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How to Set Boundaries

Updated: Apr 3

A boundary is an invisible line of protection that you hold in place to stop your space being violated Your boundaries give others clear instructions on how to treat you and, when you have clear boundaries, you will understanding how to respect other people’s boundaries as well. Strong boundaries are an absolute necessity for you to have a healthy life. So where do you start?

  1. Look at your boundaries with yourself. Do you keep your agreements with yourself around eating, exercising, sleeping, working or do you let excuses get in the way? Do you show up in your personal and professional relationships with integrity, honesty and presence or do you check out and give 50% of yourself to others? Do you have daily routines and rituals around managing your mental and physical health so you can be self assured and confident or do you give in to tiredness and unhealthy coping mechanisms? If you keep breaking agreements with yourself you cannot expect others to respect your boundaries.

  2. Look at your boundaries with others. Do you let others get away with unworkable behaviour with you? Why? Who taught you that you’re not allowed to say no? You are responsible for teaching people how to speak to you and behave with you. If your boundaries aren't clear then people will keep crossing them until you stop it. Having an honest conversation with someone can be nerve-racking and you worry about all the terrible reactions they could have. If you want to learn how to have difficult conversations, get yourself a copy of my latest book ‘That’s Not What I Meant!’ Which will give you clear instructions on how to have a courageous conversation. Not speaking your truth and not taking action is what got you into this state of stress and unhappiness in the first place - it’s time to do something about it!

  3. Trust what is right for you no matter what anyone else thinks. Your boundaries don’t have to be justified to anyone. If something doesn't feel right, it isn't - act on it.

  4. Learn to recognise these 3 signs of a boundary being violated:

  • You will feel discomfort in your body. Your gut instinct is always right, stop ignoring it! You body will respond before your mind can rationalise what’s going on, so the minute you feel that something isn’t right, take an immediate step back. Breathe and pay attention to what the uncomfortable feeling is about. Are your boundaries being violating by yourself or another or are you violating theirs? 

  • You will feel guilt. Stop worrying about letting others down or offending them if you say no. Their problems are not your responsibility and you have to stop allowing them to dump their stuff on you to sort out! They are adults in charge of their own lives and should never have put you in the position of having to rescue them or fix their lives for them. Stop saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’. And if they use any manipulation to get you to feel guilty, this is not a relationship you should have in your life. Walk away!

  • You’re getting resentful which can escalate into anger very quickly. Most of the time you’re actually irritated with yourself for having agreed to take on the other person’s stuff in the first place. You’re upset because you feel disrespected and taken for granted and now your ‘niceness’ has you feeling trapped. Learning to say ‘no more’ is the only way to stop yourself living in resentment. Communicate with them and walk away from the situation.

Warning: Others aren’t going to make it easy for you to put a boundary in place or to walk away. They’ve had it easy while you’ve been carrying their burdens for them so they’re not going to be too willing to take them back. They’ll cry / shout / get angry or pull out all their manipulations to get you to stay and say yes. But you need to end this. You come first! And, If a relationship ends because you’re putting a boundary in place, then so be it. Stop hanging on to relationships where you are treated with contempt. Yes, even if it’s a parent, or that friend you’ve had since primary school, or your sibling or your boss. You have the right to say no!

5. Get clear about where boundaries are being blurred in your life. Focus on these different areas: Spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, sexual, material, professional, technology. Who is violating them? What is the behaviour that needs to stop? What should they be doing instead? How can you communicate that to the person crossing that line? 

6. Don’t lay blame at their feet or make accusations. Take responsibility for having allowed these boundary violations to happen in the first place because you’re the one that said yes. Be clear that it’s over and that the dynamics of your relationship are changing.

7. Be non-negotiable about what your boundaries are. Tell them why their behaviour or the situation isn’t working for you, guide them on how and when it needs to change and be clear on what the consequences will be if that person disrespects your boundaries again. 

8. Confront boundary violations as soon as they happen again and hold fast to the consequences you told them about. Don’t promise a consequence and then not follow through on them or they will never respect your boundaries.

9. Communicate your boundaries to everyone in your life so they all know where they stand.

Boundaries are not meant to be punitive or hurtful. They’re not there to isolate you or punish others. They’re there to protect and contain. It’s the greatest act of self love you can engage in. Setting boundaries builds your confidence and self-respect and has a significant impact on your self-esteem. They exists for your health, your happiness and your well-being. Setting boundaries takes time and practice, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

➜ If you struggle with boundaries, get your copy of my eWorkbook: THE FREEDOM FACTOR, available for download through my site. It will give you clear examples and practical tools on how to set strong boundaries in your life. 

Reviews of The Freedom Factor:

‘‘This book is life changing. Each damn page is a revelation!"

"In a nutshell - life changing! It felt like you directed it purely for me. It is a gift that no money could buy. I would truly encourage everyone to read it. Thank you! I will read it again and again."

"Thank you for your workbook. It’s easy and succinct and will definitely help those needing to take their 1st steps towards personal freedom. It’s very good information."

"It felt like this book was meant for me. The book seems simple and is an easy read but working through the exercises proved to be more real and intense and forced me to be truthful about so many aspects of my life. I now feel clearer and a lot lighter."

I have supported thousands of clients for over 29 years to get real about their lives, to drop their masks and own their authenticity and to stand in their personal power so they can create a non-negotiable boundaries and feel comfortable saying 'no more' in their lives. If you're ready to get real, then book a coaching session and let's start a journey together. I can't wait to meet you.


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