Home General Info & Awareness The Importance Of Personal Boundaries & How To Set Them

The Importance Of Personal Boundaries & How To Set Them

by InvisiblyMe

Boundaries help us to maintain a sense of order in our lives. When we develop and assert our boundaries, we’re practicing a deeper level of self-care by looking after our own needs and emotional health. While we might initially think of emotional and psychological boundaries, they can also be physical, and applied across a range of relationships and situations. They may not always be easy to set and uphold, but they’re imperative to our identity and sense of self.

What Are Personal Boundaries?

Personal boundaries set an area of space between you and another person to protect yourself mentally and emotionally. Boundaries can act as general guidelines for the way in which we wish to be treated. They help us to organise and assert our needs as we establish our identity and seek to develop a healthy state of well-being. 

Boundaries can be emotional, mental and physical. They can also define what we will or will not hold ourselves responsible for, as well as set limits for ourselves and what we will or will not tolerate. Boundaries can be applied to our friendships and close relationships, as well as to acquaintances, strangers and workplace interactions.

For some people, boundaries may be loose and flexible, they may be strong and rigid, or they may fall in between. Some people may feel they haven’t set any personal boundaries at all. What your boundaries are, and indeed if you choose to set them, is a personal decision that only you can make.

Healthy Boundaries As A Form Of Self-Care

Self-care is comprised of the smaller, more surface elements like indulging in something you enjoy, taking care of your skincare routine or having a relaxing bubble bath. There are also the bigger, deeper and more meaningful elements of self-care, like being assertive, forgiving ourselves or saying ‘no’. Setting healthy boundaries is just one important aspect of self-care. It shows you value yourself and you’re making your needs a priority. 

The Benefits Of Boundaries

Having basic guidelines in place should help ensure that your relationships and friendships are more mutually reciprocal, caring, respectful and appropriate, while healthy boundaries in the workplace can lead to less stress and greater levels of fulfilment.

Boundaries can help you make decisions more confidently based on what’s right for you, rather than what others want you to do. You’ll be considering what’s best for you, not just what’s right for those around you, in your day to day behaviours. 

Having and asserting boundaries will enable you to grow your self-respect, self-esteem and confidence. It’ll reinforce your sense of self-worth and meaning. It’ll allow you to have mutually beneficial, healthy relationships. You’ll be more empowered to speak up and to consider your needs and wants, including how those may be different to the needs and wants of those around you. From there, you’ll be more confident in making choices that are in your best interests, not just what’s best for someone else. 

Setting boundaries can help you get and maintain balance in your life, reducing stress, strengthening personal identity, increasing confidence and autonomy, improving relationships, and avoiding burnout. 

A close up of arms and hands, showing two people clasping their hands together as though to show strength, friendship and unity.

What Happens Without Boundaries?

A lack of healthy boundaries can affect various aspects of a person’s life. It can result in “stress, financial burdens, wasted time and relationship issues, which can cause mental distress”. It’s also been argued that “in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout” (from Nelson 2016).

Unhealthy or non-existent boundaries could lead to a negative knock-on effect to all areas of life. For instance, it might be as simple as how you might feel you owe others an explanation and end up disclosing personal information or feelings you didn’t want to share. Sense of identity can weaken, as can confidence, self-esteem and the ability to assert yourself. This leads to disempowerment and lack of autonomy. Feelings of guilt, feeling you’re responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of others can become suffocating, and the fear of abandonment or rejection can amplify. Relationships may become one-sided, leading to resentment, disheartenment or frustration, and a lack of meaning and fulfilment in life. 

Why Boundaries May Not Be Set

There are a few reasons someone may not insist upon their boundaries or even develop them. We don’t want to be treated poorly and we don’t want boundaries violated, yet it can be harder to enforce when push comes to shove. For instance:

  • Guilt (for looking after ourselves, for feeling as though we’re letting the other person down)
  • Upbringing (taught to not have boundaries or that you don’t deserve to assert your own needs)
  • Concerns for safety (fear that in asserting our boundaries the other person may become hostile)
  • Fear (of abandonment, ridicule or retaliation) 

The Respect For Our Boundaries : Violations

While we’d like to hope that others will treat us the way we would treat them, that’s obviously not always the case. While we’d like to hope our boundaries will be respected, there’s no guarantee of that, either. 

There are various reasons someone may break our trust or violate our boundaries. In the best of cases it may be unintentional, with that person meaning no harm. In other cases, it may be done with the intention of causing hurt and upset. Narcissists, for instance, notoriously push and violate boundaries with inappropriate and manipulating behaviours. 

When boundaries are ignored or violated, it can leave us feeling anxious, hurt, confused, exhausted or personally attacked. 

