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  • Writer's pictureDiane Henderson, LCSW

The Line in the Sand

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Empowerment Tip #1: Empowered people set strong boundaries.

Many people (women in particular) have a difficult time setting boundaries. Why is it so important to learn to set boundaries? Because if you don't set clear and strong boundaries, you will suffer more internal pain than those who do.

Imagine for a moment that you are standing in the sand, and you have drawn a circle around yourself. That circle represents your boundaries. That line in the sand represents how you will and will not be treated orally, physically, and emotionally. It is important to note that whenever you start to feel a bit of resentment toward someone, they have stepped across your boundary line.

If I came to your house with a can of black paint and started to paint on your front porch, what would you do? If I took one of your children aside and began to emotionally or physically abuse them, what would you do?

The answer, of course, is that you would do whatever it took to stop me. You would ask me to leave, you might threaten me with a baseball bat (I am not recommending this), or you might call the police. The important thing is that YOU WOULD DO SOMETHING to protect your property or your children. Yet, when it comes to your person--your time, your self-esteem, your being, your spirit, and your soul that needs to be protected, you may not be doing such a good job. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS?

More difficult to recognize is when you step across the line into someone else's boundaries. As a grandmother, I sometimes have bitten my tongue not to step across that line. How my children raise their children is none of my business, unless there is neglect or danger. How they spend their money is none of my business, and how they interact with their Dad, my former spouse, is none of my business. If I intervene in any of these instances, I am crossing a line into their boundaries.

My daughter-in-law has the best boundaries of anyone I know. When she was pregnant with my first grandchild, she decided she didn't want to know its sex. One day I called her and jokingly said, "Jessica, if our first baby is a girl, I have picked out the perfect name for her. Let's name her Rebecca Diane. Isn't that gorgeous?" I went on and on about this beautiful name. There was dead silence on the other end of the line. I was joking, but Jessica didn't know that. I finally heard her say to my son, "Your mother wants to name our baby Rebecca Diane if it's a girl." I heard a groan in the background. After a few more seconds, I said, "Jessica, I want you to hang up right now and call your mother to tell her about this beautiful name."

I heard her take a deep breath, and then she said, "Diane, you know that I love you very much, but I think you should let us choose the name for our baby. I would also like to keep my mother out of this conversation." YES, I WAS SO PROUD OF HER! She said it firmly, but lovingly. She drew her line in the sand, in a way that I got the message and was not offended. She took a considerable risk when she did it, because I could have responded with hurt feelings (after all, I was only trying to help), but the risk paid off. By drawing that line at that moment, she may have saved herself years of frustration, because I learned that she would not let me get into her business. Are you that straight with your in-laws about how you want to be treated? How about anyone else, for that matter?

For the next month, I would like you to become aware of your boundaries. Are they weak or strong? Do you even know where that line in the sand is? Each time you feel resentment toward someone, ask yourself, "How have they stepped over my line in the sand, and what am I willing to do about it?"



Five women who want to put their lives in order and accomplish more than they ever thought possible for themselves. I will be hosting a FREE Coaching Group for six weeks in the near future for the first five women who contact me at

The greatest gift you can give someone is your own personal development. I used to say:

"If you will take care of me, I will take care of you."

Now I say,

"I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me."

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