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Words Matter: 5 Tips on Setting and Enforcing Boundaries.

Words Matter: 5 Tips on Setting and Enforcing Boundaries.

Have you ever said something with one intention, only to have the listener get a different perception of the message you were trying to relay?

The definition of “perception” is: a way or regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.

Words matter. The words you choose to communicate your feelings, what you want or don’t want, especially when it comes to setting and enforcing your boundaries, are so important. Being clear and using words that don’t soften what you’re actually trying to say, are foundational to your personal safety.

  1. Set your boundaries

Do you know your own physical and emotional boundaries? We all have boundaries, but if we haven’t consciously decided where they are, we won’t be able to effectively communicate them to others.

How much space do you need between yourself and the person you are talking to, to feel comfortable? There will be a different comfort level for a person you have a good relationship with (friend or family member) and a complete stranger. Those are your physical boundaries.

Your emotional or mental boundaries are different and can be more difficult to set. Women tend to have a desire to be liked and to show kindness to others. There is nothing wrong with this, AND it’s important to maintain balance between other’s needs and our mental health.

  1. Enforcing your boundaries

Now that you’ve taken the time to decide where your physical and emotional boundaries lie, practice enforcing them. If a casual acquaintance is standing too close to you, how will you let them know? It doesn’t have to sound aggressive; I personally use humor to communicate my boundaries.

“I know my perfume smells good, but I don’t want you to burn your nose hairs!”

I say this while physically lifting my arms to create distance between myself and the other person.

Enforcing your mental boundaries can be more of a challenge. It’s probably why more people in today’s society prefer to text a change of plans instead of calling on the phone. If you were looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening at home and someone invites you to dinner or an event, it’s perfectly alright to say, “not tonight, thanks!”. It seems easy, but what if that person is persistent, “come on! I haven’t seen you in so long!” or “it’s going to be so much fun, I don’t want you to miss out!”. They are using a subtle guilt-trip to get you to change your mind. Context matters, this person may truly want to spend time with you, but it doesn’t mean you have to oblige them.

Knowing yourself and being cognizant of your energy levels will help you enforce your mental boundary. Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) push you past your boundaries.

  1. Being firm and polite

If another person discounts your “no” or “no thanks”, that says more about them and their respect (or lack of) for you. If the person is using guilt to try and push past your boundaries, call them on it.

“Why are you trying to make me feel guilty? Normally I would like to go to dinner, but I don’t feel like it tonight.”

The response you get from them after that statement will tell you a lot about their intent. Someone who truly respects you and values the relationship they have with you, will understand. They may even apologize for making you feel guilty.

If the person keeps pushing the issue and trying to get you to back down on your boundary, it’s a sign you need to re-evaluate the relationship.

  1. It’s not me, it’s you

In my opinion, this is where most women glitch. What do I mean by “glitch”? A glitch is an internal fork in our decision-making process. Traditionally women are raised to be kind, to be nurturers, to put the needs of others before our own. This can be a blessing and a curse. Women are excellent at taking care of those they love, but we glitch when it’s an acquaintance or stranger. In our heads, we question if we will be seen as rude or selfish if we put our needs first.

If the other person respects you, they will respect your boundaries. If they don’t respect you, letting them guilt you into doing whatever they want you to do, tells them their behavior is acceptable to you.

  1. Check your behaviors too

You want others to respect your boundaries. How are you at respecting their boundaries? It’s the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have done to you”. When someone tells you, “no thanks”, how do you respond?  Remember, our words and actions show others how we expect to be treated.

Knowing your physical and mental boundaries BEFORE you find yourself in a situation where you need to enforce your boundaries, is key. If you haven’t set those boundaries and you glitch at the decision-making fork in the mental map, you are more likely to default to doing something you don’t really want to do.

Your physical and mental health are important. In order to function throughout your day effectively and in a positive way, you need to take care of yourself.

I want you to have the confidence to live life on your own terms, by having clear and firm boundaries. You are worth it.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

-Brene Brown

Basic Vehicle Safety

Basic Vehicle Safety

Growing up, my dad passed along his love for cars to me. For my 16th birthday, he bought me my first car. A 1:18 scale diecast model of a ’57 Corvette Stingray (very funny dad).

Every Christmas since then, my gift from him is the duPont REGISTRY Holiday Edition of Fine Cars. When I was younger, I would study it and try to decide which car I wanted to buy. The downside to this daydreaming was I thought a $50k car was cheap. Spoiler alert, it’s not.

My childhood was also before kids had electronic distractions. In order to keep my siblings and I from fighting in the back seat, he would have us play “guess the make and model” of the cars around us. This game was especially tricky at night when all you could see for clues were headlights or taillights.

All of this fueled (pun intended) my love for cars. I wanted to know everything about them. How to check fluid levels, change the oil or a flat tire. How to control my actual first car, an ’80 Caprice Classic with rear-wheel drive, on icy roads. I love roadtrips and have done quite a few 12-14-hour drives. When an opportunity to ride 180 mph around the Charlotte Speedway with the Richard Petty Driving Experience presented itself, I was all in.

This passion for vehicles made me comfortable in and around all vehicles. That confidence helped thwart quite a few service technicians who were eager to tell me all the things that needed fixing on my vehicle, even though I was only in for an oil change.

My company, The Diamond Arrow Group, is all about helping women gain confidence to live life on their own terms. Helping women learn and understand how their vehicles play a role in their personal safety is an important piece of the puzzle. According to AAA’s American Driving Survey, 2014-2017:

“On average, drivers spent 51 minutes driving approximately 31.5 miles each day, making an average of 2.2 driving trips. Nationwide, drivers made 183 billion trips, driving 2.6 trillion miles, in 2016 and 2017. In 2016-2017, all driving metrics increased when comparing statistics with the previous period measured, 2014-2015.”

Americans have increased the average minutes spent driving per day by 6.3% since 2014-2015! Incorporating vehicle safety with our personal safety skills is important. Here are 5 key things to start practicing today.

  • Verify that pushing the unlock button on your key fob once, only unlocks the driver’s door.
    • If your key fob is not set up this way, grab the owner’s manual and change it or ask your trusted service technician to do it for you.
  • Every time you get in a vehicle, make sure all the mirrors are adjusted for the best sight lines with you in the driver’s seat.
  • Once you and any passengers are inside the vehicle, lock the doors.
    • I can’t stress this enough. Any time you are in your vehicle, make sure the doors are locked!
  • Before putting the vehicle in drive, make any adjustments to the radio, plug your phone into the charger, connect to bluetooth, start any driving directions, choose your heat or cooling settings, and buckle up.
  • Pay attention while driving.
    • Converting miles per hour to miles per feet, if you are going 60mph and take your eyes off the road for 3 seconds, you drove 270 feet blind. That’s almost the length of the playing field in football!
    • In 2018 there were 2,841 people killed and an estimated additional 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (NHTSA Summary of Statistical Findings, April 2020)

These are simple daily habits you can start practicing today. After a short period of time, they will become automatic and you won’t have to consciously think about doing them, you just will. As with all changes you make to improve your life, even the smallest things done repeatedly with intention, can have a huge impact.

For more tips on how to incorporate vehicle safety with your personal safety, make sure to get on the DAG VIP list by signing up here.

Actionable Confidence

Actionable Confidence

Gaining confidence in yourself and your abilities is not something you can manifest through positive thinking. You have to DO. You have to reach beyond your comfortable routine and try something new. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose move, a giant step or leap into uncertainty, sometimes it’s doing something you’ve never done before in a small way.

 “When we stay in our comfort zone protected from these experiences by the familiarity of routine activities, we live life unaware of our ability to grow and develop new strengths and skills.  The less we experience opportunities for mistakes and failure the more scared we become of what could happen if we were to step outside of our comfort zone.”

-Courtney E. Ackerman, MSc.

I watched Carol Sankar’s Tedx Talk, “The Confidence Factor” the other week. One of the many things I took away from the talk was her line, “Confidence is an applied science, not a learned science”.

You need to take a step and DO something to gain confidence. Here are 5 steps to building actionable confidence.

