Amy Carroll » Feel » What Do I Do When Boundaries Feel Bad?

What Do I Do When Boundaries Feel Bad?

I need a favor. Will you boss me around? It’s my heart’s desire to serve you well here in our little community of tender hearts and strong voices. I’m thinking about some changes, but I want to hear all your glorious opinions. (Really! Here’s your chance.) There are some questions at the end of the post. I’ll be eternally grateful if you’ll take a minute to answer in the comments! If you’d rather do it privately, feel free to email me at [email protected]. Now to our topic…

If boundaries are so great, why do they still feel so bad?

I’m doing better at pausing to evaluate expectations– my own and others’– before I jump in, schedule, or commit. It’s great to be clearer about God’s assignments for me and awesome to be more confident with my healthy “no.” But there’s still a rub for me.

When Your Boundaries Feel Bad to You

Recently, I began to feel overwhelmed by the number of asks I was getting from a professional contact. One by one they rolled in. I said “yes” to the first ask that required time and planning beyond our original commitment. But when two more popped into my Inbox, I recognized that all my red flags were flapping.

My chest hurt.

My heart raced.

I flipped madly through my calendar, looking for things to move so that I could pull it all off.

The truth was, the old Amy would have moved heaven and earth to say “yes,” but my healthier self knows better. So I reached out with a gentle “no,” and I got a very gracious response.

Whew. All is well.

But not quite. Even though I set a needed boundary that was received with grace, I still felt bad. I’ve grown, but I’m not quite where I want to be yet.

The End-Goal is Peace

I’m realizing that when I still feel bad after a boundary, that’s internal work that I need to do. Here are the questions I’m asking myself.

  • What need would that “yes” have fulfilled? (It’s usually unhealthy.)
  • What cost would that “yes” have levied? (It’s usually too high.)
  • What gains did the “no” hold? (It usually makes the “no” so, so worth it.)

In this case, I realized that a “yes” would have fulfilled my need to people-please, but it would have cost me the time I needed to prepare for a previous commitment. In pleasing one professional friend, I would have let down another.

The gains to my “no” were preserving the prep time I needed and also setting a precedent. I’ve let my friend know that all the tasks tied to a commitment need to be communicated up front, not added as time goes by. She’s clear because I’ve been clear, and that builds our understanding and trust. Win, win!

When Your Boundaries Feel Bad to Others

In the last example, my boundary was met with understanding and grace, but we know that doesn’t always happen.

Years ago, an old aquaintance who I hadn’t seen for a long time reached out to me for help with her ministry. Even though coaching is what I do for a living, I was happy to give her gratis feedback on her exciting new project. That’s what friends are for, right?

I was happy to do it the first time she asked.

I was ok doing it the second time she asked.

I wasn’t so happy the third time she asked.

Because the friendship wasn’t a close one and I hadn’t heard from her for so long, I felt at that point I was being taken advantage of. So I prayed about my boundaries, and found confirmation. Then, I worked and worked on an email that said “no” as sweetly as possible and offered to share my coaching fees with her if she liked.

Well… that didn’t go over well. I got a scathing email in response implying that I was too big for my britches. I haven’t heard from her since.

I wish I could say that I rolled on in peace, but I didn’t.

I felt bad.

I second-guessed myself like crazy.

But in the end, I knew I had done the right thing. Here’s a big truth that I’m learning…

Boundaries are good even when they feel bad, because a lack of boundaries leads to bitterness.

The boundaries I set in these two examples left me feeling bad temporarily (I’m working on that), but ultimately, it left me with peace and the ability to fulfill what God has given me to do. I don’t even feel bitterness toward the friend who sent me the nasty-gram. She had a bad day, but she’s not a bad person. I trust that God will work on her the way He’s working on me, and I hope for restoration some day.

What Do We Do When Boundaries Feel Bad?

Even when they feel bad, we persevere in our boundaries, knowing that boundaries benefit both us and our people (whether they agree or not– better a boundary than bitterness). They also allow us to bring glory to God as we say “yes” to His assignments and “no” to the rest.

And as we persevere, we grow and learn. Our feelings start to follow our faithful decisions. Sure, there are mistakes and misunderstandings along the way, but peace is our goal. Let’s keep our eyes on that priceless prize!

