“…in order to have boundaries and really even start to understand them, you have to be able to get comfortable in the discomfort of the duality between we’re all interconnected and we’re all autonomous. And both those seemingly opposite things are true at the same time.” -Margy Feldhuhn, Neuro Somatic Certified Practitioner and CEO of Interview Connections

Does the thought of setting a boundary feel threatening to you?
Have you ever quietly manipulated someone to get a need met?
Do you tell little white lies to meet other people’s needs in relationships?
Do other people’s boundaries bring up feelings of rejection, anger or abandonment?

In this episode we’re having an open and deep discussion about setting and receiving boundaries. We’re grateful to have Margy Feldhuhn back as our guest. She has a beautiful and profound take on boundaries that we believe you’ll find enlightening.

We’re each sharing our experiences and challenges with boundaries and how we NSI tools to set and receive boundaries with honesty and love. And we’ll be talking about the fascinating science that guides us.

Jennifer compares how setting boundaries used to feel in her body to how it feels now that she has Neuro Somatic Intelligence tools that many listeners will find relatable. 

Margy vulnerably shares her biggest boundary struggle and the feelings of rage, loss and abandonment it brought up- and how she used NSI tools to radically change. 

Elisabeth opens up about the NSI tools she uses to stimulate her vocal chords to feel safe setting boundaries and having difficult conversations. She also shares an inspiring recent example you’ll want to hear.

Episode highlights:

  • Margy shares her understanding of boundaries and how she uses them in her life and business
  • How boundaries impact our relationships, our health and even our businesses through the Neuro Somatic lens
  • Codependency and how the trauma responses of Freeze and Fawn affect boundaries
  • How body violations impact our Voice, internal sense of safety and our immune systems 
  • The surrender and release that boundaries have to offer you
  • Elisabeth shares what we can learn from the way animals set boundaries and express healthy anger based on the work of Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp
  • Margy’s powerful mindfulness boundary check-in that you’re sure to start using 
  • Benefits of anger and grief processing using NSI tools in relation to boundaries
  • Elisabeth talks about Gabor Mate՛’s research on autoimmune disease and how it connects to an inability to set boundaries
  • Jennifer shares about dangers of self-inflicted loneliness and chronic self abandonment
  • Margy brings to light how setting and receiving boundaries can deepen relationships

Thank you for listening and being part of the Trauma Rewired community. We appreciate all of you so much. 

Listen to more episodes of Trauma Rewired HERE


Elisabeth: Welcome back. Today, everyone, we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart- boundaries. I can never talk about boundaries or think about boundaries without thinking about the quote by the somatic practitioner Prentis Hemphill, who says “boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously”.

This season we are exploring how there’s really no such thing as a singular nervous system or one brain operating in isolation. That we are all connected, that our nervous systems are always in communication with one another, responding to one another and the way that our brain functions is shaped by the interaction that we have with other people.

That affects our physiology, our health as well as our self-expression. But as we are looking at that connection between us all and how we are part of this one big collective nervous system today we’re also gonna explore that within that connection, there are also boundaries. Boundaries that separate my body from your body.

And knowing that boundary is much more than just our skin. It’s also in that nonverbal communication and the signals between our nervous systems. So we’ll really look and examine this deep need for both attachment and authenticity and how these are two real survival needs that are always at interplay with one another.

We’ll examine concepts like codependence and Fawn response through a Neuro Somatic lens and how early body boundary violations can impact immune function, how boundaries can impact our relationships, our health and even our business. 

Welcome to Trauma Rewired, the podcast that teaches you about your nervous system, how trauma lives in the body and what you can do to heal. I’m your co-host, Elisabeth Kristof, founder of Neuro Somatic Intelligence Training in ICF accredited course for healers, therapists, coaches to help bring behavior change, trauma resolution and mindset change from the body to the brain.

Jennifer: I’m your co-host, Jennifer Wallace, and I’m a Women’s Embodiment Guide bridging the worlds of Neuro Somatic Intelligence with psychedelic preparation and integration. Having Neuro Somatic Intelligence means that we understand everything we do impacts our nervous system. If we want to experience new outputs in any area of life, including emotionally, we have to know how to work with the nervous system. Neuro Somatic Intelligence Training brings together evidence-based psychology and neuroscience to objectively measure and transform the integration and interpretation of sensory input that influences mood, mindset, emotions, reactivity, and biases to create outputs that transform thoughts, beliefs, and actions for enhanced leadership, innovation, inclusivity, health, profit, and altruism. The next round of NSI is enrolling for this fall right now. Please join us at neurosomaticintelligence.com to learn more. The link is in the show notes.

