“Setting boundaries isn’t about telling people what to do.
It’s about telling people what you’re not willing to do.”
I’ve only recently begun to understand the concept of healthy boundaries.
Growing up, boundaries just weren’t a thing in my family, for a lot of reasons.
I was taught structure, rules, and measured discipline.
And I was given love, guidance, and support.
But healthy boundaries were a completely unknown entity to me — unnamed, unmodeled, and most importantly, unsupported.
As a result, I spent decades saying no to my needs, just so I could say yes to everyone else’s expectations. And for far too long, I believed that setting boundaries was the emotional equivalent of building walls — a harsh, aggressive petition unfairly constructed to punish the people who love me.
I know now that is not true.
My boundaries are not walls built to keep people out. My boundaries are dams, designed to retain, refill, and restore the very things that make me my best self — they allow me the space to replenish my reserves of peace, and balance, and forgiveness, and love, and hope, and joy.
And they are no one’s business but my own.
So, I’m slowly dismantling the foundational beliefs about boundaries I’ve spent decades white-knuckling to step away from a destructive, generational legacy.
I’m constantly reminding myself again and again that establishing personal limits doesn’t make me controlling, prioritizing self-care doesn’t make me incompetent, and saying no doesn’t make me selfish.
I’m awkwardly leaning into the still uncomfortable, but very necessary, practice of drawing a line and holding firm, regardless of anyone else’s opinion, approval, permission, or reaction.
I’m finally realizing that making margins in my life isn’t about telling people what to do — it’s merely about telling people what I’m no longer willing to do.
We Decide Who and What To Let Into Our Lives
Most importantly, I’m learning that setting boundaries offers the gift of discernment about who and what we let into our lives. Healthy people, the people who value you, will recognize and respect a set boundary. They will help you uphold them, even if they don’t understand or agree with them. They will appreciate your right to decide what is healthy and necessary for yourself, even when it means saying “no” to them or changes the course, current, and climate of your relationship.
Toxic people will rage against your healthy boundaries. They will accuse you of holding a grudge or doling out hurtful ultimatums. Prioritizing your needs over their demands will be viewed as a personal attack, prompting immediate action. They will sound the war sirens, exerting every last ounce of their energy in a relentless attempt to wear down your resolve and shame you into submission.
Toxic people will make it their mission to convince you that your self-empowerment is nothing more than a power trip.
Don’t believe them.
Love them. Pray for them.
Then set the boundary anyway.
Today’s Soft Never
Boundaries are tough. But we can absolutely Soft Never the misguided belief that we can never set boundaries for ourselves. We can also Soft Never thinking we can never step away from a generational legacy that doesn’t prioritize or value healthy boundaries. We get to identify what’s healthy and necessary for ourselves in all of our relationships.
Most importantly, we can shift the lens to stop seeing boundaries as walls to keep people out, but rather as dams to help fill us back up.
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