Setting Boundaries: How to Make Yourself Heard

Written by on September 5, 2016 in Accountability, Confidence

Setting BoundariesEver feel as if you’re speaking but no one is home on the receiving end, or that somehow you’ve switched from English to Urdu?

This feeling of not being heard is one of the chief frustrations voiced by those attempting to set personal boundaries, especially when it comes to family.

Boundaries are the protective guidelines we set for ourselves as individuals, in personal and professional relationships. They give us that sense of self-determination we long for and help guard against being overwhelmed by the demands of others.

Identifying where boundaries are needed is not really difficult; where we run into resistance is when we have to communicate and enforce them.

Today we’re going to focus on communication and what it takes for you to be heard.

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. ~Robert McCloskey

You Set the Standards

Communicating your boundaries is as much about your actions as what you say. If you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to? I know you’ve heard this before, but it is true … you teach people how to treat you by how YOU treat you.

When you don’t take care of yourself, when you allow people to repeatedly take advantage of you without speaking up, you are sending a clear message that these are acceptable standards for the way in which they treat you.

So if you find yourself surrounded by people who are sucking the very life out of you, it’s time to take a hard look at the message you are sending to the world about what you will (and won’t) tolerate, and then get busy rewriting your story.

How to Communicate Your Boundaries

Define the Unacceptable Behavior

When you’ve identified a boundary to work on the first step is to define the issue. The clearer this is in your own mind, the easier it will be for you to communicate it in a way that the other person can understand.

Here are a few examples.

  • It is not acceptable to go through my personal belongings without my permission.
  • It is not acceptable to take your anger out on me.
  • It is not acceptable to humiliate me in front of others.
  • It is not acceptable to invade my personal space.

This is a critical step because it’s so tempting to be vague – using hints, expressions, and gestures – in the hope that the other person will be sensitive enough to just get what you are trying to say.

Understand that this is not about the other person at all, but rather about your desire to avoid the discomfort of having to express your true feelings. It’s normal to feel anxious and even guilty for putting yourself first the first few times you stand your ground. It’s good to be aware of these feelings and own them, but don’t let them stop you.

When you communicate clearly and from the heart, it is far more likely that the other person will hear what you are saying and take the request seriously.

Decide on Consequences

Without consequences for ignoring your request, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get anyone to take you seriously. How far you are willing to go with this will depend on the nature of the boundary and your relationship with the individual.

In most cases, I recommend beginning with a more lenient consequence and gradually increasing the heat until you see a change.

Let’s use the example of a friend who has a habit of dropping her kids off at your house for you to watch without asking first.

  • You let her know that as much as you value her friendship, it is not acceptable or fair to you for her to assume that you are going to be available whenever she needs you and that in the future she should call first or you may not be able to help her.
  • A week later she stops by with the kids and tells you she’s in a bind, so you agree to help her, but you explain this is the last time, from now she really needs to check with you first.
  • Things go along fine for awhile then one day she shows up at your door ready to drop the kids off as though the previous conversations never took place, but this time you don’t let her in. You smile politely and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t this time.” You don’t apologize, or attempt to justify your stand … you stay strong and don’t give in. Simply say your piece and wish your friend a good day.

I hear you now, easier said than done, especially if it happens to be a relative. But before you are tempted to give in and let it go consider that ultimately this is about respect and accountability.

When we repeatedly assume the role of rescuer in a relationship, we not only end up with feelings of resentment, we rob the other person of the opportunity to grow by taking responsibility for their own life.

If you don’t respect yourself, others won’t either. Remember, the world sees what you put out there, so hold yourself to a high standard of grace and elegance. ~Author Unknown

Set the Stage

Personal boundaries are not meant to be used as a form of punishment. Unfortunately, what sometimes happens is people will reach a tipping point after having been taken advantage of for an extended period of time and, as a result, they end up going to the extreme by setting boundaries out of anger and resentment rather than from a place of emotional centeredness.

The way in which you communicate your request is as important as the request itself, so if you are able to time the conversation so that both you and the other person are in a calm, receptive state it will go a long way toward assuring they hear what you have to say.

Don’t Attempt to Justify Your Request

The first few times you set a boundary, it’s going to be tempting to justify your request. Beyond calmly stating the unacceptable behavior and your request, there is no reason for you to apologize, justify or explain yourself. You deserve to have healthy personal boundaries.

Will some people try to make you feel guilty, you can count on it! But if you remain calm and consistent in the way in which you communicate your new boundaries I promise you this will pass.

