Episode 39

Episode 39: Honoring & Updating Your Boundaries [featuring Latasha Matthews]

Setting healthy boundaries is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

In this episode, I talk with Latasha Matthews, a boundaries expert, about embracing changes in the seasons of your life and updating boundaries to match them, how childhood trauma can affect the way you position your boundaries, how boundaries impact and are impacted by relationships, the importance of creating space for nothingness, and more.

Latasha shares stories about her own shifting and evolving boundaries and how it has impacted her life journey.

More about Latasha:

Latasha Matthews is known as America’s Emotional Wellness Expert. She is the Co-founder of Pieces That Fit, Inc. and the CEO and Clinical Director of Illumination Counseling and Coaching, LLC. Latasha is well versed in providing individual, couples, adolescent, and family therapy in her group practice in Lawrenceville, GA. Latasha has an extensive background in business, human resources, and training. With over 15 years’ experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor, life coach, speaker, and author, she utilizes a Family Systems approach, which considers how a particular system impacts an individual person, organization, or situation. In addition to Latasha’s clinical experience, she also provides continuing education for clinicians and holds the position of adjunct professor at several universities. Latasha is an advocate for emotional wellness and balance. She is the author of The Dumping Ground, which was on the Bestseller’s list in 2016. In 2021, Latasha created: Say Yes to your No boundary-setting affirmation Cards for women, men, couples, families, teens, and business owners. She believes that boundary setting can reduce stress and people-pleasing, and provide increased self-advocacy. Latasha has trained thousands of individuals globally on the importance of setting healthy boundaries. She has received numerous awards, written numerous article publications, and has been awarded countless speaking opportunities for her advocacy work supporting healthy boundaries. Lastly, Latasha also holds certifications in DEI and DEI and ethical leadership, which she will utilize to help corporations understand the impact the DEI has on mental health.

Latasha's website: latashamatthews.com

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A Thanks to Our Sponsor!

I would also like to thank Hushmail for sponsoring this episode.

As a therapist, how you communicate with clients online is just as important as how you communicate in your sessions. If you use email and web forms, they need to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Hushmail takes the guesswork out of secure communication by providing encrypted email, web forms, and e-signatures all in one HIPAA-compliant package. Are you still using paper forms or sending your clients PDFs that they have to print out and scan back? Online forms will save you a ton of time. With Hush Secure Forms, you can start with a template and customize it to reflect your practice, or use the drag-and-drop form builder to build forms from scratch with fields for e-signatures. Add the forms to your website, or send them through secure email. Hush Secure Forms also include screening forms. They have a Good Faith Estimate template to ensure you’re in compliance with the No Surprises Act. Clients will spend less time in the waiting room and more time getting the care that they need.

Go to try.hushmail.com/allthings and enjoy the first month of your plan for free.

Transcript

PATRICK CASALE: As a therapist, how you communicate with clients online is just as important as how you communicate in your sessions. If you use email and web forms they need to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Hushmail takes the guesswork out of secure communication by providing encrypted email, web forms, and eSignatures all in one HIPAA-compliant package.

Are you still using paper forms or sending your client's PDFs that they have to print out, fill out and scan back? Online forms will save you a ton of time, not to mention make things easier for your clients. With Hush Secure Forms you can start with a template and customize it to reflect your practice or use the drag and drop form builder to build forms from scratch with fields for eSignatures, add the forms to your website or send them through secure email.

Hush Secure Forms also includes screening forms such as the PHQ-9 depression screening that delivers a score upon completion. They also have a Good Faith Estimate template to ensure you're in compliance with the No Surprises Act. Move your Intake, Informed Consent, Health History, and other practice forms to Hush Secure Forms. Your clients will spend less time in the waiting room and more time getting the care that they need. Go to try.hushmail.com/allthings and enjoy the first month of your plan for free.

Hey, everyone, this is Patrick with the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I am joined today by Tasha Matthews, a good friend, and colleague out in Georgia. She is a Therapist, Clinical Director, Professor, Author, Speaker, all the things, and just a really fucking awesome person. And today, we are going to talk about boundaries, which is her specialty, and the topic of saying yes to your no. So, thank you so much for making the time and coming on. I know we've been kind of like figuring out our schedules for a while now and I'm really glad to have you here.

