Episode 53: Setting Boundaries with Shivani Gupta 

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Hi everybody, and welcome to the AskShivani podcast. The day that I'm recording this particular podcast is the International Day for violence against women. And for those of you that are watching this episode on YouTube, you will see me I’m on this orange dress, which is there to mark this particular day, and to talk about the fact that violence against women in any circumstance is not okay. And I just want to acknowledge for the women that experience search, that talk about it, and the people that are behind the men and the women to really help bring this issue to the fore.

And probably very appropriately, the topic for today is setting boundaries. And that comes in pretty important when you're looking at the violence that is, is done against women. So, boundaries are something that people have been speaking about for quite a while I remember firstly writing about it in a book about seven or eight years ago. And since then, there are other people that are having conversations about boundaries.

How do we define a boundary? Well, probably the best way to start off speaking about a boundary is using a sports analogy. My son started playing cricket a couple of years ago. And when you look at the cricket, the field is fairly large. And if a ball hits that before it hits literally as they call a boundary, the runs are based on how many rounds are held and run between the wicked. Once that ball hits that particular boundary and sometimes is drawn boundary, sometimes it's a physical boundary. That is called forearms. And when somebody hits over the boundary, that's called six rounds. And that's a global thing, depending on the size of the field and the age of the kids might be playing out. And when you look at it, and use that analogy, whether it's for cricket or any other sport boundaries work very similarly. So, boundary is basically a space that exists between you and another person. And sometimes people want to come into those boundaries, and your role is to keep that space. Keep that that distance between you and them. And sometimes you might find that you are encroaching other people's boundaries, and you might have a similar experience in reverse. So, it's really important to firstly define how much space that it is that you need. And I'll talk a little bit about self-care and self-boundaries a little bit later, too, in terms of how this works.

So, I think the first thing to talk about is these healthy boundaries. And I wanted to share a personal experience of my daughter where she had somebody in her friendship group who was treating her pretty badly, ignoring her, not speaking to her putting her down, and also making some lies around that. And because this person had been a friend for a while, you kind of assume, particularly when you're young, and as you get older, that this person has the best intentions for you. If they're your friend, why would they be trying to lie to you if they're your friend, and perhaps you've let your guard down and also let that person into your boundaries anyway. So, we've spent a fair bit of time and having conversations around setting healthy boundaries. And when we discovered that this person and some of the things that this person was saying, were actually true, that it was really important to then go, okay, maybe the boundary needs to be that this person is not always going to speak the truth. So, when they tell you something, maybe we need to test that and work out how to actually work out what that boundary is. So that's something what a healthy boundary would look like.

Healthy boundaries are also really important when it comes to relationships, whether they be in the workplace, whether they be at home. So, I run a number of different businesses. And I have a number of different types of stuff, different age groups, in my in my team as well. And one of the things that I've learned is that just said how healthy boundaries with my team members, I don't spend a lot of time I still tell them some personal things that are really important to make sure that they're connected, but I don't divulge deep dark secrets and personal interests, and issues all over that. I just think it's really important to be able to create that space so that people look at that you in a professional setting rather than a personal setting. And really, you know, too much information isn't vulnerability. I love the way that Brené Brown talks about it in her books and her work. She said, you know, talking about getting a Brazilian wax or sharing deep dark secrets on social media is not vulnerability, that's just not one vulnerability is and she defines that very differently. And so, when it comes to boundaries, it's really about making sure where you mentally feel stable. So healthy boundaries would be where you feel have mentally stable and you feel supported, and you feel like you're in a caring, caring environment, when it comes to your physical, same thing, when it comes to your emotional, same thing. So, one of the things that happens is that there are certain people that you might hang around, where you feel pretty good at the end of that interaction. And other times you spend some time with them, and you feel terrible. Now, if that happens once or twice, then you know, you start to go - okay, why am I feeling bad, or maybe I was upset about something before that interaction took place. But other times, you might find that you actually don't have healthy boundaries with that person. And sometimes they're saying different things.

Let me explain one of the boundaries that I have and I used to put up with it a lot more. Particularly my 20s and 30s, was when people gossip or bitch about other people, you know, people would do that I, you know, in my 20s, wanted to be liked a lot more and needed to be fitting in a lot more. And I would then join him some of that gossiping about bitching. As I've got older, not only I do not want to join him, I probably actually don't even want to listen to it. Because I've got better things to do. So, one of the boundaries is when people start to gossip a lot, or beach. Now that might be about certain teachers at school or about other children or about other women or about other people. This whole backstabbing the way that people speak about other people with lots of judgment, and horribleness, it's actually terrific. And so, one of the boundaries I said is I don't spend a lot of time with people that behave that way regularly. And there are a number of people I have to deal with regularly who love that, and want to include me into a lot of that gossiping and bitching.

So, one of the boundaries I said, because I noticed that it's not good for mental health. And I then start to go - yep, that person's to be this. And then I think what if the bitching about that person to me, they must be bitching about me to another person. So, then they go, yep, Shivani said this, and Shivani said that I just don't want a bar of that I don't want anything to do with that kind of behavior. So, I tend to stay away. So, the worst I will do is say nothing. And the best I'll do is I actually start to minimize the amount of time that's there. Because hanging around with people that constantly putting other people down is not how I choose to leave or spend time with.

So, the other thing, for example, a healthy boundary in a relationship, maybe let's say that you have a young child, and you're at home, and your partner is super busy working and not able to provide you enough support. So, asking for some help with the baby, asking for some help in different areas around the house around your business is setting a really healthy boundary. So, you know, for example, when I grew up, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and she did lots and lots of stuff for us. And that was great. But it also wasn't great, because you at times didn't become independent through all of that. So, you know, our kids are getting to the point where we say, well, you can put a load of washing on, they've got to help put the dishes away, they've got to help cook. Because we're a community and we all basically working, my husband and I both working. And so, we need that support. And asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. It's also not about giving in everything that you did and repeating that model that I've had in my culture and my linear around that. It's about saying actually, that that model doesn't work for me. And a healthy boundary is my kids helping out with some cooking with some planning with some other chores. And it's important that they step up. And I believe that they'll learn and be a lot more grateful for the things I've done for them. I hope and also the fact that they're learning some skills that have to spend as much time doing the cooking the cleaning, while I'm trying to run businesses as well. So, getting really clear on what your boundaries look like in your in your key relationships, whether they be at home or at work become really important.

One of the key boundaries that I have with one of my managers is that she's got her text or email or both once a day, it's not me checking up on her. It's not a control issue. It's about me being aware of some of the issues and operations that are happening in that business and being all over it so that I can actually understand how this part works and what I might be able to do to make that happen. So, it's really important to be able to look at your boundaries even just from that perspective and see how that works. The other thing I wanted to speak about is that when other people set boundaries, it's also okay to reject boundaries if they don't work for you. So, for example, we've had both our kids asked whether they can put locks on their doors. This as well. Some people don't knock in the family before they come in. It's a privacy issue. I get that. And so, but we have rejected that particular ask and that boundary to say - we don't have any locks on any of the doors including ours. And it's really important to be able to walk in, there'll be times that you'll be upset. And we don't want to be able to access, you know, we'll respect your privacy and your room, we will knock on the door, and we will ask for permission before coming in. But the boundary of having that from a safety point of view, sorry, don't ever worried that.