If this happens, it’s a case of continuing to reassert those boundaries and guidelines, and giving some thought as to why that person has done what they have. If your boundaries are fair and you have treated that other person with respect, then the problem is with them, not you.

You have the right to healthy, safe relationships and to be treated appropriately. Know your rights, identify what behaviours aren’t appropriate or helpful from another person, and be straight in your dealings with the breach of boundaries. Have a plan of how to deal with such instances. Stand your ground, be honest, be confident and be assertive. The other person may not like it, but they may be banking on you caving in and letting them get away with their treatment of you.

In the case of potentially damaging or dangerous violations, know when enough is enough. If you need outside support, seek it. This could be particularly crucial in the case of manipulative, controlling or abusive partners. Counselling is also worth considering if you’re feeling the mental health effects of these experiences. You don’t have to go it alone. 

If someone violates your boundaries and you consider them to be a toxic influence in your life that you can no longer move forward with, for whatever reason, then it might be time to move on.You ideally want a support system of people in your life that respect and value you. 

How To Set Healthy Personal Boundaries

Boundaries ensure we are stable emotionally and mentally, and they establish our sense of identity. As such, self-compassion and kindness are vital in developing these boundaries. Believing that you are worth protecting and being treated with respect will be at the core of your guidelines. 

  • The initial step is to reflect on what boundaries you currently have in place, if any, within your life. You might find you have some for certain areas, such as at work, but not others, such as with your friends. Then look at the pre-existing boundaries and ask yourself how well they’re working. Are they too loose or too rigid? Do they need to be adjusted, adapted or added to?
  • Next, look at what’s lacking and where you might feel boundaries could be beneficial. Are there instances where boundaries would have been helpful or could be helpful in future? If you find yourself getting exhausted, frustrated, angry or resentful, it may be that boundaries are needed in those areas.
  • If you’re setting a boundary that could, or does, get violated, what will the consequences be? How will you handle that? It’s also important to ensure that you would be willing to follow through on any potential consequences. Consider what you want from your relationships and what you need your boundaries to do. 
  • If you’ve not set boundaries before, or they’ve been very loose and not not asserted, then you might find yourself feeling bad or guilty or selfish for even thinking about it. Boundaries aren’t selfish, and neither is self-care. You’re looking after yourself in your relationships and interactions, which in turn will benefit your wellbeing, the wellbeing of the other person(s), and the wider situation, be that at home, in social settings, school, work or elsewhere. 
  • Once you’ve identified a boundary, communicate it clearly and simply. State what you need and why, without feeling you need to apologise or justify it. Set potential consequences that will highlight the boundary’s importance. Stay as calm and neutral as you can. You can only control your decision and how you communicate your boundaries and needs; you can’t control how that other person reacts and you’re not responsible for their reaction. 
  • You have the confidence within yourself to set and uphold boundaries, so don’t let low self-esteem, fear or anything else stop you from looking after yourself. 

Setting healthy personal boundaries isn’t always easy, and some people will find it more difficult than others. Be patient and be kind to yourself. Persevere, be determined and dig deep for the assertiveness that’s waiting for the chance to bloom.

A white sketch cartoon against a black background showing a girl walking along a line. To the right of her is a dividing gate and she's running a stick along it as though to suggest she's thoughtful, drawing her personal boundaries or feeling lonely.

Saying No

Saying ‘no’ in itself can be a form of self-care when you’re turning down something you can’t do or don’t want to do for whatever reason. If you’re putting your needs and preferences first, and you know it’s the right thing to do, then stick to it. If someone wants you to do them a favour, play a game or change your plans, calmly say ‘no’ and don’t feel the need to have to explain if you don’t wish or allow yourself to be made to feel guilty because of your choice.

Boundaries In Practice

> Professional & Employment

Professional boundaries in the workplace may include things like not divulging details of your personal life to colleagues. It can be difficult when you feel pushed into disclosing details of your home life or health because colleagues and managers are curious. You might also set a boundary to not interact with those from work on social media. 

Another boundary might be deciding to be easier on yourself, which applies to any work, including being self-employed working from home. You might decide to hold yourself responsible for only your work and nobody else’s. You might decide that you wish to leave your work at the office and that, unless your contract stipulates otherwise, you don’t wish to be contacted at home. 

Setting boundaries in your work life can help in preventing burnout, giving you more satisfaction in your work that leaves you with a little more physical and emotional energy at the end of the day.

> Friends 

A boundary might be to not take responsibility for the lives and choices of others. We want to be there for our friends and help them out as best we can, but we can only do so much. In some cases we may feel at fault, or be made to feel at fault, when they’re upset or something bad happens. At the end of the day, we can only take responsibility for our own actions and wellbeing. 

