Personal Boundaries & Gossip

The subject of personal boundaries, responsibility to others and self as well as gossip often comes up as a topic of conversation with my clients and students.The subject of personal boundaries, responsibility to others and self as well as gossip often comes up as we head into the holiday season with all its many seemingly obligations.


What are personal Boundaries?

 An individual will define their personal boundaries by a set of guiding principles, rules or limits that are deemed reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them. These same boundaries will dictate how a person will respond when someone steps outside those set limits.  Your boundaries characterize your personality and are a declaration of what you will or won’t do, what you like and don’t like as well as what you will or will not accept as a behavior from another person or circumstance.


One of the things you need to successfully implement personal boundaries is self-awareness. This is an awareness to understand what your body and your intuition is telling you.  When something creates a tension or makes you cringe inward, creates a knot in your stomach, makes you want to cry, or makes you lose energy then something is guiding you to say ‘No!’ to whoever and whatever is being asked of you.  This is in fact your intuitive guidance system communicating to you that something is not healthy in this exchange or situation and that you must stop and rethink your decision. Take the time to look at what is making you feel distressed. By understanding the true underlying reasons behind your need to be involved in something is the key to setting appropriate personal boundaries in any given situation.

Never feel guilt for saying ‘NO!’ when you truly do not want to get involved or be a part of something that makes you uncomfortable, ill or goes against your gut feeling.  I know many people that agree to things even though it makes them sick thinking about it. They feel an obligation due to some misguided belief that it is expected of them. Why would anyone do this to himself or herself?

No one and nothing is worth making yourself sick over! Ever! Simply say ‘NO’ and move on.

Some of the reasons people get involved in things that clearly are beyond healthy personal boundaries are that they do not want to upset a prticular person, their boss, a group or they feel it is their duty. And even better, the most common excuse I hear is, “ It is my responsibility as a____ (citizen, father, sibling, mother, daughter, brother, worker, etc.)”  I think we all use this excuse to get involved in something that is not our business or healthy for us at some point in our lives. We, as an individual must determine our personal boundaries by understanding why we do the things we do.



 I can tell you that it is not always an easy task determining what is ours to take on and what isn’t. There is a very fine line between being involved in something, our responsibilities towards others and ourselves to then compare them to the crutch of many involvements, which tend to lean towards gossip!  Yes, gossip!

Living is a continual cycle of life experiences and in consequence, life lessons are learnt.  What this means is we grow in wisdom with each step forward in awareness that we take from our day-to-day experiences.  These experiences in life are when we turn knowledge into an actual personal understanding from our direct personal encounter. Sometimes we decide that an incident another is about to undergo is not appropriate and so we interfere. Now, if being responsible for someone or something or taking from them by our interference is cheating someone from a personal growth opportunity then it is not yours to take on.  Giving assistance and taking responsibility for someone are two very different things. You must be clear in your mind which of the two you are taking on.

If people refuse to help themselves then so be it; it is not your responsibility to take them and their problems onto your shoulders or back.  And please do not fall for the “ Please do this for me?” when it is obvious the person is trying to avoid the karma they are ultimately responsible for creating.  Let them clean up their own messes; let them learn their life lesson.

 Then there is what we call ‘projection. The “It’s all your fault that this happened to me, that I am like this so YOU must take responsibility for It and make it right!” Many times, people blame you, for their own issues. When this happens, simply throw it back at them.  Do not play games or get pulled in. Just ignore it or change the subject. You’re doing them a favor by giving them a chance to learn on their own a valuable life lesson.


Gossip & Rumors ~ What is gossip or rumors and what is not? Anything that hurts another, is heard second hand or is not directly of your personal experience is gossip and rumors. Many people experience the nagging habit of gossiping and are also victims of gossiping. Gossipers will defend their actions under the pretexts of community service, or by saying they are looking out for others.  I must say though that the worse of all is “ It’s just a bit of harmless gossip!”

Since when has malicious talk ever been harmless?

The Webster dictionary defines gossip as ‘malicious talk of a sensational and intimate nature.”

 This is where the topic gets a bit sticky. Often we think our involvement in certain things is legit. We convince ourselves of this fact by saying we are doing the righteous thing. In all fact the true underlying reason for participating in gossip is nothing else but the need to assert ourselves, boost our moral, build self-confidence since it makes us feel more powerful, superior or popular to humiliate or put others down. As well, many gossip to feel they belong to something, creating false impressions of being needed and possibly liked or loved. In the end, gossip will bite you in the butt for it will draw to you the opposite of what you think you are getting. In the end, gossiping is simply an ego need.


Avoid Gossip ~ If you are around gossip simply change the subject by using a distraction technique or simply do not say anything; they will quickly see you are not interested in that specific subject. If it persists, simply tell those involved you are not comfortable with that particular subject. The more you practice non-involvement, the easier it gets. Gossiping is a very bad habit and no one comes out a winner.

 Do not allow others issues or situations control you, engulf you or your life. YOU WILL LOSE YOURSELF under the clutter of everyone else’s stuff! Evaluate issues; be humane without being a doormat.  If you feel your carrying a huge load on your shoulders then this is a sign that you have taken on the issues or responsibilities of others that are not yours to take on. You may be doing this to fill a void in your life.

 Step back and take time to inventory your daily activities.  Be wise…let others live their own lives. Focus on what is important to you and your life and put your energy towards accomplishing what you want in life and not that of others.

Michèle C. St.Amour©2011                          


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