Saying no: HSPs and Boundaries

In order to maintain a happy balance in our lives, we should all have a set of healthy personal boundaries. Boundaries can be tricky; they vary from person to person, and sometimes we don’t quite know how we feel about a situation, so a boundary is hard to reinforce.

Boundaries can be particularly difficult to maintain for HSPs due to their empathetic, caring nature, and their natural desire to make others happy.

As defined by, Personal Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them, and how they will respond when someone steps past those limits.

To shed some more light, here are some scenarios that most of us have some sort of boundary for:

  • Personal space – each person may have a slightly different idea of where this limit lies, but there is a limit at some point.
  • Controversial topics – we have different ideas of when other’s points of view become too forceful or offensive.
  • Romantic/sexual interactions – what lines do you have with your partner of 3 years? What about someone on a first date?
  • Respect – we know when we feel disrespected…but some of us speak up sooner than others.

Our individual boundaries vary depending on our personalities…and it is up to each of us to decide what “crossing the line” is.

I believe that because HSPs pick up on people’s feelings and moods and tend to avoid conflict, they may sacrifice their boundaries to “save face” or “keep others happy,”  and not surprisingly when an HSP does let someone cross their boundary, they become extremely resentful and angry about it afterwards.

They might think: “How did this person not intuitively know that they shouldn’t have asked me that /crossed that line?!”

The reality is that most people don’t know unless we tell them so, and better yet show them so, especially if they don’t share your highly empathetic, sensitive nature.

Let’s go back to the title of this blog post for a second… the first part: “Say No.”

When you don’t like how you feel about something, you should say no!

A lot of times we may have mixed feelings about a situation – on one hand we may not be entirely comfortable with something, but on the other hand, we want to maintain peace and be there for others, so we consider removing a boundary line to do this.

Here is what I suggest:

When you feel a resistance inside towards something (i.e.: someone is invading your personal space, you are offended by some else’s opinion, your friend requests something of you for the third time that week) that is your intuition telling you there is a line being crossed. That line is there for a reason. When it’s crossed, it doesn’t feel good.

In order to become clear on the boundaries that are important for you, I suggest that you actually write them out on paper!

Think of it as your celebrity performing rider. What will you and will you not tolerate: at work, at home, in a relationship, with your family, with friends, etc.

Writing them out is the first step; applying them to your life is the second. 🙂


XO, your fellow HSP, Chelsie


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