30. Boundary Lessons from Breast Cancer : Interview with Kelley Tenny

Kelley Tenny BoundariesKelley Tenny is an experienced educator who has dedicated her career to helping students succeed. As an educator she had great success in setting boundaries in her classrooms. However, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, she realized that she needed to start prioritizing her own well-being and setting boundaries in not just her professional life, but her personal life as well.

In this episode, Mary Brown, The Boundaries Coach, talks to Kelley about her experience with cancer and how it gave her the push she needed to redefine the roles she had in her life. Mary talks to her about the importance of boundaries, and how they can actually increase our connection to the people that we love.

Find out more about Kelley HERE.

Main Episode Takeaways

  • Your value is not tied to what you do for others
  • Living without boundaries can lead to resentment
  • The four pillars of boundaries
  • Boundaries is a learned skill
  • We are responsible for our own emotional needs

Want to learn more about boundaries?

– Boundaries quiz HERE
Take my Boundaries 101 Course
– Do you want to overcome your hurdles of people pleasing? Book a free call with Mary!

30. Boundary Lessons from Breast Cancer : Interview with Kelley Tenny

Mary: Welcome. I’m here with Kelley and we are talking about boundaries. Hey Kelley. Thanks for being here. 

Kelley: Thanks for having me. I’m super excited for this conversation today. Boundaries is always super scary to me, so I’m ready. 

Mary: Oh, you don’t have to be scared. Introduce yourself a little bit. Tell us a little bit about you.

Kelley: My name’s Kelley Tenny and I live in Long Beach, California. I am an educator. I’ve been in education for over 20 years. I taught middle school health, which was a really interesting part of my life and I now teach at the university level. I also have a business called Teacher Brilliance, where I brought my educational background into the entrepreneurial space, and I help experts just like you turn their wisdom into wealth using online courses and curriculum creation and content strategy. I’m also a mom and a wife. I have a 12 year old daughter, a 10 year old son and a year old German Shepherd puppy, which seems to be harder than having two children. So we’re kind of busy over here and always in, in the midst of something.

Mary: Wow. That sounds amazing. Yeah. So tell us a little bit about boundaries for you. I’d love to hear, when you think about boundaries, how does it show up in your life?

Kelley: I, you know, it’s funny because the school teacher in me was someone who always had very clear boundaries. If you probably came across any past seventh grader that has come through my classroom they would tell you that I was strict. They would tell you that I was firm. They would tell you that I ran a tight ship. And I certainly did, and that was something that I always prided myself on, but, you know I think probably the younger me would have told you that she’s great at drawing lines in the sand and having boundaries, but the truth is, I think in my own personal space I think I probably was the opposite. Like I think it came easy to me in, in my work, but when it came to people that I care about and that I have close relationships with that’s really where I struggle with boundaries. 

Mary: Yes. And I see that a lot actually, where we’re able to have boundaries in our professional spaces but really struggle in our personal relationships. And it’s almost like we have this permission giving in our careers, right? Or in our formal settings to have boundaries. And then we just let our guard down and love the people that we love so much in our personal relationships that we just, you know, kind of toss it to the wayside a little bit.

Kelley: Yeah. I think that’s, you know, that’s such a good point. You know, when, when you were sharing that, I was thinking I was putting myself like in the role of a teacher, right? And being structured and having boundaries and, you know, having that kind of environment I think is expected. In the teaching profession, like if you have good classroom management, you have to have some very clear boundaries of how you run your classroom. And when I think about that in terms of like, who am I supposed to be as a daughter? Who am I supposed to be as a wife? Who am I supposed to be as a sister or an employee or a friend? You know, very rarely do we put someone who has clear structure and draw boundaries in those characteristics of those rules. And so, you know what you’re saying, really just like made the light bulb go off of like, oh, that makes a lot of sense, because that’s not how we typically define ourselves in some of these other more personal roles. 

Mary: That’s right. Yes. Yes. So tell me a little bit more about why you want to have boundaries.