Time to Boss Me Around… (Please leave your brutally honest answers in the comments or email me.)

  1. Do you like to read these posts or would you stick with me if there were videos here instead?
  2. If there were captions on the videos or a transcript, would that make a difference to you, or would you still move on?
  3. If you’d stay for more videos, would you prefer captions or transcripts?

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  1. Terry Staub says:

    I love the posts.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      I’m so thankful! Thank you for joining me here.

  2. Nancy Gorski says:

    I prefer to read!?

  3. Diana Olds Overton says:

    Hello from a recovering people pleaser! I love to print, highlight, & ponder on your words during my quiet time. Live videos definitely have their place, yet here your vulnerability & transparency comes out so clearly. Your written word unlocks a door that helps me grow in places & spaces I had not seen before. Thank you & press on.

  4. Cathy Stahl says:

    I like to read and watch. I will stick with you either way because it is the topic that draws me.

  5. I would prefer written messages. I read them during my quiet time.

  6. Mary Beth says:

    I love your posts. They are very relevant. I struggle with boundaries. I prefer reading your message. I am a visual learner.

  7. Anne Marie says:

    I enjoy reading your posts. If there were transcripts available with the videos I would be happy with the choice to read or watch.
    Thanks for asking our options.
    Enjoyed today’s post! Really good.

  8. Hi 🙂 I’m really enjoying your posts! Thank you for sharing.
    I generally prefer reading, also because there is no audio involved and I can do it anywhere. I wouldn’t “leave” you if you would switch to videos as long as it comes with a transcript for me to have the option. Thanks!

  9. Carol Callan says:

    Hi Amy,

    I would far rather read what you have to share. Videos take much longer to say the same thing.

    In considering my response, you should know that I am a woman “of a certain age” who has been reading since the age of 4 & didn’t have a television in the house until age 13. My grandchildren might have a different response.

    If you do decide to share via video, would it be possible for you also to provide a transcript so that those of us who prefer to read could do so?

  10. Suzy Sitarski says:

    I prefer reading vs. watching a video. Even with captions, I’d probably not watch the video and would discontinue following the posts.

  11. Karla Seguin says:

    Thank you for this read on boundaries.
    Personally, I like to read it. Videos typically add fluff. Don’t get me wrong..fluff is fun! However, I like to get to the content. It helps me process without focusing on other things in a video. “Oh, I like her hair…I wonder if my hair will do that…oh yes, probably time to make a hair appt…etc…”

  12. Teresa Lassiter says:

    I like to read rather than video because I don’t have to be in a private place where others could be disturbed. I really like links with scripture so I can look it up right then.

  13. Martha Troxel says:

    I like to read more than to watch.
    Captions on videos are not important to me.

  14. Crystal Hayduk says:

    I prefer to read because I don’t have high-speed internet. If you go to video, having a transcript available would be best for those who don’t have great access.

  15. Heather Shaw says:

    I prefer to read over watching videos. Why, you may ask? I don’t always have ear buds with me and it’s not always convenient to listen without ear buds. If I am not alone, maybe others around me don’t want to listen at that particular moment. If there was a transcript I would read that. On the First 5 app Weekend study I now only use the transcript. In my mind it takes less time and I focus better. Thanks for asking!

  16. Mary Morash says:

    I prefer to read these posts, because I can read them anywhere – waiting rooms, the living room while my husband watches sports, while my granddaughter naps, etc. Video means sound, which means I will only listen if I have more privacy. If it’s a longer message, maybe on a podcast? 20+ minutes and I can listen in the car while I drive.

  17. Dianne Wierenga says:

    I prefer the written word, personally. It allows the content to sink in at my own speed, and doesn’t have the visual distraction of a video. Also, reading has the advantage of not needing to worry about disturbing anyone else or scurrying to locate ear buds (and hope they’re charged).
    I always enjoy your posts!

  18. What a fabulous post! Thank you.You did well!!!
    As far as videos versus reading…I’m afraid it just depends on my mood and location as I do not always have the privacy needed for a video. Captions might help but not necessary.

