Our 4th and final post in our series on Boundaries. Find Part 3 here.

In last week’s post on boundaries, Saying No to Others and Yes to Your Goals, I identified three reasons it’s hard to set boundaries: guilt, inferiority, and the fear of offending others. Today we’re discussing the third reason, which is really hard for some of us. If you can relate to worrying about what other people will think, read on!

We started this series talking about how boundaries are like property lines. By having property lines, we know who is responsible for what. In relationships, it is harder to tell who is responsible for what. The basic principle is this:

You are responsible for being you. Everyone else is responsible for being themselves.

Once, I was in a meeting when the issue of boundaries came up. The leader described a new program that involved finding prayer partners to share life together. “Be intentional of who you partner with,” he said. “If someone asks you to partner with them but you don’t think it will be a good fit, ​it is ok to tell them no​.”

A group member gasped, and said, “Do you mean ​turn them down​?” The leader responded with a yes. “How could you do that? You might hurt their feelings!” she responded.

“Yes,” he said, “that might happen.”

How Bad Is It, Really?

When we set boundaries, it’s true, we might hurt someone’s feelings. For some people, this is no problem. For sensitive people, boundaries can be a real struggle for this very reason.

Right now, ask yourself a few questions:

  •  What is the worst part of hurting someone’s feelings? 
  •  How long does a person have hurt feelings?
  •  Does it ruin us if our feelings are hurt?

Baby, You’re Worth It

Can you think of specific times when you wish you had said “no” to something but you didn’t because you were afraid to hurt or offend someone? I certainly can. Man, if we could have all that time and energy back! 

Going back to last week’s post, what if our time and energy are worth just as much as the other person’s? What do you believe about yourself if someone is hurt because you have a different thought or idea?

A Cause of Anxiety

The reality is, ​not being yourself is a contributor to anxiety. ​Sometimes our gut says ​NO​, but our manners say ​YES.​ The more our true wishes are overruled by a sense of duty, the more anxious we become.

The Gift of Sensitivity

If you are a sensitive person, remember being sensitive is a gift! You have good instincts. You are valuable and you were made this way for a reason. Don’t let this gift be ruined by other people coming into your “yard.”

We protect what we value. I encourage you to value yourself by protecting your​ time, your feelings, and your energy​. These are great reasons to set boundaries. When you are free to be yourself, you and everyone in your life will benefit!

~ Donna Durham, MMFT

Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash