What are boundaries and why are they essential for our happiness?

My client Saul had been out with his friends, after a couple of drinks he told me he was ready to head home. He was looking forward to a close friend’s wedding the next day and wanted to be on top form. Saul said:

“It was about 9.00, I had a good laugh but hadn’t eaten and didn’t want to go on drinking and socialising, I’d had a good chat with a few mates and was ready to head home and as was starving hungry. A couple of mates started taking the piss out of me saying I was becoming boring. Don’t know what happened but I just laughed and went along just to avoid any more taunts. I got back at 2.00 in the morning and felt so rough at the wedding, didn’t enjoy it at all.”

We have all been there haven’t we? Like Saul we don’t listen to what’s right for us and go along with something we don’t want to do just to please the crowd. Every now and then this isn’t going to do too much harm but if you constantly ignore what your inner self is saying, it’s a recipe for misery.


That inner voice or feeling is communicating your boundaries. The word means a dividing line or ‘a line that marks the limits of an area.’ It’s this dividing line that acts as a frontier or cut off point for what you believe to be acceptable or right for you.

Ignore those frontiers and you stop manifesting your true self, and are just a version of what others want you to be.

Not expressing who you are creates on-going feelings of things aren’t right but you feel powerless to change the status quo.


So why do we not express our boundaries and what is right for ourselves?

Mostly it’s due to beliefs we hold and lack of confidence which leads to:

  • Wanting to please others so as not to be left out or cause an argument.
  • Feeling not good enough and that other peoples’ view of you is more important than your own.
  • Your opinion doesn’t matter.
  • Or when in a toxic relationship and have not been listened to and respected in the past so there is a sense of ‘it just isn’t worth the hassle.’

Doesn’t the above feel yuk? Those points speak of a life not fully lived and a person who is a version of what others want him to be. Not who he truly is.


What are the advantages to communicating our boundaries?   

  • When you acknowledge your internal experiences and allow them to drive your actions and communication. This gives a great sense of empowerment and confidence.
  • Other people know how to behave around you.
  • You get to live in alignment and that feels so good. From what food you want to the development of a new romance – you feel empowered.
  • Making a choice to be kind to yourself gives you a cosy blanket of self-respect. And although that may seem a small thing, the effect on the mind body and spirit are huge and uplifting.
  • You will still make mistakes but you can own them. Any tough times or rotten experiences won’t be because other people have led you to them.
  • The overall improvement in self-awareness grows as you practice more and more becoming yourself. Self-awareness is a key factor in personal growth and happiness.

If you have always done what others want you to do then when you start to change be prepared for a kick back in the initial stages. However, the end results will be worth standing firm in what you know to be right for you.


A client of mine reaped the rewards to sticking to her newly communicated boundaries.  Sally was a lovely Mum with teenage children who were taking advantage of her kind and giving nature. From expecting lifts all hours of the day and night to making several dinners at different times – Sally was always on call.

As often happens she started to feel it wasn’t right. So, she began to ask for prior notice for lifts and no lifts for her children over 18 after 12.00 pm. Well they moaned, named called and tried to shame her but she stood fast and within a few weeks they had started to ask Mum in advance and treat her with respect and gratitude.


How do I start to communicate my boundaries?

  • The first stage is to get a sense of what you want to do differently.
  • You will be more likely to carry out the changes if you think about what the short, and long-term rewards will be. Then if the people around you push back because they want the status quo of the past to return; you will have a clear meaning and reason for pushing forward what’s right for you.
  • Communicate to others when appropriate – too many circumstances to even begin to name but from being clear that ‘no means no.’ To giving someone prior knowledge of what you would like.
  • On an ongoing basis be self-aware and if someone suggests an activity and that’s not right for you – realise you have a choice.
  • Don’t expect others to fall in with what you want to do. Be self-assured that if you loose friends you will find ones that are more in alignment with your new energy.

Living a life where we constantly compromise our boundaries and awareness of them makes for a stressful existence. No one can be all things to all people and when you can be just the you that’s good for you. Other peoples’ opinions have less rank than the field of wisdom behind your cut off points. And the stress just falls away. Life becomes so much easier!


There is something utterly magical that happens when a person gradually starts to do what is right for them. From having a quiet night in to saying no to what others would see as a dream job – following your inner compass brings the life and experiences that are right for your personal evolution.

As for Saul, a lifetime of compromise due to not wanting to be excluded. Grew into a confidence to do what was right for him no matter what others thought. Life changed! A new girlfriend who respected and listened to him. Yes, he lost a few pals but those who remained cared about him no matter what his choice of social activities. And best of all – he felt he mattered and this bought him a sense of calm that he had never known.



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karen reynolds (20 Posts)