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What is the solution?

Edition 106: Estimated Read Time - Under 4 minutes.

I am always challenging my clients to do something different and I never ask my clients to do anything I wouldn’t be comfortable doing. In this vein, I am going do something different and WAIT FOR IT >>> write my blog in a different way by breaking it into 3 ideas… So fasten your seatbelt…

  • Words to know

  • A skill to practice

  • A solution to use

I am going to do this in an enjoyable, educational and easy to understand manner.

Words To Know

In my office recently many clients have been coming in looking to me to clarify some behaviors. Along the way they have wanted the true definition of the behaviors and words that go with these actions. It’s also important when participating in an activity be it a hobby, sport, business or even therapy to have a good idea of the understanding of the language that goes with the activity. The following are some words to add to your vocabulary.

Boundaries– Area crucial aspect of any effective [client-counselor] or [partner-partner] relationship. They set the structure for the relationship and provide a consistent framework for therelationshipprocess. There are three boundaries to understand.

  • Enmeshed BoundariesEnmeshment is a narrative of a relationship between two or more people in which personal boundaries are permeable and unclear. This often happens on an emotional level in which two people “feel” each other's emotions (before even asking they MIND READ and KNOW), or when one person becomes emotionally escalated and the other family member then “mind-reads” and feels it for them… potentially and all to often with wrong emotions. This is seen within addiction when one person knows what the other should do to break the addiction cycle or yes—partners that know what is right for the other partner without asking.

  • Rigid Boundaries—Ifthe family is thought of as having a circle that surrounds it, imagine that circle is a boundary, then, some boundaries are flexible and others are rigid. A rigid family boundary is the one that attempts to hold on to all of its members without allowing any outsiders in or out. THING THE MOVIE THE BURBS w/ Tom Hanks. For example, as you raise a child… It’s healthy to have a schedule, however if the child is still forced to have the same bed time at 15 years olds as they did at 3 years old there is something to look at… A bit rigid.

  • Clear Boundaries—When clear boundaries are easy to identify and have a comfortable ability to adapt to the needs of the family there invites fluidity. Flexibility, autonomy, and openness—these are key to the success in clear boundaries as well as understanding limits too.

Autonomy—Is the principle that addresses the concept of independence. The essence of this principle is allowing an individual the freedom of choice and action. It addresses the responsibility of the counselor or partner to encourage a person, when appropriate, to make their own decisions and to act within their own beliefs.

Skill To Practice: Setting Boundaries

How to set a boundary? First you need to learn what you feel comfortable with and move on from there.

  • Explore your limits

  • Define your feelings, thoughts and physical sensations (think walking into a dark ally). Thoughts? Feelings? Physical reaction right before, during and after?

  • Be direct

  • Give yourself freedom to shift your boundary

  • Practice, practice, and adjust.

  • Look for guidance from a professional

  • And again go inside and confirm if you feel ok within yourself.

While healthy boundaries are often psychological or emotional, boundaries are also, physical too. Making sure you set boundaries in all these areas takes time and practice. Be gentle.


Love is the solution. It really is. Recently I was in the presence of a young man from Darfur, Sudan and he shared his story with a group of us. As a young 8-year-old boy he was removed from his home and sent off to war – as a child soldier he witnessed horrendous acts of violence both at the hands of others and himself, and yet all the while he spoke of love as the solution. Watching him go in and out of this traumatic story and continuing to walk with love was inspiring. As he explored his trauma and never running away from it—I was amazed and empowered by his ability to both honor his past and his vision for the future. Love is the solutionis not just some hippy, new age thought. You can actually actively practice it right this very minute – maybe on the one person you forget all to often… That person being YOU! And then learn to PASS IT ON!

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist who specializes in addiction, sex therapy, and working with spiritual experiences. For a complementary consultation please contact him at or by phone at 952-261-5269

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