Deborah Russell Coaching

Establishing boundaries is necessary for physical and emotional safety as well as healthy relationships

How do you know if your personal boundaries are being crossed?

It was when I first started learning about boundaries that I realised I had very few to speak of.

What can happen is that when you have few or very weak boundaries, you develop the amazing talent of self-denial and then compliance plays games with your self-respect and the respect that others have for you.

The irony also is that when we have weak boundaries, we think that our compassionate behaviour will gain the love and respect of others. It does not!

Of course, people will enjoy your willing and generous nature, but their respect for you will diminish. This is a tough call for people pleasers!

Yet, we talk about ‘empathy and compassion’ being crucial competencies for strong leaders,

…so how do we get the balance between having emotional strengths and getting trodden on?

 First look at some signs of imbalance:

Do you-

  • Have an ongoing anger with yourself or someone else?
  • Apologize frequently to others?
  • Stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy or return when you know you shouldn’t?
  • Let others define you and allow them to control your existence?
  • Seek the approval of others?
  • Ignore challenges or stay quiet just to “keep the peace”?
  • Have self-consciousness and social anxiety?
  • Not notice when somebody else’s behaviour is inappropriate?
  • Say yes when you want to say no, or no when you want to say yes?
  • Put others needs ahead of your own and deal with their problems before yours?
  • Not call out someone you feel mistreats or takes advantage of you?
  • Spend time with people who drain you or who you don’t really want to be around?
  • Expect others to know what you need without telling them? 

We are talking boundaries here!

Pushing the Limits

Please understand that having personal boundaries is fine and they are necessary for emotional and physical safety as well as healthy relationships!

Your own self-worth comes from honouring who you are and what you want and from living your life and not letting others live it for you.

Boundaries protect your values; they keep you in alignment with what you have decided you want in life. If you do not know what you want in your relationship you are like a play dough toy that can be knocked into any shape desired, and you will conform to the other person’s agenda since you don’t have one for yourself.

 It is no secret that psychopaths and other manipulators and abusers target those people with weak boundaries, and they excel at crossing weak boundaries, not strong ones.

What boundaries might you need to set? Your boundaries could fit into the following categories:

Concrete or material boundaries – decide whether you lend or give things to others- money, car, books, or food. e.g boundary: I will not lend money to anyone I have not known and trusted for many years.

Emotional boundaries – have the freedom to express emotions without being made to feel guilty for having them and be allowed to express them in the way that feels comfortable without being lead to believe that you are the problem. e.g boundary: I will not go against my personal values, or tolerate abusive behaviour (belittling, humiliation, passive silent treatment such as eye rolling or yelling)

Physical boundaries – these deal with your privacy, personal space, sexuality, and body. They determine who may enter that space, who may touch you and under what circumstances. e.g boundary: I will not make excuses for anyone’s harmful behaviour, and I will not accept the excuses of anyone displaying harmful behaviour either.

Spiritual boundaries – your beliefs are yours to have and to hold. e.g boundary: I will not be forced into any religion or belief, cult, or society against my wishes.

Getting to grips with one’s boundaries now is not saying we were at fault, it is about taking our experiences and our understandings and turning it into something that we can do something about to prevent further repetition.

If you are involved with a manipulator or abuser or you want to prevent this from happening in the first place, let’s talk.

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Deborah Russell, Professional Certified Life and Business Coach, PCC, ICF If you’d like to make an appointment for a 15 minute confidential chat, contact me on or directly on my website

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