Compassion and Boundaries

Erin Arwady, LMSW

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.’ – Brene Brown, Rising Strong

When I read this quote a few months ago, it blew my mind. As a social worker and helping professional in the field for about 15 years, I’ve always discussed and understood the importance of boundaries on some level. But I certainly never thought of them as “compassionate.” The word boundary carries with it a certain connotation. I’ve always associated it with saying “NO” and with having some underlying meaning of guilt. My work is based on building relationships with my clients and their families, and to a degree, the success of therapy can hinge upon the depth and intimacy of those relationships. Thus, boundaries are incredibly important but also challenging to navigate. My ability to set boundaries, to be direct and ask for what I need for myself and my clients, and to mean with integrity when I say yes and no, are directly related to the quality of service I provide my clients and their families. At times setting those boundaries does not feel good or at all compassionate, and yet is incredibly vital to providing help for many people. So be compassionate today – say yes or no and mean it and ask for what you need.

Erin Arwady, LMSW is an experienced, creative therapist for individuals, children, and families. Utilizing an integration of wholistic techniques such as mindfulness and expressive arts and intentional evidence-based strategies such as CBT and DBT, Erin helps individuals and families identify their goals, express feelings and thoughts, and develop healthy coping skills.