16 Quotes About Boundaries That Will Help You Say “No”

Establishing boundaries can be empowering but challenging. These boundaries quotes will inspire you to set and maintain boundaries with the people in your life.

Setting up boundaries

“Boundaries” is a popular buzzword these days, but what exactly does that mean?

The simple answer that a personal boundary is where your responsibility ends and another person’s begins. Beyond that, however, it can be hard to define, especially since boundaries will differ from person to person.

It may be easier to understand what it looks like when you don’t have good personal boundaries, says Nakpangi Thomas, a licensed professional counselor, author, and adjunct faculty at Southern New Hampshire University.

She recommends asking yourself some serious questions:

  • Do you pride yourself on always going the extra mile?
  • Do you overextend yourself on multiple fronts?
  • Are you exhausted more days than not?
  • Do you often feel guilty for not doing more?
  • Do you resent others for how needy they are?
  • Do you have a hard time saying no?

The last question is perhaps the most telling, as “setting a boundary” almost always involves saying “no” to someone or something.

But while setting boundaries can feel scary, frustrating, or overwhelming, they’re absolutely necessary for your health and well-being, Thomas says.

Without good personal boundaries, you can have an unhealthy desire to be everything to everyone, no matter the cost to your health, family, or self-care.

Learning to set healthy boundaries starts with giving yourself permission to have them.

These boundaries quotes can help you find the courage and inspiration you need to protect yourself while still being there for those you love.

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Boundaries are brave

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” —Brene Brown, researcher, author, motivational speaker

People don’t like being told “no,” and if you are a people pleaser, this can feel especially difficult.

It’s OK to disappoint people sometimes. If you’re a people pleaser, know that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings.


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You heard me the first time

“No is a complete sentence.” —Anne Lamont, author

Resist the urge to explain your boundaries or make excuses for having them. That just gives people something to argue with you about.

Practice the art of saying “no” (and “no more”).


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Don’t be a martyr

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” —Unknown

If your loved ones truly love you then they won’t want you to destroy yourself in service of them. If they do want you to fully self-sacrifice for their sake, then they shouldn’t consider themselves your loved ones.

“If you really loved me you would…” is a common phrase used in gaslighting—a form of emotional abuse.


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You define your own success

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” —Warren Buffet, billionaire businessman

Being successful requires you to know your own worth and being able to communicate that to others.

Need ideas for what to say? Check out these boundary-setting phrases.


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Set realistic expectations

“Whatever you are willing to put up with is exactly what you will get.” —Unknown

People are often willing to take everything you will give them, so it’s up to you to set realistic expectations and healthy boundaries so neither one of you feels taken advantage of.

Refusing to set boundaries can cause you to act in passive-aggressive ways.


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Actions speak louder than words

“The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.” —Unknown

Refusing to make or accept boundaries is a major red flag that you’re in a toxic relationship.

Make sure you know these signs of toxic relationships and how to deal with them.


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Boundaries protect everyone

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” —Brene Brown

A lack of boundaries often leads to deep-seated resentment.

You may think that if people really cared about you, then they would understand what you need without you having to tell them. But your loved ones aren’t mind readers, and they want to know your boundaries.


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Be your own advocate

“Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.” —Rachel Wolchin, author and artist

Are you always giving in your relationship while your loved one constantly takes?

This dynamic is very common and is a sign that you may be in a codependent relationship, characterized by poor boundaries.


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It’s about respect

“When someone oversteps your boundaries, they’re letting you know that what you want doesn’t matter.” —Phil Good, musician

Sometimes people overstep your boundaries because they’re unaware, but if you’ve told them what you need and they ignore it, that’s a clear sign of how little they value you.

You can start by valuing yourself. Check out these quotes on self-love to remind yourself that you are worthy.


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You’re not responsible for other people’s reactions

“I set boundaries not to offend you but to respect myself.” —Unknown

A major roadblock to setting boundaries is a fear of offending the other person. But boundaries are about stating what you need, and they have nothing to do with the other person.

You’re not responsible for how they feel about your boundaries.


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Time and energy are limited resources

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you’re not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” —Paul Coelho, novelist and poet

Unless you have a time-travel device, you only have so many hours a day to get things done. You have to divide that between things you do for yourself—work, self-care, hobbies, and the like—and the things you do for others. Say “yes” to everyone’s requests, and you may not have time for your needs.

And you could tire out quickly.

You only have so much you can give, and if you use all your resources to help others, you may wind up feeling used, neglected, and heartbroken.

Setting boundaries allows you to be helpful now in some capacity and continue to be helpful in the future because you won’t be burned out. (Yes, you can even avoid caregiver burnout.)


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It’s your responsibility

“Stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it.” —Unknown

It’s up to you to set your boundaries and to hold people accountable when they violate them. No one else will do this for you.

Being unable to deal with boundaries is a sign of high-functioning anxiety.


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Boundaries are opportunities

“Walls keep everybody out. Boundaries teach them where the door is.” —Mark Groves, human connection specialist

Many people think of boundaries as bad or mean things, but they really are opportunities to strengthen your relationships by better understanding each other.

Here’s how to build trust in a relationship.


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Accept love

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious and you get to decide how you use them. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” —Anna Taylor, writer

“You teach people how to treat you” isn’t victim-blaming; it’s empowering.

Don’t give up control of your own life because someone else thinks they can run it better than you.

If you do find yourself in this conflict, try these tips for mending broken relationships.


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Proof

“If someone gets mad at you for creating a boundary, consider that a good sign that the boundary was necessary.” —Jenna Korf, author

Healthy people want you to have boundaries. Getting angry when someone sets or enforces a personal boundary is one of the hallmark symptoms of borderline personality disorder.


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Your needs are important too

“Boundary setting helps you prioritize your needs over other people’s wants.” —Lauren Kenson, health coach

Endless self-sacrifice is idealized in our society, but while serving others is great, you can take it too far and end up being taken advantage of.

Sound familiar? Use these steps to stop being a pushover and stand up for yourself.

Sources
  • Nakpangi Thomas, PhD, licensed professional counselor, author, and adjunct faculty at Southern New Hampshire University

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen has been covering health and fitness for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 13 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She teaches fitness classes in her spare time. She lives in Denver with her husband, four children, and three pets.