Elisabeth: Today we are joined again by Margy Feldhuhn, who is the CEO of Interview Connections and also a Neuro Somatic Certified Practitioner. We always love to have her here talking with us. So welcome Margy. Fyi- Her team calls her the Queen of Boundaries.

Margy: Thank you so much for having me.

Jennifer: I love that so much. I can’t wait to explore what boundaries are like with the queen of boundaries, especially in business because last time you were here I really gained a new perspective of what my life was like in leadership and with boundaries of myself. So I’m excited to see where this goes today.

Elisabeth: Yeah, I’d love to hear, Margy, why you’re so passionate about boundaries and what it is that you like to explore about them.

Margy: I love boundaries because they’re so important. I really think they’re integral to having a life and a company that is healthy and aligned and functioning well and has a solid framework. Also they’re so abstract and you can’t quite pin down what they are and I just like nerding out on stuff like that. It’s the type of thing that can be frustrating- for the reasons we’re gonna talk about- but also I think for a lot of people who are high achievers, you can’t quite grasp them. You can’t quite say- I’ve conquered this mountain of boundaries. It’s never ending.

It’s dynamic. They’re always shifting and changing. Like you mentioned, in order to have boundaries and really even start to understand them, you have to be able to get comfortable in the discomfort of the duality between we’re all interconnected and we’re all autonomous. And both those seemingly opposite things are true at the same time.

It’s this constant nuance of seeing if you’re going kind of too far in either direction and I think there’s art to it, there’s science to it. So I think it’s a very rich topic and it’s something that I personally love too. I go on a lot of very long walks and I love to ponder stuff like this and talk to people about it, cuz I think it’s so powerful professionally.

Jennifer: I really agree with you so much. They are dynamic. They shift and they’re different with each relationship. The ease to which I set a boundary is different in the different relationships that I’m in- the comfort with it. I love to explore what you were saying about the duality of the connectedness of the collective nervous system and how we are in relationship as well as our autonomy and our sovereignty. Really that’s what boundaries are about- the protection of yourself, of your autonomy and sovereignty and yet it deepens the connection that you have in relationship to the world, to society, to your partnerships, to any relationship that you have.

For me I didn’t really understand boundaries until I did. And then once I did I could still have some residual gut feeling around it or a full body response when I set them. But the body response is so manageable compared to what it used to be when I was deeply in a Freeze trauma response and I couldn’t set any boundaries or use my voice comfortably. I think typically after setting a boundary now I could find myself more often engaged in a Fawn trauma response. And I think Fawn is so deeply entrenched with and in boundaries. I think most people are gonna relate to that and that’s got some tribal roots to it.

I mean, people pleasing is probably the most synonymous definition that goes along with Fawn. From an NSI perspective, Fawn is a behavioral adaptation based on survival and the need for attachment; its trigger is rooted in relational behavior. In your nervous system it really activates this heightened sympathetic activation and propels you to engage with the threat, the relational threat, the social threat.

It’s totally reflexive. It’s interesting the way that we learn about boundaries from our early attachment because we’re so dependent as we’re born into this world and into our development. And Fawn can develop as that well-worn pathway to get our caretaking that we need for our survival attachment and connection.

But also that’s where those blurred lines begin to develop of where we end and someone else begins. Because depending on our environment, I think abandonment and neglect ring pretty heavy into this survival response and that well-worn loop. I think it’s interesting Fawn, because we’re trying so hard to please our caretakers that could literally depend on our survival as we move through that day.

But as an adult we really have neural pathways that are deeply defined in where our desires and wants are deeply repressed. It can lead to those little white lies in relationships to try and make sure that someone else’s needs are, they’re just more important than yours.

And it’s very unfulfilling And self abandonment is really what I think about too when I think about boundaries and that undercurrent of resentment and anger that can really turn inward and lead to a lot of self-harm and into really icky relationships like codependency, narcissism.

