Boundaries - one thing to consider before you start

If you find it a challenge to set boundaries, the first step is not setting them. Huh?!

Sounds counter intuitive...bear with me...


Before you even start setting them, I suggest a deep dive into how you view boundaries. And please do not use ‘I am rubbish at setting boundaries’ as another thing to beat yourself up over.

Rather than seeing boundaries as a brick wall that you need to put up to stop other people / things / situations coming in - can you think of it as a safe haven to nurture and protect you?

The way we think about boundaries can often be what makes it hard to 1) identify them in the first place 2) communicate them to others and 3) maintain them.

We associate setting boundaries with:

  • Being selfish

  • Being difficult

  • Not being liked

  • Being unhelpful

  • Being lazy

  • Arrogance

If this is how you view boundaries, of course it is going to be difficult to initiate them. Before setting boundaries, try a rekkie on how you view ‘boundaries’.

  • What do you think of when you think of boundaries?

  • What words, behaviour, language do you associate with boundaries?

  • How do you view others when they communicate their boundaries?

  • What were you told about boundaries when you were young?

One word we tend to associate with boundaries is ‘NO’. And while this can be a useful boundary, the way in which we communicate it does not have to be difficult / selfish / unhelpful / arrogant. It can be a compassionate ‘No’ that enables others to know where we’re at, and allows us the space we need to feel safe.

If you view boundaries as negative and all of those things above, naturally you are not going to feel comfortable when setting them.


Exploring the reasons why you view them that way can help reassess your relationship with boundaries and make small steps towards setting the boundaries that are right for you.

Gemma Brown Coaching, Cambridge
Gemma Brown Coaching

Gemma Brown is an associate certified coach with the International Coach Federation, working with people to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma is based in Cambridgeshire and carries out face to face coaching in the area as well as 1-2-1 coaching via Skype and Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.

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