“I am not as sweet as I used to be, but I am far more loving.” Brene Brown says it’s more than okay to have healthy boundaries in place.


“The definition of boundary is simply what’s okay and what’s not okay.

I think we don’t set boundaries. We let people do things that are not okay. Then we get resentful.

Me, I’d rather be loving and generous and very straightforward with what’s okay and not okay, and that, I learned in the research.

I was always critical and judgey, and when this thing came up, with my therapist, what if people are doing the best I can, my husband had the most beautiful answer to that question. He said, I’ll never know if people are doing the best they can or not. But when I assume they are, it makes my life a lot better.

So now, I am not as sweet as I used to be, but I am far more loving.

Generosity, to assume the best about people, is almost an inherently selfish act. Because the life you change first is your own. So my question is B-I-G: what boundaries need to be in place for me to stay in my integrity and make the most generous assumptions about you.

But generosity cannot exist without boundaries and we are not comfortable setting boundaries. Because we care more about what people will think and we don’t want to disappoint anyone, we want everyone to like us. And boundaries are not easy. But I think they’re the key to self-love and I think they’re the key to treating others with love and kindness. Nothing is sustainable without boundaries.

I think compassion and empathy are different things. And again, I’m relying on my data for this. I think compassion is a deeply held belief that we are inextricably connected, to each other, by something rooted in love, in goodness. I call that God. Not everybody calls that God. My dad would call it fishin’. Compassion is a deeply held belief.

I think empathy is the skillset to bring compassion alive. So empathy is something we can teach. It’s something we’ve taught our kids since they were very little. It’s about how to communicate that deep love for people in a way so that people know they’re not alone. Empathy is not feeling for somebody. It’s feeling with them. It’s touching a place in me that knows where you’ve been. It’s saying, me too, brother. You’re not alone in this. I find empathy to be infinite. I think it gives back 10fold what you put out. Empathy, if you’ve done your work and set your boundaries, you can tread that water forever. It’s not finite. It keeps giving back to us.

But empathy, minus boundaries, is not empathy. Compassion, minus boundaries, is not genuine. Vulnerability without boundaries is not vulnerability.

Boundaries are frickin’ important. They’re not walls, they’re not separation, they’re not division. They’re respect. Here is what is okay for me and here is what’s not.”

Brene Brown on The Work of the People.  

See video here: http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/boundaries

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