Elisabeth: Yeah, absolutely. I really related, Jenn, when you were talking about how before in life coming in a different state of nervous system dysregulation being a Freeze response and really not being able to vocalize your boundaries. I remember for years in my previous business partnership there were a lot of places where it was really out of alignment with my truth, with what really worked for me, and my nervous system and my values. I would practice and rehearse and write out what I was gonna say to my business partner.

But I was coming from a lot of dysregulation and some very strong early attachment wounds where setting boundaries felt incredibly life-threatening. I didn’t understand that at the time at all. I didn’t understand what was happening inside of my body, but I would sit down and have those conversations and nothing would come out.

I literally could not make myself speak. And then for years and years that went on in the whole structure of the business was built on something that was out of alignment for me. Eventually, I think that is a lot of what led to the collapse of that business and that partnership because the foundation was built on places where I was not being authentic.

I think Gabor Mate՛ does a really beautiful job of framing this topic as a spectrum between a need for authenticity and a need for attachment. That we have the need for both and there’s always kind of a tension between the two. We all have the need for both. And it just goes on a spectrum because as as small children, as infants, we absolutely have a very, very real need to maintain our social connections, our connections to our primaries for our survival so that we can have people to co-regulate with, who can teach us how to express and process emotions and also just keep us safe- shelter and food, it’s all dependent on our primaries. So we have that deep, deep need to keep those connections intact. Also, if you think about it from a somatic or the lens of looking at the natural world, we have a need to be able to hear and follow our instincts. If you think of a wild animal that senses, a predator out there needs to be able to feel those instincts and then react to them in order to protect themselves. Anger is a really healthy expression in the animal world of a boundary violation. And so there is this survival need for being able to feel and express and stay in alignment with our instincts of being true to our self and then using that truth to shape our life from a from a deep knowledge and to be able to express our self fully- our emotions, our needs, our desires, our creative ideas.

So there’s an interplay between the two. I think a lot of times if we grow up in a home where we were neglected or had the perception of neglect- it doesn’t even have to be actual neglect. We learned a patterning that reflects very leaky boundaries because that attachment need was so intense that we end up prioritizing secure connection above everything else.

We have this hypersensitivity to needing attachment and that patterning, like Jennifer was talking about, it follows us into our adult life because we’ve become hypersensitive from that lack of stimulus, that lack of social connection. And just like every neuron needs fuel and activation to stay alive, every human being needs connection, social connection and relationship to stay healthy and alive.

So if we had a scarcity of that growing up, then it can lead us to really over prioritizing that in our relationships for our safety to the detriment of the other survival need, which is authentic self-expression.

Margy: I love that so much. There’s so much in what you both said that I really love. And I want to start with Jennifer, something that you said about those little white lies and then Elisabeth you said about your former partnership and that foundation. I think whether it’s a business, whether it’s a relationship, it is sort of like building it on sand when you don’t have clear boundaries and it will always collapse and it usually in a pretty ugly way.

One of the things that, and you definitely don’t wanna go all the way to hypervigilance on this, but I like to keep it at a mindfulness level- one of the check-ins I do with myself that I find really helpful is just looking at- in terms of authenticity and boundaries- what is the distance between what I’m communicating with this person and how I actually feel about this situation?

They don’t have to be exactly overlapping. Because how I actually feel might be more pissed than is appropriate in a professional setting. But how can I start to make that gap smaller? And I think that’s where Neuro Somatic tools are the only thing that I’ve ever seen that helps. Cuz it’s not about being perfect, right?

It’s about that check-in though, how big a gap is there between what my loved ones or what my colleagues think is okay for me, or that I’m into, and what’s actually true for me. And I think that there’s really a fundamental misunderstanding in the way that people visualize boundaries. And I’m very metaphor heavy. I understand things by metaphors and visualizations. So I had this realization, and I think it was true for me and I think it’s true for a lot of people, where when we picture a boundary we’re picturing like a wall. It’s this energy of pushing against, holding steady, erecting a wall. It doesn’t feel internally balanced for me.

It almost feels similar to a controlling energy for me. What I realized was that when I was actually setting boundaries the most effectively, it wasn’t that energy at all. It was a true letting go. And so one of the things that I’ve been meditating on is like this willingness to let go of everything.

I am ready to let go of everything. I am ready to lose everything. And I think that is when we’re in our true power. I think both with setting boundaries and respecting other people’s boundaries, if we address that fear of loss and we’re willing to let go of the consequences and say the truth is the truth, whether it’s my truth or their truth.

