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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

BOUNDARIES….How To Keep The Good in, and Push the Bad Out

Hello everyone, Natasha here!

This blog is part 2 of the boundary talk, so please make sure to read my previous blog before you read this one. The last one focused on unhealthy walls, so seeing the difference can add to what you get out of this one. Now, let’s get started!!!

Boundaries…. now these are HEALTHY!! This is where we tell someone that they have crossed the line, did something you are uncomfortable with, basically… something happened that is not okay. You almost put up a 'fence.' Even if it was not meant in a mean or disrespectful way. BUT (and this is the important part) …… we do this in an assertive, respectful manner where we often feel good about ourselves afterwards. Everybody needs boundaries…...our close friends and families, our toxic friends and families, coworkers, partners, neighbors, everyone!!! Just because someone is good to us, does not mean we should never speak up. On the contrary, boundaries STRENGTHEN our relationships with others. The lack of them, can often create resentment.

Before we get with the tips for boundaries, let’s first talk real quick about the ‘no no’s when having a challenging conversation. What NOT to do! These include using triggering words like ‘why’ or ‘but,’ as well as starting off with the negative. Starting the conversation with ‘why’, can really put the other person on the defensive, and using the word ‘but’ usually negates the positive you just said. Also, if we go straight to the problem, the other person immediately gets defensive and stops listening. Here are some examples of what I mean:

NO's NO’S--- How to NOT start a challenging conversation

1.) “Why didn’t you dry the dishes and put them away when you were done?”

-.... OUCH!!! Don’t count on that person wanting to help again with dishes.

2.) “When were you going to tell me that you had that business dinner on Saturday?”

-…. I wonder why he wasn’t open in the first place if he gets ‘attacked’ like this. You went straight to the problem!

3.) “Did you not study for your test? You really need to study harder in class!”

-…. Motivation for that class is going…….. down! It’s all negative feedback!

4.) “You are doing good, but you need to study harder.”

-…Ughhh, using the ‘but’ really does take away all the good.

Do you hear how the person on the receiving end can get defensive with these??? If you don’t, say them back and forth with someone out loud, and see how it sounds. I mean, it doesn’t sound good!

Now, let’s get to how to set boundaries!


The sandwich method is a simple communication tool that many businesspeople also use, where it helps with tackling challenging conversations in a calm, assertive way. The idea of this, is that the beginning and end (the ‘hamburger buns’) of the conversation start off with something positive, and the ‘meat’ in the middle is the problem or hard boundary. This is also great when giving negative feedback to others, that may be difficult for that person to hear.

Below are some examples of boundaries from the examples above, using the sandwich strategy where I will show the positive with ‘(+)’ to note how it helps to have the buffer at the beginning and end, as well as note the boundary with a ‘(B)’:

1.) “Thank you so much for washing the dishes, that was super helpful (+). Is there any way, though, you could try to dry them and put them away before you’re done (B)? This really helps so things don’t get piled up, and it would mean so much to me (+).”

2.) “I know things have been hectic with work and home, and we have not been able to catch up with things (+). I’m a little frustrated, though, that you didn’t tell me you had that work dinner Saturday so now I have to take the kids to the birthday party alone, which is a lot. Next time, can you please put it on our calendar so we can plan ahead (B)? I just want us to be able to plan these things, so it doesn’t sneak up on us (+).”

3.) “Hey, I know you’re working hard in school, and we are proud of all the work you’re doing to raise your grades (+). I know Math is a big struggle for you, though, so I want to talk about what’s going on with this class, and what can we do to help support you. (B). We are a team, and we will figure out how to help you, whether it’s getting a tutor or talking with the teacher (+).”

4.) “You are doing really good, and you know we both are very proud of you (+). Just remember to keep studying hard, so you can keep your grades up and not get behind (B). Maybe we can do something fun at the end of the semester, if you keep your grades up.”

I hope with these examples, you can start to see why this sandwich method is so effective. It’s great, because we are still discussing the problem, but not in an attacking way. Just to keep practicing this method, below are some scenarios from my last blog to point out the difference with the unhealthy walls that had been discussed previously.


-Husband comes home super late from work, and wife is upset that he did not tell her about being late:

“Hey babe, I know work has been crazy and super busy, and you have a lot on your plate (+). It’s just it’s been frustrating when you don’t let me know when you’re running late, so I stress. Can you please send me a quick text in the future if you’re running behind, just to give me a heads up (B)? It would mean a lot to me (+).”


-Restaurant manager asks his employee if he can work on his day off, when he already had plans:

“I would love to help, since I know we are short staffed (+). Unfortunately, I already have plans that night that I cannot change (B). I’m really sorry about that, but if I can help in the future let me know (+).”


Therapist (me) has recently started calling her client, Alexandra, by the nickname “Alex” which she does not like. She actually hates it:

“Hey Natasha, I know you mean it in a nice way when you call me, ‘Alex,’ (+), I just have to tell you, though, that I really don’t like it when people call me that. Can you please stick to ‘Alexandra (B).’ I would really appreciate it (+).”


It’s important to note that just because we put up boundaries, does not mean that the other person will always listen and respect them. If we have a hard time with boundaries in general, we often surround ourselves with those that take advantage of this. I find that the healthier the relationship, the more they will respect boundaries. AND the more toxic the relationship, the more they will be resistant to them. This is where forgiveness versus reconciliation comes in. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember this…… Forgiveness does NOT necessarily mean reconciliation!!! Let’s explore this concept:

“Forgiveness takes 1, reconciliation takes 2!”

– Henry Cloud (Boundaries: When to Say YES, when to say No, To Take Control of Your Life)

SO…. if the other person is (possibly) toxic and continues to hurt you even after your boundaries, then reconciliation should NOT be part of this process. If I forgive someone in my past that continues to hurt me after my boundaries, I need to keep distance from this person and NOT reconciliate. Letting them get too close knowing they will hurt us again, well…that’s just not a smart decision. If the person, though, is genuinely sorry and tries to make amends, then consider taking small steps towards reconciliation. But make sure their actions are genuine, and not just saying the right words. So again, I repeat myself…. FORGIVENESS DOES NOT MEAN RECONCILIATION!

I hope this helps you see how powerful boundaries are, to help you start working on setting your limits and having more inner peace! Remember to help support each other by respecting one another.....

Until next time,


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