Another boundary might be to not take on more than we can manage; if a relationship is becoming rather one-sided, where we seem to be there for the other person but they’re not there for us, or we’re always helping out as best we can but they’ve not reciprocated, we might want to ease off a little. It’s not tit-for-tat, it’s protecting yourself from being used or feeling resentful. The boundary here is to have a mutually respectful, equally reciprocal friendship. Boundaries can also ensure one respects the value of one’s time and energy, managing the demands on yourself by ensuring they’re fair, warranted and wanted.

Friends may want to know details that you don’t wish to share. For example, this might apply to disclosing details of your chronic illness & health issues, or something you’ve experienced in your life you don’t wish to talk about. In the case of those close to you, they may be curious, they may simply wish to help, or they may feel insulted that you won’t tell them. It’s totally your decision when it comes to something like this. If you don’t wish to disclose such information, that’s your choice, so don’t feel pressured. If you do wish to, do it on your terms.

> Acquaintances & Strangers

In a similar way that friends may want to know something, a personal boundary with acquaintances or strangers may involve not disclosing information you consider private and personal, and not feeling pressured into doing so. They may be curious, but it’s your call as to what you share and with whom you share it.

It may be a physical personal boundary, such as in the case of someone invading your personal space. You can take a step back to non-verbally indicate the boundary, and politely ask them to stop crowding you if they miss the cue. 

Other violations of physical boundaries might include inappropriate touching and sexual advances, or someone going through your private property. 

You could also consider boundaries in your dealings with medical professionals, such as to be able to speak without being spoken over, and to assert yourself without worrying about what the doctor or specialist is thinking.

> Parent-Child Relationships

To maintain a healthy relationship here of trust and respect, boundaries may be in terms of language used, or knocking on your child’s door before entering to gain permission. Boundaries might be in terms of not reading your child’s diary or emails, while the child is to respect boundaries for bedtime or returning home in the evening by a set time. Perhaps you’ll both decide on how to give each other space when it’s asked for

> Romantic Relationships 

An example of a boundary in an early relationship might be to see that person once or twice a week, when they may be contacting you too regularly or putting pressure on you to see them more often than you’re comfortable with. In a stable relationship, we might feel we want to keep some of our personal life personal; boundaries might be in terms of not having to explain to our partner who we’re spending time with, not having them read our messages and emails, or not feeling pressured to talk about our ex partners and childhood if we don’t wish to. 

A man and woman sat on their bed facing opposite directions. They both look fed up as though they've had an argument or their personal boundaries have been disrespected.

Boundaries could also be in terms of taking responsibility for certain chores and tasks around the home or with childcare, to ensure each person in the relationship is taking on a fair share. Your boundaries could help you ensure a two-way street, where no one person is in control of the other. Another intellectual and emotional boundary might be to follow your own dreams, so while you could be open to negotiating, it would be a breach of boundaries for your partner to suggest or insist you sacrifice your goals and dreams so that they can instead fulfil theirs. 

There are lots of ways in which boundaries can be set and instances in which they can be applied. These are just a couple of examples to give you a basic idea of boundaries in practice. 

Boundaries aren’t always easy to set, maintain and assert, but they can be vital to our wellbeing and sense of self-worth. Boundaries might best be viewed as practicing a form of self-care with a myriad potential benefits. Having these in place can not only benefit us but also our friendships and relationships, having a knock-on effect to our day to day lives, our employment, our healthcare, and our future opportunities by encouraging greater fulfilment, satisfaction and wellbeing.

A black scroll divider.

Have you found personal boundaries to be useful, or have you perhaps struggled with setting healthy boundaries?

Caz  ♥

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Melinda March 7, 2022 - 4:32 pm

Another great post Caz! I hope you’re well. I didn’t hear a follow-up. How is your mother??????? Send me an em when you can.

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 2:41 pm

Thanks, Mel, I’m really glad you like the post! And thank you for asking about my mum – I’m sorry I’ve not updated on this yet, things have been ridiculously full-on but she is doing a little better than she was ???????? xx

Terri, Olive Tree Saints March 7, 2022 - 6:45 pm

Another fabulous post Caz! “Unhealthy or non-existent boundaries could lead to a negative knock-on effect to all areas of life…. Sense of identity can weaken, as can confidence, self-esteem and the ability to assert yourself. This leads to disempowerment and lack of autonomy.” Truer words were never spoken my friend! This is such an important post on so many levels. I was just telling my Hubby yesterday that I like rules – they help you what’s expected – and I feel the same way about healthy boundaries. Hope you’re doing as well as possible sweet friend, and that your lovely Mum is doing better. Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 2:43 pm

