Setting personal boundaries


Personal boundaries prevent other people from treating you in a way that conflicts with your core values or feelings.

They are guidelines that inform other people of what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable to you.

Additionally, personal boundaries tell people how to interact with you and how you will react if they do not operate within your guidelines.


What happens when you don’t have personal boundaries?


Without personal boundaries, life can be frustrating, overwhelming and often painful.

People disrespect you, abuse your kindness and demand your time and energy, on their terms.

When you lack personal boundaries, some people think it’s acceptable to criticise, offer unsolicited advice or pass judgement on your life choices.

As a result, it’s likely that you’ll doubt yourself and your decisions.

You’ll limit yourself and shrink whenever you’re around certain people.

It will be difficult to operate authentically and in alignment with your own values and beliefs.

And, as a result, achieving your personal goals will be a challenge.

Setting personal boundaries is the same as putting up a “No Trespassers” sign on a property.

You make it clear to others that your life is your own to do with as you please.

It also sends a distinct message that you do not allow people to take advantage of you, demand your time or energy or dictate your choices.


What happens when you enforce your personal boundaries?



It can be challenging when you start to enforce your personal boundaries.

Especially with people close to you and those people from who the boundaries are set up to “protect” you.

These people expect you to respond to them in a particular way.

If it’s a friend that always comes to you to borrow money and suddenly you are no longer willing to do so, they may not take it too well.

If it’s a family member that is used to you answering their every call and suddenly you don’t, they may not be happy about it.

If your manager is accustomed to you working late without pay or time in lieu and suddenly you’re leaving at 5 saying “That’ll have to wait until tomorrow“, they may not respond positively.

People do not like change, especially when it is not for their benefit.

When you enforce personal boundaries, people can become extremely creative in an attempt to make things return to the way they were.

They will try to make you feel guilty and may resort to name-calling.

They may even turn on the “waterworks”.

For a while, you’ll need to keep reinforcing your personal boundaries and challenge people when they attempt to violate them.

You have to remain consistent and true to your own needs even when it feels difficult to do so.

Keep in mind that you are doing this for your own peace of mind and overall well-being.

Eventually, most people will adjust.

However, some may not and there’s a possibility that you may lose a friend or two.

So, you will need to work out if someone’s behaviour upsets you enough to risk losing the relationship.



How do you set personal boundaries?


There are also positive outcomes of setting and enforcing personal boundaries.

You are able to be yourself and your confidence to live authentically and on your terms will strengthen gradually.

You become less concerned with the opinions of others and you trust yourself and your choices more and more.

Also, those relationships that adjust to respect your personal boundaries become healthier.

To set your personal boundaries, you must get clear about what you absolutely will not tolerate, accept or put up with.

This will, of course, vary from person to person.

What really frustrates and annoys you?

What makes you feel used, disrespected and undervalued?

What hurts your feelings?

What makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable?

Answering these questions will help you to identify what you will and will not accept from others.

Your answers will also highlight the people and relationships in your life where you need to strengthen your personal boundaries.

It is also important to note that you may be one of the people violating your own personal boundaries.

Remember, you teach people how to treat you.

So, if you are not respecting your own personal boundaries, how can you expect other people to?


Setting and maintaining personal boundaries is an act of self-care.

It is not always easy at the start but over time it can reduce frustration and resentment and build stronger more respectful relationships.

Eventually, you’ll have more time, energy (and money if that’s an area of your life that lacks boundaries) to invest in things that you are passionate about and that really matter to you.


Journal prompt: Where in my life do I lack personal boundaries?

Affirmation: I set firm boundaries with others.

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  1. Really great blog post Leanne…I’ve not thought about what I want and how I want others to interact with me in this way before…it certainly explains some of the ‘wrongs’ and ‘uncomfortables’ I’ve endured in my life…

  2. Trudy says:

    Totally enjoyed this blog. I am presently setting healthy boundaries with some friends and family. The guilt and withdrawal is Real. I know that I will get through it and be better in the long run. Thanks for the words of truth.

  3. Hey Trudy, thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. The guilt and withdrawal is real – what we don’t anticipate is what we also get from the lack of personal boundaries – even if it’s unhealthy, it’s still real. I hope you’re doing well with enforcing them so far. x

  4. Hey Leanne,

    I really enjoyed reading this post, as I sometimes struggle to set boundaries. So when I do set boundaries some people may try to shut it down, whilst others may be understanding.

    I’ll definitely take on the journal prompt, since setting boundaries has been a topic in therapy for me.

    Great read!

  5. Hey Freda, thanks for taking the time to comment, I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. It really can be challenging to establish boundaries, especially with people who are used to having unrestricted access to you and your life, but over time, from my experience, your overall well-being improves when you have clear boundaries in place. I hope you the journal prompt gives you more clarity. 🙂

  6. This is such an important post. I lacked boundaries and suffered because of it. My friends sat me down last January and gave me some firm instructions. Ever since then, it has been a better life experience for me because I have put some boundaries in place. You are right, there are people who took it negatively but really that is none of my business. You get to see who really values you and who is just using you for their own benefit. Thank you for the beautiful reminder. I’m going to share this with a friend.

  7. Hey Annika, thanks for reading and your comment. You’re right, boundaries are so important and the same thing happened to me. Someone else pointed out that I lacked boundaries and the impact it was having on my life. It’s not always easy to put them in place but it is absolutely necessary.

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