Compassionate Boundaries: How to Say Yes (Ninth and last of Series)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2013  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry 


Ah, agreeing to help, or fill-in, or solve a problem is relatively easy. Everyone likes it when you tell them yes. 

Do you have to say yes to every request to the nth degree each day? Read all nine parts of this series to find out how to draw healthy boundaries. (Links are below.)  Many options exist for saying yes without becoming overwhelmed. 

Time crunch

If your time is limited, send a short email or text. “I’m praying for you” or “Thinking of you every day” or “Haven’t forgotten you – hang in there!” This takes little time,  yet might be like water to parched fields on the receiving end. 

If you know it is permissible to touch someone who is struggling, try giving a hug, pat on the back, an arm squeeze, or offering a warm handshake. Ask first.

Eye contact lets people know you are paying attention.  Inquire about one’s day and listen. If you see a hurting person in public, cross the room and say hello!

Come along

On a larger scale yet still with little committment, invite a fragile friend to the ballgame or for a walk. Do not demand, only be a friend. If someone is well enough to attend church, offer a ride.

Basic assistance  

A friend cooked my Thanksgiving turkey one year as I recovered from depression.  Do you have an hour or afternoon? Those pesky household duties do not take care of themselves. You can cook, clean, do laundry, and walk the dog. Do children need a ride from school? Is the refrigerator empty? How about the trash?  Lawn care is a big deal. Car care is too.

Keep promises

Promises are important because when people hurt, especially emotionally, broken promises feel like rejection. Help protect hearts by knowing what you can and cannot do. Make only those promises you will keep.

You have Wednesdays free at lunch time? Do not try to squeeze a depressed loved one in on Thursday, risking a cancellation. Instead say, “I’m looking forward to talking with you next Wednesday.” Meanwhile, send a text or two. 

Say yes to yourself

  • Make sure you are not alone in this. Have someone to talk with about your experiences and feelings.
  • Have fun. Count the little joys.
  • Speak up for yourself. 
  • Ask questions of the one you care for. Take his or her answers at face value. Avoid the stress of interpreting or judging.
  • Take only the role you can fill. Be honest about that.
  • I am here 100% for you”  leads to burnout, resentment and more pain. This type of yes may end your relationship.  
  • Draw boundaries based on your priorities and values. You matter too. 


Other posts in this series: Friendship (1)  God’s Example (2) ; Values and Family (3) ; Self-Care (4) ;  How to Say No (5) ; Motives Beware! (6)Refuse Blame (7) ; Refer to Experts (8)


BookThis Practical Seminar: How to Help Hurting People without Hurting Yourself

This seminar is designed to shed insight into depression and anxiety,  show practical ways supports do help, and provide necessary tools for healthy boundaries which protect everyone concerned.   
  • Analogies and stories
  • Interactive 
  • Practical answers to common questions 
  • Factual responses to stigmas and myths 

Please email Nancy at, or use this convenient form.   For more information follow these links:   Testimonials      Bio       



NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.


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