The Great Liberation

Isn’t it fascinating how one decision can change everything? Yet how often do we struggle to make the decision in the first place?

For me, this often shows up in the form of boundaries, both with myself and with others. If I let my boundaries go, it is a very slippery descent into the pit of where-I-don’t-want-to-be.

Case in point, carbs. Carbs for me are dangerous. But not all carbs. I can totally control myself around brown rice and wheat pasta. I’ve never once in my life tried to drown my feelings in a bowl of brown rice. I can eat it, nourish myself, and move on. But chips?! Good God. Chips are my nemesis. One chip leads to another chip, which leads to another, and then next thing I know I’m holding an empty chip bag wondering what the heck has happened! It’s not pretty. I feel awful, physically, and mentally. You might think eating a bag of chips is totally benign, but what I know to be true is that my complete loss of self-control erodes my trust in myself which carries over into everything else in my life. Thus, I try to stay away from chips.

But not all boundaries are as easy to distinguish.

For example, social media. Social media can serve to lift us up and connect us, or it can leave us feeling depressed and overwhelmed. But where is the line? At what point does it become something that’s hurting you rather than helping you?

I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast rule that can serve all of us, but I’m learning to find that line for myself and it has changed everything for me.

For me, the biggest problem was with LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, I wasn’t setting boundaries with myself or with others, so the tidal wave of content left me drowning on a daily basis. I felt overwhelmed and helpless. Obligated but never fulfilled. Engaging on LinkedIn felt like a chore rather than a joy, which wasn’t serving me or my business. The platform that had generated some of the richest relationships in my life had become my oppressor. I had neglected to set boundaries for myself and I was paying the price.

But here’s the deal, nobody is responsible for setting healthy boundaries for me, but me.

I can’t expect people to read my mind. I can’t expect others to have the same needs that I have. I can’t expect a platform designed for millions to cater to my every whim. But I can expect myself to know myself well enough to identify my own needs and take appropriate action.

Am I having the right conversations with the right people? Am I owning my needs, not judging them, or hoping they’ll go away? Am I setting healthy boundaries for myself and letting go of the comparison game? Am I giving myself the grace to have my own needs in the first place?

Like with everything in my life, it seems my learning curve is steep. I somehow love to push the limits and ensure I experience the pain before I can get to resolution. If, for no other reason, in reinforces the reason why I need to change things, but I really wish I could get to that point without all the needless suffering and without my inner-toddler acting out. Welcome to being human, eh?!

When we’re able to clearly articulate our own needs and take action to meet those needs, everything changes.

So I’ve since set boundaries for myself around how I engage on LinkedIn and, low and behold, I have found my way back to joy!

I’m now more purposeful in my interactions. More intentional with my posts. I honor my own time as I would honor a cherished friend’s— without regret. I speak my truth with kindness. I appreciate differences in opinion. I give back. I reap tremendous fulfillment in my aim to celebrate others. In setting my boundaries I have become my own champion.

Which allows me to trust myself again. This is where confidence takes root.

So what has been my LinkedIn strategy of late? What boundaries have I set and decisions have I made that have allowed for such a big shift in my experience?

Well, I would love to tell you that I tapped into my well of infinite wisdom and knew exactly what I should do, but no. It was a process. The beginning of my process was clumsy. It wasn’t reflective of who I wanted to be in the world. I whined. I whined a lot. I whined to many of my friends who might be reading this and were kind enough to not tell me where to stuff my whining. But one good thing came out of it! As I grew weary of my whining, eventually I started to recognize I needed to do something about it.

That’s what gave birth to “The Madness of Tagging,” and opened up a dialogue on the subject.

The Madness of Tagging

That piece unleashed something for me. I realized that since I had outed my tagging-woes, I could no longer keep doing same-ole-same-ole. No more whining. No more wishing things would change. Or resenting. Or running away. It was time to find a way to engage in a whole new way.

So, I set some clear boundaries for myself. Every day, I allocate one hour to read on LinkedIn. I gave myself permission to ignore mass-tags and have discovered a tremendous freedom! I get to organically peruse the daily listing of BizCatalyst 360° articles that is delivered daily to my inbox. I’ve rediscovered my LinkedIn home page! I’m reading again for the joy of reading. Not out of obligation or expectation, but in celebration.

By setting boundaries I have found liberation!

Then, I decided to take it a step further. If I’m anti-tag, how can I ensure that interesting work is being discovered? How can I engage in a way that is consistent with my purpose?

These are the questions that sparked my sharing journey. I made a decision to share three pieces every work-day, that organically find their way to my reading list. These pieces get the possibility of a wider audience than they would if only other writers were tagged, my network gets the opportunity to be introduced to a variety of good work, and I get the benefit of lifting others and the rich relationships that follow. It’s a win for everyone!

