Expert Insight: Filling the Spaces of Your Life with Positive People

“Boundaries can be used in two ways – by limiting the actions of the people who have hurt you, and by including the people who’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy. In other words, boundaries prevent harm and allow benefit.

…When a friend proves trustworthy, see that friend again. Risk a little more. Notice when you are treated kindly. Pay attention when someone offers you trust. As you become more discriminating about the people you let in, the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people, and you’ll have less room for the harmful ones.”

Anne Katherine, “Where to Draw the Line”

Often we think of boundaries as a means solely of keeping toxic people out. But, as Anne Katherine explains, they’re also how we let trustworthy people in.

But how do you know who to allow close and who to keep at a distance?

As ever, it’s our darned feelings that hold the key (cue eyeroll). Paying attention to how we feel when we’re with other people is vital. In simple terms, it’s the good old Drains and Radiators principle (if you’re not familiar with these expressions, this Huffington Post article explains more).

We feel good around Radiators – they exude warmth and we leave their presence feeling richer for the interaction. Drains, on the other hand, disregard our boundaries and push their own agenda. They’re prone to complaining and negativity. Drains leave us feeling depleted, bummed out or angry (or all three).

The good news is you get to decide who you spend your time with. If you feel your life is full of Drains, you can start today to build a community of Radiators.

Then “the spaces of your life will fill up with positive people” and you’ll have the life-enhancing, mutually-supportive relationships you deserve.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2019.



Katherine, A. (2000) “Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day”. New York: Fireside.

22 thoughts on “Expert Insight: Filling the Spaces of Your Life with Positive People

    1. I think it can often be really confusing, especially if boundaries haven’t been respected in childhood – sometimes we feel obliged to have people in our lives who we don’t feel good around. It’s a gentle process of working out what feels right for us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sadje.

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  1. A life full of radiators, that’s the way forward! 😉 It’s a good way to look at it too because, as you say, often we think of keeping negative people and negative feelings away but it also involves letting those people in that are good for us. xx

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    1. Absolutely – I think it’s important to determine those people who have the potential to bring greater meaning and enjoyment into our lives, as we can theirs. Bring on the radiators! Good to hear from you, Caz.

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  2. Great post, Julie! I love the Drains and Radiators analogy. As well as ensuring to surround myself with radiators though, I need to make sure I myself am a radiator and catch myself if I start to drift into drain mode!! Lxx

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  3. Boundaries really do matter. I wrote a blog post a while ago called “Boundaries Matter” because I was dealing with people who weren’t respecting my boundaries. I keep certain people at a distance and the more I keep them at a distance, the less they bother me. That way, I don’t have to cut people off entirely or ghost them. At the same time, keeping them at a distance enables the friendship to die a natural death.

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      1. I’ve had to end friendships in a direct way which aren’t pleasant and often quite painful. It usually involved fighting, arguing, and blocking. Given the option, I rather use this method. Depending on the toxicity of the relationship, this method doesn’t always work. In most cases, if the friend isn’t super close to you, it’s easy to use. If the person is a lot closer and very toxic, it’s often best to just tear off the bandaid and end the relationship.

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  4. I love the positive approach to boundaries being about surrounding ourselves with radiators, not just keeping the drains out. I will think more about finding the right people for me, spend less energy dwelling on the wrong ones 🙂 Thanks, Julie!

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    1. You’re welcome, Karen. It’s amazing how much energy we can spend on people we just don’t feel good around, rather than concentrating on the people that really enhance our lives and add value and meaning. Many thanks for your comment.

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  5. I have had this experience recently with my neighbors. Both are new in my life but after spending limited time with both,I can feel the ones that I can go deep with and the ones that are more surface oriented. It is a lesson in allowing my instincts to guide me.

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  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. no two people, no two creatures are the same, so I rarely set boundaries, usually follow my heart… 🙂

    “While you’re busy looking for the perfect person, you’ll probably miss the imperfect person who could make you perfectly happy”. Author Unknown

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