And I am willing to accept any outcome, even if it means a loss of the relationship so that we can tell the truth, and that is such a powerful place to be personally and professionally.

Jennifer: I totally agree. And the allowing of others to have their emotions and their own truths without that being a direct hit on my person and my experience in the world. I think NSI does exactly what you said- it’s this mindful closing of the gap then it also has this honoring of the emotions that come with the underlying experience of the boundary.

I mean, that could be any emotion, right? I love what you’re saying about the detachment and the letting go. It’s really about trust. There’s a certain level of trust that you have internally and externally so that you can let go so that you can surrender to how things work out. Knowing that sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t, but either way it is working out for me. When you can sit in that heart-seated space you are more in tune. It also speaks to some of the work that we do with NSI, like your interoceptive system and being able to be in your body, to be embodied, to be present to the unfolding of what’s happening in and around you with work or your relationships or really all of it, all of life.

Elisabeth: Yeah, I think that it’s really such a powerful place to be at where you can be in that place of surrender and release. Definitely for me it creates an entirely different experience of my relationships- they actually are closer because I am truly who I am. Everything changes when I can come from that place.

What has made it possible for me to come from that place was really working with my nervous system to create a certain amount of foundational safety inside of myself. I think another one of the reasons that codependence can become such a really difficult hurdle to jump over when you’re somebody who’s living life in a really dysregulated state is that you don’t feel safe inside of your own body.

There’s this sense of chaos. And there’s a real need for having other nervous systems around to help you create that safety and that you have this really, really deep need for relational safety and to share your dysregulation with others who can help you co-regulate and come down out of that state because your stress load is so high.

So it feels incredibly scary to lose those relationships because of past patterning, but also because of your current internal state. As I begin to work with my nervous system it’s just a very different experience for me now. It’s still hard. It’s still hard for me to set boundaries.

I think it’s hard for anyone to set boundaries, because there’s a little bit of fear there- we’re social relational beings. But it’s not hard in the way that I don’t break out in a rash all over my body, I don’t throw up for two or three days, I don’t dissociate and go into a blackout. It’s hard in the way that I have the tools I regulate before I do the thing and then I process the stress after.

And the more I do it, the easier it gets and the less life-threatening it feels and the less reactive my body is to all of that.

Our partner is AG1, the daily foundational nutrition supplement that supports whole body health. I drink it literally every day. I gave AG1 a try because I heard about it here on Trauma Rewired, and the truth is I don’t love to take supplements, but I wanted to cover my nutritional basis every day.

Having better gut health was really important to me as someone with celiac and as I started drinking it, I found that my energy levels were more sustained and my immune system was functioning better. I drink AG1 in the morning before anything else, before I even have my coffee, and it’s actually become a really important part of my morning routine.

I do it and I make it and I drink it as I’m doing my neuro drills in the morning so that I’m giving my body the nutrition that it craves and covering all my nutritional bases and I’m also giving my nervous system the input and the stimulus that it needs to feel safe and regulated. It feels like a really good start to the day.

So if you wanna take ownership of your health, it starts with AG1. Try AG1 and get a free one year supply of Vitamin D and five free Ag one travel packets with your first purchase. Go to drink AG1.com/rewired. Check it out.

Margy: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is so significant about closeness. I know this season’s all about relationships and it feels counterintuitive, but it is true that your relationships are closer when you get to this place. I think for me the reason is that I’m not quietly trying to manipulate people.

And that’s a really strong word, and I don’t mean it in a malicious way. But when you don’t get your needs met as a kid, especially if you’re a smart and strategic kid, you are gonna find ways to get what you need. It looks like manipulation. It looks like saying stuff that’s not quite true because you just want them to be happy to do what you need them to do.

When you’re repressing the truth, or you’re trying to control responses or outcomes, it’s a very controlling, manipulative energy even though that’s really not your intention. So when you’re at this place where you’re not running from the truth, where you’re willing to let your truth and their truth exist and not fight against it, and not try and control outcomes or control reactions, you can actually just love them and connect with them and not from a place of ‘I need you, I need you. I need something for you’, which is very self-focused. ‘I need you to do this so I can be okay.’ But using neuro drills and being able to cultivate safety within yourself and safety and connection to Source or the universe and within your body, you’re actually able to love people as they are not because you need something from them, but because you love them and you’re even at a place where you’re interested in their needs, not just your needs.