Try to remember that when you begin explaining, justifying and talking about your boundaries, it says to other people that you are not really confident in them and are trying to justify them to yourself as much as you are to them.

Accept That You May Have to Repeat Your Request

One of the ways in which we undermine ourselves in this process is by thinking that if we express our request once, and the other person doesn’t immediately comply, they are either not listening or don’t care about us.

Keep in mind that human nature being what it is you will likely have to repeat your request a few times for it to sink in and for people to begin taking you seriously, especially if you have a history of tolerating the behavior you now seek to change.

Most people are not out to intentionally hurt or upset you, in fact, there’s a good chance they are unaware of the effect their behavior is having on you.

It is naive to think that once established, your boundaries will never be broken again. You might as well accept that you will have to stand up for yourself for the rest of your life. There is, however, a reward for those who are willing to practice, and that is in time you will experience a subtle shift to a place of greater ease as each new occasion becomes merely another opportunity to demonstrate your worthiness. ~M. Herald

Final thoughts …

There are few things that have the ability to positively affect the quality of your life in the way a commitment to healthy personal boundaries does.

There is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth in the process of learning to balance self-respect for others with self-respect for yourself, and the rewards for your efforts include stronger relationships, enhanced self-esteem, greater confidence and an overall sense of well-being that is so essential to a happy, healthy, balanced life.

What’s your story? Are you able to communicate your boundaries clearly and confidently? Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no? Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

P.S. For an in-depth guide on creating boundaries with compassion for yourself and others I would like to recommend Building Boundaries With Heart: The Ultimate Self-Care, the first course my new Pathways to Resilient Living MIND * BODY* SPIRIT series coming September 26th.

Related articles:
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

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  1. Andy James

    I have been learning about improving self esteem for a while, I have read many articles about improving self confidence and and self acceptance, they all missed this point! it’s till now that i realized that the obstacle that was holding me from succeeding is my unawareness of my weak boundaries.
    Thanks for this article!

  2. Joyce Hansen

    I’m not sure if this is an outgrowth of the “me” generation and has spread to a natural entitlement lifestyle. People seem to really get insulted and make you feel that you are insensitive and uncaring. I’ve learned to be very diplomatic or outright lie to protect my own boundaries. I always enjoy how you tackle the tough topics.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…How to increase client success when they don’t want toMy Profile

  3. Harleena Singh

    Hi Marquita,

    Wonderful post indeed 🙂

    I should say a much needed one, especially for busy bloggers, marketers, and all those who are generally busy online entrepreneurs! The toughest things to do is to set your boundaries for us, and know when to stop, and when to say no, which means a real NO.

    Yes, I’ve gone through that phase several times in my online career as a writer and blogger now, but if you don’t say no, you cannot focus on things that matter and need your attention. I usually say no, but take the time over the weekend to go through the problem in hand, if I get a little time off that is! I know we are tempted at times, be it to show our presence on social media or sit and chit-chat online with our family or friend’s – but if you are a professional, you’d train yourself to take up the work that needs attention first, and then anything else. Nothing else works!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…11 Steps of Asking Good Questions That Empower Your TeenMy Profile

    • Welcome Harleena and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us! You are so right about the importance of drawing the line and learning to say “no”. That is a tough thing for many people, but I tend to agree with Tony Robbins about the importance of identifying what we get out of this behavior, because there is always payoff for whatever we do. It’s up to each of us to determine what matters most and find the courage to stand by that choice.

  4. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    This post is really helpful and I love the way you discuss on setting personal boundaries without resentment and anger.

    I do agree that to be taken seriously, following your tips is the best way to be heard. People will always want to take advantage of our kindness so it is great to always let them know when is acceptable.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care

    • Well said Ikechi, and you are so right, the potential is always there, though I do believe most people don’t take advantage with malice in their hearts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  5. Hi /Marquita,
    this is an important subject. We need to set boundaries if not it is no wonder if people take advantage . I did set strong boundaries and everybody is aware of them in my surrounding. It needs strength first ,but after a while they are accepted , Life is easier with boundaries.and less complicated.
    Thank you a good subject to think about

  6. April

    Such great insight and advice Marquita. I have found boundaries very hard with friends and family. I can be a people pleaser, not wanting to disappoint others for fear of judgment so boundaries are easily blurred in order not to hurt someone’s feelings. You gave so many great tips in this article thank you.

