Tag: boundaries

The Power of Change in Relationships

Healthy Relationships are key to healthy living. No matter how independent we are, we simply cannot live in this world alone.  We thrive on interaction with our family members, peer groups and friends, especially the latter in our teenage years.

Upon reflection, I remember how important it was to have friends and the impact healthy friendships have had on my growth and development. Recently, I reminisced about athletic friends choosing me for their teams even though they knew I could not help them win.

How mature of them and forward thinking to look out for my emotional well-being, when the very system in place did not. But what about when they weren’t around. I was the last one selected. Never mind! I do hope picking teams has been scrapped for the sake of good self-esteem.

Anyhow, the point is relationships can reveal key information about who we are and our friends, too, not only when we are in the relationship but also after the relationship has passed.

I know, I know. Who said anything about passing? Don’t good friendships go on forever? Sometimes they do and other times, they do not.  In either case, one thing is for sure, people change.

And understanding this change is one of the basics of maintaining healthy friendships and another is knowing when the friendship has run its course, whether it is a love interest or simply a good friend.

So, what is a girl to do when her best friend changes right under her nose? Or a love interest, well, is no longer interested. Suddenly the activities that you shared are no longer exciting and the crowd that you have both worked hard to avoid have brought your friend or love interest into their inner circle.

I hear you. No one wants to feel left out, so it might be something to consider changing, too, for acceptance.  Not so fast; consider the tips below:

  • Recognise the past has passed. No point in hoping for a better past. It is gone. Let bygones be bygones! Grow from it!

  • Instil boundaries! When friendships are evolving, boundaries can come in quite handy. They can be the security you need to steady yourself.

  • Respect the boundaries of others. Give them their space, their new life. Take what you have learned and let the rest go!

  • Stay true to your values. Though we grow and evolve, we all have fundamental values deep within. Let them rise to the surface when they need to. They will never steer you wrong.

On my most recent long-haul flight, in one of the movies I watched, a teenage girl took up smoking because her friends were doing it. But her romance with smoking was short lived once she worked out that she didn’t value it and really didn’t enjoy it.

This revelation led her to realise that her friendships had become toxic. And that perhaps the friendships had run their course, and that it was time to make new friends.

On the other side of change, however, I know of two women who grew up together but took very different paths in life, yet they stayed in touch and continue to count each other as close friends. Congrats to them!

Undoubtedly, change continues to influence their relationship, as it does all relationships. It is just a matter of understanding its power and knowing how to manage it.

UIO’s Third Most Popular Podcast Featured with Top Tips

It’s the third week  of our campaign to share top tips from our most popular podcasts.  This week, we feature On Girls’ Rights with Lindsey Turnbull, a podcast that is all about exercising your rights to stay happy and healthy in the space you are in.  Though the teenage years can throw challenges at you, you have a right to meet those challenges in our own style.

Top tips include setting boundaries on and offline and honouring them. With boundaries, it is much easier to occupy a healthy space.  Following having clear and consistent boundaries is protecting your internet space. Not only does this mean, following positive accounts but it also means unfollowing negative ones.  Check out the vlog here!

And continue to watch this space for our new back to school mini-series out in mid-September.  The series features podcasts on how to stay safe at school during the COVID era, navigating the new norms and grief amongst other topics.  With a whole new world to before us, the podcasts offer loads of advice and tips on how to adjust and move forward. Take care!

 

 

How To Use Boundaries and Effective Communications

Family relationships are key to growth and development, particularly during the teen years, not to mention the opportunities that family life offers for learning new skills that will not only support you as a teen but will also set you up for the future.

For example, though boundaries might feel like rules that only cramp your style, they are crucial to learning to be responsible.

Reflecting upon my own teen years, I do recall having loads of boundaries—some to do with going out and others to do with staying in. I had to be home at a certain time and visitors, particularly boyfriends, had to be in to visit me at a certain time and out at a certain time, too.  Fair enough, although I didn’t think it was fair at all when a boyfriend and a distant cousin of mine turned up about half hour later than was allowed and found themselves turned away at the door by my father.

