Wholeness Healing Today

Step Up or Put Up, Boundary Discernment

Boundaries are an oft-used term in my counseling office. Setting them, adhering to them, expecting changed behaviors, remaining firm in our resolve. There are often many factors when a person begins to recognize and then implement boundaries, and often it comes down to choices: Am I ready to step up and voice my needs or is this something (or someone) I can put up with, tolerate at this point?

As people, we are always working on ways to get better, to feel better, to be better. That may come down to empowerment, how I choose to use my voice, how I ask for what I need, how I decide what I can or will tolerate. Some questions arise when moving into our empowerment, especially if we have had any codependent behaviors in our past and worry about upsetting or disappointing someone else.

As we “practice” asking for what we want/need, we begin to step into internalizing self-care. It may be uncomfortable at first, and that is part of what the practice is about. As we “step up”, we are also stepping “into” meeting our own needs, identifying our own needs, and perhaps even verbalizing our own needs. The great thing about stepping up is we get to decide where and when, which brings me to the other decision: “Put up”.

Often boundaries are necessary because we actually “put up” with less than stellar behaviors from others to begin with. We may have felt manipulated into doing what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted, so we trained them what to expect from us. When we finally decide to set a boundary, we are in essence “re-training” them how to treat us differently, which often can be very uncomfortable for us, as well as for them. So as we do that, we decide how much we are going to “put up” with, what our level of tolerance is, and when it’s necessary to focus on our wants and needs. I use an imaginary image (bloody head syndrome) to check internally whether the boundary is worth the energy. Usually if it is ongoing to the point I no longer enjoy the person or activity, I decide whether to speak up (step up) or tolerate (put up with) their behaviors, often modifying how much time that entails.

I don’t want to minimize the complicity of setting boundaries, but I did want to offer some points that may help people clarify how and when they move forward with setting the boundaries. It helps to continue to be aware of internalizing the need to please others,  to recognize when we are not doing what is in our integrity, and to discern best course of action, for each person, moving forward. The only person I need to be aware of in this process is me, as I am the one who controls my actions. So I can decide when I am ready to step up, speak up, and move forward and in what way that happens.

Boundary setting can be so empowering when we can break it down to manageable tasks, then work at a comfortable speed, asking for our needs. One step at a time.


  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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