    • You are surely not alone April, most people find it difficult to set boundaries with friends and family. It may be helpful to keep in mind that the principles of setting boundaries are the same regardless of who the other person is, so are you able to stand up for yourself with other people, say at work for instance? Try to think of it this way – do you value yourself less than you value others? Are your feelings less important than theirs? And here’s a tough one, there is always a payoff for our behavior – always. So what do you get out of putting the interests of others before your own? Think about it. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation!

  7. Joy Healey

    Hi Marquita, That post really resonated with me because from childhood I was somehow conditioned to have no boundaries, and not be heard!

    I loved the McCloskey quote, but I have to confess that I had to read it twice.

    My sons both feel it’s completely acceptable to go through my food cupboards and throw stuff away – although in fairness, I do tend to be a little “sell-by-date” blind, so mostly I let them get away with it.

    However the instance that really caused me to blow my top was when a partner went through my clothes and binned some that he no longer felt were fit for me to wear. Haha – he’d never seen me so furious and never did it again.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    • So glad you found value in the article Joy! Boundaries are learned and unfortunately many of us grew up with little knowledge of what they were, let alone that we are entitled to them. I have to admit, the example you shared about your partner donating some of your clothes without checking with you first would have sent me over the edge as well. Some lessons we have to learn the hard way. 🙂

  8. Reba Linker

    Wonderful post, Marquita! Truer words were never spoken: “you teach people how to treat you by how YOU treat you.” That is one of the super-powers of self-love, right there. The post covered so many aspects of this issue. I particularly love your point about it sometimes being as if the conversation never took place. That is so true – I’ve experienced that and it was truly mind-boggling, particularly after having mustered so much courage to attempt to set a boundary in the first place. So glad to be past those good old bad old days!
    Reba Linker recently posted…Heal Your Midlife CrisisMy Profile

  9. Stella Chiu

    Hi, Marquita

    It is important to set boundary with everyone if we want to avoid conflicts between each other.

    People don’t set the boundaries because they believe it will destroy the relationship between friends and family members. In reality, the reverse is true. Without boundaries, chaos will sure be here.

    Being present, reliable, and loving can cause you to be taken advantage of. Know when to set the boundaries will help you to avoid that feeling.

    Thanks for the post.

    Stella Chiu
    Stella Chiu recently posted…How to Choose the New Breakthrough Treatment for your CancerMy Profile

  10. Loved this piece, Marquita! I’m guilty of not setting clear boundaries with certain family members, and find that when I do, somehow they don’t believe me. Too many times I have caved and given in. I do like the clarity in prefacing your boundary by saying, “It is not acceptable….when you….” Ultimately it comes down to our verbal and non-verbal communication. The clearer we can state our boundary, the more chance there is others will hear it and respect it.

    I think I learned the loose boundary behaviour from my dear 100-year-old mother, as I see how she is quite a softie and always gives in. Some would see her as having a very big heart, yet maybe it is just a lack of skill in setting boundaries. Unfortunately my daughter, as an only child and only grandchild, might have learned this from her too. 🙂 Thanks for sharing not only the importance of setting boundaries, but also a very clear blueprint for doing it too.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…3 Wildly Popular Health Myths—That Aren’t TrueMy Profile

    • Thanks for your kind words and especially for letting me know you liked the article Beverley. Your reference to your grandmother being a “softie” relates so much to the mission of my new course on Building Boundaries With Heart. Most people separate being “nice” from having boundaries and it absolutely does not have to be that way. On the other hand, there is a payoff for everything we do, and being a “softie” is no exception – we just have to learn to recognize that fact. 🙂

  11. Sue Kearney

    I read this and realize how little training I got for being a respectful boundaried person. I see myself going through my husband’s journal (without permission of course) and freaking out about what I read (making all the wrong inferences, of course!). And then throwing his possessions off the 4th-floor balcony in a rage. Did I mention I had no training and no boundaries. Turned out he wasn’t having an affair, and that the Ronnie he mentioned being in town was Ronald Reagan. Ouch.

