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Recovering people pleaserThe key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~Bill Cosby

A healthy boundary is like an energy bubble that protects your mind, body, and spirit from negative influences.

Think back to a situation when you felt angry, frustrated, or resentful. Got one? If you’re human, you do.

Now look for clues to the kinds of boundaries you coulda-woulda-shoulda set in the past.


Did you feel a bit like a doormat in that situation?


To set a healthy boundary with another person you’ll need:
1. A friend to support you before and after the conversation

2. Language to set the boundary gracefully and honestly

3. To make a direct request


Remember, when setting boundaries you cannot control another person’s response or behavior.

You can only deliver the message with as much grace and compassion as you can.


And don’t forget JADE: You don’t need to justify, argue, defend or (over)explain your position. Your needs are always valid.

Start with the easy boundaries. It will probably feel uncomfortable when you first start setting them. As you get stronger, tackle the more challenging ones.

Back up your boundaries with action. If you relax your boundaries by giving in, you invite people to ignore your needs.


Some people think of boundaries as walls. I prefer to think of them as doors with the doorknob on my side.


What do you think of boundaries?

Comments welcome!

Have they made your life easier? Or harder in some way?




The other day over lunch, my friend recounted a story. She was presiding over an afternoon meeting in the conference room. Already tired and cranky from a full morning preparing, she was greeted by an array of half-empty coffee cups and paper trash scattered across the conference table. Even her coworker’s laptop was still on the table, while he went to lunch, his last power point slide still visible on the projection screen. This was the third time in one month.

Although cleanup would only take a few moments, she was already running late. They all used the conference room when their offices couldn’t accommodate enough clients. She thought his lack of consideration was inexcusable.

She kept her emotions in check until after her meeting. She sought out her coworker. By then her anger was out of proportion to the offense. The minor incident turned into a major shouting match.

Most people would agree that she had every right to be mad. Yet after her “blow up” she felt worse. The small inconvenience wasn’t worth jeopardizing her relationship with her coworker.


Prodded by an article I had read that morning, I couldn’t help drawing a parallel. A new policy by the Forest Service calls for letting more fires burn. Controlled burning of grasslands and forests has been used for thousands of years. The “burn” stimulates plant germination, replenishes the ground with valuable nutrients and thins out trees. It is necessary, for the health of the forest and grassland ecology. Nature has done it for centuries, with lightning strikes.

Anger is like a fire. It can be very destructive, or, handled correctly, it can renew. Smothering anger is only a temporary fix. It will pop up again, often with greater intensity. Don’t repress your anger. Control the burn!

BEFORE you confront someone, use one of these techniques to let off steam and reduce stress.

  • Exercise. Anger is a great way to energize your workout. Exercise releases stress and increases endorphins.
  • Write. Whether you keep it or delete it, put your feelings down in words.
  • Hit something. Inanimate and soft! A pillow or a punching bag.
  • Cry. Doesn’t everybody feel better after a good cry?
  • Dance. Turn up the music and dance.

To say “thank you” as my first response.

I’ve decided I want to practice this new behavior until it becomes a habit.  Especially if the situation didn’t go my way. Didn’t go the way I thought it should go.

What difference would it make to my life if my first response were “thank you”? When my husband is “supposed” to pick me up and he’s late, so I have to wait 15 minutes? What difference would it make if, instead of blasting him (where WERE you?!), my first words are “thank you”. And what if, even before he pulled up at the curb, I was thinking “thank you”…

“thank you” that I have someone who is willing to walk to the car and come back to get me

“thank you” that I am free from pain right now

“thank you” that I have time to sit still and notice the people walking by

Play for Life: A Feel-Good Guide to Boost Your Brain Power, Spark Your Creativity and Inspire More Fun

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