HALT: Comedian Whitney Cummings's Advice For Setting Boundaries Is a Game Changer

In her 2017 memoir, I'm Fine . . . and Other Lies, comedian Whitney Cummings details clinical codependence, which she first discussed in a Lenny Letter two years prior, and anxiety. "I started working with mental health professionals and realized this is some deep, dark, painful stuff," she told Vice at the time. "I feel really trapped as a comedian — someone who is supposed to be funny and light, making jokes all the time. But I'm actually in this inauthentic armor. It felt phony not to expose this other side of myself."

On Ashley Graham's podcast Pretty Big Deal, Cummings further explained codependency as "the inability to tolerate the discomfort of others. If you find yourself obsessed with someone else's perception of you; if you find yourself thinking that you need to take care of other people's feelings; if you have a hard time saying no; if you find yourself being addicted to control . . . and take on the consequences of others; if you find yourself in relationships or friendships that don't really make you feel good, but you feel like you have to stay in them."

Cummings said that, in her past, she found herself enabling "a lot of people with addictions and personality disorders," and she enrolled in 12-step Al-Anon meetings for those with loved ones who are addicts. She wrote of one of those meetings in her Lenny Letter, "In a 12-step meeting for codependence, I once heard a man say, 'In this program, we are pathologically thoughtful and obsess over other people's problems to avoid our own.' I got a pit in my stomach because I felt like he had been reading my journal."

Now, Cummings, 37, is extra careful about setting boundaries to protect her own energy and give herself more room to breathe before reacting. She described this on the Self-Helpless podcast in mid July as using the acronym HALT, which you can also see her detail in the video clip above. To handle situations better, if she's hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, she'll deal with those things before helping others or responding to others, especially if it's a conflict of some kind. "You do nothing until you've solved those four things," she said.

"You're allowed to choose to not engage," Cummings stated, adding later on that "you have to take control of when people have access to you." Additionally, she said it took her a long time to realize that you can schedule difficult conversations for when you are ready and "your cup is full." Regardless of what you're going through in your personal life and regardless of the specific situation, this acronym might be useful for you when it comes to defining and managing boundaries.