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Mending Fences

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” G.K Chesterton

Boundaries, establishing them, and keeping them is a recurring theme in our lives. Across much of the United States, we see little fences, many of the oldest ones made of stone and left behind by our forefathers.

Good fences make good neighbors” is an immortal line from Robert Frost, and may be among the most well known proverbs about boundaries with real truth for our lives.

Personal boundaries are like imaginary fences created to protect your body, mind and spirit. Healthy personal boundaries protect our lives and selves from the unhealthy or damaging behaviors of others. They don’t shut out everyone and everything but rather indicate what you expect and will permit. You’ll want to leave some room to raise or lower the height of your personal boundaries. Maybe some of these are set in stone, and some are more like split rail fences, just remember to create them to allow for the weather of life. Well made walls allow for drainage, air flow and in some cases take on a glorious patina of lichen, small plants, moss or vines. They become “naturalized” integral parts of the landscape. That’s what your fences should look like in your mind; just another part of the landscape. 

Here are some tips on setting and keeping personal boundaries. 

  1. Get clear about what behaviors are not acceptable to you. At work. At home. At play. For example: People may not yell at me. Others may not automatically put their needs in front of mine. People may not call me for work related issues after hours.

  2. Inform folks about your boundaries. If people don’t know what they are they won’t be able to stay on their side of the proverbial fence. Even if you think your boundary is obvious, don’t assume others can see it. Point out what behavior is unacceptable. “Do you realize it is 8 pm on Tuesday?” Use a calm friendly but firm tone.

  3. Make a request about what is acceptable.  “It seems like this is an item that can wait until I am back at the office tomorrow. “ And you might follow up with “Unless it is an emergency like______, please don’t call me after hours.” Again, remain calm and firm in your tone.

  4. Let go of what happens, the outcome. Someone else’s behavior is not about you, it isn’t even if it seems like it is. You can’t control what someone else does, or says, you can control what you do and say and perhaps influence what others choose to do or say.

Need some more inspiration? I’d like to invite you to join my monthly mastermind session with a small group of entrepreneurs. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 11am EST. I limit each session to just 25 people, so that we will be able to go deep into your business and make the experience truly transformative. Sign up at

I would also like to personally invite you to a one-on-one coaching discovery session. That’s 15 minutes of free coaching and strategizing, no strings attached. Pick your day and time at . I guarantee that you will walk away from our discussion with at least one idea you can start using immediately. 

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Larson on Unsplash

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