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Health + Wellness

Setting Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are extremely effective at maintaining our general well-being. They can guide us through daily life in a positive, affirming way; allowing us to take care of ourselves and focus on thriving.

Any principles we live by on a routine basis can be utilized to establish personal boundaries. Outlining how we wish to be treated and interacted with, including what we will/will not accept helps to determine our values; our sense of self; our priorities and what we require to feel safe.

Energy is contagious, positive and negative alike. I will forever be mindful of what and who I am allowing into my space. | Alex Elle

graphic link to an everyday lifestyle post on transatlantic notes called setting personal boundaries

While boundaries frequently operate in protection of our psychological and emotional wellness from unreasonable demands, they can equally relate to our physical bodies. Touch of any kind remains a profoundly personal decision; it is our choice when, how and with whom we physically connect. All of which underpins the importance of drawing a line between what does and does not nourish our well-being in an appropriate and appreciated way.   

Here are 5 things to consider when setting effective personal boundaries …

Self-Awareness

Before we can explain to others which situations, behaviours and actions feel uncomfortable, we need to recognize what they are. To promote self-awareness, we should pay attention to the patterns in our own thoughts, feelings and responses; including what bothers us about ourselves and other people. We should also take note of what our emotional triggers are and what upsets us or causes anxiety. From there we can recognise what we will no longer allow in our lives or give energy to — it can also improve how we deal with something negative if it occurs again.

Our Values

Identifying what our values are is central to maintaining general welfare and happiness; as well as informing what personal boundaries we may want to make use of. Representing one of the most fundamental elements of how we choose to live; our values can establish what we pursue, what we believe in and how success is measured throughout life. In many ways, boundaries mirror our values because they’re often rooted in self-expression that highlights who we are, the energy we want to put out into the world and what we expect to be reflected back.  

A transfeminine non-binary person and transmasculine gender-nonconforming person looking at a phone and laughing
Having personal boundaries helps us make more meaningful connections with people – photo via The Gender Spectrum Collection

Accepting Flexibility

Part of our personal growth involves exploring new changes, opportunities and situational/perspective shifts. These types of adjustments are a normal part of life; what used to bring us purpose and peace may adapt and evolve over time. Regular self-reflection ensures we can reliably identify what encourages us to flourish; which includes maintaining, modifying or culling personal boundaries that no longer serve us well.

Direct And Assertive Communication

Being assertive and clear about what crosses a line is not up for debate; the limits we put in place do not require outside validation. Exploring our boundaries with someone who genuinely wants to recognize how to better support us is a net positive; if we choose to engage in this way. However, if someone expects us to justify our boundaries, they see them as negotiable — which they aren’t. Saying ‘no’ to anyone under these circumstances is a fully sufficient and actionable response that requires no further clarification. 

two yound male friends talking to each other
Clear communication about expectations helps set & sustain personal boundaries – photo by Budgeron Bach

Protecting Our Energy

Safeguarding our emotional and mental health is crucial when it comes to addressing situations, actions or behaviours that breach our boundaries. Taking time to decide when/how (or if) we’re going to tackle these infringements may help conserve vital stamina that’s needed to see us through bouts of emotional exhaustion. It’s reasonable, for example, to separate ourselves from specific people or circumstances that repeatedly overstep clearly communicated boundaries.

I am making the choice to go deeper into love, peace, joy, and grace right where I am. | Morgan Harper Nichols

Effectively managed and maintained personal boundaries can become part of a holistic self-care routine. Learning how to successfully deal with toxic people or anxious situations will ultimately reduce stress and bolster self-confidence; encouraging us to live intentionally and invite joy into each day.   

Do you set personal boundaries? Are they part of your self-care routine? What boundaries do you need to work on?


Further Info:

10 Simple Ways To Improve Your Self Awareness [With Examples] – Nick Wignall

Strategies For Setting Healthy Boundaries In The Workplace – Business Insider

A Guide To Setting Healthy Boundaries In Relationships – The Talkspace Voice

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44 thoughts on “Setting Personal Boundaries”

  1. Setting boundaries, both personal and professional, is hard work because it requires constant vigilance, realignment and often reconsidering your values. There are a lot of things that I used to put up with in my 20s that I wouldn’t even consider for a second in my 30s. And I’m sure things will continue to shift in my 40s and so on.

    One side effect that I didn’t expect was how much easier it becomes to recognize and respect other people’s boundaries when yours are firmly in place. I now just see it as “boundaries,” not as a personal grudge that someone has against me or my suggestions. It truly opens your eyes and changes your interactions with other people.

    Thanks for opening the conversation and educating about such a tricky topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this, and you’re point about the shift we feel from our 20s to our 30s and 40s, etc is exactly right, and why we need that flexibility to understand that we need to make sure our boundaries change as we do. I know that the things I wish for myself now in my 40s is a whole different world from when I was in my 20s. It certainly does take work, which I don’t always have the energy for (I’m sure I’m not alone in this) but boundaries can be revisited and revised whenever we need to.

      Respecting other people’s boundaries once we establish our own is 100% right, it’s easier to see something from another perspective when we get why people have them.

      Thank you so much for reading, and for being part of the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You are right —our perspective changes we when age. Somehow mature in a way. Mostly for me —I feel I have more respect for myself and that allows for all those personal boundaries to take shape.