I’m really glad you like the post, Terri! ???? I thought it was an important topic to cover for many reasons, and I think there are plenty of times where we may not even realise boundaries exist (or should exist) in different settings with different people. And thank you for the kind wishes for my mum, it’s much appreciated ???? xx

capost2k March 7, 2022 - 8:11 pm

Excellent guidance on boundaries, including the romantic relationship up to the point that one makes a commitment to marriage. There are differing views on this, but the best authors I have read, and from my own and colleagues’ experience, nothing should be “off the table” in marriage. One put it this way: Any marriage based on 50-50 is a contractual agreement heading for disaster. Marriage should be 100-100, complete abandonment of one’s own choices for the sake of one’s spouse.
Now, obviously, if ONE partner does this and the other doesn’t, this too will spell disaster. No husband or wife should take advantage of the other, but if BOTH commit to this level of openness, it is a tremendously liberating place to have someone with whom you can share your darkest secrets, deepest needs and most detailed vulnerability.
❤️&????, c.a.

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 2:50 pm

I’m pleased you like the post and thank you for sharing your thoughts on romantic relationships. So by marriage being 100-100, you mean always having the other’s back, being fully open and vulnerable with each other. Rather than just abandoning all of your own needs consistently to appease the other person (though if the other person also does this it would still work out well for both parties). I like that. I agree with total commitment and openness being so important, as well as equal energy put into it. I don’t agree with traditional roles in relationships either so this openness and equal effort should help with compromise and balance in the day to day as well. ???? I hope you both have a wonderful weekend!

Sandee March 7, 2022 - 8:50 pm

Well done. Boundaries are so important. They keep us safe and others too.

Have a fabulous day and week, Caz. Big hug. ♥

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 4:24 pm

Absolutely, boundaries can be very important across lots of situations and relationships. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Sandee! ???? xx

Michele Anderson March 8, 2022 - 12:11 am

We all need to respect one another’s boundaries. Wonderful post, Caz.

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 10:55 pm

Absolutely, healthy boundaries is good for all involved. Glad you like the post, Michele! Hope you have a lovely weekend ???? xx

Popping Wheelies March 8, 2022 - 1:26 am

I think I’m good, I hope, at respecting boundaries. I am not good at setting them and don’t think I really know how. With the new MS peer system, I’ve done well at clearly establishing fences and not getting pulled into negativity, however. Great post, Caz! ????

InvisiblyMe March 12, 2022 - 11:09 pm

I think generally people who are kind, compassionate and/or empathetic are often better at recognising and respecting the boundaries of others. You therefore would be fantastic, of that I’m sure. Setting boundaries is likewise, I think, harder for such people because we want to be flexible for others, don’t always like to say no, want to appease sometimes, like to put others first. It’s always doable, but I suppose in many cases you do okay with how things are going and you know if it’s not working well, you feel that point where a firm boundary needs to be set. I’m glad you’ve done well with the peer system and not getting pulled into negativity, because that can be pretty difficult to do. Really glad you like the post, George, and thank you for the thoughtful comment! Have yourself a restful weekend my friend ????

SS March 8, 2022 - 10:51 am

I’ve always struggled with boundaries. I try to clarify what is okay and the unacceptable but at times I feel guilty or as though I am over-reacting. In the moment it can be tough to think straight but feeling safe is important and I keep trying to be tougher. Your posts always speak to me 🙂

InvisiblyMe March 14, 2022 - 4:31 pm

Boundaries aren’t easy, and I feel like you do with feeling guilty or like I’m making a big deal about it if I feel a line has been crossed or I try to assert boundaries. If you’re more empathic, for instance if you care about how the other person(s) feels and what they think, I personally think boundaries can be harder to set and maintain. You can be a little tougher if you’re more willing to assert your needs a bit more. I think your kind heart is as strong as it is compassionate, even if you don’t realise it. I’m really glad this post spoke to you in some way and thank you for the thoughtful comment! ???? xx

Blogging_with_Bojana March 8, 2022 - 12:46 pm

Germans have too many boundaries which don’t appeal to me always, but I have to say I love that they teach kids at very young age how to set them so as to recognize danger, be able to report abuse and tell you pretty directly when you did wrong.

InvisiblyMe March 14, 2022 - 4:35 pm

That’s a good point with how boundaries and how they’re viewed can differ between countries and communities. I wasn’t aware that boundaries are so fundamental in Germany, nor that the concept is taught to kids to help them in a practical sense. That’s a really good idea. I always thought assertiveness should be taught in schools, so I’d add boundaries to that as they go hand in hand quite well. x

Kymber Hawke March 8, 2022 - 1:33 pm

I think this is such an important topic, Caz, and you wrote about it so well!. Saying no, for me, is so hard. There are many times when a simple no should be fine and acceptable, yet I struggle with the guilt of letting people down. I’m working on it. lol

