Setting boundaries without feeling guilty

case: Two Minute Therapy

In this blog post, an example is given of the kind of issues that can be discussed through TwoMinuteTherapy. In this case: how to deal with the demands of a dominant mother without feeling guilty. 

Psychologist and coach Jeannette Bolck created Two Minute Therapy. After an intake, clients leave a message on Whatsapp when they get stuck, after which Jeannette leaves them advice in return. Listen in on Marit (37), who is exhausted and has a dominant mother.

“Hey Jeannette, sorry I’m already calling you. But I’m feeling so horrible again. My mother left me a voicemail: that I’m ungrateful, she does so much for us, watching the kids, folding our laundry and then I can’t even have a coffee with her in town. She is terribly disappointed and says things like: “If you really need that yoga class, well, then I guess you have to. And of course, you’re already having coffee with your friends on Wednesday morning, right? I heard something like that from Carla, Marlies’s mother. What time do you need me to babysit next week?” I can’t ignore that like some ice queen? I went to yoga with a knot in my stomach.”

“Hi Marit, I understand you’re feeling miserable now that your mother is that disappointed and is clearly letting you know. She knows your weak spots and how to get to you. She’s allowed to whine and not understand your way of life, but it doesn’t mean that you should adjust and go beyond your limits. This is the challenge we spoke about: how do take care of myself without guilt. You want to do something for yourself: rest and relaxation, but you also want your mother to be happy. Unfortunately you can’t always have it both, just as with your children actually. Now the challenge is for you to set boundaries and not to feel bad about it. Then you might as well have that coffee with your mum. Your mother will get over it and you’re not responsible for the way she’s feeling. Take charge of this. Pick a moment when you do have the energy to have a coffee with her, a time when you will actually enjoy it. You can explain you’d like to have a coffee with her some other time, but don’t feel like you owe her because of the things she does for you. This might be difficult but if you get through this, it will get easier. Be clear and don’t overthink things! Good luck today.”