BACP Registered member

Sandra Dean – Registered Member

Recent Tweets

Follow Me on Twitter

Powered by Tools for Twitter


Design and hosting by
FrenchDuck Digital


Personal boundaries – do you really know what they are, why you should have them or how they will protect you?

Personal Boundaries

Personal Boundaries

Do you know what a personal boundary is?

You might think of it as a way to cope with other people; a way to keep space between yourself and them. That would be right.

You might see it as a set of rules for dealing with a person. That would also be right.

We usually know all about the personal space we might want to have around us like an aura between ourselves and strangers in a queue or a crowd, so they don’t touch or bump into us for example. But, we also need personal ‘inner’ boundaries to deal with absolutely everyone – family, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues and managers, and lovers. Those are the boundaries that can protect us from being mistreated or taken advantage of by others. Or they might just be a way of internally knowing that you are only going to let another person or organisation, for example, do certain things that involve you. They are there to protect your wellbeing, and to ensure you can cope.

Sometimes we have them in place, subconsciously, but we can also manage them in our conscious thoughts too. Putting them in place can be extremely important and can save a lot of heartache or anger in the future.

OK, so some examples from my point of view… I have found myself going out to see a family member regularly, and not really wanting to go. This happened a few times before I decided to think why this was. After some soul searching, I came to the conclusion that it was because the person was quite manipulative in getting me to do things, and mixed with my thing of saying ‘yes’ before thinking about it, (being a people pleaser) I was just saying yes when I meant no. I put some defences in place and learnt to say no sometimes. It didn’t actually take that long to recognise that when I did say yes, and meant it, I looked forward to going, rather than feeling it was more of a task.

Another time, a person was making me feel anxious, frustrated, angry and sad, both when I was with them and after I left their company and the negative feelings stayed with me for far too long to be good. I couldn’t work out why I felt those things or what I could do about it. The person appeared to be caring and wanting to know all about me, therefore I felt listened to, so what was it all about? After some soul searching I came to the conclusion that, although they were a good listener, and questioner, they also had a very strong sense of ‘I know best’ and what I felt were debates, actually ended up being like an inquisition and invalidation of what I thought and felt. Furthermore, if I did something they didn’t think was right, I would be pulled apart for it. This was a really tough one to unravel, and it is hard to explain, but the main thing is that I needed to take a break from this person to work out what to do about it. Being positive, and looking for positives, I had only seen the good things in this person and not how they were affecting me negatively. After a break, not only did the person know why I had needed the break and wasn’t willing to go back to how things had been, but I had ‘boundaries’ in place to ensure they wouldn’t get back into those habits with me. If it began again, I would shut them off. I felt more in control of myself and what I was willing to accept.

Having boundaries not only helps you to feel individual and in control of yourself, but they can help others to change negative behaviours.

The more you challenge yourself and self-analyse as to why you feel negative with, or after being with, certain people, or during certain things, you can then work on finding out why you feel that way, if it is something in you that is making you feel that way, whether it is something they are doing to make you feel that way, or if it is a mixture of those things.

Boundaries are necessary for everyone, whether in the school playground, as a child, parent, adult or elderly person. Sometimes we have to learn to say no.; or even goodbye if the relationship is just not going to work because the other person cannot cope with your boundaries. Sometimes we have to talk about the boundaries we are going to set, and sometimes we can quietly put them in action and just let them work.

Boundaries could be there to stop domestic violence, bullying, being taken for granted at work, so we can avoid getting sucked into something we don’t want to get sucked into, or because we are not going to be treated like that by our partners. Whatever, or whoever it is, if you are feeling negative when being around those things or people, try to think about what it is that is negative for you, and try to put boundaries in place to protect yourself.

It might be that the other person/organisation do not know they are doing it, or they are innocently trying to help; boundaries can be soft reminders or a great protection.

Do you have any?



Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

7 comments to Personal boundaries – do you really know what they are, why you should have them or how they will protect you?

  • Lydia

    What a good post.

    I agree with Tui. Guilt trips make you feel so gross. When I sense that feeling, my inner alarm bell goes off.

    Lately I’ve been getting much better at saying no in those situations.

  • Carol H

    Very interesting: I’ve recently done a prune of some people who were not actually being ‘friends’ but were trying to impose their own you so ably describe. As A still suffering from anxiety attacks person, a recent bad one left me very low and feeling suicidal. My ‘friend’ instead of listening/trying to understand, immediately started lecturing me on how ridiculous I was being, and how SHE was upset by my mental processes. Couldn’t cope. Ghosted her.I think those of us who do have low mental strength need to be VERY careful: it is easy to stay in a friendship because we feel we need people around us. Actually, we don’t. We need understanding people around us! The rest can go away!

  • Tui

    I like the way you test your boundaries by checking in with how you feel about it. I’ve had certain people in my life use guilt trips to get me to do things. It just feels so icky! A big thing for me has been telling people that I’ll think about their requests instead of instantly responding. This gives me a chance to mull it over by myself and double check with how I truly feel. Thanks for this thought-provoking post!
    ~Tui Snider dropping by through #MondayBlogs

    • amandagreenauthor

      Hi Tui, yes checking in is good. Guilt trips, oh yes, people have a way with those! I think it’s great that you tell people you will think first. Sometimes people don’t like it but it’s important to do what is best for you 🙂

  • Diane T

    All interactions amongst people and/or groups are an exchange of power on levels both subtle and overt. It is part of the human pecking order. People pleasers, such as myself, often cede personal power to their own detriment. Those boundaries are needed for healthy relationships. Good post on a central tenet of personal well being, Amanda!

    • amandagreenauthor

      Yes Diane, exchange of power. I have just bought ‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne as I am interested in the concepts of Transactional Analysis – a simple one being that at any one time we could be in child, adult or parent mode and if we can see what mode we are in and what mode the other person is in, we can look to change it if we need. I had a client who was in child mode with his dad who was in parent mode. He wanted an adult to adult relationship and within a year he managed it. By changing how he interacted with his father, his father changed how he interacted with him. It’s fascinating stuff 🙂

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.