InvisiblyMe March 16, 2022 - 4:05 pm

You’re not the only one to struggle with saying no and the guilt of letting others down, it’s a really tough one, isn’t it? I’m starting to think that those who are more compassionate, kind and empathetic (like you) find saying no harder and experience more guilt, generally speaking. I’m really glad you like the post & thank you for commenting! xx

Despite Pain March 8, 2022 - 3:56 pm

Fantastic post, Caz. It’s so easy to not have boundaries then feel obliged to say or do things we’d rather not. Saying no is often the hardest word to say.
When it comes to chronic illness issues, I know people who feel awkward when they’re asked questions about their health. Some people might be asking out of concern or genuine interest but some might just be nosey. Quite simply our health is our own business and it’s up to us what we share and who we share it with. As a chronic illness blogger, I share a lot, maybe too much, but I don’t share everything. Even chronic illness bloggers make boundaries.
I really loved this post. It’s such an important topic.

InvisiblyMe March 20, 2022 - 1:58 pm

You’re right, and I think a lot of people find “no” particularly difficult to say in the first place, let alone without guilt or feeling bad for letting someone down. I agree with your thoughts on sharing when it comes to our health issues, too. I think what you share on your blog is just right, it’s not too much in my mind, it’s honest and open and the sort of stuff others can relate to. What you do and what you share helps, more than you’ll ever know. But everyone needs boundaries and we should feel we’re able to keep certain parts to ourselves if we wish. I’m really glad you like the post and thank you for your thoughtful comment! xx

theyorkshiredreamer March 8, 2022 - 4:47 pm

I love this post as you clearly outline different elements to setting and enforcing boundaries in different types of relationships.

The section about what happens without boundaries really hits home, as before I set boundaries, I felt stressed and anxious around others. I did initially feel guilty and wrong for setting boundaries.

I think I am alright at setting boundaries now, but it can become overwhelming when others have no respect for the boundaries I set. I would think it was my fault that my boundaries weren’t normal, but I now realise the problem is on them and not me.

I love the line ‘If your boundaries are fair and you have treated that person with respect, then the problem is with them, not you’. Thank you for including that.

Your guideline on how to set healthy personal boundaries is extremely helpful as well.

Thank you for sharing. ????

InvisiblyMe March 24, 2022 - 10:34 am

I’m really glad you like the post and it’s great to hear you feel stronger with setting boundaries than you once did. It’s hard when others don’t respect them, and perhaps harder still if we feel guilty for enforcing them, but you’re absolutely right in how that’s not your problem if they have an issue with it. Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment & for sharing your experience with boundaries ???? xx

Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet March 8, 2022 - 4:56 pm

Great post, Caz! Very comprehensive and a universal topic. I think I am fairly good at setting and maintaining boundaries, but there is one relationship where this problem persists, and I struggle with it on an ongoing basis. The person’s mental health issues complicate the situation. I don’t think there is any solution, but I have to maintain my boundaries as best I can to preserve my own well-being.

InvisiblyMe March 25, 2022 - 4:51 pm

I’m really glad you like the post and it’s great to hear you’re generally confident with boundaries. I’m sorry there’s one instance where there’s an issue. It sounds like a more delicate situation so I like your approach to do what you can to protect your well-being. That’s important because you’re important. And you make a good point in that there’s not always a solution. xx

Ann Coleman March 8, 2022 - 10:40 pm

Well said, Caz! I am a huge believer in personal boundaries. They not only help me, but they help me to be more tolerant and understanding of others as well.

InvisiblyMe March 25, 2022 - 4:53 pm

That’s a good point, that boundaries can help you be more understanding of others. The process of setting and maintaining boundaries isn’t always easy, sometimes it’s immensely difficult when a relationship is complex, but it’s important and healthy boundaries have wider-ranging potential benefits than it may seem at first glance. Thanks, Ann ???? xx

The Oceanside Animals March 9, 2022 - 3:25 am

Charlee: “Oh yeah! We cats are all about boundaries!”
Chaplin: “That’s right. Don’t pick us up when we don’t want to be picked up. Only pet us when and where and how long we want you to pet us. Play with us on demand. All that stuff.”
Lulu: “Boundaries? What are boundaries? Oh hang on one of the humans is heading for the bathroom and I have to go with them!”
Charlee: “And then, there are dogs …”

InvisiblyMe March 26, 2022 - 10:58 am

Cats are very good with setting and maintaining their own strict boundaries, definitely. But it’s not just dogs that follow hoomans when they’re going for a wee, you felines do it too..! ????