Kelley: So, you know, I feel like I’ve always wanted to have boundaries and I used to do a lot of work with like mindset coaches and life coaches, and talking about me and my boundaries is something that’s been probably a part of conversations for I’d say a good four years. And, you know, recognizing that there’s a lot of relationships that I have where people have high expectations of me, people lean on me for things that really aren’t mine to have to worry about. Right? Aren’t mine to have to carry? And I think I’ve always struggled. I think a lot of it is cultural. You know, I, I was born and raised in an Asian family and you know my dad is Thai in, in Thailand, you know, they, the elderly go and live with the kids and, you know, everybody takes care of one another. And talk about like crossing boundaries, right? That’s like just a really hard expectation to have. And so I think part of it was just how I was raised. But I’ve always just really struggled with that piece of you know, if I didn’t say yes, if I did put up some kind of boundary, if I put myself up first, you know, that was a direct correlation with my value in their lives. And I think that’s the, the main piece that I’ve always kind of struggled is associating. I think a lot of it was in my upbringing. You know, like I was raised in a house where it was like, oh, you won’t do that for me. Okay, well then, forget it, you know, like, or you must not care, or, you know, a lot of that martyr type of conversation. And I think that just kind of seeped into all of the personal relationships that I had. 

Mary: Right. Yeah. And was there a time when that turned for you, when you did realize your value wasn’t tied to what you were doing for other people. 

Kelley: Yeah, I think, you know, I think I had realized it, you know, and I think I’ve started to realize that, you know, maybe a couple of years ago, but I was still having a really hard time stepping into that space and really just owning the fact that I’m entitled to boundaries. And about a year ago, October, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went in for my annual mammogram and 48 hours later I was told that I had a type of breast cancer that was very common in women over 65. I was 45 at the time. And I, I like to tell people like I think I was the healthiest 45 year old that I had known, you know, I, I was doing everything right. I was exercising four to five times a week. I wasn’t eating processed foods. I wasn’t eating sugars, I wasn’t using chemicals or deodorant like I was just, you know, really 

Mary: not wearing deodorant, that, that’s steep. 

Kelley: Yeah. I mean, and I hadn’t been. I think I was, my background is in health community health and wellness, and so I’m gonna say just shy of 30. And I was like, I’m not doing this, you know? And so yeah, I was definitely like, I’m on that other side of not just being healthy, but being like really aware of toxins. So it just came out of nowhere. Like it came out of nowhere, this, this diagnosis. And we did genetic testing and we did all kinds of stuff and, you know, my oncologist was just like, I just, I don’t have an explanation, like I don’t see anything that could have led to this. And as I started to really think about it and to talk to some of my like more holistic, you know, believers in my network and things like that. What it started to boil down to was recognizing that potentially all of those boundaries that I had never, you know, put up, right? Carrying all of the things that I’ve carried for so many people in so many different ways had somehow manifested into me, you know, getting chronically ill and having a disease that according to science, I am just not the person that, that should have been diagnosed with it. And so, that was a big eyeopener, you know and, and it was twofold, right? It was that deeper soul searching of why, you know, why me? And it was also a necessity because, you know, once I was diagnosed and we learned more about my type of cancer, I had to have mastectomy and then that followed with six rounds of chemo. 

And I had somebody tell me along the lines, you know, she said, now is the time, you have to put yourself first. Like your body is basically demanding that you put yourself first. And I honestly think having cancer is what gave me the push that I needed to say, now is the time. You know, I really wonder if I would’ve actually taken a stand for myself and started drawing those hard boundaries that probably should have been drawn a long time ago if I didn’t have that reason. You know, if I didn’t have that cancer reason. 

Mary: And that’s a hard life lesson. 

Kelley: Yeah, it was really. Yeah. I was like, wow, universe. Like that’s a, I hear you now. You know? But I had a friend who, he also actually had been diagnosed with cancer about four months before me, and he was very similar. And he was like, are we that stubborn that the universe, you know that this is how the universe tells us that things need to change. And I’m like, yeah. Oh, I would hope not, but maybe, 

Mary: Well, I wish you would’ve just met me a couple years ago. It’s way easier to learn boundaries with me than going through cancer.