How embarrassing? However, looking back, not only can I see that it was fair but it was necessary for me to understand the importance of honouring other people’s boundaries. First, I realised that the boundary was set set out of care and concern and for my own wellbeing. Next, it taught me discipline and responsibility. For example, somehow it helped me to value time and to respect other’s boundaries and expect them to respect mine.

I am sure having boundaries opened up opportunities for me to begin thinking of setting my own with friends, for example. The principle works in general. Knowing that you don’t feel comfortable doing a certain thing under peer pressure is one thing but having a boundary to avoid the consequences just might ease the pressure a bit. And thankfully you can take your boundaries right into adult life whether that is university or a job and then into your own family life.

The point is that boundaries are there to serve you, both mentally and physically.

Another skill to pick up from family life is learning how to communicate effectively. I know from my own personal life how difficult this can be even as adult, let alone as a teenager.  But it takes commitment and practice to become a good communicator and while there are many tips for communicating effectively–two key elements of practicing is listening and talking.

Easy peasy, right! Not necessarily, talking for example can be misunderstood if you don’t understand your own message and aren’t clear and concise about what it is you are trying to say.  So, the next time there is a misunderstanding with a parent or guardian, really think about what you would like to say and say it with clarity. But do make sure the timing and the tone are right. You’re speaking, not protesting.

And equally important is listening, actively, making sure you understand what is being said to you in response. That means not interrupting, not paying lip service to something and planning what you are going to say or do next.

The bottom line is that like setting boundaries, effective communications is there for you, as well, to make your experience the best possible scenario.  So why not tap into the opportunities to incorporate setting boundaries and communicating effectively into your own life at school, with friends and so on.  Check out our podcast: UIO: Your Family Inside Out with Helen Lewis for more hot tips on family life.

 

Keeping Cool With UIO’s Hot Tips

I am in the heat of the moment, literally as I am in Cannes, France, in the midst of the country’s worst heat wave since 2003. Albeit Cannes is hot (il fait tres chaud and if you ask me, trop chaud) at 31 to 33 Celsius, which is 87 to 91 Fahrenheit, it is nowhere near the record temperatures of 45 C (113 F) in one small French Village. I can’t imagine and am prayerful that everyone is able to take cool cover.

Literally, when it is hot, we look for ways to cool down. Thankfully, we have an apartment with an air conditioner, and we are drinking plenty of water, etc… But what do we do when it gets a bit hot figuratively? Ditto! We look for ways to cool down.

Thus, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look to our most recent podcast series, featuring character building, emotional bullying and girls’ rights, for cool tips, though we normally refer to them as hot, sizzling hot, on how to navigate a heated situation.

Here we go:

Our guest for On Character Building, former Paralympic swimmer Elizabeth Wright, says: “Character is an integral part of life. In a nutshell, character is who you are, it is those elements inside of you that are a part of you that develop and grow. They can be parts of your personality, parts that you can pull on when times are tough.”

Elizabeth says there are four categories for building character if you will:  performance, moral, civic and intellectual.  And the key is striking a balance and knowing your strengths, particularly when facing some of the undue pressures.  

In our podcast, On Emotional Bullying, radio personality, Jillian ‘JJ’ Simmons stresses the importance of seeing emotional abuse for what it is, recognising when someone is intentionally manipulating you to gain control.

It sometimes masquerades as love, JJ points out. One of her hot tips for self-protection is to take care of yourself at the core. This means working on your self-esteem and ultimately knowing who are. In addition, she says it is important to watch what you feed your mind.

Easier said than done, right but knowing that you do have rights to protect your mind can surely help.

Our On Girls’ Rights podcast guest, Lindsey Turnbull, founder of Miss Heard Media, points out that boundaries are very important, not only for protecting your own space but they’re about respecting other people’s space, too.

Sometimes the lack of boundaries puts people off.

The key, says Lindsey, is to really like yourself. The more you like yourself, the easier it is to say no to things that don’t serve you, whether it is a seemingly small thing like accepting a salacious comment or a big thing, like going further in a sexual relationship than comfortable with.

Great cool tips for getting out of a heated situation, yeah!