Of course, when I started this, it was in an attempt to reclaim my own experience on LinkedIn, but I can’t help but fantasize about what would happen if others took up the same strategy. If we were all sharing one another’s work, without expectation or quid-pro-quo, instead of just commenting when tagged or simply sharing our own writing, it could cascade into a win for not just a community of writers, but for an entire platform of readers.

Imagine the ripple effect… I invite you to join the charge.

LinkedIn aside, where in your life could you benefit from setting boundaries with yourself or others? What powerful decisions could you make that would transform your experience of yourself and your life?

Decide. There is power in choice.

When there’s so much insanity going on in the world, it’s easy to feel helpless and out of control. But there are ways that we can take the reins in our own lives that we neglect to see. Look deeply. Seek ownership of your life. While it may require that we tell ourselves some hard truths, I’ve found that it leads to one of the greatest paradoxes there is.

That with self-control comes freedom.

©A Thoughtful Company, LLC


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. Kimberly,

    Thank you for voicing what so many people feel.

    Boundaries are always so healthy in every aspect of our lives. I do a much better job with my boundaries than I did 10 years ago. Still a work in progress but we really have to.

    I am always in dilemma with social media because the benefits always outweighed the negative for me. I found many of my best circle of friends, collaborators thru LI and Twitter. I met you at a live event but many people in my HumansFirst and BizCatalyst360 happened because of LI. I am away from family and friends I can see and stay connected because of social media. I wrote for Huff Pro for years, co-authored a book because of people I met on social media which could have never happened otherwise. I learn my topics and what is current because of SM. I learn from each one of you and BizCatalyst360 is great but I have more that does not get to my inbox and that inbox is also very overwhelming too.

    I am overwhelmed like many. I want to learn, connect and support. I love all three. Those make me who I am. So I am always in the middle of it all. Time restrictions on how much time to spend on SM is the only answer I was able to find so far too. Also remove all notifications on my phone and take breaks from it for 24 hours and sometimes for a whole week like you did. I still love being tagged because some people keep me fresh even on my topics which i don’t get to see. I save them and read them when I can just like this one. I saw it. I saved it. Now I read and respond it in my own timing. That helps a lot. I also learned to feel obligated to respond to each time I tagged. I never tag you (although in some I really want to) because I know you don’t want it. For some I don’t even know. I want to believe they will tell me to stop tagging them if they don’t want it.

    These are issues of our times. We have channel overload for sure. I will write about that one day too!

    Thank you my friend. I am so glad you found a better balance for yourself. We all have to do what works for us too!


    • So sorry, my friend, for my delay! I kept waiting to have the time to really take in your thoughtfulness and give you an equally thoughtful response… Such is my life! I feel so much the same as you, dear Brooke. There have been so many gifts – our relationship being one of them (I think we were connected via Twitter long before we actually met). I’ve met people who have certainly made my life richer and made me better. But like we need enough water to sustain life, too much can drown us and that’s where I found myself, drowning. I was also having a hard time hearing my own voice in the cacophony of others and it was really important for me to stay connected to my own heart, otherwise what value do I bring? So it’s a constant dance! And, to clarify, if there’s something that you read or write that screams my name, please do tag me! It’s the mass tags (where people tag their whole networks or entire groups of people that I can’t handle). I adore you, Brooke, and I’m so grateful you’re in my life!

  2. I know the empty chip bag feeling Kimberly..and sometimes I snack as I read….oh the reading….I’ve commented extensively my feelings to you and am glad to hear that you are liberated.
    This self proclamation of freedom is what makes you stand out.
    So many of us are in linkedin and what it comes down to is not just posting, but the engagement. I value the relationships and feel compelled to continue at times…and before you know it, the chips are gone too. Lol. My feelings are also in observance of the boundaries I had to create and adjust so I could find the joy and not the pain of growth. I know I can’t possibly be everywhere and rely on my authenticity to catty me. I’m organic and roam the streets as I please. Like you I check what interests me most and then I just rely on the fact that if I am meant to see it… I will.
    I still try different things and do prefer a win win… one way to support is to visit those who engage with me. People know where to find me and do check in on me. This value to me is priceless.

    Everyone is here for a different reason and we all have different interests outside of our own posts too. Moods change all the time. We all are changing with new lessons and views. We are expanding as well.

    As a writer we add to the pages and want it to be seen. The mentions and tagging are helpful if used correctly. It’s like a social media phone call…and not everyone answers. As you make your phone call you are depending on the operator to deliver. The operator is like the author and the engagement is their job in a way, it depends on the post really…some seem to carry without the host engaging. The big boss of the company sets the rules…the algorithm’s instruction where we are left clueless and susceptible …this is like communism (I wrote a piece called “algorithm communism”…lol), algorithm tracking will decide in a short time if a post will be delivered into the feed, how and where. It constantly changes and we learn from trial and error on what seems to work and what doesn’t. It determines if our post float around the platform or get dumped into the cyber hole of darkness. The more engagement on a post, the longer it stays alive. This part is your power. I’m sure many here know this but I share only to help if some do not.
    Didn’t mean to take so much space up, just going with the thoughts here. How can we not since we all want to figure out what is best for us?

