Boundaries – what exactly are they?

Boundaries are rules, guidelines or limits on what we allow into our lives and the way we expect to be treated by others.

Boundaries are also based on our values or what is important to us.

When we experience someone behaving in a way that is not acceptable or doing something that is not aligned with our value, we have the right, and indeed often need to, impose personal boundaries.

Knowing ourselves well shows us where boundaries are needed. 
We know when to say no to things we don’t want to do, or do not have the resources, or time to do.
Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Know when to say yes and how to say no.
Types of boundaries

Examples that come to mind involve the media, TV and social media.

If you find yourself upset, feeling down or getting angry after watching something on tv or seeing a post or tweet, consider walking away and having a break.

Many people find they are much happier if they turn off the news or limit the amount of time they spend on social media.  You also have the unfollow or hide options in social media which are really useful for setting boundaries.   It’s important to remember that with social media most people post a glorified version of their lives, we rarely see them when they are human or not at their best.

Other people

Is there someone in your world who is very negative or constantly pushes your buttons?

Maybe they are always dumping their emotional baggage on you or dismissing how you are feeling.  With these types of people, you have a couple of choices when it comes to setting boundaries.

  1. Distance yourself. This is the physical option. Simply choose to spend less time with them or even cut them out of your life.  You can start gradually or cut them out of your life in one go.  It is up to you whether you give an explanation or not (but please be respectful and treat people the way you would like to be treated).  Now I know that sometimes completely removing people from your life is not possible or practical, so that’s when the second option comes into play.
  2. This is where you state your case, gently, politely, and respectfully. Let them know how you are feeling and be prepared to listen to their side of the story as well.  Keep your initial statement to how you are feeling and avoid “you” statements that make the other person feel defensive.  Maybe say something like you respect their right to have an opinion, you have a different opinion and that’s OK.  Or you can also state that you simply do not want to discuss the topic.
Your Time

This brings me to time, your valuable time.

Are you someone that is always saying yes to doing things for other people, to your own detriment?  And then you don’t have time or energy to do things for yourself?  Remember “No” is a complete sentence, however you might like to use a longer one 😊

Simply stating, “I’m not able to fit that in at the moment”, or “I’ve got a lot on the go, if that changes, I will let you know”, or “I’m sorry I’m unable to fit that in at present” can help you set your boundaries.

At home, remember to delegate and ask other people to step up and take responsibility for tasks that need to be done.


Then there are boundaries around the physical.

Some of us are huggers, and some not so much, or not at all.  If you are the hugger, remember to ask first, that is just respectful.  And if you aren’t, you can say no.

If someone is being disrespectful of you physically, ask them to stop.  And if this becomes a bigger problem, ask for outside help.

What stops you from using boundaries?
Loving yourself enough to put yourself first.

Often, you don’t say anything, or put boundaries in place because you don’t want to cause bad feelings or upset the other person.

By doing this, you are saying they are more important than you.  You put them first and yourself way down the list.  This may mean you have low self-worth, or you don’t feel that you deserve to state your case, or say “No”.


Guilt is another reason we don’t use boundaries.

Sometimes you worry about the other person, and how the boundary will impact them.  Firstly, this shows that you are a good person and concerned for their welfare.  Secondly it is important to reflect if the reason is out of concern for the other person’s welfare, or that you have been taught that it isn’t OK to say no.  Your feelings are just as important as the other person’s, aren’t they?

Remember people treat us the way we allow them to.

You do have control.

Why not start slowly, introduce a few boundaries and see what happens.