Now about this heat in Cannes. I’d love to take a plunge but as I don’t swim, that could heat up pretty quickly.  Thus, I’ll stay in the flat and keep cool. Stay tuned for more news from UIO, the podcast for teen girls and listen on our website, iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Getting The Best Out Of Life

Our latest podcast, On Girls’ Rights, is hot off the press, if you will and full of information on how to get the best out of life.  You have a right to, you know!

Actually, when I was a teenager, I am not sure I did know my rights, such as the right to reject sexualisation, for example.  From boys to men, I have had more than my fair share of unwarranted and unwanted comments about my clothes, my body, etc… And though I might have felt uncomfortable, I have often chosen to ignore the unnecessary nonsense and let the offender off the hook.

Make no mistake about it, I’m not talking about compliments. Those I love! I am talking about cat calls done with a smile. Nowadays, I’m likely to call a spade a spade but as a teen girl, I kept quiet more times than not.

Of course, every situation doesn’t call for action but when it comes to protecting your rights, sometimes you do have to step outside of your comfort zone—you have to set boundaries and honour them.

As our guest, Lindsey Turnbull, founder of Miss Heard Media, points out: boundaries are very important, not only for protecting your own space but they’re about respecting other people’s space, too. Sometimes the lack of boundaries puts people off. I can relate to that. Once I had a friendly neighbour who loved paying compliments and then one day, he referred to a certain dress I was wearing as delicious. Immediately, I stepped back and put up a physical boundary, refusing to make further small talk in any way, shape or form.

No, I didn’t call him out so to speak, rightly or wrongly, but I broke off our informal relationship, if you will. He got the message. His comment not only put me off, it did not serve me at all. Thankfully, at that stage in my life, I was confident enough to understand that he had no right to make such a comment about my clothing. No hemming and hawing or guilt to be felt about extracting myself from an uncomfortable situation. I was out of there.

But when I was younger, I often had similar things said to me or one of my peers as if it was the most normal, healthy thing to say.

The key, says Lindsey, is to really like yourself. The more you like yourself, the easier it is to say no to things that don’t serve you, whether it is a seemingly small thing like accepting a salacious comment or a big thing, like going further in a sexual relationship than comfortable with.

You do have a right to grow-up without so many uncalled for pressures. Check out the podcast for teen girls’ On Girls’ Rights for more advice and hot tips on how to exercise your rights. As usual, the podcast is full of info on how to get the best out of your situation. Listen on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Keys To Good Family Relationships

Having spent a weekend with family, I was reminded of how dependent small children are on their parents and guardians for survival. Sure, they exercise a bit of independence, choosing their own outfits and making clear what they prefer to eat and so on but at this tender age, children are not mature enough to decide on their own bedtimes, for example, or how long they should stay glued to a television or an Ipad. Left with them, they would stay up indefinitely and pay the consequences later.

Very few would debate the importance of having a pragmatic relationship with small children but as we grow, the balance of power becomes unclear.  Maybe it is the word power that throws off teens and parents alike.  I know when I was a teenager, I dreamt a world of freedom and independence. It was only when I started working and paying my own bills that I realised how free I had been, of course, within the family unit.

Upon reflection, the world around me had a lot to do with my idea of freedom. For example, if Mary Jane (there was no Mary Jane in my graduating class) was driving at 15 and got a new car at 16, then I reasoned that I had a right to do the same.  My parents didn’t quite see it that way. And once they let me know their views, the story ended or did it.

It did as far as they were concerned but in my mind’s eye, I couldn’t wait to grow-up, so I could jolly well buy my own shiny new car as and when I pleased and have exclusive power over my own life.

Of course, as a young adult, I learned rather quickly that there is a complex line between desire and attainment, that reaching a certain age doesn’t make you all powerful so to speak or give you freedom.  Actually, it is quite the opposite. It was having healthy boundaries and good family relations that gave me the freedom to grow. 

Without those key elements, I feel certain that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to move to New York and then London.  But what makes good family relationships.  Helen Lewis, guest in our podcast, Your Family Inside Out, offers many hot tips.

One key is effective communications. That means sharing your views calmly and clearly.  And this doesn’t stop with young adulthood.  Even now as an adult, I find this advice sound.  Otherwise, the problem does not get resolved. It gets escalated.