    Happy to say I’ve learned a lot. And you won’t be surprised to read that I’m no longer married to that person. Or anyone. I have had a lot to undo, learn, and figure out. Lucky for me I found the willingness.
    Sue Kearney recently posted…It takes a village. I’m grateful for my village.My Profile

  12. Vatsala Shukla

    I actually have a boundary statement, Marquita, and I implement it strictly.
    Without setting up personal boundaries and abiding by them, we set ourselves up for a lot of pain and time wastage.
    PS. I love the analogy of switching from English to Urdu. Normally when dealing with boundary breakers, I feel I’m talking to a wall. 🙂
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Savvy businesses know the powerful value of processes, do you?My Profile

    • So glad you found value in the post Vatsala. What’s funny about that reference to Urdu is I fully expected people to comment on it and yours is the first reference. So either many more people than I expected know what Urdu is, or they just simply don’t care and I have a feeling its the later. 🙂

  13. Lesly T. Federici

    Hi Marquita,
    What an important topic. I’ve seen this in action, Much of setting boundaries is connected to self-esteem. I see it in the childbirth classes I teach. New young mothers have a hard time setting boundaries with their own mothers and actually is a great source of stress. I always bring this up because as new parents they have to set their own rules of what they’ll accept, or not as new parents… love you bio 🙂
    Lesly T. Federici recently posted…Have A Breakthrough and Trust Your Awesome IdeasMy Profile

  14. Paula

    Nicely presented. It all boils down to communication. But you know even if u communicate your boundaries others forget or don’t hear. I recently heard about the ministry of presence. People learn to truly be present when others speak. Sadly, they often are too busy, don’t care about what your saying or are just too caught up in me, myself, and I. Anyhow, thanks for the great recommendations.

    • Welcome Paula! I’ve never heard of the “ministry of presence” but the circumstances you describe fall under the “Consequences” bucket. We each have a choice to tolerate the circumstances – and people – in our lives, or do something about it. We’re only a victim if we choose to be. Thanks so much for stopping by and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  15. You’ve nailed another great topic, Marquita! I could have used this advice when I was still working in the corporate world–that was the worst place for me to keep boundaries.
    Sharing this. A lot.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…The Library of Congress and More DC DelightsMy Profile

    • You are certainly not alone in that RoseMary, and of course, one big reason for that is the lack of control we often feel over our lives in the work environment. That’s a separate article all together! Thanks for stopping by, and especially for sharing. 🙂

  16. Lydia Brown

    I had the hardest time setting boundaries up to my late twenties. It was a miserable situation for me I would go to bed with resentments. I went to a workshop and we discussed how do we expect people to change if we don’t tell them what concerns us. We also discussed what we could do if once we state our feelings the person doesn’t change. With time, and practice I had good friends make amends and some relationships I let go. It began to feel good to show people who I was at the start of relationships to minimize any misunderstandings that I could control. I put my feelings first now so I can keep myself safe. Loved this article thanks for sharing,
    Lydia Brown recently posted…Why You Should be Afraid of MethamphetaminesMy Profile

  17. William Rusho

    I like your section on consequences. Many times we do set limits and boundaries, and when they are passed, we do nothing about it. If there are no consequences for an action, there is no boundaries in the first place.

  18. Sue Bride

    It was a case of a friend who expected me constantly look after her children that finally taught me not to ALWAYS say yes, but I still do have that tendency.

    The advice to set boundaries in advance makes perfect sense and I’ll commit that to memory. I’m in a situation now that needs it too.

  19. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    I sure relate to this.

    In my personal relationships, I’ve learned this a long time ago.

    In business, though, I tend to be more “flexible” haha.

    I think we’re always conditioned to thinking it’s not “nice” to tell people what is and what is not acceptable behavior. But I’ve learned that even customers and clients need boundaries, and they always seem to appreciate the clarity that is established when you set them… even if they don’t agree a all the conditions you set for them to abide by.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How To Start And Run A Blog By YourselfMy Profile

    • Well said Donna and I think it’s also important to emphasize that it is absolutely possible to explain to someone that a certain behavior isn’t acceptable to you without being mean or unkind – this is probably one of the biggest myths around about setting boundaries. Most people let things go until their emotions take over and then things go south pretty quickly. It takes time and a lot of practice to communicate these issues with compassion, but it is SO worth the effort!

  20. Emi says:

    Hi Marquita
    What a beautiful and sensitive subject.
    I agree, everything starts with you…” you teach people how to treat you by how you treat you.”
    It’s hard sometimes, and we have to work harder on meeting people where they are to be able to grab their attention
    but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.

  21. Marquita — another important post. It can be very difficult to set boundaries because you’re afraid you’re going to hurt the other person’s feelings. Many years ago, when I was young and had just moved to NY, I met another young woman and we became friends. However, she was extremely needy and wanted to dominate all my time. I didn’t know how to handle the situation so I started making excuses and simply stopped seeing her. I still feel badly that I couldn’t have “that” discussion about boundaries. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked in the long run, but I may also have lost a good friend.