Kelley: Exactly. Exactly. Right. But you know everything. I know everything happens for a reason. And like I said, that was really when I finally said, you know, no more. I have to put myself first. And I think all of those fears that I had about saying no, you know, I, I really think the cancer diagnosis shielded me a little bit. You know, I do believe that there were people in my life that would have turned their back on me prior to that if I had drawn boundaries. And I think in some way the cancer protected me from, you know, those kinds of people who we know eventually, we don’t want those people around anyways. Right? But some of them were family members. Like I, I can definitely say that I had family members that would’ve just said, don’t call me anymore if you’re not gonna be there for me. And I think having cancer just allowed me to kind of redefine the roles that I had in a way that maybe they weren’t taking it personally, right? Maybe they were able to say it’s because she’s sick, it’s not because she doesn’t wanna help me or she doesn’t wanna love me. So it was this interesting tool, if you will, that was brought to me in the middle of the diagnosis that allowed me to really start to get clear on boundaries and what was mine to take on and what wasn’t.

Mary: Mm, such an interesting story. So tell me, what are some of the things you wanted to say no to? Can you give us a few examples of what those boundaries were? 

Kelley: Yeah, so you know, in my business I have a lot of clients and I have a lot of clients that cross boundaries. You know as you probably know, being a coach, there’s sometimes we’ve got those clients that don’t know why you’re not answering on a Saturday or feel like you need to drop everything right now and you know, hop on a call or send six emails in 24 hours and say like, you’re ignoring me. I’m not getting the service that I want. And so there was a lot in that sense, that were boundaries where I always just wanted to, you know, be able to say like, Hey, like, you’re not the only client I have, and I’m also a mother and a wife, and I get to, I don’t know, deserve a Saturday where I don’t have to work. But of course, like as I mentioned, I think when you associate your boundaries with self-worth, I think I was always afraid, you know, I was always afraid that they wouldn’t think that they were getting their money’s worth or that they wouldn’t think that they were getting the service that they, you know, that they deserve.

And so that was always a big area for me. And then, you know, my family, my family is just, just across the board. You know, I am the oldest daughter.

Mary: There’s a lot of expectations with that.

Kelley: Yeah, there’s a lot of expectation. I, and I’m kind of like the calm one. I’m the one that’s like the problem solver. It’s just who I am. And so I get a lot of, you know, when there’s a family issue my phone rings and every person, and it’s every person in my family, you know, and I’ll often tell my husband like, uhoh, something’s happening because my sister’s calling and my mom’s calling, and my brother’s calling, and my dad’s calling, and I don’t know what happened. But yes, something obviously is going on. 

Mary: Yes, I can relate to that for sure. I think when people in my family or in my friendship circles or even business circles when they understand and appreciate that I am able to solve problems, somehow then all the problems become mine to solve and I’m like, wait a minute here. Yeah. Like, yeah, just cause I can help solve problems and work towards solutions. Because I have that solution focused training and experience, it doesn’t mean that they’re all my problems to solve. Right? I still get to decide when I want to help you solve your problem or not.

Kelley: Yeah, yeah. You know, and I think one of the biggest things that I had to learn also was that prior to my diagnosis, you know, I was showing up for people that were crossing the boundaries that I would have preferred, but I was also very bitter and very resentful you know, when it came to dealing with those people, and I think the, one of the biggest things that I learned was that, you know, when you’re helping somebody but you’re resentful, you’re not really helping them. You know, like me solving someone’s problem and then being really irritated and annoyed and like, not wanting to talk to them for a month isn’t actually really being there for anybody. And so I really, it kind of changed my thinking and, and my viewpoint around what it meant to actually be there, you know? And it’s the same thing with like a toddler, you know? It’s just like you have to let them cry and figure it out because that’s, you know, what they’re gonna need in life. And it, I feel like with boundaries, that’s kind of the same way. Like sometimes you just have to say, you gotta, you have to figure it out. And if I tell you the answer, maybe I’m not helping you. You know, maybe you’ll never figure it out if I’m always solving that problem. So that was something that was really clear to me once I was able to start kind of stepping back and saying no. 