    Thank you again. I appreciate this conversation a great deal.

    • Paula, I am so grateful for the thoughtfulness you bring when you read and share your thoughts. Please forgive me for my delay in responding. I wanted to bring equal thoughtfulness to the conversation and kept waiting until I had time to savor your words! I don’t disagree with anything you’ve shared and feel much the same way. I think we each have to find our own unique path to knowing ourselves well enough to learn how we can navigate and engage in a way that supports our better selves. I think so much energy goes into finding out how to “game the system” so the algorithm works in our favor, that we turn off our own internal warning signals when we’re veering off track with ourselves. My hope is that this exploration gives others permission to ask themselves what is right for them, personally, not to do it my way. I love that you’re so in touch with your inner-landscape. That’s what allows you to bring yourself so fully to these conversations and your response to this piece is a beautiful example of that gift.

  3. I love the way you framed this. I recognize all of this my friend and really echo so much of what you shared. Yourr words really embody what I wanted to express with my article about choice. The only way I know how I can navigate through my LinkedIn and LIFE expereince is through the practice of self-awareness. Truly sensing into what’s present for me and using that as a compass for what feels aligned so as not to feel itchy-scratchy, anxious or overwhelmed. I believe the people who are the closest to me benefit from my joying more than my unjoying 😘 Brave to me is when I listen and rest in the awareness of what is true for me because that allows me to have more space for others. I love you and everything you stand for 😘

    • Okay, so now I’m all weepy. Thank you very much! This is my celebrate-Shelley morning! Your beautiful cards arrived in the mail this morning, so I’ve been thinking about you so much! I cannot believe that our two pieces posted on the same day as they were like our own personal expression of the same conversation! Well, actually, I take that back. I can totally believe that we were that in synch with each other. Your joying definitely creates more joy in the world! It is your brave unleashed! What ever it takes to get to that place, my friend, you have a responsibility to yourself and the world to ensure you do what you need to do to be there. Much love!

  4. Nicely done Kimberly with an entertaining flair. Yes, boundaries are most important. Whether you know this or not, it is a very popular word in the therapy world. My first paper in graduate school was on “Boundaries.” Anyway, I share your love for potato chips so I was also amused envisioning the empty bag. As far as LinkedIn is concerned, I tag some people, and I try, not always successfully, to acknowledge others when I am tagged. I appreciate the sharing in such a delightful manner.

    • Thanks so much, Darlene, I appreciate you. Yes! I’m aware that “boundaries” is also used in the therapy world. Thankfully, it’s finding its way more mainstream because we desperately need it! Here’s to healthy chip-boundaries for both of us!

  5. Dear KImberly, you really do shine a light on an oft’ darkened territory of social media. Linkedin is a key platform that most of us use.

    Bizcatalyst360 has broadened the concept of friendliness and engaging with like-minded people and promotes the most amazing level of interaction and enjoyment of those creating essays and stories on the platform.

    I have been ‘tagging’ on Linkedin but have limited it to a shorter list if connections. However, it seems you have found an ideal way of reach people, or perhaps their reaching you via ‘sharing’.

    Your descriptions are most enlightening and fill me full of energy and determination allowing management of Linkedin rather than the other way round. Yes, I do like replying or commenting on some of the most tantalizing posts, but do get rather hooked sometimes.

    One aspect is being retired, I have (in theory!) more time on my hands. Well, not quite true! For a number of hours a week I am a steward at the award winning ‘Kings and Scribes Exhibition’. It means I can welcome and engage with people from around the world. There are similarities. One is meeting face to face and the other more remote via posts and comments. Some are more remote than others, and you are a friend I value so greatly and would never take for granted.

    Some discipline is certainly required, but must be seen as a positive manifestation of the overall benefits.

    I will let you know how applying your ‘Great Liberation’ pans out, but I am rather confident.

    Thank you so much, Kimberly for putting into strong and meaningful words that will doubtless make a positive difference not just for me but for others too.


  6. Wow…I was nodding my head through this entire article. First the chips (and all the feelings that go along with THAT) and your journey on LinkedIn. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn (mostly love), but on the days when I’m feeling overwhelmed by it, it really is up to me to create boundaries that serve my highest good. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  7. Ahhh…. Kimberly, you put into words what so many of us are feeling! Thank you for the nudge to re-assess my own boundaries on LinkedIn and elsewhere. I, too, have been caught in the inner conflict between feeling the obligation to support my network and drowning in the avalanche of tags and messages. I stepped back a bit and am finding healthier ways to stay engaged, support others and get the inspiration I need, too.

    This is soooo good! Thank you!