Setting Personal Boundaries


Hey Everyone:


Happy spring! I know you might not know it here in New England but it’s the first day of spring.


Last night I gave a talk to my friend Carol’s IAAP group on setting boundaries and learning how to say no. I know right, there is actually a way to say no? Actually there is.


Women in particular have a hard time saying no. We were raised as little girls to be people pleasers and it carries into our adult lives. We say yes to projects we don’t want to take on, we accept invitations we want to say no to and we feel guilty if we turn people down.


This was my most common themed topic in my coaching business, believe it or not. Many of my client’s issues could be handled just by them learning to say no.


But it isn’t easy for most women.


I gave this quick quiz to see where people stood on setting boundaries. See how you do



1. Do you say yes when you want to say no?             Often, seldom, rarely


2. You have a hard time being assertive?                   Often, seldom, rarely


3. You give in because you prefer to avoid conflict   Often, seldom, rarely


4. You find yourself overwhelmed by life?                Often, seldom, rarely


5. You give past the point of love?                             Often seldom, rarely


6. You suffer from the disease to please?                  Often, seldom, rarely    


7. You feel emotionally and physically exhausted?  Often, seldom, rarely  




If you feel any of the below feelings a boundary has probably been crossed.



                                                        Feeling used



                                                           Want to cry



So how do you set a boundary? Here are some tips:



  • When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting.
  • You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upset them, know it is their problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.
  • At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and tell yourself you have a right to self-care. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety or low self-esteem prevent you from taking care of yourself.
  • When you feel anger or resentment or find yourself whining or complaining, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, determine what you need to do or say, then communicate assertively.
  • Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. Set them in your own time frame, not when someone else tells you.
  • Develop a support system of people who respect your right to set boundaries. Eliminate toxic persons from your life—those who want to manipulate, abuse, and control you.



The 3 parts to setting a boundary



Part 1]  If you – Is a description of the behavior you find unacceptable [being as descriptive as possible].

Part 2]  I will – Is a description of what action you will take to protect and take care of yourself in the event the other person violates the boundary.

Part 3]  If you continue this behavior I will – Is a description of what steps you will take to protect the boundary that you have set.


Example” if you continue to speak to me in that condescending tone I will hang up on you and our relationship is over.



Question of the day: How are you with setting boundaries?

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