Jennifer: I think that quiet manipulation is like this forced alignment. Maybe I’m supposed to be in this relationship, I’m supposed to be showing up like this so I’m gonna do everything I can to meet the expectations. But in the disregard for self- back to that self abandonment, which partially it’s taught, it’s learned, it comes from so many different places. Especially as being a woman in society. We do get a lot of mixed messages around our bodies, around the way that we show up in corporate environments. We have this concept that we talk about a lot here too, is about body boundary violations. And body boundary violations live on a spectrum.

Then there’s these confusing messages of: Be thin, but don’t be too thin; Be strong, but don’t be muscular. Be sexy; don’t be slutty; Be pretty, but don’t be too pretty- with this constant objectification of our bodies. Then, we’re gonna talk about this in a later episode where we explore sexual Fawning and how that relates to attachment, but with all these different rules we see that our bodies haven’t been protected from higher levels of our society and culture.

Margy and I were talking before we hit record today about the strategies that women have to go through as we’ve lived our lives, as to how we show up, what we wear, and what we look at every time we leave the house. And how that is just this constant low grade level of stress in our bodies.

And this heightened awareness, the hypervigilance, the cycling of F trauma responses and this really excessive amount of inner turmoil, confusion, the breaking of my own boundaries. As a leader I can see how these violations over time have added up to affect my safety and visibility, the safety in my voice. To learn boundaries and to have that- like you talked about- it’s not this hard line, it’s not this wall it’s this place of flow and movement. The more I get to work on my voice and setting boundaries and the safety of my body, it’s been incredibly beneficial in all areas of my life and creation in my life that I have been able to set these boundaries and maintain them from a place where I feel at ease with.

Elisabeth: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s so much cultural body boundary violation as well as body boundary violations that we experience maybe from an early age. Along with that cultural norm is also the suppression of anger and not being able to express the anger that is a natural response to a boundary violation.

That can be because we’re taught that it’s not appropriate to express our anger or that we’ll be punished or that we’ll lose our social connections. Or maybe just if we had boundary violations from an early age, the anger that we felt was so big and dysregulating and scary that our system learned automatically, reflexively to repress that below the level of our own consciousness.

There’s a neuroscientist that really studies the neuroscience of emotions, Jaak Panksepp. He looks at all of the emotions, the whole spectrum of them and how they help us to maintain our social connections and what their purpose is from an evolutionary perspective. Studies them a lot in mammals across the board.

He talks about anger in its healthy, natural form. It really is a boundary defense. That is primarily the emotional function of anger- to be activated when we perceive a threat to our lives or our physical or emotional integrity. And that being able to express that anger is really necessary.

It’s a necessary component of our wholeness, of our human expression. You can think about this as an animal protecting its young- you see examples of this in nature. It’s not the same as harboring a resentment or feeding something over and over again with shame or self-justifying narrative.

Anger is meant to move, right? It’s meant to move through our body and then to help us establish those natural boundaries. And when we’re constantly pulling that in, we do experience so many different boundary violations all of the time, and when we’re constantly either repressing or suppressing that there are real detriments to our health that can show up as skin rashes, as constant states of dysregulation and chronic stress because that stress cycle is never completed- autoimmune issues.

So I think it’s really another way in which being unable to acknowledge and accept and vocalize and set our appropriate boundaries can be really damaging not just to the quality of our life, but to our actual health and  the way that our body is operating.

Margy: I think the Neuro Somatic tools that I learned in NSI have helped me so much cuz I am a person who has a lot of rage, or like historically did. Which is interesting coming back to being a woman because that’s not loved in women- in men it’s like, ‘oh, he’s so assertive. He tells it like it is, he’s so fiery’. In women it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not a good look.’ I feel like it’s kind of the response. Learning how to somatically process anger has been such a game changer for me because there’s times when I feel anger coming up and sometimes I don’t even know why, sometimes it feels like a boundary violation, but the person that I think it’s directed at didn’t actually do anything.

It’s like I’m angry and they’re here. So being able to release it but not release it on somebody. Then there are times where it really is a direct violation and the anger is appropriate to put on that person. I think the nuance and mindfulness of ‘what type of anger is this?’

