Body / MindSelf-HelpUncategorized

Brené Brown – Boundaries, Empathy, and Compassion

I love this short video clip.  I am often talking to my clients about the importance of creating and maintaining healthy boundaries.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have a clear sense of what boundaries are or why they’re so important, but once they get it, can see how holding healthy boundaries affects their happiness.



Our boundaries define us as unique autonomous sentient beings—THIS IS YOU, THIS IS ME!  We are the only ones who can determine what is and isn’t okay for us, and when we allow others to violate those boundaries we get mad at them, but actually mad at ourselves for allowing it.

I often use this analogy—I invite you over to my house to help me move my couch.  You agree, but when you get there I say, while you’re here let’s repaint my whole house.  We agreed upon an initial boundary that involved your time commitment and effort which you were okay with, but then I tried to manipulate that boundary to my advantage.  If I succeed but you were not okay with that new arrangement you would be angry with both of us.  You might find yourself aggravated long afterwards and not even connect where that was coming from.

We have FOUR distinct boundaries: Physical – our bodies, which includes what kind of touch is and isn’t okay, from whom and where that is appropriate; Mental & Emotional – our thoughts and feelings at any given time, on any subject and in any situation; Spiritual – our beliefs or the principles we live by.  Additionally, it’s important to mention Sexual Boundaries.  Violation of sexual boundaries are often some combination of one or more of these four boundaries.

Any time another person tries to impose their authority over us, to manipulate, cajole or guilt us—or we think we know better how others should think, feel, act or believe we are in the territory of boundary violations.

I would categorize all these as (mostly unconscious) consensual boundary violations.   Its ALSO important to note that there are nonconsensual or forced boundary violations that, though less common, can be far more painful and traumatizing.  I say less common only because, whether we are aware of it or not we are navigating conscious and unconscious boundaries on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis in every interaction we have with others.

Having healthy boundaries starts with 1) getting clear about what we think, how we feel, and what we want to have happen—easier said than done; 2) then stating our desires plainly and honestly to another; 3) listening to where they stand; and 4) consciously negotiating an agreed upon action.   Hope that’s helpful!

For more information from Brené Brown visit