Setting Boundaries

Personal boundaries are lines that you have set that define what behaviour you will and will not accept.  They confirm your values, your self-esteem and within your boundaries you will have far more confidence of who you are.

Boundaries create a safer, kinder, and nourishing environment for you to grow in.

As  Sherrie Campbell author of Adult Survivors of Toxic Member families – Boundaries are a statement of your self-respect.

So the question is  –  why are so many peoples boundaries weak? As a therapist I feel that people with weak boundaries or in some cases no boundaries at all, they have never had the conviction or opportunity to establish them.  That’s not their fault – often the environment in which they grew up in, it was safer and easier just to go along with things and be the  people pleaser and try ones hardest to keep the peace – not to annoy or anger anyone, so that the victim won’t experience anxiety, worry and fear.

Often people are told – set your boundaries of what you want, and the goals you want to achieve and the person you want to be.  But my experience in clinic is that those clients that have poor boundaries have had them for so long  – always putting others first, being the willing horse especially in the work place, and appeasing partners, they simply don’t know who they are, what values they stand for, and the big one is they simply don’t know what they want from life –

Setting boundaries in a toxic relationship is difficult.  Usually, the boundaries are poorly respected by the toxic member and however much to try to shore them up, its like a bulldozer ploughing through them.  If a person tries to protect their boundaries by asking the toxic perpetrator to be more respectful and not be so denigrating, can leave the victim open to further ridiculing and hurtful responses. The result the victim soon adopts a policy of no boundaries.  They don’t then feel good enough, feeling that they have no resilience, that they need constant support in others to survive.  Making decisions becomes difficult and the person doesn’t want to make a mistake, doesn’t want alienate anyone  – the bottom line is that they simple fail to flourish. That will have a knock-on effect in every department of their life, from the food that they eat, the clothes they wear, the holidays they go on and the jobs that they do.

The issue however with poor boundaries is that it is almost like a homing beacon for those on the prowl to befriend a people pleaser –someone that they can control usually to do their bidding – so that they can be the setters of boundaries..

There can be physical and mental boundaries.  The physical boundaries that we can set for ourselves can be how comfortable are you with someone making physical contact with you, such as hugging, or holding your hand, consenting to intimacy and so on.

Mental boundaries that we can set are our values, the opinions your hold, and your emotions. With emotional boundaries they can be the decider on rejecting guilt taking and accepting blame for something that a person has done, Not allowing to be spoken to in a disrespectful way, not accepting ridiculing or hurtful responses. These mental and emotional boundaries can apply particularly in the workplace.

The boundary of being able to say- no I can’t help you, no I don’t want to do that, no – that is going to clash with my schedule, and so on.  This has to be one of the most difficult boundaries to maintain, as the person does not want to be seem uncaring or unhelpful.

However, the more a person’s schedule or volume of work is added to or altered unwillingly the more they become anxious and often resentful.  Isn’t better to politely decline the request – I know what you are saying now – if the boss asked me I can’t say no – I don’t want to be fired or loose business.  I fully understand this and empathies, however there has to be a point where you have the body language, and the self-confidence to say  – sorry no.

How do you restore your boundaries?  Well firstly know why you have weak boundaries or why you never established them in the first place- has it been for ease sake, is it to keep you away from fearful and unpleasant situations or repercussions?

You have low self-worth or a low sense of self – who you are in essence.  If you the constant people pleaser you won’t have any true sense of who you are – what makes your really tick.

You may have fear of rejection, and as a result tolerate being made fun of in public, taken for granted, feel that your thoughts and feelings have no value.  In the workplace, your work is never validated, others take the praise for the work you have done, you never get that promotion and the concern is that the person then believes the narrative of themselves. They accept the situation however anxiety, fear panic attacks, feeling of guilt and shame start to bubble to the surface. Feeling utterly insecure of their abilities.

Is it wise to write down the boundaries that you want to establish and then enforce them immediately?  I personally don’t feel that is a good idea. Setting boundaries and their strength depends on the person’s environment.  What do I mean by that.  Say you live with someone who has narcissist traits, setting strong boundaries in one go, will only alienate them and antagonise them.  Invariably they will be stronger than you and more determined to establish their control.  So set small boundaries in certain areas and then expand month by month until you are confident to maintain the boundaries and if they get knocked down you won’t see that as a dreadful setback. You will be able to look at the situation more rationally and be able to rebuild because as you are getting used to establishing boundaries your confidence in yourself will grow.

In the clinic through Hypnotherapy and EMDR we work on the type of boundaries you feel comfortable having and your we work on your self-esteem and resilience in keeping those boundaries.  We work on your acceptance of what has happened in the past – not condoning what has happened, and not allowing the past to dictate the now and the future. We also would work on how to be calm assertive and that doesn’t me being aggressive – usually the less aggressive you are the better and more effective the outcome is.


You deserve the life you were born to live, but perhaps the start hasn’t been a kind as one had hoped – however the future can be a brighter prospect.


If you would like to know more about establishing boundaries and maintaining them give me call or email me – I would love to hear from you.

For more information and help on coping strategies call me on 07464202715

Note: Information on this web site is for informational purposes only and in no way a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a medical or mental  health condition.