Yasmine Cheyenne is a self-healing educator, author, and speaker who launched her practice in 2013. With an online community of over 150K and over 40,000 students, Yasmine teaches her clients how to build joyful lives and take control of their physical and mental health. She has been featured on TEDxRutgersCamden, Forbes, InStyle, and Refinery29, and you can listen to her captivating conversations on Hurdle, Ctrl Alt Delete, and hey, girl.
Conscious Connection: Thank you again for speaking with me today, Yasmine. I would love to start by hearing more about your background and what compelled you to launch your mental wellness practice.
Yasmine Cheyenne: Thank you for having me. I think the real starting point for me was when I was in the military. I had the opportunity to serve as an advocate for victims of crime, sexual assault, and domestic violence. I asked myself, What happens to people who experience trauma after the trauma has passed? What support are they receiving?
I also recognized that I had the ability to hold space for people in really traumatic, transformative situations in their lives that were so heavy. That I also needed my own work as well.
CC: I want to get some of your advice on effective ways to create boundaries, for emotional wellbeing, mental health, and in our relationships.
YC: Boundaries are the number one thing people want to learn more about because I think so many of us don’t have them in our relationships. And it’s the thing that keeps our relationships from being healthy. If we’re saying yes or over-giving, then resentment builds and our relationships aren’t able to flourish.
So the first place I always recommend people to start with is self-boundaries, which means the boundaries we set with ourselves. If you say that you’re gonna do something for yourself, do you follow through? Or are you violating your own boundary and doing other things that don’t lead to you feeling your best?
Obviously there’s no perfectionism in healing work; we’re learning as a practice. But it’s an opportunity for us to see how we are dealing with the boundaries we set with ourselves because usually the way that we talk to and treat ourselves, we allow that same behavior from others.
CC: That’s really great advice. Could we elaborate a little bit on guilt and perfectionism?
YC: Absolutely. So I’ll start with perfectionism first because I’m a recovering perfectionist. The number one question I get from people is, am I doing healing right?
I think it’s important to recognize that as we’re on our healing journeys, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re still human. We’re still learning. We’re still growing.
Doing the best you can to advocate for yourself and to communicate in your relationships is the goal, but understand that you’re going to find out that, oh, that decision I made didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to or wow, that relationship ended, and I’m gonna have to walk myself through the process of healing. Because there is no right or wrong way to do it. It’s about just being there for yourself as much as you can, moment by moment.
I think the second piece is the guilt that we feel because of the boundaries we set, the way we advocate for ourselves, and the way the people we are in relationship with react to them.
Whatever it is that you put the boundaries in place for, people start to feel like you’re changing. For a lot of people, they may have been in a relationship with you because you didn’t have boundaries! So now the relationship is completely different because they have to ask you permission for your energy, for your time, for your knowledge.
It’s completely okay to have conversations about their feelings, about your new boundaries. But if someone is upset that you’re advocating for yourself — if they call you a name or are harmful — then you might need to put firmer boundaries in place.
When we put boundaries in place, sometimes we do lose some relationships. Sometimes people get really upset about the ways in which we’re changing, causing that guilt.
CC: I’ve seen this firsthand with families. How do you put boundaries in place with your own family? Talk to me a little bit about the process and the best practice for doing that.
YC: I love this question because I think family boundaries are the ones where people struggle the most. A lot of us have been raised with the societal ideal around family, First family, no matter what, just do what they ask. There can be a lot of guilt involved with going away from that and deciding, I’m gonna put myself first.
I recommend recognizing upfront that just because you are deciding to heal, it does not mean that your family’s willing to go on this journey with you. So before you get the inclination that your whole family’s ready to go to therapy — of course, it’s exciting to invite people into their own healing — but the key there is invitation. People get an opportunity to say yes or no to it.
Once you realize your family might not be coming with you and they may not even like the changes and choices that you make, start to think about the people who you can have those healthy conversations with. A conversation is different from having an argumentative conversation about why your boundaries are right or wrong.
You can even share with parents and people who are close to you that you still love them and respect them, but certain topics of discussion or certain things you were willing to do in the past just aren’t things you can do right now; you can’t be there for them in that way.