TASHA MATTHEWS: Thank you and I'm so happy to be here and to connect with you in this space.

PATRICK CASALE: You and I have connected a lot recently, like, asking me to come talk to your classes and your interns. And I feel like that has been such an honor. And you know, I want to talk about you today, though, because you've created so many wonderful things. And you are kind of a boundary expert, right? Like, that is what you're talking about at conferences and this is what you really are passionate about. So, tell us about what this all means to you to say yes to your no, and let's kind of just see where this goes.

TASHA MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thank you for just sharing a little bit. So, I guess I really want to start with why this is a sweet spot for me at this point. And if I really want to just start off being very transparent, I sucked at setting boundaries and I'm just starting to really figure out where that came from. Doing my own work in therapy, I identified that this boundary issue in violation of my… still kind of came from being bullied early on in my life. And that bullying really caused me to want to overextend in a whole bunch of different areas.

And so, when we think about boundaries and business, we really just need to go back and look at what was our first introduction to boundaries, were you taught boundaries from your family of origin, and then, where did that hurt kind of show up in your life?

PATRICK CASALE: I love that. Yeah, it's good to think about it in that way. So, once you started doing this deeper dive and realizing just came from bullying, I mean, what started to come up for you when you started thinking about okay, this makes sense for me. But I imagine there was a lot of emotion connected to that as well?

nd befriend my [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: So, just embracing and accepting all the parts and I don't know if you've been doing IFS work, but I've been doing a lot of IFS works, so [PH 00:04:42] parks language is in my head all the time now. And was there a grief process at all when you started to accept some of this? Like, obviously, at 10 years old, right? Like, it's very hard to set these boundaries, especially, if we're being bullied, especially, if we don't have the language, especially, if we just feel like we are 10 years old and we don't know how to do these things, but was there a grieving for like 10-year-old Tasha that came up when you started doing this deeper dive?

separate, and [INDISCERNIBLE:

But what I found is, there was a relationship, a distinct relationships with all of my life, professional identity, my personal identity, my friendships that I just didn't like how it looked to really be honest. So, even though I wrote a book in 2018, I think I was really writing it based on I want to share this information with others, but really, just really understanding the why it just came out in the last couple of years, to be honest.

or you. And it sounds like in:

TASHA MATTHEWS: Yes, I am going to do a revision of that because I think I was speaking from a place of anger and frustration. Although I would share I had a lot of anxiety about putting my business out in the streets, I was like, "What are you doing? I'm not going to be liked." So, I was fighting against the thoughts of wanting to be liked, and wanted to please a whole bunch of people, they weren't going to see the nice, warm, and fuzzy, put-together person, and I wasn't really ready to be vulnerable. And so, an anxiety disorder kind of popped up because of that. I started having a lot of anxiety with my driving. That was not in my presentation before. And I'm like, "Well, damn, this work is supposed to bring a lot of joy." And so, I was even resistant to really writing the book because it wasn't a happy experience for me, because I didn't know what was going on, on the other side [INDISCERNIBLE 00:08:09]. I didn't know that it will just be a part of me and I didn't know about all this stuff. So, the language will be different, I will be speaking from a more befriending… who I am and the parts that were really trying to protect me from way back then because the 10-year-old Tasha was not protected. And so, that part kind of shows up a lot for me.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I appreciate that vulnerability and that makes a lot of sense. And it sounds like that protective part, albeit very useful in a lot of ways, at this point in time you're kind of asking that part to step to the side and thanking it for existing, but at the same time saying like, "Okay, you've done your job and now I would like to move through this to the acceptance piece of like, 'Hey, this is how boundary setting looks.'" And isn't boundary setting protecting in a lot of ways? Like, you're protecting your energy, you're protecting who you spend time with, where you kind of spend your resources, how do you let people into your world and how you let people affect you and impact you?