  19. Cynthia Thompson says:

    Hi Amy. I have no preference as to written words or videos. I do prefer captions as I like to know the subject matter you’re going to be discussing.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with boundaries. I too, struggle with knowing when to say no and not feeling guilty!

  20. My preference is reading. When i do watch a video I prefer if it has a written transcript with it. I don’t watch many videos.

  21. I prefer reading the posts rather than watching videos. If you do videos I’d appreciate a transcript that I have the option to read instead. No, I wouldn’t say goodbye if you went to video, I just may not read/watch as often due to time.

  22. Please don’t do videos!

  23. Ann Flavin says:

    I like to read the posts. If they were strictly video I would move on. Basically sound creates a problem in so many situations and I don’t always want to put on headphones. If there were transcripts I might read them but I might also just pass. Just my thoughts because you asked. Blessing to you and thanks for sharing your thoughts on things we all struggle with.

  24. Suzi Wackerbarth says:

    Read. I can’t always watch videos. At work, in public places.

  25. Dori Sheese says:

    I most generally read your posts when I am already at work, so just READING them is good for me.
    Videos wouldn’t work when I’m at work, and by the time I get home, I forget that I’ve saved an email to read or watch later.
    A transcript to a video would be good for me, if I remember to watch it, because I like to have notes to refer back to!
    Thanks, Amy!

  26. Edie Tweedy says:

    I enjoy your blogs no matter what. I will keep on reading or I will watch videos. Do what’s easiest for YOU! I love your insights. Thanks so much & keep on inspiring!!?

  27. Laura J Hildebrand says:

    Videos with transcripts would be okay. But not exclusively.

  28. Ruth Amaro says:

    Hi,yes i love to read your emails,i doesn’t matter if there are captions on a video or transcripts.

    1. As I began to read thru these comments, I see that most would be just as happy with the messages presently being provided. I too like to be able to read and re-read as I receive a message that I find helpful/need. Videos would put more on your ‘to do’ list taking more of your time that is surely already ‘budgeted’. I would continue to view your method choice if videos-transcripts were the choice. I would say pass on the extra work. Your messages are clear and a blessing to all those who presently look forward to your offers.

  29. I love your insight, but prefer being able to read at my pace instead of watching a video. The transcripts would be helpful and if you choose that route, I would still check them out.
    Thank you for your insight.

  30. A mix of both but definitely no captions. I love printable transcripts-I can look at them again and again.

  31. Sharron Voorhees says:

    I like to read. I can read a post in privacy, vs listening out loud to something disrupts my feeling of enjoying something in the quiet. I am a mother of 4 teenagers, ahem… I always prefer a transcript to read at my own internal processing pace. I am distracted by videos as well. I appreciate being able to share my preferences. Thank you.

  32. Lisa Bowden says:


    Do you like to read these posts or would you stick with me if there were videos here instead?
    I would stick with you if there were videos. Do what work’s best for you, the posts are a blessing.

    If there were captions on the videos or a transcript, would that make a difference to you, or would you still move on?
    I would still be with you.

    If you’d stay for more videos, would you prefer captions or transcripts?
    I prefer transcripts, so I don’t miss out on anything. I try to take notes when watching videos and can miss out on key info while I’m writing.

  33. I prefer reading but might watch some videos

  34. Dear Amy, I enjoy your emails very much. I personally prefer to read over watch videos. I don’t concentrate as well. If the video is the only option, I will look for the transcript and appreciate that option. If not, I will bypass the video in favor of a written blog or email.

    God’s richest blessings on you and thank you for your wisdom and insight!

  35. Marilyn Faralli says:

    Great post. Keep it up.

  36. 1. I REALLY enjoyed this particular post and much prefer reading to a video. I can read in many places at many different times of the day in between tasks. Being able to scroll through the whole post at once and see how long the article is is a bonus. If there were videos, I would not watch. A video is a bigger commitment. I have to have a space where I can put in earbuds or an isolated place so I feel the comfort of listening alone because I may not want to share what I’m listening to or I may be distracting to others. This is too much hassle, and so I would not listen. And thus, I would miss out on awesome content!
    2. Even with captions, I would skip it. It requires too much attention. I have to read at the pace of the video instead of at my own pace. And if I need to pause it, I have to make sure to get back to the exact place I left off or I waste time trying to find it. And if I’ve closed the tab, I may lose my place and won’t take the time to watch (read) from the beginning.