Carrie Kellenberger March 10, 2022 - 8:45 am

I saw your image for this article on IG and bookmarked it to read today! Yes, boundaries. I feel like I’m so good at setting them and people are so good at ignoring them and now I’m at the point where if you can’t respect my boundaries that protect my health after all this time, then perhaps these folks don’t deserve a space in my life. I’ve just let another friendship go because she refused to acknowledge or accept very clear boundaries, which I feel are quite simple for everyone. ‘Don’t dump your problems on someone to the point that they feel better because they’ve gotten rid of negative emotions and you now feel worse for having had to listen to it.’ I feel this one is especially important these days because everyone is so stressed.

The other one is pretty simple. Please don’t contact me past 10pm via text. It sounds simple, but apparently it isn’t, so I’m now blocking folks who do that. They can reach me by phone during the day or email me. My line of work with my own business always requires strict boundaries because in Taiwan, clients feel that when they hire you, they should have access to you at any time they choose. So yes, there are many ways to set and establish boundaries and we all are healthier for them.

I’ve felt more powerful since learning how to say ‘no’ straight up with no additional excuses to say why I’m saying no. Great article, Caz!

InvisiblyMe March 28, 2022 - 10:37 pm

I’m sorry you’ve found that others often don’t respect your boundaries. It’s really hard to deal with situations like that; I think that those who are more compassionate and empathetic often find asserting boundaries harder because we don’t want to cause upset or we feel guilty for doing it. But you can only take so much before something needs to change. You’re right, if someone can’t respect your boundaries and it’s having a negative impact on you and/or the relationship, and they’re willing to work at resolving the issues, then maybe don’t deserve space in your life.

A really good point about stress-dumping. I think it’s good to talk and there’s so much many of us need to vent about these days but it should be a two-way street and with consideration for the other person, what they’re feeling, whether it’s a convenient time, what they’re going through, etc. Sadly not everyone considers that or even takes a breath to ask how they’re doing before unloading or talking about themselves.

Another good point on work as some societies and some companies have overwhelming expectations of constant contact, and it’s not healthy or sustainable.

Saying “no” can be immensely daunting but also immensely empowering and freeing. The next step is overcoming guilt and feeling you need to provide an excuse (something I struggle with).

I’m really glad you like the article & thank you so much for sharing your experiences, Carrie! ???? xx

katelon March 13, 2022 - 6:03 pm

Important and powerful post. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to set boundaries and stick by them. I’ve still got a ways to go 🙂

InvisiblyMe March 28, 2022 - 10:39 pm

It takes time for sure. I found I started to get a little better as I became more assertive and less shy in general, but perhaps it’s best to see boundaries as a continual work-in-progress. I think we’re all capable of setting, asserting and maintaining them, it’s just there are issues of confidence, guilt, expectations etc that can be so hard to get past first. I hope you can continue to work on your boundaries so as to look after yourself and your relationships ???? xx

Blanca March 14, 2022 - 6:55 pm

Hi Caz! Such a great post! We all need to set boundaries in our lifes, otherwise there´s a high risk of suffering psychological and physical consequences. Thank you so much for sharing!

InvisiblyMe March 28, 2022 - 10:40 pm

Absolutely, not having healthy boundaries does run the risk of consequences to yourself and your relationships, but thankfully I think we’re all capable of setting and maintaining them. Thanks lovely, I’m glad you like the post! ???? xx

Blogging_with_Bojana March 14, 2022 - 10:35 pm

Abstand is one of the first words you learn here.

InvisiblyMe March 29, 2022 - 1:10 pm

Distance. A good one to learn prehaps.

Blogging_with_Bojana March 29, 2022 - 4:58 pm


Holly March 15, 2022 - 4:07 am

Caz, I absolutely adore this post and am so grateful you tackled it because it’s a topic of discussion we need to have more often. No one could have shared it any better than you.

This line, “Narcissists, for instance, notoriously push and violate boundaries with inappropriate and manipulating behaviours.” —- spot on! I am glad you included this because I am one of those who have been on the receiving end of those manipulations. As a chronic people pleaser (from my upbringing), no was a dirty word. These narcissists who had no concern for my own needs or well-being would make me feel like the worst human on the planet for not giving into their demands. Sadly, this is a very common tactic many people come up against when they are setting boundaries for the first time. Knowing they’re not alone and that it’s still okay to stand firm is critical!

Your examples are brilliant too, sharing the differences you’ll find in each form of relationship (i.e. work, romantic, family, etc). Anyone who intentionally and blatantly disrespects your boundaries has no respect for you. That alone is a red flag!

“You have the confidence within yourself to set and uphold boundaries, so don’t let low self-esteem, fear or anything else stop you from looking after yourself. ” — This is a huge key point to make, my friend. If we don’t feel worthy of considering our own needs (or time) by saying no, we are defeated before we even begin. Dealing with the underlying issues of low self-esteem often reveals roots from the ones who never respected you or your boundaries anyway!