One of my biggest boundary struggles, so I grew up in emotional neglect, and because I’m not conflict averse I’m not someone who would be labeled as a Fawner. But low key I think everybody has a little bit of Fawn and it’s not always identified cuz it’s like, ‘oh, I’m not a people pleaser. I’m not conflict averse’. But those little ways that like if somebody’s not okay or is upset, it’s like, ‘oh my God, I need to fix it or I’m not gonna be okay.’ And my other struggle with boundaries is I used to really struggle with respecting other people’s boundaries. And I think I wanna talk about that because I feel like the whole boundary conversation is usually around setting boundaries and the people who don’t respect other people’s boundaries are the problem. But it can be very activating to receive a boundary. It can ignite the rage that you are being violated, even though they’re just setting a boundary. It can ignite abandonment, it can ignite what feels like a true life or death fear.

And that has been such an interesting thing for me to see in myself and work with, because I realized that I really was not great at respecting other people’s boundaries specifically in intimate relationships when there was a change in boundary. So if I had felt like for years we had this agreement of ‘you’re like this and I’m like this’

Then they’re like, wait a minute, I don’t think this is really healthy for me. I wanna renegotiate this boundary. I wanna change the expectations. That was really hard for me. It was also a time where like my dad had just died, I was not in a good place, but I really wasn’t very respectful of the boundaries at all.

It really brought up a lot of panic and rage and terror. So a big part of my practice has also been being somebody who’s good at receiving boundaries, and now with Neuro Somatic tools and the work that I’ve done in therapy too, I can receive boundaries and it’s not upsetting to me. And if it is, I’m able to process myself, not take it out on the person.

And then just constantly model thanking people, even for small boundaries, to show like ‘I’m a safe person to set boundaries with’, you’re not gonna be punished, continue to set boundaries. That’s such a huge part of the practice. For me it’s just as related to that letting go, because it’s that fear of loss when someone sets a boundary with you. ‘I’m losing something that I need from you. I’m losing the connection, I’m losing something’. When you’re in a place where you’re able to self-regulate enough that you’re like, ‘okay, I can let go of that’, then you can really respect other people as well.

Jennifer: God so resonant, Margy. So much of what you said about the conflict and the rage and the emotional neglect. I think that emotional neglect plays such a huge role in the ability to set and receive boundaries because we are literally losing the emotional connection to somebody and if they set a boundary they’re like cutting the love off from us.

And we’ve already experienced that on such a deep level. Our body, before we even knew what we were talking about, is like feeling the loss of the connection. 

I think the emotional neglect is just like a really key component here in this conversation. It’s one of my ACE scores as well.

I mean, let’s be real emotional neglect and abandonment is a total ACE score. So that’s serious when we’re talking about the implication of boundaries on our health and NSI and working with our nervous systems in general and how this modality does play such a key role in our physical health.

It is just something so important to talk about and it is important to be the safe place for other people to be able to set boundaries.

Elisabeth: Yeah, I am right there with both of you guys in the neglect category and having that big disproportionate response to when someone sets a boundary. Then, like you were talking about Margy, the rage coming out is not necessarily proportional to what it should be for the boundary that that person is setting or for the boundary violation that happened.

It’s not really that big of a deal, but it feels massive and big in the body. I think when we talk about anger processing and we talk about emotional processing and the grief of that neglect and the loneliness and being able to move all of those emotions and sit with them- I have a lot of clients that don’t wanna do the anger work because they’re like, ‘I don’t wanna be really reactive.

I don’t wanna be this angry person’. And that is not the point or the situation. That’s not how it really works. It’s that we learn to process the anger so that we are not emotionally reactive where it’s not appropriate and that we have the capacity to be present with the truth of a situation as it is- to hear the boundary and feel it proportionally to what is being asked of us.

And it starts to feel different inside of our nervous system when the big stuff that’s been held inside since we were really little has started to move through. And we’ve learned to regulate around that and create that safety inside of our self working with the nervous system daily. Then when somebody asks me for some space or says, ‘I’ll get back to you in a few days’, or ‘I don’t wanna do this right now’, of course it is harder in intimate relationships than it is in a work relationship, but I definitely have found that my capacity to hear that for what it really is has changed.