And what I heard you say was like, and which I think is so fucking common, and I think this all the time of like, I'm putting this out to the world, I'm kind of airing my stuff like, like you said, I'm putting it out to the streets, that leaves you open, right? That leaves you vulnerable, that allows for people to critique you or say something negative that may not feel good and it makes so much sense that that anxious and protective part kind of came up and they're like, "No way. Like, we need to make sure you're okay." But by doing the work and kind of having that acceptance process it's like, "I can be okay, and I can do these things." Right? Like, both of these things can be true simultaneously.

ly just really [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: Can we sit with that for a second? You just named a lot of powerful stuff. Like, you said, "I'm really good at some shit." How does that feel? You're lighting up a little bit as you're… Can you soak that in? Because I struggle, like, I talk about this, I fucking struggle. Like, can you take that in?

I just want to [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: I love it. And you know, I'm a fan, and I'm a friend, and I watch the outside looking in and you posted the other day, like, what's happening for 2022 for you, and you have all these like conferences and speaking engagements. And for me, I was like, "That is so fucking cool, that's who I want to be when I grow up." Is like doing all of these things. And I think it's so cool that… but I also think it's so common for us to almost downplay and minimize the things that we're doing. And I appreciate humility. I love that trait and quality. But I think we sometimes, like, really, really buy into this, like, I'm not doing enough, or I haven't created enough or like, what do I really have to offer, right? Like, that imposter syndrome stuff really fucking comes up and it kind of says, like, "Play small, you don't deserve to take up space?" Almost.

TASHA MATTHEWS: Yeah, I definitely think about that often. I think about, you know, as we pertain to study balance, you know, but this conversation can take off in an all different types of ways. So, I started off with saying yes to your nos. So, I say yes to a lot of shit, right? And so, learning that play on words, saying yes to your no means sometimes you have to really evaluate the yes, so you can really say yes to the things that really align with you. And so, that's going to cause you to say no. If you cannot say no, you're not going to be able to say yes. And so, I'm feeling like that I am in alignment with, you know what I want to do. But I'm also creating more space to just not do anything so opportunity and energy can come my way.

I think last year during the pandemic everybody wanted us. They wanted us because we were needed. And so, there's some prostitution and abuse that comes with that, like, we want you, and so I had to sit the part that says, "I want to be wanted." And so, now I'm coming out of that, like, yeah, I know I'm a badass, and I don't need to be wanted by every organization, every person who wants me to speak, every person who wants to get information from me or try to make me feel good by saying I'm just so bad. And so, I think that now it's time to not just be doing all of the things. I wouldn't have enough space, though, if an opportunity presents itself, I don't have anxiety about getting to switch there or tell somebody else no. And so, now I'm creating that space of nothingness that I'm really enjoying that as well.

PATRICK CASALE: That's really beautifully said and that sounds like saying yes, essentially, like being open to more opportunities, but now, so saying yes, but with intentionality. So, saying yes, and saying I'm saying yes because I want to say yes, I'm saying yes because this is something that feels energizing or passionate for me instead of I'm saying yes, because I'm people pleasing or I feel like I have to.

TASHA MATTHEWS: Yes, yes, then I like how you had me just sit with the feelings that I did when I think about all the amazing things that I'm doing. I think sometimes we really have to stick with the opportunity, like, just kind of somebody presents something to you and you stick with how the energy flows through your body and what you really feel about accepting it. And I think we move on so bad, and we get the proposal we're like, "Oh, yes, this is what I want to do." But we're not really sitting and asking our body any questions about that opportunity. We're just like checking it and going.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I can relate to everything you just said and that is something I work on on a continuous basis. There was a moment that stands out for me when I was in Ireland at the retreat that I hosted this March, and we were on, like, this tour bus in the middle of the countryside, in the middle of nowhere. It was just the people in the retreat, and someone turned around and looked at me and they're like, "Can you take it in that you created this? Like, we're in the middle of Ireland on this private tour bus driving around doing these cool things and it's because of you?"

