On Healthy Boundaries: Saying “No”

How is your week going? Good, I hope.

I’m always honored when a young person asks my advice, especially on something as personal as relationships. So when it happened yesterday, I was careful to listen much and speak little, since I know so little. I may only know two things about relationships:

If you love someone, you love who they actually are, not some fantasy in your head.

To maintain a healthy relationship, you need healthy boundaries.


Healthy Boundaries-let in good, keep out the bad
Healthy Boundaries-let in good, keep out the bad

I learned this the hard way, of course. I tried to do any favor anyone asked, I prefer to yield rather than fight about most things, and besides, I like doing nice things for people. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, it is-because some people will just run all over you and that’s not even good, ultimately, for them. My problem was I had no boundaries.

The opposite is to build a cement wall around your heart and let no one in and never venture out, because some people will run all over you. Both No Boundaries and Cement Boundaries are unhealthy. Our boundaries need to be like a cell wall, a semi-permeable membrane. That is, they need to let the good in and keep the bad out, like a cell does: Selective Boundaries.

I was probably 45 years-old before I could say “No” without a twinge of guilt.


Why not?”

“You can do that yourself.”


“Will you pick up my kids at school? I want to go to a movie.”


“But why?”

“Listen, what would you do if I were dead?’

“Get the kids myself.”

“Do that then.”

Does that sound mean? I still did favors for lots of people a lot of the time, but sometimes I said, “No.” Funny thing, it usually makes the relationship BETTER.

Selective boundaries: Let in the good, keep out the bad.

And because I so love science and have just made light of cell walls, here is a three minute animation of a cell at work with lovely music-a trillion little universes doing their thing inside you at this very moment. Life is so amazing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s