Heidi M. Woods, LCPC, LLC 

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Boundaries Make You Stronger

Posted on November 1, 2017 at 2:05 PM

With terms like "snowflake" being thrown around lately it is important to remember that being kind doesn't mean you are weak or an easy target for people who are choosing to behave in a mean way.

A person can be kind, considerate and have a passionate opinion without inviting others to slam them nor being drawn into slamming others.  The important component is BOUNDARIES.  

Set them:

  • Use "I" statements.  This is setting a clear boundary that you are speaking for yourself and not condemning others who may have a differing opinion.
  • Make simple statements like: "I respect your opinion but it's hard to hear what you are saying when you are speaking to me using harsh and belittling language".  "I would like to hear your opinion.  Can we talk respectfully with each other?"
  • Walk away.  Sometimes things are too heated or the other person is not in a place where he/she can communicate respectfully at that moment.  Walk away from the conversation and try again later.  "I need to go.  I'll talk to you later".
  • Re-affirm and disengage.  When harsh statements are being made and it is clear the person is not interested in having a healthy dialogue, make a simple statement re-affirming your opinion and exit the conversation.  This allows you to feel better about the event (e.g., you didn't just walk away when a person was using racist language) but it protects you from engaging in a potentially escalating conversation.
  • Be firm.  "Please don't use those words around me".  You may have to say this over and over again.
  • Cut your losses.  Some people don't want to have a respectful/rational conversation.  Some people are motivated to prove their point to win at all costs.  Unfortunately, some people are not interested in considering the alternative to their opinion.  If you continue to engage these people you are setting yourself up to feel frustrated and maybe even angry. Your opinion is still valid even if you stop talking to some people about it.   If it's a person you still need to be around (e.g., family), make a firm statement saying you will not engage in these conversations with him/her. "I won't talk about this topic with you".  Stay strong.  Some people will try to goad you into the conversation especially if you are outnumbered.

In setting your boundaries you take the high road while being proud of being kind, considerate and compassionate toward others.

Take the High Road

Posted on October 17, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Freedom of Speech doesn’t translate into freedom to be verbally abusive.

Today’s political climate is certainly challenging the concept of Freedom of Speech.  With much of the direct and derogatory ranting on t.v., in print and over social media it is challenging to the most patient to not lose their poise.  How do we effectively manage it?

You have the right to your opinion.  It’s how you handle expressing your opinion that makes a difference.  It may feel good in the moment to spew an angry retort but does that make you feel good in the long run or bring about change?  Is that who you want to be?

Be the bigger person (easier said than done.  It takes practice):

  • Express your opinion using “I” statements such as I don’t like or I don’t agree. “I don’t agree with his/her position on immigration”. It takes the finger pointing out of the argument.
  • Avoid using highly emotionally charged language such as stupid and idiot.
  • Remain positive. Don’t feed into another’s anger and hate filled rant by responding in the same manner.
  • Remember that few people change their opinion or consider other options after being screamed at or being insulted. It usually has the opposite effect.
  • Remember that people have the right to a differing opinion.  It doesn't mean your opinion is wrong or insignificant.
  • Expressing yourself respectfully using “I” statements and using as many facts as possible may plant a seed. Even if it doesn’t at least you come out of the conversation looking mature and respectful.


Take the high road.

Happy Holidays???

Posted on December 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM

The media and our culture convinces us that the holidays should be a great time and that we should be jolly and feel peace and tranquility when we are with our extended families. In reality that is easier said than done. Incidents of depression and anxiety go up around and especially after the holidays. 

So what can we do to not only manage but increase our joy during the holidays?

• Expectations – stop hoping that things will be different. Past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. If that one family member has made negative remarks about your cooking in the past chances are it will happen again this year. Instead try….

Do something about it.

         * Be prepared with a calm response such as “It really hurts my feelings when you are critical of my cooking. I have worked  really hard to make things special for you and the family”. The family member may not know that your feelings have been hurt. 

         * Say positive things to yourself such as “I like my cooking. Other family members like my cooking. I feel good when I do this for the family. Not everyone has to like my cooking for me to feel good about it”. Talking kindly to yourself decreases the negative impact of someone’s negative words.

        *Don’t over focus on the negative comment. Look around and remember the positives.

Be realistic – This isn’t the movies. People aren’t perfect. They hurt each other and get on each other’s nerves. Families have positive and negative history. Focus on the positive history. Plan positive and fun activities. Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t participate, you can still have fun. It’s contagious!

Lean on your supports –  Find that person who will listen, but who will not encourage you to stay negative. If the phone call turns into trading complaints it may feel good in the moment but it actually encourages you to remain focused on your anger and hurt.

Use humor – If you look for it you will find it.

Recharge - Plan for a stress free rejuvenating activity for after the holidays.