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The 2 jobs of boundaries..also self-esteem

Whenever we set a boundary, we are accomplishing two things.

  1. Protecting
  2. Declaring value

Function #1: Protecting

This is the well-known function. Boundaries help to defend against threats. Here are a few examples and some comments:

  • Locking your door at night to defend against entry without consent
    • This is a common boundary that is usually set due to the cost benefit of a small amount of effort (turning a knob or two) paired with large amount of effect (an entire night of a degree of constant physical protection)
  • Refusing to spend time with someone to defend against verbal abuse.
    • This boundary might be more or less difficult to enforce depending on the source of the abuse. Setting this boundary with a close friend would be quite different from setting it with a historically antagonistic coworker.
    • Boundaries can often have the unwelcome effect of blocking additional non-threatening interactions, such as caring for the close friend or resolving conflict with the coworker. Weighing the balance of missed opportunity for gained protection is a common task in boundary management.
  • Withholding a thing to defend against resentment over how it is used.
    • Money could be one example here. Perhaps a close friend has historically impulsive spending habits. Withholding money when she asks for it could protect me from resenting my close friend. (Note: I might have some issues with being judgmental to work out. Maybe therapy? 😉
  • Adjusting expectations to defend against disappointment.
    • This one is a more balanced version of the “quit before you can fail” strategy. Adjusting expectations is actually the only part of quitting that helps, and you don’t even need to quit to do it!

Another thing to note on this first function of boundaries is its connection to the past. Boundaries are only ever built as a response to past behavior. Or, put another way, threats are not threats without past behavior.

Now for the point.<–(bahaha!)

Function #2: Declaring value

We cannot set a boundary around something unless we already believe it is valuable.

This tells us quite a lot about people who struggle with boundaries; namely their struggle with self-esteem.

Struggles with self-esteem often go along with the “working to earn love” trap. That is, they learned early in life that, if you are loved, you are loved for what you do and they simply haven’t done enough. They frequently cite their sources, too! “I haven’t made anything of myself”, “I haven’t accomplished enough”, “others have done so much more with so much less”, “I’ve been so difficult” or dramatic or needy or afraid. All of these statements reinforce the idea that there is a reason I’m not getting love and that reason is located in me and what I have done or failed to do.

Any boundary this person tries to build will crumble at the first huff or puff of circumstance – being blown down by the suggestion that all of this happening out here is proof that there’s nothing worth protecting in there.

The solution? It is a subtle one, but far reaching.

The reason we don’t value something is because valuing it has never been effectively modeled for us.

Look back at the last sentence four paragraphs ago. The solution is found in those words “in me”.

If valuing ourselves was modeled for us as a child, we assume we are valued because we are valuable. If valuing ourselves was not modeled for us as children, we assume we are not valued because we are not valuable. Both ideas are wrong.

  • We are neither valued nor not valued because of our actual value

Think about it. Do you always value your children accurately? Your spouse? Your boss? Your friend? Of course not. In fact, your valuing or not valuing someone has nothing to do with them! It has to do with you. This brings us to recurring big idea around Raising Consciousness:

The way we are treated says nothing about us, and something about them.

As much as we might like to think so, we do not value or love our children because they deserve it. We love our children because we are loving. You are not ignored because you deserve it, but because they are ignorant.

So, as it turns out, you were not loved or unloved because of your lovability, but because of your parents lovingness. We don’t love or not love ourselves because of our lovability, but because of our lovingness. “But Adam,” you might say, “I love others so much, how could this be true?” First of all, I’m interested in what that thing you call love actually is (could be love, but also could be the working to earn love trap). Second, all humans are born with the innate ability to love. Typically, our model for loving others is challenged and molded by our interactions with the world – we get lots of feedback on that, and we update our model of loving others accordingly. But, our model for loving others is a bit younger than our model for loving ourselves. At birth, infants literally don’t know the difference between self and anything! Everything is self for them! This means that all of the interactions around them become a part of their model for interacting with themselves. Furthermore, our model for how we treat ourselves is mostly invisible. We don’t get a lot of feedback on it, and so we don’t worry about updating it. There are those among us that listen to their instincts as they provide feedback, but for most of us; if our self-concept gets us through the day it’s good enough.

This brings us to two important conclusions…plus one more.

  1. Our lovability is unrelated to the love we receive.
  2. The love we recieve is an expression of the lovingness of others and ourselves.
  3. We can update our model for loving ourselves using our model for loving others. There is just no reason not to. Before you challenge yourself to provide evidence for why you deserve love, remember that you don’t. No one does. Love isn’t a thing to be deserved, but to be received.

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are Raising Consciousness..

Be sure to check back next week where my friend Alicia Ceynar, LPC will answer questions “Behind the Chair”. This is an inside look into the mind of your counselor! Then be sure to check in the following week for part 2 where Alicia and I will answer questions submitted by you!

You can submit questions for answering at adamcluchey.com or by emailing alicia@restoringdfw.com. Don’t miss this opportunity to get inside your counselor’s head!