      Anyways, love this post Molly. Great topic. Always a pleasure reading you✨🧡 x

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  2. Great post! Setting physical and mental boundaries is so important, especially at the moment when we might have issues with corona boundaries or lower mental health due to the situation. Thank you for sharing these important pointers x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been extrememly hit and miss with mine and have also only relatively recently come back to them as part of my self-care. They are worth spending the time they need to have them as part of our lives so I hope yours continue to flourish this year (and into the next). Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. I wrote a similar article on this a while ago, but it wasn’t until I tried to help someone else setup their own boundaries that I realised the how to set boundaries, when you’re not even sure which ones you need, is surprisingly hard to do when. A step-by-step guide on how to identify boundary needs, set them up, and then maintain them would go a long way

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    1. Personal boundaries are very elusive and can be really hard to pinpoint what it is we need. I struggle with this myself and have come to realize that it takes a bit of trial and error until I find what I need and what will work. I wish it was more clearly defined but noticing any patterns in how I feel about a situation/someone is my first step. It can take time but I spend it figuring out why I respond that way and what will help me improve that. I’d love a step-by-step guide too! I think personal boundaries will always be an ongoing aspect of life — which doesn’t make them easy — but at least we know we’re not alone if we don’t quite get them right at first.

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  4. I need to get better at setting my personal boundaries, it’s something I do struggle with. I find it very hard to say No, it’s one of my aspirations for 2021 🙂 Thank you for some great tips!

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    1. I struggle too and sometimes I don’t have the energy to do the work but I always come around to them again as I know I feel healthier (mentally and emotionally) when I have them. Good luck with them in 2021 (I’m setting some for the New Year too)!

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  5. This is so important (and something that I know that I have slacked off on in the past). I didn’t realize how few boundaries I had put in place until COVID came along and forced me to stay home on lockdown. No longer going out and engaging with all the people that I normally would allowed me to take that step back and assess who was bringing negativity into my life. Who was I happier NOT seeing? Many of which are people that I honestly don’t need to see, they bring no value into my life, I just accepted it because I didn’t think about it. Big changes moving forward!

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    1. Covid has certainly given some people time to reflect more. I know what I want out of life and how I wish to be treated (I used to accept some pretty unkind and toxic people too). Life is too short and too precious to not be surrounded by good things and good people. I hope the big changes you have ahead enable you to flourish!

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  6. your tips are on point! i find people who invade my personal space so frustrating and setting personal boundaries is the way to go!

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  7. I feel like I’ve overdone setting personal boundaries. I’m a person who’s so guarded and have my walls up so high. My problem is letting people in. 😅

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    1. It can be hard if it goes too far the other way. I use my boundaries just for how I’d like to be treated so if someone crosses that line into something being offensive, I let them know. I have other boundaries, but that’s moslty how I use mine. I hope you can find what works for you!

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  8. A great post at a time all personal boundaries at the workplace have gone for a toss. Just coz you are WFH doesn’t mean you have a life and family. So important that we balance out things and set out personal boundaries. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. This is such an interesting post! I do have, and voice, personal boundaries. As a nurse, I was educated in doing so, as well as recognizing and respecting others personal boundaries.

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  10. I thought I had the whole boundaries thing down pat, but lately, I have come to realize that it definitely needs some tweaking! I am good at situations where I can say “if you do this, I am gone,” but in situations where I am going to continue to have daily interactions, it is harder. I am still figuring out how I want to respond, as I communicate what is unacceptable, and how I want to handle it if the offense continues.

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    1. I completely indentify with this, you are not alone! I see boundaries as being flexible and things that have to be tweaked whenever they need it. I think daily interactions can be difficult as sometimes you can second guess how you responded before but the fact you are aware fo this is a really great step. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

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  11. Thank you for these practical ideas on boundary setting – I found the one on conserving energy especially helpful. Taking time to decide how to respond is a good way of strengthening and maintaining boundaries. Too often, we feel rushed into responding to other people’s needs or demands. Great post!

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    1. I agree — there is often a feeling that we must respond instantly but by giving ourselves time to process what a response from us will do and how/if we wish to give time to something is a great way to create/maintain healthy boundaries. Sometimes you’ve just got to let stuff go! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  12. As someone in there, 30’s (approaching 40) I have realised that I often allow myself to get walked over, I don’t really have any personal boundaries and although I have values, they don’t really align with my husband’s. I have learnt a lot about myself over the last year and I continue to discover who I am now, I’m not the same girl I was at 22 when I got married, I have different goals, new dreams and I’m often inspired by posts like this so thank you! It’s excellent.

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    1. I’m so glad you found this post useful. Boundaries are often something that’s overlooked (I know I didn’t really think about it until I was in my 30s) but they are so necessary. They help us figure out who we are and evolve with us as we grow, age and change so they’re worth putting into place as they’re a lifelong journey. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  13. Thank you so much for shedding so much light on setting personal boundaries. This is something that I have learned the value and importance of over the years. All it takes is for a few people to overstep those boundaries and take advantage until you realize how things must change for your wellbeing. I now set boundaries for those around me and I feel a lot more in control of my life and happiness. It’s so worth it.

    xo Erica

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    1. You’re so right — when you notice how people overstepping your boundaries feel you definitely put things in place to protect them. It’s so important that we do this as it helps us take care of our overall wellbeing. Thank you so much for reading!

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