I’ve missed you, friend! Know that I am sending you SO much love, prayers, and many many hugs. Been praying for your Mom too! ❤️ You’re never forgotten!

InvisiblyMe March 29, 2022 - 2:27 pm

I’m really glad you like the post, Holly, and hank you for sharing your thoughts. Being a people-pleaser, as you say, “no” is really difficult. I think those who are more empathetic and compassionate find being assertive and having boundaries harder because they don’t want to cause upset and they feel guilty for looking after their own needs. It’s going to be almost impossible to set boundaries let alone assert them if you don’t think you’re worth looking after in the first instance, and I think that’s a crucial underlying point that’s often neglected.

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Holly. Sending lots of love right back at’cha! ????????

forresting365 March 15, 2022 - 7:25 pm

Hey beautiful Caz! Firstly….gosh! I just saw the commenter above me say she is praying for Your Mom. I have no idea what’s going on as it takes me forever to get around, but please know that I will be praying for Her as well!!! Sending SO much Love Your way!!!

Thank You for yet another AMAZING, mindblowingly thorough article. Talk about timing! I was listening to a tapping/EFT therapist this morning talking about drawing boundaries and ways we can help ourselves feel safe to do so. And now I see Your wonderful post! Nice full circle for the day and message received! Thank You so very much! You ROCK and gift SOOOO very much! Cheers and the hugest hugs imaginable to You!!! ????❤️????

InvisiblyMe March 29, 2022 - 2:30 pm

Aww thank you very muchly, Katy, you’re the best. My mum had a heart attack a few weeks ago, a very serious one. We’re incredibly lucky as she’s okay, she’s on a lot of meds and feeling a bit more like herself but she has heart failure damage as a result and we’re waiting to see if she needs a stent put in or not.

That sounds like an excellent talk from the EFT therapist. Ways we can help ourselves feel safe to draw boundaries, that’s a good topic to cover. I think the underlying issues are often overlooked, like people not having confidence in themselves, feelings of guilt, wanting to please others, not wanting to rock the boat, not feeling we’re worth looking after. Ways we can feel more comfortable and confident to make and assert boundaries could make all the difference.

Thanks again for the lovely comment my friend. I hope the week treats you well! ???????????? xx

forresting365 March 29, 2022 - 10:58 pm

Oh gosh, Caz! I’m so sorry to hear that! I am glad she’s ok and is feeling a bit more like herself. That’s a lot to go through, to say the least!!! I’m glad that if her heart is damaged they can help it with a stent. Wow. Sending so much Love and prayers. ????????❤️????!!!

Everything You say here is so true. Feels like a lifelong journey to me, but one that’s important to stick with and become better and better at!!! A big YES to this: “Ways we can feel more comfortable and confident to make and assert boundaries could make all the difference.” ????????????

And gosh!!! Reading You and commenting are always my absolute pleasure, beautiful Caz!!! And Thank You! I hope this week treats You and Yours well also and that You All get the stent answer that feels right/good for Your mother. Sending HUGE hugs!!! ????❤️????????????

johnlmalone April 2, 2022 - 12:52 pm

great post; I’m aware that my impersonator has crossed my boundaries; if ever I meet him …..

InvisiblyMe April 2, 2022 - 4:19 pm

A definite boundary crossed! I’d like to think that it’s a great honour to have someone be so enamoured with you that they’d pretend to be you, John ???? What a bizarre thing to have happen, I’m sorry that it did and I hope Facebook sort it out.

da-AL April 13, 2022 - 12:19 am

I agree – great post, Caz – & am so glad you’re mom’s on the mend <3

Ellie Thompson April 24, 2022 - 6:35 pm

I’ve not long found your blog, and I’m so glad I read this post. Wow … it really did hit home for me. I’ve had my boundaries smashed to bits ever since I was a child. It was tough, very tough. As a result, I still find my boundaries (what there is of them) get walked all over. I’ve learned so much from your words – there is a lot of extremely useful advice and explanation, and I needed that. As an adult, the pattern repeated itself in relationships, both personal and professional. It was ten years ago that I was meant to have been in a therapeutic relationship with a therapist (female). She took serious advantage of me and completely destroyed any sense of boundaries I might have already been beginning to learn. It was an awful and shocking experience that went on for eight years (believe it or not) and led to me having serious mental health issues including being hospitalised at times. I just didn’t know how I could get away from her. She’d offer me all the things I’d so needed in my earlier lifetime, affection (inappropriate), time, even gifts and greetings cards etc. She taught me about the Oracle and we’d talk about our future together. Anything and everything to keep me at my most vulnerable. Finally, she walked out on me the day my father died – just like that. She disappeared into the ether and I never saw her again. Now I’ve written all that, I’m wondering, very seriously, whether I’ve violated my own boundaries by telling you, a complete stranger up till now, all about my experience. I now have the dilemma of whether to post this comment or just delete it. I think I’m going to post it as I would really appreciate your feedback. If you deem these comments to be unsuitable, please, don’t hesitate to bin them. I will totally understand. I hope I haven’t offended you.

