“Life is filled with a lot of choices, and I see boundaries as choices,” she said. “People will always want you to do something. If we always do what people want us to do, we will be very busy. »
In a chat with CNN, Tawwab helped illuminate choices so people can take back control of their lives, set healthy boundaries, and enjoy rewarding relationships.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
CNN: What connection have you seen between pandemic burnout and the workplace and setting boundaries?
Tawwab: Many of us were already exhausted and the pandemic really got us there. This made us assess the factors that lead to burnout. For many of us, it was work and the unhealthy relationships we were in. The pandemic has highlighted something that was already there.
CNN: How do you think these factors contributed to the ” Big resignation »?
Tawwab: At the start of the pandemic, many of us were put in situations we could never have imagined. We now know that life can be flexible, we know that we can handle multiple roles. People are trying to figure out how to make a living without making it their whole life. We are in the process of re-evaluating what seems important to us. It may not be worth exposing ourselves to things we face at work.
CNN: For someone who has never set boundaries before but knows change is needed, where do you start?
Tawwab: Start with your feelings. Where do you feel frustrated or resentful? When these feelings arise, what do you do in response? Do you tolerate it or are you trying to make a difference in your life? It would help if you started making a difference by saying, “This is a space where I have to say no. »
We need to create spaces where people can focus on what they need without being overloaded with tasks.
CNN: Why is it so hard for people to say no?
Tawwab: It’s not about always complying with everything someone asks of you. Sometimes you have to push back, sometimes you have questions, and sometimes you need support. You have to find a balance between the desire to be liked and the desire to be a good worker.
CNN: How do you find that balance and how do you know which side to be on?
Tawwab: Recognize your ability. When do you become anxious or frustrated about doing things? When do you start noticing that your mood changes towards your colleagues or loved ones because you are irritated? Dig into how you feel when you are asked to do another project. What’s going on for you? Do you become anxious? Do you have time to integrate this? Are you starting to have a physical reaction to taking on too much? This is where you learn to set a limit.
CNN: In your work as a therapist, have you seen any correlations between increased anxiety, lack of boundaries, and job stress over the past two years?
Tawwab: I think work anxiety manifests as involuntary slowing down. You become more lax in your duties, unintentionally. You become more stalled, worrying about getting things done, or worrying about how that person might feel if you say no. There is anxiety around how you can perform your job duties. I have seen it manifest most as a slowdown and a lack of drive and determination.
NC: What advice do you have for people who know they have to have a difficult conversation?
Tawwab: People have already said no, and I think our brains are fooling us. You can say no to some things, but you can’t say no to everything. There are other areas of life where you say no – what makes you feel comfortable in those spaces? And what makes you uncomfortable in these spaces? We have to explain to ourselves “Why do I think this is going to backfire on us? Why do I think it won’t be well received? Often it’s a story we tell ourselves and it’s rarely the truth.
CNN: What about sensitive conversations where the stakes are higher? For example, with a boss, a relative or a brother-in-law.
Tawwab: Start with vulnerability. It can help to tell people, “For my sanity, I can’t commit to doing this extra thing because I’m already spread out.” Use words to describe mental health. What you may be experiencing is anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, and you might say, “I’m overwhelmed with tasks. I’m very frustrated because I can’t find the right words to say no. makes me feel like it’s dangerous to say no. »
CNN: What if that person thinks you’re being disrespectful or rude? How do you navigate this conversation?
Jawwab: I think a lot about the family with that. Explain that you understand that it was probably different with your parents and list the things you have in common: “We believe in love, community, connection, unity. I think it’s normal for me to have a difference of opinion. It means I don’t believe in love, in community, in connection, in unity. It means that my opinion is different on some things, but I still love family, even though I try to have some things that are different for me.
CNN: Over the past two years, people have started learning about the things that make them work and live better. For those who are self-employed, what tips do you have for dealing with burnout?
Tawwab: We drive most cars in the zero to maybe 80 range, and mostly around the 40-55 mile marker. You cannot exist at 80, and you cannot exist at zero. Many of us will try to exist at this higher number, and it feels like you are speeding through life.
You miss all the important moments because you can’t slow down. There is something to be taken sometimes on the scenic route because life is to be enjoyed. Intentional slowing is important. We have to train ourselves to be less productive and figure out how to rest.
NC: Over the past two years, have you had to create new boundaries or break old ones?
Tawwab: I practiced intentional limits around how I allocate time.
Sometimes in our race to be busy and productive, we just say yes. Sometimes a yes of today is also a yes of the future—so I think to myself, “Is this going to carry over to Christmas?” So let me say no in advance. Because I know I won’t be available — I’ll watch everything Hallmark and Lifetime have to offer. »