  37. Linda Bordeaux says:

    Your NO was appropriate. God has assigned your self-care to You with the caveat that you will continue to be obedient to His call and surrendered to Him. If you break your boundary only because you have the Spirit’s urging to say YES, then trust God to be in it and bless.
    To answer your question, I enjoy reading and pondering as I read. A video with transcripts would be ideal for me, but a lot of extra work for you. Thank you for asking!

  38. Amy, in answer to you questions…..I absolutely prefer to read your posts…..I learn better when I see what is being said and can go back and reread as often as necessary…..more times than not if a video is sent, I just delete it….wouldn’t matter if there were captions and/or a transcript….just like I prefer physical books and not ebooks…..

  39. I prefer to read- I guess it has to do with my learning style. If there were a video plus transcript, I would read it. Video or audio only- I would pass!

  40. Elizabeth Richardson says:

    This post just hit me right between the eyes and I so appreciate your honesty and your love for others. I too am learning about boundaries (it sometimes feels as if I’m late since I’m just learning at 60). Thank you for letting me know that feeling bad about a boundary is about growth, and relearning how God wants me to see myself and others.

    In answer to your questions:
    I prefer to read since that’s the way I learn best. I would still love to watch your videos, especially if you provided a transcript for each one. I enjoy hearing you speak, so for me videos with a transcript would be perfect.

  41. Jan Houck says:

    I prefer to read the blogs. I can go back again and again to mull over the words one by one. Meditating on your words over time bring them to life in various ways to me. God and I can talk about the subjects as they apply to me when I can read them many times over.

  42. I do enjoy reading your posts as I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. My mind wanders when I have just a video to watch and I end up replaying parts of the video.

    I like the idea of both videos with transcripts. One App I open on Saturdays the transcript is what I focus on. I rarely listen to the transcript. I like to underline parts that convict, instruct, comfort me.

    I do like the idea of having both captions and a transcript. This would be valuable for those who may have hearing or visual challenges.

  43. Misty Hayes says:

    I like to read your postings. I usually don’t watch videos if they accompany posts.

    You’re doing great! 🙂

  44. Thanks so much for your ministry! So many of your posts are exactly what I need to hear.

    I like the posts just as they are. I would not watch any videos that would be associated with the posts. Captions or transcripts would not make a difference.

  45. I’d much prefer posts over videos.
    Not a fan of captions but could probably do transcripts. I like to save bits and pieces to my notes and share with others. It’s easiest to do with posts.

  46. Either way you choose is fine; I will stick with you! I have trouble with not wanting to disappoint people.

  47. Barry Carroll says:

    You can send me videos!! ?

  48. Cindy Lair says:

    I would far rather read than watch a video. It’s just my learning style. Thank you for all you do. You have made a difference in my life.

  49. Carla Garrett says:

    As long as I can see,I love to read your posts. XXOO

  50. I like to read the posts more. I can copy and paste the words I need to really sink in; therefore I prefer a transcript not captions if you choose video!! Gosh I needed this message today! Thank you! Blessings

  51. Teresa Dixon says:

    Honestly Amy—I love your posts and reflections and honesty. Your “people pleasing southernness” describes me to a T. What I watch or read of your posts/emails actually has more to do with me and my mood that day. If I have a migraine I may not read them at all (that’s not an “ouch” for you- just that I can’t focus at the time….)
    I might not have time, or it may not be a subject I want to delve into.
    Do your posts the best way for you….and we’ll follow you either way.

  52. I enjoy reading the posts since I am in a public place and listening wouldn’t be as easy. I am fine if you post a video and I can read the transcript. I could watch the video later in the day if I wanted to but still have the words to read anytime of the day.

  53. Kerri Bitterman says:

    I do read your posts and would prefer to read a post over watching a video.

  54. Linda Ban says:

    I greatly prefer reading.

  55. Hello Amy! Your posts are enjoyable and challenging! Waiting time is an opportunity for me to catch up on email, and I can read posts at times when video just doesn’t work, such as sitting in a waiting room or rocking grandbabies. And I prefer reading to watching videos. (Disclosure: I’m a writer, therefore also a serious reader.) Reading affords more time to absorb what you’re saying, and even pause to consider personal application before continuing on. Your transparency is refreshing, and I believe it lends greater impact to your message. Do you think video would affect your sense of freedom to be transparent? With that said, I would still watch your videos. And transcripts would be wonderful! Feel free to say “No” to that request! ?

  56. Stephanie says:

    I enjoy reading your blog and it’s easier to read it than find time to watch a video.

  57. I like to read the posts, but in honesty, sometimes I am distracted. The videos would help me to stay “tuned in”, so I am great with videos. Captions or transcripts, neither make any difference to me. Really, it’s what works best for you.

  58. I love the posts….I read it in the morning at work and if it were videos I wouldn’t be able to……I LOVE the work you’re doing! Thank you so much for the daily guidance ?

  59. Linda Smith says:

    I will stick with you and continue to read your posts! No videos PLEASE!

  60. First of all, I love this message (even as I wondered if I had ever pushed your boundaries!). The worst professional and personal relationships I’ve had were when I couldn’t set clear boundaries. And gratis clients? They’re the least appreciative and most demanding.

    I’m a reader, not a watcher, so I prefer the written word. Text and transcripts for me, please!

  61. Dedra Anderton says:

    Not a fan of videos, love reading your written word. I enjoy your teaching & often take away a very helpful & much needed message. Thank you for sharing your gift

  62. Great post! Wherever you write books like this I feel like I’m looking into my own life. Boundaries and balance have been always been difficult for me, and sometimes I feel like I need to have it all figured out at this stage in my life. I’m thankful I’m not alone and it’s ok to not have it all figured out as long as I’m growing.
    I prefer the text, although videos with a transcript would be good as well. Thank you!

  63. Hi Amy. I much refer to read the posts than watch videos. Thanks for letting us weigh in.

  64. Adrienne R says:

    Morning sunshine!

    1- read
    2- no, captions make no difference
    3- transcripts.

    Have a thankful Thursday!

  65. Thanks for the great post. Excellent lesson. I am a writer so I need to see the words. I rarely watch videos.

  66. I’m not a video person. I can read much faster than a video and I’m not always in a lave where I can listen to a video. If you went video, I would read the transcripts.

  67. I love your posts and would continue to follow you whether video format or read-post format. If video, prefer transcript.

  68. I like reading your posts because I read my emails when my family is still asleep. Once I’m up and going I don’t have time to sit down and watch videos. I also read very fast so I like that because I can read through things at my own pace.
    If you had videos with captions I would be more likely to watch them, but I still believe I would default to reading.
    I love your content!

  69. Betsy Askew says:

    Woah! I needed this today!! Thank you!!
    I like reading the posts, but I would be fine with videos, too.
    Captions or transcripts would be great. I have no preference.

  70. With my satellite internet I can only view very limited videos which continually buffering and eating up my internet data allowance. So I always read the blog posts. If you could fix it to be able to download in an mp3 format I could download and listen without the internet and all the tracking going on. I do not like using the podcast services (spotify,ec) which are intrusive. I do not use Facebook. But if I am the only person with these kinds of issues I will read what you may put on your website. Thanks.

  71. 1). Personally, I prefer to read rather than watch a video.
    2). I do like captions on videos.
    3) I like having a transcript option.
    Thank you for this post. I’ve been spread so thin that I haven’t taken the time to read some of my emails. Please keep following the Lord’s leading. Take heart in the peace He provides. It’s been elusive to me, mostly due to family drama. God bless you, your family and your ministry.

  72. Sherry Mescher says:

    I would rather read the post.

  73. Hi Amy! I love to read your writing but I also love to hear/see you. If you choose to do recordings (either video or podcast), please have a landing place other than FB and include transcripts for reference to anything that was mentioned in the content. Thank you, Amy, for all that you do. I appreciate your encouraging heart and insightful content.