I should add, however, that I’m a heck of a lot better now having found a good, professional, boundaried therapist who’s been helping me deal with all this. I no longer have serious mental health issues and my self-esteem has improved. Ellie

InvisiblyMe April 24, 2022 - 11:04 pm

Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, Ellie, and of course it’s suitable. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and with such honesty, especially as what you’ve been through has been so painful and personal. Do you think writing about it or talking about it helps, just to “get it out”? I hope so, I really do. I think your first comment went straight to spam as you’ve not commented before, so to you it makes it look like the site ate it and it disappeared, but thankfully I gots it!

It seems that relationship patterns or boundary issues often do continue from childhood, at least some aspects of them and especially when there has been trauma.

What happened with your therapist is very eye-opening. She was the one in a position of authority, the one person you should have been able to trust and rely upon. She had a duty of care to you and she failed you. Very badly. Do you mind my asking if that relationship was outside of therapy also? Either way, it sounds like she knew what she was doing and of course she would, she’s a therapist. She’s trained in how to set professional boundaries and she knew well what was inappropriate. The fact that she weedled her way into your life and then suddenly disappeared, right when you probably needed her the most, just shows what a coward she was. I used to want to train as a clinical psychologist, before I got ill. My inner wannabe-psychologist is sickened by this therapist, not just because of what she did because of how that has affected you so deeply.

I’m glad you’re doing a bit better since then and have found a “proper” (because I don’t think anyone who did what she did was proper) therapist.

Just to be clear – I really am glad you’ve shared this, so thank you. You’ve not offended or said too much or anything. Okay? I’m always around if ever you want to email or just to have someone be there to listen. I realise what you’ve been through will make the boundary thing a whole lot more complex, but I do believe you can assert boundaries still, that you can protect yourself while still letting people in and having hope and trust. The abusers of boundaries and your good nature will never win.
Caz xx

Ellie Thompson April 24, 2022 - 7:04 pm

Hi Caz. I’ve only just found your blog and love this post. It really is excellent and I’ve learned a lot from it. I left a rather lengthy comment, but it seems to have disappeared somewhere. Perhaps, it went into spam by mistake. Or, perhaps, it wasn’t suitable as I thought it might not be. I gave you permission to delete it if this was the case. I just didn’t want you to think that I hadn’t bothered to respond. Thanks again for your wisdom and insight. Ellie

Ellie Thompson April 25, 2022 - 10:30 am

Morning, Caz (if it’s the morning where you are on the planet!), I can’t thank you enough for taking the time and trouble to reply to my very long message so understandingly. I really do appreciate it. Writing definitely does help to get things out, I agree. I know that I need to ‘polish up’ my keeping boundaries skills, that’s for sure. The relationship between this therapist and me was only outside of sessions in the form of very frequent texting back and forwards, plus regular phone calls. I guess this wasn’t very professional either. I was totally dependent on her as I think she was me. I think it was a co-dependent relationship. When I first started seeing her, it was once a week. That quickly became twice a week and then three times at her suggestion. The ‘relationship’ went on for an unbelievable eight years! No wonder I was so damaged when it ended. I was going to complain about her to the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy), but they told me that this should have been done in the first three years after the so-called therapy ended. It had been about five years before I found the courage to report her. I just left it too late, which was very frustrating. Unfortunately, I have no concrete proof of what happened with her because following her walking out the day my father died, all my eight years’ worth of notes disappeared from the organisation she worked for! More than a coincidence, I feel. I wish I’d taken it up with the organisation at the time, but I was in too much of a mess to deal with it. I also know that she’s still a practising therapist as she still advertises and lives quite near me. Thank goodness I’ve never bumped into her in town or anywhere else.

By the way, I think you would have made an excellent clinical psychologist. Do you mind if I ask you what your illness is? You may have shared this on your blog somewhere, but I’ve only just found you (and I’m so glad I did), so I haven’t read all your previous posts. Perhaps, if you have, would you mind sending me a link to that/those post(s), please? Thanks so much. Please, don’t feel obliged, though. If you’d rather email me with those details, feel free to contact me at ellie.thompsonwp@yahoo.com. Thank you.

I am a lot better now than I was back then, thankfully. My new therapist is helping me deal with the anger I feel towards that woman. She’s also aware that I have boundary issues and is kindly but firmly making sure our sessions have very firm boundaries, which is just what I need. She is really helping me, for which I’m very grateful. Thank you so much for giving me this time to talk. Take care. Ellie xx


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