    • Thank you for sharing your story Jeannette. For better or worse, this is something we learn over time so there is bound to be a lot of trial and error. What we tend to overlook in conversations about boundaries is that when we are able to communicate them with compassion through our actions as well as words we not only help ourselves but others by the example we set.

  22. Boundaries is such an important word!! I think being direct is so important. Direct is often misinterpreted as being hostile or too forward. However, if done right it is just stern and being true to your word in a confident way!

    Great post, thanks.

    • Good point Matthew. There’s also the issue that those who struggle with boundaries tend to suffer from low self-esteem, so the willingness to become more self-aware is a critical element of this process.

  23. Hi Marquita I really enjoyed your post. I think defining boundaries start at a young age and expand as we age.

    Great job.

    • You are right about how boundaries should be defined from a young age Alicia. Unfortunately, considering how many people continue to struggle with this issue their entire lives, I think it’s pretty obvious the gap between the way things should be and reality is significant. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  24. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Yikes I felt as though this post of yours was written directly to me! Yes I do find myself saying yes when all I want to say is NO! I also have a challenge when it comes to being strict! I am such a pushover..

    Time for the girl to toughen up.
    Great Post
    Chery :))

    • You know the old saying Chery, pick your battles. If you REALLY want to become more assertive about standing up for yourself start with something small – make it your intention to practice and keep steadily building your skills and confidence. But consider this … maybe you want to say yes but feel you SHOULD be saying no. Nobody can tell the difference, or do anything about it, but you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts – always appreciated. 🙂

  25. I think that setting boundaries can be a real challenge. One thing I have discussed on my blog recently is assertiveness and part of assertiveness is the ability to set boundaries effectively. I think your point about not apologizing is particularly important although it is also challenging for most people.

    One thing that I find often happens to people is that they get caught off-guard with requests from people who want something from them and they don’t know what to say. In this type of situation I suggest putting off making a decision by saying something such as, “I will have to get back to you on that.” This way, you have time to collect your thoughts and decide whether you want to say yes or set a boundary. It is a technique that has helped me not to get bowled over several times!

    Great article. Thanks so much. Sorry for the epically long comment.

    • Welcome Rachelle and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your advice about delaying a response can certainly be helpful and I’ve recommended it myself occasionally for those who struggle with saying no, and in fact, this is the basis for my point in the article about setting the stage for these conversations. 🙂

  26. Dave

    Very well stated, Marty! I can relate very well to the “Set the Stage” section. Many times, I have found myself attempting to set boundaries in a reactive state instead of proactive state – meaning, someone violates my personal boundaries and I lash out when neither one of us is in an emotional state to listen with the voice of reason.

    As with everything, I think this takes a lot of practice – for me, at least. Starting small, focusing on the seemingly “small” invasions of personal boundaries will probably serve well to get the momentum moving in the right direction and establish the confidence to tackle those bigger boundaries in the not too distant future!

    Your words are, as always, both encouraging and motivational. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Glad you liked it Dave, and you bring up an excellent point. Setting and communicating boundaries does take practice and that means we have to become intentional about developing it as an attitude and skill-set. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation – always appreciated!

  27. Sabrina Quairoli

    This post is a great reminder to take care of ourselves. I like that you used the phrase. It’s not acceptable … to express to others what is not acceptable in their behavior. It seems less confrontational too so hopefully there won’t be a reaction to the statement. Thank you for the suggestions.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…6 Myths Home Cleaning BustedMy Profile

  28. Lynée says:

    Good morning Marquita. Thank you for your insightful article. Setting boundaries is difficult at time but when it’s done in the right fashion it is so fulfilling. I have learned to to express boundaries in a calm respectful manner,because many times you act out of frustration. You also do not want bad relations or conflict if you did not deal with setting boundaries in the correct manner. I am always inspired to become a better Me! So thank you again for your article. Take good care.

  29. Erica says:

    I think a lot of people have trouble setting boundaries with family. And I get how tricky that is because….”It’s family”. But people really do need to be able to establish reasonable boundaries with everyone.