  74. Although videos are nice, I prefer to read during my morning devotions. Thank you for encouraging all of us!

  75. I like the post without videos

  76. I don’t need the videos or captions. I like to read what you write about.

  77. Hi Amy, I’m relatively new to you, but so far I love what I’ve seen and heard! Thank you for doing what you do!
    I prefer reading posts because it’s quiet in my house when I read these so I don’t want to wake everyone up with a video. I prefer transcripts for the same reason. I also learn better through reading rather than hearing, so it sticks with me better. Thanks for asking!

  78. Dottie Thomas says:

    I like reading better. However, transcripts and captions would be very much appreciated when doing videos.

  79. Yes! I like these posts as I struggle with boundaries myself. Videos don’t really matter to me one way or the other. I’m more likely to read since I do this in my quiet time in the morning.
    You are doing a great job Amy and I always walk away with nuggets of wisdom or thoughts that I can meditate on throughout the day. Thank you for being open and real!

  80. I much prefer reading your writing. For example, when searching for tech answers, I skip all YouTube choices and go for the written instructions. I will most likely unsubscribe, not a threat, just feedback!

  81. Randi Carpenter says:

    I often look at these emails at work and I can’t listen to a video there. Reading is preferred to me. I like the layout as it is. Have a great day!

  82. Kelly Fuller says:

    I’m an old school girl so I prefer reading. I can then go back to the words and re-read and/or pray through them. Videos dont to do it for me unless it’s a full on teaching. Even then, I prefer a transcript to read. I always read the transcript from my son’s school when the headmaster sends his weekly message, which is usually pretty short. SO…videos wouldn’t make me stay and if that’s all you did, I’d be less likely to read/listen. Thank you for asking!!! Love the discussion on boundaries.

  83. Stefanie Roland says:

    I prefer reading over videos. Thx for asking.

  84. I prefer to read devotions. I probably would pass it by if it was a video. You do a great job btw! God bless you!

  85. Kris Campesi says:

    I do my devotionals early in the morning when the rest of the household is asleep so I tend to avoid videos. I might watch them later in the day but life gets busy and sometimes I forget. I don’t think I would “move on” because you have so much to offer in what you present but would need to figure out how to make it work. I don’t have strong feelings either way about captions or transcripts but would appreciate either one.

  86. I get distracted with videos and tend to use them as background noise. If I am really interested in a topic I would rather read it. Easier to save for later and refer back to.

  87. I enjoy reading your post as opposed to watching a video.

  88. 1) Read posts
    2) Like transcript option
    3) More often than not I read through the transcript over watching a video.

  89. I prefer to read content so I can focus on what you are writing about and jot notes down along the way if I want. If there was a video that would be a bit more challenging.

  90. I like reading the posts, but I would love to have a video and a transcript.

  91. I prefer to just read your content. A lot of times, I’m reading your email during my “quiet time” and I don’t watch videos during that time.

  92. Dear Amy, I like reading your blogs. I live in a rural area were internet isnt too swift. So videos don’t play well here. I also like to meditate on sentences read, maybe copy them on index card to tape to my kitchen cabinet to reread over & over. Videos don’t allow me to do that.
    Blessings, Barb

  93. Linda Chandler says:

    Amy, I love your writing and what you have to say and share. I read a lot, but I also watch videos. I will continue to follow you no matter what format you use. I appreciate when people offer a transcript but I have to admit I rarely get it to read after watching a video. I don’t really have an opinion on captions.
    Thank you for all you do, write and share. Blessings~

  94. This isn’t what you want to hear, but all 3 are helpful! If I’m short of time, I’ll read – it’s quicker than watching a video. If I’m really short of time I might watch the video while I fix my hair – so a video is helpful. I watched both your thanksgiving boundaries ones whilst doing my hair – brilliant by the way! If I can’t sleep, I’ll watch videos with captions so as not to wake my husband. Also, if I’m multi-tasking I might need captions if something loud is going on. I’d rather multi task and still be able to hear what you have to say, than miss out. I do think videos are great for connecting with people – altho if you want to connect please keep the camera at your face, side angles don’t work for connection! I don’t think I’ve seen you do that. Loving your messages, it’s right in keeping with where I’m at, I’m in a similar place on my journey, this post today rings very true – thanks! Thank you for all you do and thanks for investing in posts and thinking about videos. It’s appreciated.