Mary: Yes, and people will come to me often and say, okay, so should I help them or should I not? Like should I do it or should I, should I say yes or should I say no? Right? And usually my kind of rule of thumb is if you can do it from a place of love, sure. but if saying yes would be with resentment, then probably it’s time for you to think about how to say no.

Kelley: Yeah. And I think, you know, it’s funny, I know in the polka dot world we talk a lot about “shoulding” on yourself. Yes. And that’s been a big like decipher. That’s kind of been my, my guide, you know, is anytime I think like, oh, I should help her, I should offer, or I should, that I realize it’s really not coming from a place of love. You know, if I can’t say like, I really want to do this. Then potentially it’s impressing upon some part of my boundaries. 

Mary: Yes. One of my favorite things to do with my clients is to challenge them first, to notice how many times they’re using the word should, or they’re hearing the word should. And then for like a week, and then come back to the next coaching call. And then I’ll say something like, okay, so I give you permission not to do anything that you don’t wanna do. If you think you should. And you don’t have a reason why you want to, don’t do it for a whole week. Just try it out. And it’s so freeing to think about, I actually want to wake up early and write in my gratitude journal. I want to brush my teeth. I want to eat healthy food. I want to take my children to school. I want to go to work and serve my clients. Right? All of the things that I actually want to do. And it just feels so much more intentional than like I should get up early and I should eat breakfast and I should, right? That just feels like such a drag. 

Kelley: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It’s a, it really does. And I, you know, I think too, like, you know, obviously as a mom with kids that are, you know, they’re fairly young, as I mentioned, 12 and 10, there was a lot of that area I think, where I was allowing them to cross boundaries, you know, and I think as a mom, we tell ourselves that, that’s what kids are supposed to do. You know, there shouldn’t be. Or you’re a bad mom if you have boundaries with your kids, like you shouldn’t have boundaries. And one of the things that I saw, you know, in this past year, and a lot of people ask me like, how were your children? You know, how were they through this whole thing? And they flourished. Like they thrived and they matured and they you know, learned how to help around the house and I think like, what a great thing for them. Like because I had to draw boundaries, you know, and because I had to say things like, get your, get your own food, I can’t get out of bed, or, you know, or whatever it was. That they grew from that, you know, and I think that that’s a lesson that I really hold onto when I feel that resistance around drawing a boundary. It’s recognizing like, and what if they thrive because you said no, you know, because you draw your boundaries. And so, that’s really been a change in perspective for me, I think is is that recognition that, you know, you’re not doing everybody good by allowing them to, you know, cross your boundaries and, and allowing them to you know, infringe on, on your space or your time or, you know, whatever it is.

Mary: Yes. And boundaries actually increase our connection to the people that we love. 

Kelley: Hmm. I love that. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. So tell me a little bit about what’s the hardest part for you about boundaries now?

Kelley: I think the hardest part for me is like being open and honest about my boundary. And so thank you for saying that about know, bringing us closer to people because I think I still, where I am, probably much better with drawing boundaries. I still feel that, like, you know, that knot in my stomach of like, should I make an excuse or should I just be honest and say, no, you know, I, I don’t have time or no, I don’t want to do that. And. 

Mary: Well, you just “should-ed” on yourself. Yeah. So that’s a clue. 

Kelley: But just that, you know, that value, like really just being disconnected and recognizing that like, I am enough, like I am enough of a person and my value is not tied to whether or not I allow someone to cross my boundary. But I still have that fear, like it still shows up. 