You might also have paid for that site; I don't want to be communicated to in the workplace. And that might be a boundary that is acceptable to you. But it also might be a boundary that you reject. And you've got, actually, that part is not going to work for me. So, you are absolutely in your right to be able to look and really assess that boundary in terms of whether that works for you. And you can reject that and communicate why you're rejecting that in terms of how that operates. And what happens around that. And the self-boundaries that I wanted to speak about today are things that you impose on yourself or around you. So, for example, I have this love, and sometimes I'm not sure hate is the right word, but I have found myself on my phone scrolling through mindless activities. And when then I've looked at the clock, and it's been like over an hour of doing it. And so, I tend to find that, if I've got it with me enough, I'm looking at it constantly, I tend to actually my day ends up being really, really unproductive. And I don't enjoy it that part at all. Because I want to maximize the hours that I'm working and how I'm working in what I'm producing really, really well. So, I have put a self-boundary around the social media, or 15 minutes a day. And the way that I manage that boundary is by literally having a timer. And once the timer goes off, unless something super urgent, I try not do it straightaway, I leave it and then I've got to come back to doing that. And that is some scrolling that might be posting something that might be responding to somebody. And that's across a number of platforms. So, I'm probably pretty active on three platforms. And I that 15-minute limit applies to all three platforms, it's not 15 minutes each.

The other thing that might be particularly around social media might be unfollowing people. Since this is not about everybody that makes a challenging comment to you, you kind of wipe out. This is about some people have had you know what they called trolls and people really bad mouthing and saying horrible stuff, you're absolutely in your right and setting a boundary and removing them. I've also had some weird, you know, strange people making comments about how I look or, or different things around my family. And I'm like, no thanks, don't need any of that energy. And so, the boundary that I said is that if you don't have to be positive if you ask a question to try and understand and if your intention is wrong, absolutely. But if your intention feels weird to me, or is not right, or is really nasty, you are off, so I will unfollow them on all the different platforms. And I don't really think twice about it, I just don't want to worry about that sort of stuff in terms of how I do my boundaries.

And the other thing I wanted to speak about is your time boundary. So, I have lots of time boundaries. I just spoke about one with social media. So, I'll actually literally set a timer and a time. But there are some people that I really like, but I don't want to spend a whole day with them. So, I will limit my interactions with certain people based on how close they are. So, some people who I'm pretty close to, I'm happy to spend days with them. So happy for them to come over and stay. But I noticed as a child that you know, we had lots of people come and stay and I had constantly heard this complaint from number of colleagues and friends that'll say – oh yeah such and such landed at our place, and they come in to stay. And I believe your time is really important to you. And you need to set those boundaries in terms of who you choose to spend time with and who you don't. So, people that are my inner circle can have lots of access to me. But people that are on the outer circle people that are acquaintances, they're not welcome. And I'm not going to cook them dinner. I've been there done that a lot in the last couple of, you know, a couple of decades, no intention of doing that in this or the following decades. And so, I'm making that call on where you spend your time and how much time that you give to certain things is great. So when, for example, somebody wants to have a conversation with me about something I used to rush out for coffee all the time. One of the ways to really manage my time boundaries is for people to be able to set up a phone call with me. And also do a zoom call or you know, a meeting doesn't matter which platform using for with me, and it's 15 minutes. So, it's kind of this exploratory thing. I don't offer one-hour things I don't go and have coffees anymore, because again, I'm trying to achieve a lot more work in the span of a day. So, it's really important to be able to look through that and think through what your time boundaries may be.

So just recapping today, I want you to just think about three things because I'm a big believer anything more than three. I know I don't retain at all that First is looking at boundaries as a physical thing, then looking at what are healthy boundaries, and what boundaries you need to set and what boundaries that you don't whether you're going to accept certain boundaries, whether you're going to reject certain boundaries, and your self-boundaries, whether they be time whether they be social media, whether they be who you choose to hang out with, whether it be any of those different parts, you want to start looking at things. And I noticed that for me, and the experience that I had around that is that when I set those boundaries, it actually becomes part of my self-care ritual, it becomes part of who I am, and how am I going to manage my energy transparence.

I hope that today was helpful. And I look forward to catching up with you would always appreciate a review if you could literally take a moment and go on to Apple and leave us a review which would be amazing. And so happy for you to share that with other people the aim of and the intention of this is for any questions that you asked me we'll try and find some amazing guests and share with you my experience and learnings as well. Have a great day.

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.