    These are great tips and I think a lot of us women can benefit from hearing them (and man…my husband feels horrible setting boundaries when people have come to rely on him.) We’re often subconsciously taught not to be selfish so it is important to understand the difference between setting reasonable boundaries and being unreasonably selfish. I’m getting better as I get a little older.
    Erica recently posted…More Than Calories: A Diet Built Around YOU!My Profile

    • Great points Erica. Whenever there is a discussion about boundaries the issue of “family” inevitably comes up as the biggest stumbling block, and this is true to a certain extent because, as much as we love them, our family members know all of our weak spots. But here’s the way I approach Boundaries 101 – regardless of who we are dealing with, it comes down to having a sense of self-worth and taking responsibility for our own well-being.

  30. Phoenicia

    Another great post. You have given some good points and I like your illustrations.

    Setting boundaries is so important. Years ago I struggled to say no as I was a people pleaser and carried guilt. I committed to things I really did not want to. I allowed myself to be pushed into a corner.

    People will treat us as we allow them. I used to blame the person who treated me badly when I should have taken a good look at myself.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Consistency – is it underrated?My Profile

    • Well said Phoenicia. It’s amazing what we can learn and how much we can grow when we decide to take responsibility for our own behavior and actions. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  31. FABULOUS post, Marty. It really hits home with me for two reasons.
    1) I am a Toastmaster, and listening skills are equally as important as speaking skills. Without clearly expressing our thoughts we will not be heard or understood.
    2) My husband suffers from a severe hearing deficiency, so we’re constantly having the discussion of “What did you hear me say?” as so often it’s not even close to what I said. It really makes me express myself clearly.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Hummingbird Chocolate wins best in the world!My Profile

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to share your excellent examples Doreen. I find it really fascinating to observe people communicating with each other and can’t help but wonder sometimes how many misunderstandings and hurt feelings could be avoided if we took a little more care in the way we express ourselves.

  32. Mark

    What spot on advice M!

    I guess, one of the main reasons, we resist being as direct as possible, is so we can leave ourselves a legitimate exit, out of having to take full responsibility!

    You have shared so many extremely enlightening points!And I thoroughly enjoyed your example of a friend, or relative, repeatedly violating our stated boundaries!

    There does come a time, in any relationship, where lines (not only) have to been drawn, but enforced as well!LOL!

    Thanks for reminding, and pointing out to us, it’s okay to do so!
    Mark recently posted…Entrepreneur Whenever You’re Emotionally Exhausted Please Consider This!My Profile

    • Good point Mark. There’s also the temptation to soft-soap our request to avoid appearing mean or unreasonable. Either way, it comes off as lack of confidence which is self-defeating at best and pretty much guarantees the other person will ignore our request. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  33. Mina Joy says:

    Dearest Marquita, Welcome back, and thanks for writing such a wonderful article. I read your article line by line and created empowering questions for my self around it so that I can practice it daily to transform my conditioning. I also like to share with you that I just finished reading a book on Assertiveness that shook my world. And today, your article came on my way. So Grateful to it. To answer your question, “Are you able to communicate your boundaries clearly and confidently? Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no?” I am learning in how to communicate my boundaries clearly and confidently. This learning and awareness has not come to me easily. As you indicated, “… sometimes happens is people will reach a tipping point after having been taken advantage of for an extended period of time and, as a result, they end up going to the extreme by setting boundaries out of anger and resentment rather than from a place of emotional centeredness.” This has been the “old” of me. Just last Wednesday, I told to a family member to communicate via email–rather by phone or text. The reason was that I felt I’ve been doing so much for them, and there was no end to it. I felt I had been taken advantage of. The family member is some how new to this culture, and to the new way of thinking, etc–I’ve been here for almost 30 years and have grown a lot–raising/taking care of my two children and living by myself–a way from my family. I have alway thought that I have to “help” others and “save” them. Today, I learned that I am not the rescuer. You said it perfectly, “When we repeatedly assume the role of rescuer in a relationship, we not only end up with feelings of resentment, we rob the other person of the opportunity to grow by taking responsibility for their own life.” This behavior has not served me in my personal and professional relationships. I am giving it up today. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to read your article–and feel so fortunate to be able to identify to old behaviors, and learn the new ones. “Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become” Amen <3
    With Gratitude, Mina Joy

  34. Ken Dowell

    The part of this that resonated most with me is the discussion about being direct, not making the message vague which in effect might be backing off. On the other hand I read that McCloskey quote three times and I’m still not sure I know what it means.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…The Sun Sets on Another Jersey Shore SummerMy Profile

    • You know what’s funny Ken – I came SO close to tweaking McCloskey’s quote for the same reason! I even double checked to make sure I had it right and eventually I decided the ambiguity was part of why it seemed so perfect for the article so I left it as is. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation.

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