And like, my reaction is to be like, "No, like, no, I can't take that in." But I think as someone who's autistic, it's hard sometimes to take it in and have body sensation. But the more I've sat with that, the more I'm like, "Holy shit, that was pretty fucking cool that I was able to pull that off." But that came with risk-taking, and also, saying yes to opportunities, and pushing myself out of a comfort zone. And I probably never would have done had it not been for the last couple of years, and it sounds like for you having a lot of similar experiences in that, but also still really struggling when someone says your accomplishments out loud to take it in, because it's like, "Are you talking about me, that can't be me?"

hen I grow up. [INDISCERNIBLE:

You talk a lot about, you know, creating your own path. And creating your own path could take you out of counseling, it could take you out of entrepreneurship, you could decide that you're going to move out of the country and do missionary work. And so, for the listeners just being open to, you know, of course, what your body is telling you, and then, not feeling judged or critical of yourself, if you decide that you went to school and you spent $80,000, and you don't want to do it anymore. I just think that that is real talk. And we just want to free people from needing to stay with something that doesn't bring them joy.

PATRICK CASALE: Just silent because I'm taking it in what you're saying. And I think it's so true for everyone listening that feels like I did this thing, it no longer brings me joy, but that also brings me shame. Because then it's like, why don't I enjoy this anymore? What's wrong with me? I spent all, like you said, $80,000. I'm like, holy shit, my student loans are like 150. But in reality, like, I am moving out of being a therapist, and I had a lot of shamefulness around that. Like, I'm abandoning this profession that I worked so hard to become a part of.

And one of my mentors kind of reframed it, and she was like, "I think you're just helping the profession in a different way." And even my therapist was like, "I don't think you were ever really designed to be a therapist, because…" You know, I don't want to go down the neurodivergent route right now, but as an autistic therapist the energy absorption is huge, you know? Tracking every facial expression, and movement, and the energy that comes with it, I would find myself feeling so depleted by the end of the day. And I know a lot of therapists feel like that in general.

But nevertheless, shamefulness comes up, but you are so right, where it's like follow that joy, because that is another way to protect your energy and set boundaries, right? Where it's like, I'm pursuing something that really feels fulfilling for me. And that's probably going to change throughout the course of your life and career. I don't think we generations are the type of people who are going to stay in one job for 40 years. That's just not going to happen, you know? With capitalism, with the fact that employers typically aren't like compensating well or offering retirement plans, why the fuck would we? And I think that's a different way of thinking for a lot of people to realize, like, I'm probably going to bounce from one thing to one thing, to one thing based on what is interesting and exciting and is really feeling energizing.

there is still [INDISCERNIBLE:

And so, looking at life as a journey, like, there's a lot of stops along the way. I think that for me, the limit that I throw my mind is that everything is a destination. Like, we're trying to get somewhere and when you put that and get somewhere on top of something and you reach there, and then, you still have that internal feeling that says there's more, then you're in conflict, and there's a resistance. So, we were able to take off the destination and just call it a journey. We know that there's lots of things that are going to happen in the journey.

PATRICK CASALE: I like that. Yeah, I think that helps us kind of focus on the present moment instead of what the finish line is. And there may not be a finish line in entrepreneurship if you are going to bounce around and do different things. And, you know, I know for myself, like, I'm a private practice coach now, but I don't think I'm going to be a private practice coach forever. I just know that I'm also interested in so many other things. And then, once something starts to pull me away, I'm going to probably pursue that like I've really become energized by the retreat planning and the podcasting. And maybe that doesn't last forever, either.

And I think we always associate grief and loss with like negative emotion. I don't think it has to be negative. I think grief and loss is so fucking complicated and complex, and layered, but grief and loss can be beautiful, because we can grieve part of our life that's changing. We can also really appreciate the fact that it's shifting into something else. And without that grief, without that pain point, how could we ever appreciate what comes next and what chapter is starting to unfold?

o like, and we [INDISCERNIBLE:

And I think sometimes for me when things are feeling bad and I have attached grief to it, I'm searching like, "Okay, when am I going to feel bad?" You know, I need to feel bad before I move on to this thing, and I do think boundaries can have a negative effect, because you are putting limits on yourself. So, when you haven't done well at setting boundaries, I think the first inclination is to go very rigid, like, "Oh, I've made this mistake before, so I'm going to stay in this profession five more years, because I don't want to make that mistake again, I don't want to experience the grief." And so, I think we have to really just be open to not putting that cognitive response and allowing our minds tell us it needs to look like this.

