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Setting Personal Boundaries


Setting Personal Boundaries

As the saying goes ‘Good fences make good neighbours’

So what are boundaries? And why are they important?

Personal boundaries are guidelines, limits, rules that an individual creates to identify permissible ways for other people to behave towards them. Setting limits for acceptable behaviour from those around you. Because personal boundaries are unique to each person (and can often be invisible) they can be easily and often crossed (sometimes unbeknownst to the person crossing them). It can mean making what is implicit, explicit so that others’ know what is acceptable for you.

Personal boundaries are informed by our values and beliefs and are directly linked to our self esteem. Weak Personal Boundaries can leave you feeling vulnerable, taken for granted and frustrated. It can often be the case that we shift our own boundaries to fit different relationships.

Healthy boundaries keep people together in a healthy way by keeping out the destructive elements (such as abuse, cruelty or manipulation).

Boundaries can be:

Material – Lending things, Treatment of your belongings, Limits on favours

Emotional –Separating your feelings from others, Giving yourself permission to have your own feelings

Mental – Thoughts, Values, Opinions, Beliefs

Physical – Personal space, Touching, Sexual Boundaries

Statements that might mean your Personal Boundaries need attention:

I feel angry and resentful because I feel taken advantage of

I am often the butt of others jokes

I feel my friends/peers can be disrespectful towards me

‘Saving Others’ takes up a lot of my time

I am always trying to defend myself

My relationship is either ‘Amazing’ or ‘Disastrous’ depending on the day

I am happy when my partner is happy and unhappy when they are unhappy

I get frustrated when I loan people things and they don’t return them

How to manage this:

For you to assert your boundaries you need to know what they are. The following links give information on the importance of setting healthy boundaries and how to set healthy boundaries.

Jane Collingwood: The Importance of Healthy Boundaries (Psyche Central)

Anne Katherine: How to Create Healthy Boundaries

(This piece is adapted by the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center from, and Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine)

Use the above links to establish where in your life you might need to set Personal Boundaries

You could also invest time in journalling around your boundaries. Your journal might focus on how it was for you to set a boundary on something and how easy of difficult it was to hold a particular boundary. You can do a check in at the start of a week and at the end of a week to see how asserting your boundaries are having on your mood/relationships.

You could also identify a person/people in your life who you would feel have healthy boundaries and see if you can learn from them.

Try to be respectful of others’ boundaries. While you are asserting your boundaries it is also very important for you to remain respectful of others’ boundaries.

You might watch well respected professional people talk about boundaries, for example Brené Browne (who is a leading Psychotherapist) (6 min video)

If boundary crossing is a feature in your life, either people crossing yours or you crossing theirs, you can talk to a therapist to help you determine what your boundaries are, discover how you might assert them and to have support while you practice asserting them. If you would like to talk to a therapist you can contact Anne at