Mary: Yeah. So when I teach boundaries, and I know you love kind of curriculum and content things, right? So four pillars. The first pillar is self-esteem, really understanding our self-worth and building our confidence so that we can decide our boundaries. The second one is deciding what’s okay for us and what’s not okay for us. And the third one is communicating our boundaries to other people. And that fourth one is following through. So there’s a natural progression that like when clients commit to my Loving Boundaries coaching program, then that’s kind of the progression that they go through. Mm-hmm. So I love that you understand that the foundation is about self-worth. And it takes some time to really build that foundation enough to be able to make the right decisions for you about what you want your boundaries to be. And then it takes some time, once you know what you wanna say, it takes some time to practice saying it. And boundaries is a learned skill, which is good news. That means that anyone can learn it. And if you grew up not having boundaries like I did then that’s okay. Wherever you’re at, you can absolutely learn it. But I’d love to just offer you kind of some tools if you, if you’re interested 

Kelley: I would love them. Yes. 

Mary: Yeah. So ways to communicate boundaries. Give me an example of something you might want to say. Can you think of a scenario? 

Kelley: Yes. So I have a good friend in my life that we’ve been friends forever, but basically she, if she calls, it’s because she needs something. Right? So like sometimes I just don’t wanna pick up the phone, you know, like sometimes I just have that, like, what does she need? But I pick up the phone anyways and, you know, and it, it always rings true. And then, you know, what I would love to say is, you know your, problems, like your emergencies are not my emergencies. Like I wanna be a friend and I don’t wanna be the friend that you only call when you need something. Right? So that would really be, you know, my boundary with her would be like, we need to have a friendship. Like, we need to have a friendship that’s not reliant on when you need me. I remember there were a few times just even going through chemo where she would call and she’d talk about something and she wouldn’t even ask like, how are you feeling? So that’s a big piece like that big, like I am happy to be here for you and be your friend, but it’s gotta be like a mutual friendship. It has to be a two-way street. 

Mary: Yes. So my question for you, Kelly then, is are you willing to maintain friendships with people that it’s a one-way street?

Kelley: Yeah. You know, and, and that’s a good question, and, and that came to mind earlier when you were saying something, and I think one of the biggest lessons I learned over this last year was that that answer is no. You know, I really am ready to release people that don’t have this, you know? 

Mary: Where there’s not reciprocity? 

Kelley: Yes. Yes. And what I’ve learned is that also means that, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Right? So there’s definitely like a sadness in that statement around recognizing, no, I don’t want these people in my life. And recognizing that I may be grieving some friendships because those people are, are not in alignment with the type of relationships I wanna have anymore. 

Mary: Yeah. And there’s no right or wrong answer to that. I mean, if I’m like full disclosure, I do keep people in my life that I am giving to, that I am ministering to, that I am serving. And. I intentionally do that, then I’m okay with it. Right? So it’s not like I’m out teaching the world, like you never should have a relationship with someone that you are the giver and they are the receiver. And I think sometimes I’ve even been the receiver. Right? It’s not where I naturally fall, but I can look back and think of people where I was the one who was kind of needing more in the friendship than they were. Right? So there’s not a right or wrong, it’s totally okay if you are, like, at this day in my life, especially having come out of something as you know, a big of a deal could be traumatic as a cancer experience to say, listen, I, I don’t have room in my life for people who aren’t coming with reciprocity to the relationship. Right? And that’s okay. I have found that kind of, it happens as people age, right? Where they gain life experience or life perspective. 

Kelley: Yeah. And, you know, thank you for saying that because one of the other things I’ve learned is that I can decide. 

Mary: Yes. Absolutely. 

Kelley: You know, so, so with this like specific friend. I know how she is. Right? I know why she calls. I. And I also recognize that like I have the decision knowing full well while she’s calling to answer that phone or not. And so I’ve really tried to come at it with that perspective as well. You know, like my husband will often say like, oh, you know, and I can’t believe she, and I’m like it’s who she is. 

Mary: Like I can believe it. Of course what did you think she was gonna do? 

