needs for other people.
I would say that’s the first and foremost step, just becoming aware. Then maybe reflect on those, maybe write down what needs are not being met for you in said relationship. And is this relationship important enough to you to try to implement some boundaries. And maybe the next time they ask me to grab coffee or go to dinner, I’ll experiment with saying, this week is not good for me, let me get back to you. Maybe we can go to dinner in the next couple of weeks. Simple. It could be as simple as that. And I know I say simple and to someone else that could be terrifying.
But I think it’s being gracious with yourself and giving yourself that time to become aware and get comfortable in trying to communicate a boundary. And again, just seeing how that feels when you do do that. Those are a few things I think they can do.
[19:14] Damianne: I’m thinking about a methodology called WOOP, and I have a podcast episode on it. But one of the things that people do when they want to create some sort of change in their circumstance, in their life, is to think about, Okay, if this happens, then I will do blah, or then I will say blah.
And so I think having those scripts, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily do it in the moment, but it could help with some of those deer in headlights moments of you’re in the middle of a situation where you’re not comfortable. You’ve thought about it before, but again, you don’t know what to say. Maybe it can help you figure out what to say if you’ve come up with some scripts if that’s the barrier.
[19:58] Angeline: Yeah, absolutely. What is the methodology called?
[20:01] Damianne: It’s called WOOP and it stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan. So it’s really, if you have motivation for something but you’re having trouble with the actual steps to get there, then you can apply this method. And one of the elements of it is this, if then formulation where you can think through what are the experiences that challenge me and how I can deal with them.
[20:31] Angeline: Right, right. Oh, I love this. I’m going to have to find this episode or I might ask you to share that with me. I’m very curious about it. WOOP. fun too.
[20:40] Damianne: Any resources that you would recommend for listeners?
[20:45] Angeline: I write about boundaries quite a bit on my page. However, there is someone on Instagram that also has written a book about boundaries, and her name is Nedra Tawwab. I have learned so much just from her page. But she also has a book called Set Boundaries Find Peace that’s a New York Times bestselling book. I love the way that she describes boundaries and it just feels very approachable. So I would say that would be a good place to start.
But also, a resource just within yourself. Tap into your own wisdom. You know the things that you need. You just have to pay attention. And you can start going from there. Enlist the help of a professional if that is something within your means. I would not be where I am today in terms of boundaries and just knowing myself had it not been for my own coach that I still work. Because we all have work to do. We’re never done healing. I think those would be cool places to start.
Do you have any final thoughts or questions I have not asked you that you wanna make sure listeners get from this conversation?
I wanna reiterate again this whole concept of wanting to be accepted. Our brains haven’t caught up to the fact that we’re not running from wild animals anymore. Back in the day, we would have to be part of a tribe to survive. So I think being kind to ourselves when we realize that we’re doing things in service of others loving us, or accepting us, and not judging that. That is something we all wholeheartedly need, but I want to encourage people to experiment.
I think experimenting is a very safe word, like you don’t have to just jump in. Just experiment with things. See what works. Pay attention to yourself. Yourself is the person that you need to take care of and love because you are guaranteed to have yourself for the rest of your life.
And this idea of having people in your life because you want to not out of obligation is so empowering and freeing that I just want to encourage people that doing the boundary work, doing the self work, and figuring out what your values are, what your needs are, what your purpose is, what your boundaries are, it will be in service of your relationships. And it’s not a sabotaging of relationships. I feel so passionate about that. It can be scary, but everything in life is hard.
Change is hard. Staying the same is hard. And you choose your hard every day. Why not choose the hard that’s in service of being better, getting better and living a life that’s a little more freeing than aging.
[23:24] Damianne: Wonderful, and I will end with these words that are from you, that love is not conditional.
What are the things that are very important to me and by which I make my decisions, if I was truly being authentically me?Tweet
What do you as a human being need?Tweet
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