So there may be a story you’re telling yourself that, well, it was a lot easier, when I just over-gave. It was a lot easier when I just did what they wanted. Was it actually easier? Or did it feel like it was easier because you didn’t have to have these tough conversations?
Remind yourself that some of the stories that you’re telling yourself might also be because of the conditioning of the culture of your family or the way that you interact with each other.
Even though these conversations are tough, you feel healthier, you feel happier, you feel more seen and grounded by choosing yourself.
It’s not that you’re not going to be there for your family. It’s just that you’re not going to solely put your family first and never prioritize yourself.
CC: Life happens, things will come up with family, with friends. How can people compromise, and how does this work in a complimentary way to their own healing journey?
YC: If you have a rule, for example, that you don’t want anyone to wear shoes in your house, they can take their shoes off. That’s not up for debate. So that’s a boundary.
But when we’re in a relationship with people, we have to be willing to compromise. It can be hard, especially in the beginning because when we get excited about the idea that when we’re finally saying no, we just wanna say no! It’s hard to find that spaciousness to work with other people, but healthy boundaries allow for finding a place that works for both people.
So the first tip is having that healthy communication. If the people who you’re setting boundaries with believe the boundary is too firm or if they have questions or if they want to counter with a compromise — especially in relationships like partnerships, adult-children, your boss — being willing to have those conversations will help come to a happy medium.
The second thing that I think is really helpful in terms of compromise is understanding that other people have their own boundaries too. For example, ultimatums are those unhealthy boundaries we set where we’re like, ‘You need to do this or the relationship is done or you don’t really love me.’ That isn’t actually a boundary, and it might be violating someone else’s space or their ability to feel safe. Boundaries help us to feel safe, seen, and understood.
CC: I would love to talk about how people can call their power back in order to really strengthen their intuition and discernment once they establish the appropriate boundaries — where do we go from there?
YC: Learning the idea of calling your power back means asking yourself first before you commit to anything, before you say yes to anything, do I actually want to be doing this?
Remind yourself that you’re not necessarily letting others down. You’re freeing them to ask somebody else and giving those other people a chance to say yes who do have the time.
A big part of calling your energy back is remembering, I don’t have to be the only one who can do this in someone’s life.
So the next time they come around, maybe you do have the energy to give because you’ve given to yourself too. That’s really the journey to being who you really are. Not being the overwhelmed, exhausted version of yourself that’s just depleted from being everything to everyone, but being full enough to make space for the peace, the joy, and the ease that life is abundant if we make space for it.
CC: How can we really create that abundant space for ourselves?
YC: So my favorite thing to advise people to do is to create a joy list. You can take out the notes app on your phone and write down 5-10 things that bring you joy. And I want them to be things that you actually look forward to doing — going for a walk, skateboarding, gardening, whatever, right?
Then you are going to schedule in your calendar five minutes for that joy. When the alarm goes off, you’re gonna stop, you’re gonna choose something from your list, and you’re gonna do that thing for five minutes.
The reason why we do five minutes is because starting small is the easiest way to commit. But we often end up doing more than the five minutes because we’re enjoying ourselves!
That’s an easy way to begin making space for joy, peace, and ease in our lives. Unfortunately, we’re also in the fairytale that, ‘Oh, I’ll just heal. And eventually everything will just be perfect. And that’s when the joy will show up.’
The truth is we have to do both. We have to be willing to do the tough stuff, which is often the things that show up in our healing work. And then we have to be willing to invite the joy in by choosing it and making space for it. So the joy list is often a great way to start very small and see major impact.
I always want people to ask themselves, do you feel like you have joy in your life on a regular basis? Not just when you go on vacation, not just looking forward to that event, but throughout your life. And if you do not feel like you are able to access joy on a daily basis, then I’d love for you to begin to ask yourself, what gets in the way of that?
So I invite people to really give themselves permission to do some of that tough healing that we might have to walk through in order to actually enjoy so much of the goodness that’s available when we’re open to it.
CC: I love that. Thank you for the work that you do. Any final thoughts or new projects that you’re excited about?
YC: If people are looking to start their healing journey, I launched the The Sugar Jar® Community app in February, which is a self-healing app that invites people to start to ask those tough questions through journal prompts, workshops, videos, and daily affirmations. So that could be a great place for people to start.