What with the “and we are Raising Consciousness” thing?

I’ve actually never been asked this question!! But I have been ready!

“and we are Raising Consciousness”

The “and” expresses the value of learning and growing here and elsewhere. There’s a lot of helpful information out there, and Raising Consciousness is meant to participate in that larger context of growing as a species.

“and we are Raising Consciousness”

The “we” expresses the value of collaboration. All who participate in Raising Consciousness in any fashion, and even many who do not, are carriers of the contagious condition of consciousness (..alliteration not intended!). Absolutely accidental alliteration (did it on purpose that time..).

…and rejects elitism. I do not present what I do in order to establish myself as an expert or authority. If what I publish is helpful, great! If not, leave it behind and keep growing.

“and we are Raising Consciousness”

The “are” holds a double meaning. On the one hand, it points to a common identity as members of the Raising Consciousness entity. On the other hand, it points to the common task of actually doing it!

“and we are Raising Consciousness”

And finally, the “Raising Consciousness” also holds a double meaning. On the one hand, it is the public face of Adam Cluchey, LPC. On the other, it is a mission statement. To raise consciousness means to bring into awareness the many many unconscious elements of human experience. Doing this, I believe, allows us to interact with those elements and apply our capacity to choose to our own lives. Living on autopilot rarely yields satisfaction. Empowerment often does.

So there you have it!

So, I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are Raising Consciousness 😉

Where to find what

I’ve received a few requests for information on where to find things, so here you go:

The adamcluchey.com Weekly Blog: https://adamcluchey.com/blog/

The Raising Consciousness Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/raising-consciousness/id1628212458

The Raising Consciousness YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC32D_friw0hmvNuYQBKHmhg

Enjoy!

Navigating Relationships With Borderline Personality Disorder (Part 2: The Warning Label)

TRIGGER WARNING: If you struggle with Borderline Personality, there is hope. Contact me and let’s work out a way to move forward. What follows is meant to be a guide for those who love you as they attempt to love you well. Some of this may come across as harsh, but, if you choose to read, please read to the end.

Now, last week’s post being said, I would still advise caution during these times, as this connection during the “I love you” season can become seductive^. Borderline Personality can easily fall into the performance trap of working to earn love, and this can throw off the relationship. Allowing for this trap can cause feelings of: 

  1. entitlement: when something has been earned
  2. resentment: when something earned is not paid, or
  3. imbalance: when one earns and the other pays

Staying ahead of this trap can make the difference between peace and pitfall. Ensure that your words and actions convey some consistent messages:

  1. no one is earning or owing love
  2. love is freely given
  3. love is a response to being, not doing

Some ways to do this:

  • Do not return compliments. Instead, say thank you. Then, offer your compliment at another time.

Doing this shows that positive attention is not a part of any chain of cause and effect – it is outside of their control. This is leading them toward connecting being, as opposed to doing, with love. This is why we offer the compliment at another time – outside of the cause and effect window so it is harder to explain away as the result of coersion.

  • When you give a gift (of time, money, etc…), refuse to allow them to pay you back.

Once again, we are heavy handed with anti-reciprocity (real term?). We communicate that our expressions of love do not come with strings attached – a novel concept to the individual inexperienced with unconditional love.

  • (This one might sound cruel) Do not take the bate when they make threats.

Do not negotiate or make any attempt to keep them in the relationship if they threaten to leave. If they are going to go, let them. This might be the only way they could come back if they ever chose to. By doing this, you have communicated to them that, while you may want them in your life, you don’t need them. Why is this important? Making themselves needed is part of the working to earn love pitfall. If they threaten to leave, and you panic, now they know you need them. Maybe for financial gain or pleasure or affirmation or backup or solace or a salve for insecurity or whatever else. If you need them, there’s little room to genuinely want them in your life. Now, you just want them around to do that thing they do.

If you refuse to make them needed in your life, they must depend on you wanting them instead. They are, as are we all, at the mercy of the kindness of others. After all, we do not love because it has been earned. We do not love because of others. We love because of ourselves.

  • Do not take the bait when they make themselves ‘better’

In a similar token, do not respond when they attempt to make you want them more – such as becoming more like you, more like what they think you might want, more agreeable, etc. This shows them that you like them as opposed to any manipulable characteristic about them

Ultimately, our task is to love our Borderline loved ones because of who they are and not what they do. This is no small task, and the message will not always transmit. Even now, some may choose to see this write up as an indictment instead of a guide.

As we say in the Cluchey household (with great lack of eloquence): Just because someone else makes sad choices, doesn’t mean you have to join them.

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are Raising Consciousness..

Navigating Relationships With Borderline Personality Disorder (Part 1)

Many of us struggle with how to handle those back and forth relationships in our lives. Hot then cold. Close then contentious. Loving then antagonistic. These relationships can be a regular source of stress, confusion and frustration. Well, there is a secret sauce here. Something that can turn down the volume on the chaos: expectations.