aking over while I [CROSSTALK:

I talk about like grieving the loss of addiction and recovery, which seems like really strange for people, however, like grieving people, places, and things that were familiar and routine for you when you're struggling in an addiction. And that should be a, I'm not devastated, I'm not sad about the grief that comes with like recovery. But it is a process where you're like, I did these things every day of my life, I hung out with these people, I spent time in these places, and although they weren't healthy, it's still a component. So, that's a conversation for a different day. So, I apologize to the audience for going down that rabbit hole. But anyway-

ASHA MATTHEWS: [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, it is relevant. So, I want to talk a little bit about like, you're a professor, you're a clinical supervisor, you are really having a lot of influence on how therapists are moving through the world, and starting their careers, and experiencing. And I've been honored and grateful to be a part of your internship class and your practicum class. And I love the fact that you are bringing people like myself into these situations because so many people that are in academia really don't talk about business ownership. It's almost taboo to do so. So, when I get invites like your own I'm like, "Oh, wow, this is cool." And then, I have to ask myself, like, what should I say? What don't I say? Like, what do I like not talk about, but I really love the fact that you empower your students and your interns to, like, think bigger and think differently with the realization that there does not have to be one specific path in this career.

hose that don't know, back in:

I actually got kicked out of my program and had to fight to get back in. But as I got kicked out of the program, then I'm okay with being vulnerable with it now, because it doesn't hold me hostage like it did before, I had a lot of grief and loss about not having a PhD, and hats off to all of the ones that made it through. I didn't, but I'm still doing a lot of badass shit. I'm still teaching. I've been teaching since I got kicked out of the program. And then, I actually think that one of the reasons why I resonate with you, and Ernesto, and Jen, and all of the people that I met is because we're not doing it the typical way. And so, I know that, probably, a lot of professors don't bring people in that are non-traditional. And so, I just felt like there was just so much rigidity in the academic space, they weren't teaching us how to be business owners. I needed to go work in a jail, work in a hospital, work in a residential treatment facility, and with an HR background that did not align with who I was.

ofession, this [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: I really appreciate you sharing that. And I love the fact that you can own it too and just be like, "Yeah, it didn't work out. It was probably painful at the time, but in reality, I'm still doing badass shit, whether I have those letters behind my name or not." And I would argue that you're having such more of an impact now being able to support these people as they go into this profession, because we need supervisors and professors like you, we need people who want their people to succeed in something other than the traditional, go into community mental health route, spend your days there, and your stripes, burn yourself out, then you can leave, and then, you can start a business. And, you know, I know a lot of people listen to this and are in community mental health, and maybe you are going to stay there and that is okay. I'm not shaming you for making your own decisions, but just know that there are multiple pathways in this profession.

And I was one of those people who graduated and thought that was my only option until it wasn't. And then it was like, "Well, what else can I create with the skills that I have or I'm going to have to figure out like, do I go back to bartending? Do I like go get another degree?" Like, we need to know that people are doing things differently and that people don't always have to work inside of a mold or a box.

And I think going to Hawaii, meeting you, meeting Marquita, like, so many other wonderful people, it just puts into perspective how many people are out there doing these things? But like, we don't always see that. And I think COVID really brought that to the forefront for us, because how many like friend requests did you get from people with like the Telehealth on The Telehealth Therapist, banner, and you had like 101 day and I'm like, "I don't fucking know any of these people, but I'm accepting them all." Like, yeah, I have all these cool friends now that I've never met and some of these people have become like, some of my closest friends, and some of them I still have not met in person. But in reality, the cool thing is, they're all doing their own things in a different way. And I think that's so empowering and powerful to recognize, like, this career is limitless if we can just take a step back and understand how our skill sets are so transferable and applicable in so many different settings.

hose community [INDISCERNIBLE:

I do think that if you're going to stay there, you have to speak up and advocate for yourself so you're not traumatized early on in your career. I believe I experienced a lot of organizational trauma. I didn't know what it was, but I just knew that I needed hours. But I didn't have some boldness to just quit and say, I'm not doing it anymore. And so sometimes, that's what you have to do, you have to quit. So, that is abou it.

PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that's perfectly said. And like you said, I want to also acknowledge, like, some people can't quit, right? Like, there are components here where it's like, I just need this paycheck, I have to survive. And, you know, I'm never going to knock anyone for that at all. But at the same time, you're right. Sometimes you need to just quit. And I look at these jobs as emotionally abusive relationships, like, you know what you're going to get and when you're going to get it, but that doesn't mean that you're going to feel good about it. And that doesn't mean that you are going to feel like, you feel safe or you feel hurt, or you feel seen, or your needs are getting met.

And it's a shame that so many people hang on for so much longer than they wanted to. And I always hear like, "Man, I wish I would have done this sooner. But there are so many reasons why we don't. And I think that even for students coming out of grad school who are like going into group practices, I'm all about it, because my clinical director at my group practice is the fucking bomb. So, she's going to give such better supervision than you're going to get with someone who's overworked, underpaid, who has too many supervisees on their caseload. It's not their fault. But at the same time, if you can work with a supervisor like mine, or whoever else looks like you, like you're getting a different experience that you probably would not have gotten in a job that requires you to be available 50 to 60 hours a week.

TASHA MATTHEWS: Sure, sure. Yeah, I definitely agree. I think that this is really important to always do a self-evaluation if you are an intern and moving into this field or moving out of the field. It's just important for you to kind of check-in and have that good try. I think that's what we created, Patrick, it's just a tribe of individuals that you trust, that are going to be vulnerable, you're going to see the good, bad, and the ugly, and not that you need to judge, but just know that it happens.

We're not perfect, and we're making mistakes, we're letting people know we make mistakes and we are accepting our mistakes, we're befriending our mistakes just as we do our successes as well. That has been something that, if I think about it, any growth opportunities that I've been able to stick with, it's just accepting that the fallacy that I told myself about the topic, before I told myself that, but I didn't verbalize it, but I think that through your mind you feel like you've had to be perfect and again that goes back to my five-year-old self that, you know, I didn't look the way some little boy on a bus thought I needed to look. I mean, he was five as well. So, clearly, we were both good. But updating your language about yourself and knowing that you don't have to be perfect, and continue to do your own work with therapy is really going to help you resolve some of that conflict that still shows up.

PATRICK CASALE: Couldn't say it better myself. So, I think that is the perfect note to end on. I think that these are all really great points for everyone listening in terms of how to protect your energy, how to set boundaries, how to say no, and I hope you can take all of this in. Tasha, I just want to thank you for making the time. And I also want to really ask you to tell the audience where they can find more of what you're offering, because I think that it's so damn useful. And I think a lot of people would benefit from that.

have a little [INDISCERNIBLE:

PATRICK CASALE: Love it. Thanks for sharing that. That will all be in the show notes for everyone listening. And like, download, subscribe, and share. New episodes out every Sunday morning of the All Things Private Practice Podcast on all major platforms, doubt yourself, do it anyway, and we'll see you next week. Thanks, Tasha.

TASHA MATTHEWS: You're welcome.

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Patrick Casale

Hi, I'm Patrick. I’m a neurodivergent entrepreneur and therapist who truly believes in the power of disclosure, vulnerability, and authenticity. It’s become more and more clear to me that people are either attracted or repelled by what we put out into the world, and we can’t “be everything for everyone.” Through a lot of trial and tribulation, a gambling addiction, and an Autism/ADHD diagnosis, I’ve learned that being your TRUE self is what draws people in and creates connection. I have tattoos related to Lord Of The Rings, Travel, and Anthony Bourdain. And I travel constantly. Becoming an entrepreneur and working through my fears (they still exist) have allowed me to do more of the things I love. That’s my goal for you with this podcast — to use fear as a gas pedal, not a brake, and to learn how to reclaim and own your voice so that you can create your own entrepreneurial journey.