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I’m sure that most of you reading this post have heard of the phrase “boundaries.” Essentially, boundaries are the limits you set within your life. They can extend to work, family members, spouses, friends, or even yourself. Boundaries let others know what you find acceptable and what you don’t, how you appreciate being treated, and how you like to spend your time. Sometimes, setting a boundary is as simple as not checking work email over the weekend. Other times, it is more complicated, especially when other people get involved. Two things are certain though, setting and holding boundaries is hard and often includes saying no to something.

Setting and holding boundaries with others can be challenging for several reasons:

  • Maybe you’re someone who finds value in helping others.
  • Maybe you struggle with believing that you are allowed to rest.
  • Maybe you grew up in a home where sharing your opinion wasn’t accepted.
  • Maybe you love someone who struggles with addiction and, it is painful to watch them self-destruct.

Whatever the reason, it’s easy to believe that setting limits with your time, energy, and emotional safety is a selfish act. As someone who also struggles with this, I would like to offer one of the most helpful reframes that I have ever received – when you set a boundary, you are saying yes to something else. If that didn’t make much sense, let me offer some examples:

  • When you say no to working on the weekend, you say yes to spending quality time with your friends, kids, or spouse.
  • When you say no to being talked down to by your loved one, you say yes to your self-worth and yes to being a more emotionally available parent, friend, coworker, and partner.
  • When you say no to that family member asking for money AGAIN, you are saying yes to your financial health and yes to that family member getting maybe one step closer to helping themselves.

Boundaries create safety and help us operate from a place of abundance rather than a place of lack. When we don’t have clear limits, we often feel resentful, exhausted, and/or anxious. Setting appropriate boundaries is one of the least selfish things we can do for those in our lives who need us. Creating space to be the most emotionally healthy, present, and rested version of ourselves serves not only us but the people around us who benefit from our role in their lives. So next time you are thinking about setting a boundary, begin by asking yourself, “What am I saying yes to, and what am I saying no to?”