The bad news: 

When we are dealing with Borderline, we are dealing with a pervasive pattern of perceiving the world. What this means at the most basic level? It is very hard to shake. A family member struggling with untreated Borderline will feel the pull to reframe your actions as abandonment. This doesn’t mean they will give in to that pull, nor does it mean they will act on it…but probably they will. 😕 (This is where personal choice (and treatment!) step in.)

(Note, if you are struggling with this yourself, there are things you can do about it. Your disorder does not define you. Contact me and let’s talk.)

The good news:

The border line!* Ok maybe that news doesn’t sound all that good to you. But, in light of the bad news, this makes the difference between a relationship of nothing but pain all the time and a relationship that goes through seasons. The stereotypical caricature of Borderline Personality Disorder is “I love you! I hate you!”, and this means that sometimes we’re in the “I love you!” season!

In my experience, these individuals have an incredible capacity to connect! They are highly intuitive and emotionally aware. While they could certainly use some cognitive and emotional healing and self-awareness (this can be acquired), they are already equipped to feel deeply connected to others and the world around them. Odds are, they know what you’re feeling before you do!

This is a season of intimacy^, affection and closeness. Enjoy it!

So, adjust your expectations, and you may find you are not so thrown by the back and forth of Borderline. There will be hard times, and there will be pleasant times. Keep this in mind, and you will be prepared for the hard and open for the pleasant…

And, as much as I hate to put the cliff hanger here of all places. We’ll save the warning label for next week…

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are raising consciousness..

*This is not actually what the word ‘borderline’ is referring to in it’s original usage, but I find it helpful here – so there.

^Not necessarily in the romantic sense

What’s your speciality?

The short version:

I work with trauma. If you are haunted by your past, come and see me.

A bit more:

That said, let’s dive deeper into how.

I believe that all symptoms not primarily chemical are trauma based. To learn more about how trauma produces symptoms, check out my write up “What is EMDR?”.

When I meet with a client, we work through a process together. It usually looks like this:

  1. Identify the problem or problems to work on
  2. Get to the bottom of that problem – the source
  3. Break out of old patterns (this is the trauma work)
  4. Learn to trust myself in a new way

Each of these steps vary in speed, sometimes quite a lot, but the order tends to stay the same.

So, if you or someone you love is ready to break out of old patterns or to start trusting themselves more or both, I’m your guy.

I’m Adam Cluchey, and we are Raising Consciousness.

Introducing the Raising Consciousness Podcast!

There’s a lot going on over here!

Now readers can experience Adam’s weekly posts as a podcast! Available through Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music. New episodes every week!

You can also now submit questions and comments as voice messages, and even get a chance to be included in future episodes! To submit your first voice message, click here.

Also be sure to check out The Raising Consciousness YouTube Chanel for even more content!

See you on the interwebs!

Why “Inner Vows” don’t work

Have you ever made an “Inner Vow”?

  • “I will never be like him”
  • “I will never cheat on my spouse”
  • “I would never do that”
  • “I will never treat my friends that way”

Typically, promises like these represent a passionate attempt to hold fast to certain values or commitments.

They also all but guarantee the opposite outcome.

Why? False security. When I make an “Inner Vow” like this, I’m actually just attempting to secure a certain outcome. When I then trust that imaginary security, I rely on it and become blind to the risk. Now let me ask you: who is in greater danger?

  • The man who vows to never be caught unawares
  • The man who knows he could

My advice: Don’t make promises to yourself or anyone else. Promises are the blustery understudy of actions. Make choices.

Black Lives Matter

To all of my clients, colleagues, friends and family: I officially support the Black Lives Matter movement. I am anti-racist and I believe the stories of discrimination I hear from my non-white friends.
White voices have power. I am asking my white friends to join me in reacting against racism in all of its forms. Ask your friend not to use that word, voice your disagreement when family speaks ill of any discriminated group, call yourself out when you notice your own prejudice. And, most of all, listen. Ask questions, listen, and encourage others to listen to the voices of discriminated people. Believe them.
All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter
Adam Cluchey, LPC

Emotion and Fear

Emotions only ever occur in the present moment. The difference between choosing to be present and choosing to feel is just a matter of vocabulary. …

Emotion and Fear

I’ve been working with Adam for about three months now and I’m pleased to say that my confidence has increased while my anxiety has decreased dramatically. He’s taught me some very practical applications and techniques that help me manage my emotions in a way more constructive way. His style is friendly and casual. I get … Continue reading

Female, age 40

I first met with Adam in August of 2016.  Adam has helped me totally remake myself and discover so

Male, age 48

Just scheduling my first appointment, I could hear how genuine and sincere Dr. Cluchey was about helping his patients. [disclaimer: Adam Cluchey, LPC is not a doctor]

Male, age 23

What a difference Adam Cluchey has made in my life! When I started seeing him, I was

Female, age 58

Adam is someone I can confide in, when I have good news we get hopeful together, and when I don’t

Male, age 17

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