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Maintaining Boundaries: Fostering Self-Care and Connection

"Boundaries are not fake walls to keep people out. They are the gates and fences that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your own garden." - Brené Brown

Boundaries are a powerful act of self-care and impact our emotional wellbeing. Simply defined boundaries are what separate and define you from others (Chatwal et al., 2023). They vary depending on our needs, personalities, culture, and social contexts. Boundaries outline our expectations of ourselves and others across the different relationships in our lives. When we fail to set our boundaries, we risk being mistreated, feeling used, or emotionally uneasy. In contrast, when we practice putting healthy boundaries into place, we prioritize ourselves and wellbeing, which encourages respect and connection in our relationships.

Boundaries Vs Barriers: Understanding the Difference

Healthy boundaries refer to emotional, physical, and mental limits we set to safeguard our well-being and values. Using self-awareness and clear communication, we create a space of respect and dignity for ourselves and others. These are intentional and constructive guidelines that we set to invite people in, to promote connection and interaction, while also protecting our space to maintain healthy relationships (Chatwal et al., 2023).

Barriers on the other hand are physical or metaphorical obstacles deliberately set up as defenses to prevent access. Barriers can be set up as protection against potential or perceived threats from others and can be negative or restrictive to limit communication or connection.

It can be challenging to recognize what our healthy boundaries consist of, especially if we came from a family or culture that encouraged us to mold and fit other people’s comfort or ease. Examining our beliefs around boundaries can be a helpful place to start, since setting healthy boundaries involves a self-reflective practice of identifying what we are and are not comfortable with in specific situations. This also involves good communication to be able to verbalize your needs and accepting that it may bring discomfort or confusion from others.

Below are 8 quotes from Brené Brown on boundary setting.

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others."

"When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated."

"Boundaries are a function of self-respect and self-love."

"Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and fear rejection."

"Choose discomfort over resentment."

"We have to be able to say, 'This is not okay.'"

"Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment."

"You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."


Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts. Random house.

Chatwal, M. S., Kamal, A. H., & Marron, J. M. (2023). Fear of Saying No (FOSNO): Setting boundaries with our patients and ourselves. American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book, 43, e390598.

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