  • Pick A Goal – What is something you’ve always wanted to do? It doesn’t matter if it’s work related or a personal goal, it only needs to be a goal you haven’t reached before.
  • One Thing – Now that you have your goal in mind, what is ONE THING you can do today to move towards the goal? Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a big action, it only needs to be forward motion.
  • Do It – Stop overthinking it and do it! You picked a task that you could accomplish today so stop procrastinating and get it done.
  • Kudos To You! – You crossed that task off your to-do list, congratulations! Take a few moments to celebrate and acknowledge you did something new. Recognizing the action of growth also helps build your resiliency. You can try new things and be successful!
  • Next Up – Rinse and repeat. What ONE THING can you do tomorrow to keep forward momentum towards your goal?

You can sit and dream all day and night about something you want to accomplish, but if you don’t take action, your dream will never come to fruition.

Take Action

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but it hasn’t happened yet? Take a moment right now to ask yourself why. Be honest with yourself and don’t slip in to feeling bad about what you discover. Gaining confidence is a process that happens through constant movement forward. You got this.

“Courage is relaxed by delay”

-Aldrude

How Are You Doing Today?

How Are You Doing Today?

After Sheryl Sandberg’s husband passed away unexpectedly, she co-wrote the book “Option B” with Adam Grant. It’s a real and raw account of the pain of losing a spouse and the aftermath no one likes to talk about. One of the big takeaways I got from it was not to ask friends during difficult times “how are you doing?” because it “comes across as a standard greeting without genuine concern”.  Instead ask, “how are you doing today?” which is more specific and reminds them they don’t have to have the future figured out.

The revised question is now the only version I ask people because I genuinely care and want to know how they’re doing…today. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. I can have the best plans set in place, I can have the prettiest vision board created, and in an instant, everything can change.

Dealing with constant change is exhausting. It’s overwhelming to try and control things that are out of your control. Learning to be flexible is important. Building resiliency is an absolute necessity. Learning to stay present and focused only on the day ahead of you takes practice. But the peace you get from letting go of tomorrow’s unknowns is wonderful. 

You’ve probably heard all of these things before. (I may or may not have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to beautiful quote pictures on these topics.) They are the basic life skills that we strive to understand and master in order to lead full and enriching lives. Self-care is the trend, especially during this time in history. Meditation, mindfulness, and building our confidence to live the life we want. I’ve seen a lot of posts asking people to really think about the things they want to add back in to their lives in the future. So much of our lives was put on hold and so many things we considered “normal” were turned upside down. Before you rush to “go back to normal”, take the time to ask yourself, “what do I really want normal to look like?”

All of those self-care habits and the opportunity to pause and truly decide what you want and don’t want in your life, are the same skills you use in your personal safety.

Living in fear of “what if something happens to me?” is exhausting and overwhelming. You can’t control another person’s actions, but you can control your boundaries and how you enforce them. Putting away distractions and staying present and mindful of your surroundings, is actually relaxing. When your intuition doesn’t have to fight for your attention, you will get the message that something’s not right quicker and be able to react faster.

When you have the opportunity to decide what self-defense tool would work best for you, you realize it doesn’t have to be what everyone else tells you to carry. As women, we either have a handbag full of crap we’re hauling around, or a cute little clutch. Our dress pants (and many other items of clothing) typically don’t have pockets. If they do, they’re small and non-functioning.

But guess what, those cute heels that you like to wear? Those can do some damage to the top of someone’s foot, their eyes, or even their neck if need be.

I like to say, “if all you had were your wits and fists, what could you do?”. You get to decide what works best for you. 

What I care about is helping you start looking at the life skills you’re already using, and applying them to your personal safety. When you start to gain confidence in your skills in one area of life, that confidence will spill over and help you gain confidence in other areas of your life.

Make sure to follow the DAG Instagram and Facebook pages so you can practice staying present in your daily life starting today. (Not a follower yet? Click here for IG and here for FB.)

If you’re reading this blog but you’re not on the DAG email list, get signed up here.

So…

How are you doing today?

Where is your comfort level regarding your own personal safety today? 

How can I help you today?

Facing the New, New Normal

Facing the New, New Normal

In the first month of self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, I heard myself say, “I can’t wait to go back to normal!”. In the second month, I realized I had no idea what “normal” even was anymore. As I start the third month, with businesses gradually opening up, it’s been so long since I’ve lived my “normal” daily routine, I’m anxious about facing the change again.

Perhaps you’ve heard that it takes an average of 21 days to form a new habit. That idea comes from a book, “Psycho-Cybernetics” published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. In 2009, a new study showed it actually takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

It got me thinking-if I start from March 13th (which is the day it started for us), and count the days until today, I get the magic number 58. In our state (MN), the Governor has issued a stay-at-home order until May 18th. If everything opened on May 18th, the number of days we’ve been in self-isolation is 61. So, if you consider the study I mentioned above, we will be just 5 days shy of the 66 days it takes for new behaviors to become automatic.

My next thought was, “Great-I’ve finally gotten to a certain level of comfort with my self-isolation routine and now I’m going to go through the discomfort of figuring out my new normal post-pandemic!”

Ugh.

What will the new normal after Covid-19 look like and how will it affect your personal safety? You will have to establish new baselines in the establishments you patronize, you will need to adjust your readings of body language, and you will need to establish new boundaries for yourself and your loved ones.

Let’s talk about the first item, establishing new baselines. A baseline is what you would normally expect to observe in your environment. For example, the baseline of a coffee shop may be the smell of fresh brewed coffee, a low-level of sound as people are working quietly, and looking around, you would see tables of people reading, working on their laptops, or talking in small groups. What is the new baseline going to look like post-pandemic? For coffee shops, probably not a whole lot of difference. The tables may be more spread out with less available seating. If there are groups of two or more people, some of those people might be wearing masks. Be curious about whatever environment you’re in to establish the new baseline, so you can easily spot the anomaly or something that doesn’t fit.

The second item, adjusting your readings of body language. It makes me think of a funny meme I saw the other day:

 

Before Covid-19, it was very unusual to see people covering their faces with masks, unless they were concealing their identity while committing a crime. Now, a lot of people are wearing masks as well as the criminals. Being able to read body language, is more important than ever. What are they doing with their hands? Does the individual keep touching their pocket or reaching their arm around to their lower back? Those are signs that the individual could be concealing something. Maybe they just stole an item and they want to make sure it hasn’t fallen out of the hiding spot, or maybe they have a weapon and they keep touching it to make sure it’s easily accessible. If you weren’t a people-watcher before Covid-19, consider this your opportunity to start a new hobby.

Lastly, what will your new physical and emotional boundaries be and how will you enforce them? If you are a hugger like me, I need to consider that it may not be as socially acceptable. Even handshakes may be something that will only be allowed after vigorous use of hand-sanitizer. If your personal bubble was 2’ before Covid-19, it has probably increased to 6’. If there’s someone else bagging fresh avocados in the produce area and you have the ingredients for guacamole on your shopping list, you’ll probably wait patiently for the other person to be finished before picking and bagging your avocados. Decide what you are comfortable with BEFORE you go back out after all the stores re-open. Run through mental scenarios on how you will enforce those boundaries and what you will do if a boundary is crossed.

Setting your emotional boundaries will be crucial to your mental health as you re-enter your community. When I first went into self-isolation back in March, I crashed hard emotionally in week 2. I was overwhelmed with having my two kids home with me, I was sad to watch my business stall, and the confusion of information changing daily was unsettling. I continued to try and spread positivity, but my emotional tank was empty, and I was hurting myself trying to give something I didn’t have. As businesses and individuals adjust to re-opening protocols, give yourself plenty of space to decide what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not sure about going back to eating inside restaurants or attending a gathering of more than 10 people, don’t let others force you or make you feel bad about your decisions. Do what is best for you and decide how you will respond to invites. On the flip side, refrain from passing judgement or shaming those who are the first through the door of their favorite restaurant.

As you look forward and contemplate your new normal, take the time to listen to your intuition, and make decisions based on what’s best for you and your loved ones. You got this.

 “We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”

-Unknown

 

So, What Now?

So, What Now?

You may or may not have noticed, I missed the last blog email. I’m not even sure I can use the word “missed”. I didn’t forget I had a blog to write, I simply couldn’t focus the energy on sitting down to write it. I’m guessing you may be chuckling to yourself right now, saying,

“Yea, I hear you Kelly. I’ve struggled to focus energies on doing things I used to do too”.

