• Rebecca Robinson


Boundaries are vital to our individual empowerment and happiness. They are the hedge that divides one garden from another. The space between one person and another person. Having clear boundaries is good for us. They help us to define ourselves as valuable human beings, unique and separate from other people. Our boundaries define us, and only in setting them are we free to be who we are.

We have a responsibility to ourselves to set our own limits, to help protect us and to keep us safe and happy. In doing so, this will enable us to live from a more authentic place. And it becomes much easier to set boundaries if we know what it is that we value.

We all have boundaries, but often we do not enforce them. This may be because we want to please people. We may worry that people won’t like us if we say ‘no’ to them. Or it may be that we will feel guilty if we don’t say ‘yes’ to whatever it is that someone else wants. But we should not be compliant only because we can’t bear to rock the boat.

Most people need to get better at saying ‘no’. Saying 'no' is not a bad thing, and there is no harm in saying it if something crosses a personal boundary. It is honest and truthful to who we are. Indeed, in doing so, we are saying ‘yes’ to ourselves, which is a very empowering thing to do. We must state our ‘no’ with firm, kind assertiveness. As long as we never react with aggression, we will be able to manage our own boundaries from a place of power.

On occasion, we may need to remove ourselves from a situation that is pushing our boundaries. As we revive our self, we regain ownership of our values and limits. But it is vital that we set boundaries and keep them. If we worry that people will not like us if we say 'no' to them, we should try it out and see what happens. If they object, it may be because they only like hearing the sound 'yes'. As long as we respect other peoples 'no', and we enforce our own limits, that is all that we can control.

We are not, though, supposed to be selfish. We live in a compassionate universe filled with people who we have a responsibility to care for. We do not need to give a mean and narcissistic 'no'. Instead, we need a self-aware consideration of what we can offer. We must help people within our own limits of what we can do, giving full thought to what is reasonable and healthy.

We know ourselves best. Our time, talents and energy are ours, and we know how much of it we can give before we burn out. It is our responsibility to protect and nurture ourselves. We must ensure that we do not become exhausted or deny ourselves rest and happiness. The only thoughts, feelings and actions that we are in control of are our own. We are not responsible for how anyone else thinks. We can never change other people, but we can change how we respond.

We must learn that we can say 'no' whilst still being kind. The key is to know who we are and never allow others to define us. If people are unhappy with our 'no', that is their responsibility and not ours. And whenever we say 'yes', we must ensure that we are not saying 'no' to ourselves.

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