Kelley: Right, right. Well, and that’s what we, you know, we talk about, I go like, of course you knew she was going to need me because that’s why she calls. But I also am willing to take responsibility for recognizing that like I have the choice to answer or to not answer. And if I pick up that phone, then I am allowing her to you know, to step into that zone with me of where I know she’s going to need something. And again, like I take this friend, I love dearly, I take her for who she is. Like I just, I’m like, that’s who she is. And I’ve found that when I just recognize people, you know, for who they are, and I just make that empowered decision of whether or not I want them in my life. There’s a lot less of that resentment there, or a lot of less of that like, why aren’t they giving back? You know, sometimes I just fine with those people that I choose to keep around. It’s okay to say like, they’re not gonna give as much as I give, and that’s just the relationship that we have. And maybe that’s okay. And once I can, you know, say that that’s okay, I feel a lot less of that like burden and resentment.

Mary: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. The other thing is sometimes we think we only have two choices, like to allow this person to behave this specific way in our relationship or to end the relationship. And one of the things that I teach is that you have lots of options in be, in between there. That there are lots and lots of ways that you can show up to a relationship where you think that your boundaries aren’t being respected. And that, that’s where the tools come in, right? So if you were going to have a conversation with her, what would you wanna say?

Kelley: I think the conversation would fall somewhere along the lines of I need you to know that very often I am also dealing with my own little fires that I need to burn out. And so while I am like flattered that I am your go-to emergency person, I need you to realize that I also have needs and I also have, you know, need support when it comes to, you know, challenges and, and day-to-day things.

Mary: Yes. So is there a request? Like what would your request of her, what do you want her to do differently? 

Kelley: Honestly, with her, all I want her to do is just to see how I am before asking me to do something, you know? Like it’s just a little, maybe just a little like friend courtesy, you know? Friendship check-in. I, I think with that, that would be enough for me. Like I definitely am not that scorekeeper or, you know, I did this for you and you need to do something equal back. But sometimes I just want like a, first of all, how are you, like, how is your day? Like, you know, let’s catch up for a second before diving into the ask. 

Mary: Okay. So one of the principles of boundaries is that I’m responsible for my own emotional needs. And you are responsible for your emotional needs, right? So my boundary is that while we might have a friendship, and I might be a resource to you, I might be a person that can show up for you if you have a need. It’s still your responsibility to meet that need. Does that make sense? So my emotional needs are my responsibility. So if I’m in a friendship where this person is calling and I’m giving, and I’m giving, and I’m giving, and it’s not meeting my emotional need, it’s my responsibility to tend to that. Does that make sense? 

Kelley: Yeah.

Mary: So, like, she can’t just give you everything she needs. Because it’s not yours to take. It’s still hers. Does that make 

Kelley: sense? Yeah. Yeah, it does. 

Mary: So even in our family relationships, even in our marriage or partner relationships, when it comes down to it, my needs are my responsibility. And I wonder if part of what happened in your journey to surviving cancer is that you were taking on the needs of everyone around you, and that your needs became big enough that that’s what you had to focus on. And you couldn’t take on other people’s needs anymore. 

Kelley: Yeah, I, I definitely think that’s.

Mary: Yeah. So a conversation with this friend, how would you start it? How would you start with kind of love and kindness and intention?

Kelley: Like, I’m a pretty like blunt, sarcastic person. So like honestly, I can envision the conversation going something like, you know, she calls and she’s like, Hey, oh my God, I needed to, you know, being able to say like, and first of all, I’m fine. And what else would you like to know about my day before you share your story with me? Like, I feel like I could do something like that, that would cause her to go, oh, yes. Like, tell me, you know, that would allow me just to have that like, feeling of like, okay, she’s given me time to like check on me. And now I’m ready to like give fully to her. So I feel like, you know, my sarcasm and just my personality could probably get away with, which I do a lot like with my family. You know, I’m like, I’m great. Kids are great. Like, thanks for calling. And sometimes that’s enough. You know, honestly, sometimes just voicing that. To just feel like I have voiced that I’m a person too, you know, and I’m here for you, but like, I need you to be here for me even for like three seconds. Can be helpful. 

Mary: Yeah. So maybe even just like, Hey, hey, hey, slow down. Let’s just talk about how we’re doing. Before we get deep in this, right? It’s kind of like the take me to dinner first. 