Today marks exactly one month since my kids’ school sent home suggested learning objectives on a Friday in case there wouldn’t be school the following week. It was one month ago that we walked to a neighbor’s house so the kids could play together outside, while the other mom and I talked. I remember us not being overly concerned about what a potential Covid19 response would be in our area. Maybe the school district would close for a week or two. Maybe we would be forced to take a mini staycation. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

That Sunday night, we received the pre-recorded phone call letting us know that schools would be closing for the next two weeks due to Covid19 and to help teachers prepare for online learning. That was the start of life as I knew it, being completely flipped on its head.

Monday brought the flurry of emails canceling situational awareness presentations and day-long trainings. Only four days earlier, I had looked at the month ahead and felt excitement for all the opportunities to help people see skills they already possessed, in a new way. To help each of them feel more confident in their ability to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I felt like my company was finally turning a corner and gaining momentum. At the beginning of the year, I had participated in a vision board workshop and 2020 was going to be the year of growth. My word for the year was “mighty”.

Watching that momentum disappear in a matter of hours didn’t make me feel very mighty.

I’m guessing you probably have a similar story about how the pandemic shutdown affected you.

Loss. Uncertainty. Anger. Frustration. Helplessness.

Those first two weeks of shutdown were a rollercoaster of emotions for me. When my calendar reminder popped up to tell me that I had a blog to write, I dismissed it. What the hell was I going to write about when most people were stuck at home? I didn’t want to pretend that nothing was different in the world. I didn’t want to put on a fake smile and act as if my life was humming along as usual. I also wasn’t mentally in a place to process what I was going through.

Every day brought new information, new protocols, new restrictions, new challenges. I needed every ounce of energy focused on my family and establishing a new routine so my kids could feel safe and secure. I needed to figure out how to let the fires of DAG go down to hot embers without letting them go completely out. I needed to figure out how to support my husband, who is upper administration in law enforcement, while he was trying to figure out how to keep the officers safe and healthy, so they could keep citizens safe. Because a lot of those citizens were now on the front lines. Keeping grocery shelves stocked, figuring out how to reorganize the healthcare system to prepare for a potential spike in Covid19 cases, driving thousands of miles to keep the supply chain going with the increased demand for goods, and small business owners desperately trying to shift their model over night in order to save their livelihoods.

Everyone was affected.  It was overwhelming.

I realized the airplane passenger safety briefing applied now more than ever. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

I had to figure out how to take care of myself so I could help take care of others. Suddenly, my own words on how to become more situationally aware had another parallel in my life.

When I made that mental switch, I wasn’t back to the full strength, kickass Kelly overnight. I had to set up small, daily habits and commit to doing them every day.

I made a list of 5 things I would do every morning to help me get in a better head space.

  • Read my daily, faith-based message
  • Write down 5 things I was grateful for
  • Look at my vision board
  • Choose 1 thing I would accomplish for the day
  • Spend 7 minutes meditating

These were all things that were simple for me. They didn’t take a lot of time. Which is very important right now with 8 and 7-year-old boys’ home with me every day (did I mention EVERY DAY?!).

My mental health improved, and the emotional rollercoaster went from Six Flags level down to County Fair level.

When you start focusing on your personal safety skills, it’s important to start with small daily habits and commit to doing them. It’s not about only looking for a threat. It’s about being curious about your environment and noticing the things in it.

Pick ONE THING to look for today. Maybe it’s noticing all the different animals in your yard (squirrels, birds, rabbits, deer, fox, etc.) It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in the country.  Tomorrow, pick something new to look for. Maybe it’s going for a walk and doing the Heart Hunters challenge (a Facebook group now over 800k members strong).

I wish I could tell you when the self-isolation recommendations will be lifted. I wish I could tell you what your life and daily routine will look like when all businesses can open back up.

It’s just like I wish I could tell you exactly what to look for to prevent you from ever being attacked. It’s how I wish I could tell you exactly which self-defense tool to carry with you at all times.

I can’t. I can’t see into the future. No one can.

Anyone who tells you exactly who or what to look for, or exactly what tool to carry in order to stay safe, is full of shit.

Right now, I simply want you to do whatever you need to do, to stay healthy and to stay safe.

Take care of yourself. Do whatever it is that you need to do, to take care of your loved ones. Don’t let someone else dictate how you should act right now. Give yourself grace and remember that you will get through this.

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

-Steve Maraboli