To have a response of my higher order thinking systems of my adult self with a fully developed nervous system that can be like, ‘okay, maybe this hurts a little bit and I’m gonna walk it out and I’m gonna process the stress.’ But I don’t get propelled back into being a three year old that is terrified and abandoned and alone. It just makes such a big difference.

Margy: Something that I read recently that I really liked, and I think that experiencing childhood emotional neglect makes this less intuitive to understand, but he’s a couples psychologist and also has been a Buddhist for a long time. He said this and I was like, why does no one talk about this more?

He was just like the idea that you are supposed to feel connected at all times to your partner or to your kids- that’s not realistic. That’s not the reality of relationship. You don’t feel connected all the time. And I think for those of us who don’t have secure attachment, I think we can fall into the trap even more of being like something’s wrong if I don’t feel connected all the time.

Whereas securely attached people understand that connection, the feeling of connection ebbs and flows and it’s not a threat to the relationship. It’s just sometimes you feel less connected and sometimes you feel more. And so that’s something that because it’s not intuitive to me it’s so helpful for me to hear that and to practice that discomfort of like, sometimes you don’t feel fully connected to your partner or to whoever.

And being able to use Neuro Somatic tools to cultivate safety, to process the discomfort of that and to build that muscle, build those pathways of it’s safe to not feel a hundred percent connection all the time with everyone in my life. And actually it’s making me a happier person to know that that’s not the expectation or the bar that I need to be striving for.

Elisabeth: Yeah, I think it’s just so critical and this boundary work it can be tough. It’s the work that I still am constantly doing on a daily basis, like Margy was talking about- especially if you are a high achiever, high performer, you wanna conquer it and be done with it and it just isn’t that way- for me anyways.

It’s always unfolding and as my relationships get more intimate, as I’m able to be present more and feel in my body more, there’s a whole different experience with setting boundaries and even really knowing what my boundaries are and allowing that to change and shift. I think it’s just really so important for so many reasons.

I feel like the work that I do with my clients and with myself for setting boundaries gives us a life that’s more in alignment that leads to greater nervous system health because we have relationships that are supporting us and leading us to optimal health. But also on an even deeper level that when we can’t express ourselves and set our boundaries, oftentimes our subconscious mind, our body, our brainstem -the reflexive parts of us- will start to set those boundaries for us.

There’s a lot of research especially if you look into Gabor Mate՛ and When the Body Says No and other research linking autoimmune disease- ALS, other types of disease with certain personality traits, which on Trauma Rewired, we don’t believe anything is a personality trait, it’s just a reaction, it’s a wellborn path that the brain has gone down. When we can’t set our boundaries and speak our truth and find that border between ourselves and another person our immune system will sometimes move into a state of hypervigilance and that looks like autoimmune disease.

Or we’ll develop skin rashes that can show up as eczema or psoriasis, which is just inflammation on the skin, which really is the first border, the first boundary to your body. There’s many studies cited in these books that link certain personality types that are identified as people pleasers or excessively “nice” personality types that don’t express their true feelings or what their needs really are and are constantly prioritizing other people’s needs over their own to being more likely to develop not only autoimmune but malignant cancers, ALS, MS. So there’s a lot of damage, which I think is just stress. Stress is at the root of 75 to 90% of all disease. There’s so much stress and internal chaos that comes from the inability to set these boundaries. So it really is important in that way.

Then it’s also important for our work in the world, for our businesses, for our ability to be leaders and to create organizations that reflect healthy, aligned ways of being in the world that have a foundation that’s really set up to create success.

Margy: Yeah, I love that. And setting the foundation, it really does get easier I find, because the more that you’re very clear and consistent and you, again, close that gap between what’s true and what you’re communicating, the more that there starts to be kind of an understanding and agreement about you, that people know, ‘okay, it’s pretty clear what you’re okay with and what you’re not.’

Then I also have to say, as you start getting into boundaries, hanging out with people who don’t need really intense boundaries is really nice. What a boundary looks like with a more difficult person, which is- ‘I’m not going to contact you anymore if you don’t stop doing this.’

It’s the boundary, it’s the consequence that’s like the textbook boundary. But in a life where you mostly surround yourself with people who are respectful and are listening to you and are good communicators, you just being like, ‘ah, I don’t, I don’t think I love this’ is usually enough to be like ‘okay, let’s talk’ and it gets navigated.