Kelley: Yeah. Maybe that is the exact phrase I will start using with her. I’m gonna say I will be here for you, but you gotta take me to dinner first. Before we go back to your place we’re gonna need to have some small talk. 

Mary: Like let’s check in about how we’re doing. Let’s just be friends for a minute and then if there’s something that you’re needing, you have a chance to ask. 

Kelley: Yeah, I like that because you know, there’s something too around people who cross boundaries, right? And so, you know, I’ve, I’ve spent this year, I feel like setting these boundaries, right? And then there’s always those people, and you can probably speak to this, there’s always those people that just want to cross your boundaries. You know, it’s like when you tell a kid not to touch something and they just wanna touch something. It’s almost like you drawing boundaries makes them more adamant about trying to cross them. There’s something that’s very, just energetically draining when there isn’t that exchange, right? Like sometimes, like all I need is just like, I’m just going to give you a little energy exchange. And now I’m ready to pour myself into you. But like I do need a little bit of that energy swap because that’s where I really find myself being drained. Where it’s just like, I’m in emergency. I’m in emergency. I’m in an emergency. And not having that time to like, let’s just check in, like, let’s just not go right into like the fire alarm. Let’s talk for a second. 

Mary: Yeah. So I would love to speak to that. So our boundaries are for us, So my boundaries are for me, I don’t set boundaries on other people. I set boundaries for me. So in this scenario, it might be that your boundary is that you have a check-in with your friends and swap some energy before you’re willing to pour into them and take on some of their needs. And then guess whose responsibility it is to follow through and respect that boundary? It’s yours. So other people don’t, it’s not their job to follow my boundaries. It’s my job to follow my boundaries. So I would just expect she’s gonna call you and fire hose right from the start. Right? And then I’m the one who gets to say, whoa, whoa, whoa, am I willing to engage in this conversation where I’m pouring into you right away? Or am I gonna honor myself and what I need and slow it down and connect first, and swap some energy and check in as friends, and then maybe I’ll be in a place where I can listen a little bit more and see if there’s something I’d be willing to do to help you or not.

Kelley: Yeah. I mean, that makes perfect sense and it so goes against like that innate belief of person A is crossing my boundary. Right? It’s like, they’re crossing it, it’s because you’ve allowed it. Right? Thank you for shifting that for me. Like I really feel like having my own responsibility for when my boundaries are being crossed is not only so much more empowering, but it really removes a lot of that, like negativity that I might potentially feel against people. You know, like I would imagine in many people’s lives, you know, I hear in just conversations like, she crosses my boundaries. I can’t, she’s always crossing them out. I can’t talk to her anymore. Right? And it’s like always the other people’s fault. But something like energetically shifted for me when you brought that point up of recognizing like it’s not their job to see my, you know, boundary fence. It’s my job to make sure that it’s up and that it, it’s clear and that I’m holding space for that. 

Mary: Yes. Yeah, exactly. And boundaries don’t keep people out, they keep people in. The people who we want in our fences. It’s the way that we’re able to connect with the people that we want to connect with and invite them over to the backyard barbecue. 

Kelley: Yeah. I love that. I’m just like wallowing in this like new pool of what boundaries is like. I just, I love that. I really love that shift and to me, it’s such a game changer when it comes to setting boundaries, right? It’s like not this thing we’re doing to keep people out, it’s really to protect like our inner circle and you know, the people that we wanna stay close to. 

Mary: Exactly, yes. And then it circles back to our self-worth. Like I will set and uphold my boundaries because I’m valuable. I don’t need somebody else to recognize and validate that for me. I get to decide for me. 

Kelley: I love that. Yeah. 

Mary: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for talking to me about boundaries today, Kelley. I really appreciate you sharing your story and this conversation. 

Kelley: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much for that insight and again, you really gave me like a new way of, of looking at things that feels just so much more in alignment with who I want to be versus what I was thinking setting boundaries actually meant. 

Mary: Awesome. Awesome. Have a great day. 

Kelley: Thank you.