Why setting boundaries is totally worth it

When you switch things up in your life, it often affects other people…and other people aren’t always happy about it. They can feel disappointed, shocked, confused, or offended. Imagining the scenario playing out can be enough to stop you in your tracks and say, “Never mind. It’s not even worth it.”

Does that sound familiar? I see this time and time again. Boundaries (by definition) represent a disruption in a pattern. And usually, that pattern has been in place for a long time. So it’s easy to feel discouraged or want to shrink back to a role you’ve grown accustomed to over time.

I’ve felt this myself on countless occasions, and for years I thought it was easier to fly under the radar and go along with other people’s preferences and decisions. I convinced myself that I didn’t care enough to speak up, that moving into acceptance was the path of least resistance, and that I was just being ‘easygoing'. I thought that going with the flow was fine by me.

Yet over time, I realized I did in fact have unvoiced preferences of my own…and that I was actually beginning to harbor some resentment about what I was withholding. Unless I started tuning into and expressing my own desires, I was bound to end up living a life that made me feel powerless, regretful, and at times like a huge doormat.

As author-psychologist-researcher (and the unofficial queen of boundary-setting) Brené Brown says, "When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” 

But we can’t blame others for how we feel — or spend time or energy trying to change them — because this isn’t really about them, after all. Forget worrying about how stop other people from letting you down. Let’s talk about what it looks like to no longer let yourself down.

In my experience, taking dominion over my own life and acting on my heartfelt desires changed everything. Externally it meant changing careers, relationships, cities — how I spent my time, and who I spent it with on a daily basis. Internally it meant a powerful shift in how I feel in every.single.moment. I experienced greater levels of freedom, confidence, ease, and joy than I previously knew were possible. 

These days, I get to guide others through their own remarkable journeys of creating lives they love. I take a stand for their greatness, for their life and priorities, and everything they want. I don’t let them settle for a life defined by someone else’s desires or ideas of what their life should look like. 

So when I sensed, in a conversation with one of my clients, that she was backing away from what she wanted in order to avoid ruffling feathers, I heard myself say:

"What if everything you want is on the other side of setting these boundaries? The freedom, peace, time and energy you’re seeking? How badly do you want those things? And are you willing to lean into the discomfort you feel in order to get them?"

She paused and nodded. “Huh. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I guess that would make feeling awkward in the process more worthwhile in the long-run…"


Yes it would.

And yes it does. 

So time to step, even with trepidation, onto new ground. There may be some growing pains while you’re getting your footing. Perhaps you’re using muscles you didn’t even know you had. But you’re expanding, and as you do so you’ll discover your own inner strength and resilience.

You’ll realize that only YOU can know what’s truly best for you, that nobody else (as much as they may love you) has access to your heart’s desires like you do. And if there’s something you want, something you’re craving and know, just know, that it would become more available to you once you set a boundary, trust that.  

To quote Brené Brown (again, because damn she’s good!): "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."

So…dare to go for it! Lean into it. Feel your way forward and if you muster up the courage to make that self-honoring choice, celebrate it despite any tension or weirdness you feel. Remind yourself that the discomfort doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It just means you’re doing something new and different and it may take some time to get used to disappointing others (especially if you’ve spend your whole life trying to make other people happy).

And in time, if you’re setting boundaries, you will reap such profound rewards. Most importantly: a life that feels aligned with who you are and what you want. You’ll also have way more compassion, way more to give. That’s what happens when you ask for what you want, and when you keep your tank full. You give more deeply, more fully, and more powerfully — to yourself, and everyone in your life. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.