So what a boundary looks like internally in terms of how it’s communicated, I think is really, really different depending on the situation, depending on who the people are. The more that you surround yourself with people who are open and interested in talking about boundaries, it just becomes much easier to navigate, to find those boundaries.

And like you said, it’s not a box that you check. I’m a boundary queen. I told you this weekend I made a boundary mistake. I felt myself feeling resentment. And I realized that it was because people on my team were doing exactly what I told them they could do. Exactly what I told them I was available for, they gave to me. And I was like, I didn’t know it until I did it, that I actually did violate a boundary, but it’s not their fault.

They’re doing exactly what I said. So I’m gonna re-communicate, renegotiate this and I did. So it is this constant catching yourself, ‘okay, let’s honestly communicate this’. The more that you surround yourself with people who you are able to authentically communicate with, and it’s a safe space, it’s just so much easier to have good boundaries. And it’s not constant swimming upstream.

Jennifer: I love when people know my boundaries and it can become a laughable experience. 

And Elisabeth, to speak to what you were saying about chronic illness and disease in the body, I think that not having these clear boundaries is really self-inflicted loneliness. Which we know is massively dangerous to a body because it’s more self abandonment over and over. It just makes it more chronic to not have boundaries.

Elisabeth: I totally think that hits the nail on the head with chronic self abandonment. This ‘I want so badly to have connection and be seen and be heard, but I am abandoning myself and I’m not really speaking my truth’. So I’m never seen, I’m never heard because I’m not even putting it out into the world.

And that leads to such a feeling of isolation and loneliness- and shame. Because all the things that you’re keeping inside that you feel if you bring out into the world, you’re not ever giving them a chance to make it out into the light and to be seen and to be loved. They’re just staying in there, repressed. All the emotions, all the thoughts, all the true needs and desires. There’s so much that comes with it.

Like you guys were talking about, it’s such a really wonderful experience to be able to have change in this area of life. And some of the stuff that I’ve done is- I’m obviously doing daily nervous system training to increase my capacity, but I do a lot of Neuro Somatic tools for my throat and for my jaw and a lot of vocalization exercises to help stimulate my vocal cords as I’m visualizing having these difficult conversations. Working directly with the nervous system in the body to create safety around those visualizations and I have released a lot of the tension that is held in my jaw and in my throat, and retrained my vocals actually in the moment to not tighten up and give out on me.

Because like I said before, that would happen all the time. For years of my life I had laryngitis and I had no idea that it was because it was so repressed. I had no idea that it was because I had the inability to speak my truth. Recently I had a conversation with some colleagues where I had to say some stuff that I wasn’t sure if they were gonna like or not, but it was the truth and it was in the name of building that aligned foundation for something that really matters to me. The stakes felt high. So I did my practices. I practiced, I visualized, I moved the stress through my body, I used my NSI tools. And I will say, I was able to have the conversation- my voice didn’t even shake, my lip didn’t even quiver at all.

I was just there in my power feeling in my body. I didn’t dissociate. I stayed present and everything was great. Like Jen was talking about too, the way that you come at people really determines whether or not they’re gonna be able to hear you and how you’re received. I came very present, very open, very connected, still.

And it’s just such a different experience and it’s wildly cool to be able to witness that in myself and my clients and the people that I love. As the nervous system heals, the level of self-expression and true connection that’s made possible.

Margy: I also think that I sometimes feel closer to people after there has been some type of boundary issue or whatever, and then it’s handled well and there’s a really honest conversation. I feel emotionally closer to them than if it didn’t happen. I think that grows a relationship and deepens a relationship in a really special way.

Elisabeth: If you’re someone who’s finding yourself in this conversation and you feel a lot of this overwhelm or these big sensations when you do have to set boundaries. Or maybe you can’t even feel and your body where your boundaries are and that seems like a far away to go then feel free to join us at www.rewiretrial.com and get two free weeks of nervous system training.

Jennifer and I are live on the site and you can learn the tools to work directly with your nervous system to start to create that foundation of safety in your body that allows for these difficult conversations and the building of new relationships and allows the difficult conversations to become less difficult with time. So that’s www.rewiretrial.com. Come join us. We would be happy to meet you there.

Margy: Thank you so much. I love this show. I love talking to you both. Thank you so much for having me, and I hope that this conversation was helpful for people. I hope that they have some ‘ahas’.