Another key element in good family relationships is respecting boundaries.  All families have them, regardless of the age of the family members. Naturally, however, boundary lines change as we grow older.  As a little girl, I wouldn’t have been allowed to ride my bicycle to the store but as a teenager, I could.  No wonder I jumped to the idea of driving ever so quickly. Never mind!

The point is: each family is different and has a different rhythm that they harmonise to and no matter what our age , it is important to have open, honest and effective communications and to respect the boundaries that are often in place to protect us, afford us the freedom to grow not only physically but emotionally and mentally, as well. For more information, listen to UIO, the podcast for teen girls.

The Joys Of Dating

As if there isn’t enough pressure on dating as it is and crops up Valentine’s Day.  Bear with, I’m not really a kill joy about this loveable day, and I do enjoy a good box of chocolates now and again and some lovely flowers, too.  But the thing is, with all the hype around love and romance, sometimes folks who are already dating or even married feel undue pressure and those who are single just might feel a bit left out.

Good thing we’ve released On Dating Inside Out, Episode 4 from Series 2. In it Cat Williams offers insight on what dating is really all about. It is not only an opportunity to get to know another person but you can learn a lot about yourself, too.

When I was a teenage girl, the last thing I thought dating would do was teach me about myself but in hindsight, I can see very well how it did and some of the growth opportunities that opened up through dating, though they didn’t feel like opportunities then, more like hindrances.

For example, dating helps with establishing boundaries.  These boundaries are important not only when it comes to putting the brakes on going further in a sexual relationship than one is comfortable with but also they can play a role in deciding on what type of people you want to hang out with, even at school.

In hindsight, had I understood this last point, I would have found it much easier to stay in a spacious place as a teenager and not feel the pressure of hanging out without someone just because they were popular and so on.

This type of dating doesn’t show the concept at its best at all.  In fact, it can taint the experience and cause confusion about dating.  But lots of good advice out there to clear up confusion.  One tip is to speak to someone you can trust when presented with dating challenges.  This could be a parent, an older sibling or an auntie.  You might be thinking—fat chance that I will be talking to a parent. She won’t understand.

Try her. She has likely been there and done that, though in a different generation with some different challenges. I know, I know talk about dating can be quite awkward. I remember avoiding the topic like the plaque but upon reflection, a conversation about dating opens the door to self-discovery and could bridge communications gaps.

Likely my idea of dating was a totally different idea than either of my parents had.  It wasn’t until I turned about sixteen, the dating age they set, that they laid down the rules, curfews and all.  But still no specific talk about etiquette, if you know what I mean.

I think, however, had we chatted about what I thought dating meant, they would have found themselves far more at ease than they could have ever imagined.  No grand ideas at all, certainly when it came to romance.  Just thought it was cool to have a boyfriend to walk me from one class to another, to carry my books, to chat to on the phone sometimes.

That was my level of maturity at the time and according Cat Williams, we all differ in this area.  Key, I think, is to get to know yourself, enjoy the teenage years, sharing activities and interests with friends, whether you are dating or not. The same goes for Valentines’ Day—enjoy it in any case.

For more tips on dating, check out Series 2: Episode 4 – On Dating Inside Out.  Watch this space for more hot tips on enjoying your teen years.

Family Matters Now More Than Ever

UIO: Your Family Inside Out, the ninth in the podcast series, is out now. Offering  straightforward conversation with Helen Lewis, founder of Literally PR, this episode takes a closer look at why setting boundaries, for example, can be the difference in a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.

The thing is: if there are no boundaries, people are bound to rock the boat consistently. And even with boundaries, we do tend to push them. Looking back to my own teenage years, I can attest to that. But knowing that they exist and trying to live up to them offers discipline that feeds into self-governance. Boundaries matter. 

Having margins, if you will, also feed into a sense of belonging to a family unit.

Other key topics we cover are effective communications, how to manage social media and much more. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Tunein, Soundcloud and right here sonjalewis.com.

The penultimate podcast in the series, UIO: Your Family Inside Out is a must listen for teenage girls and their guardians.

Tune in next week for UIO: Peer Pressure Inside Out – a wonderful conversation with Full Circle author Natalie Savvides.