Why are boundaries such a big deal?



What are they and why are we told we should have them? And why are they such a big deal?

Just like morals and values, boundaries are those things that are unique to each of us that we rarely think about yet we seem to instinctually know when we’ve got a problem with them. Boundaries are a  big deal because increasingly people find themselves either getting angry more often over certain issues or feeling a sense of sadness, loss or frustration as others continue, in their eyes, to disrespect them.

Wikipedia defines personal boundaries as:  guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

Makes sense, but how do we know when our boundaries are being crossed? What exactly does that look like?

You know that feeling you get in your gut when someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or like something isn’t right with the situation? Or when you feel anger bubbling up inside of you but you never say anything? That feeling in your gut is intuition and the anger is often a strong indicator that your boundaries are being crossed. The key here is to be able to articulate this without having the conversation escalate into an all out blame game/shouting match. All too often we worry that if we speak up about what is and isn’t acceptable to us that we will end up pushing someone away or that we are being too forceful. 

But what’s the alternative?

If a friend continues to cross your boundary of asking to borrow things such as money or clothes or tools (material boundaries) and you let them, even though you are not comfortable with it, how long before you find yourself not returning that friends call or their email? How long before you simply let them fade from your life? They in turn have no idea why you have suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. Over time what you will notice is that for some strange reason this keeps happening to you.

 In coaching learning about our boundaries is one of the things we work on together. When I work with a client I help them  to recognize and define their boundaries but I also help them to be able to speak them. This is part of becoming a better communicator, being able to ask for what you need and for share what you don’t want.  When we say nothing, when we clam up and walk away, it is at that point that we have terminated communication and we have begun to chip away at the foundation of the relationship.  

Speaking up about our boundaries requires self esteem and a sense of feeling worthy. 

And often it is our self esteem and sense of self worth that needs to be worked on before we can recognize and maintain our own boundaries.  Once we find that place in ourselves where we can stand strong, it then becomes easier to recognize, acknowledge and speak up about our crossed boundaries.

Working with a coach is a great way to begin creating awareness of those situations where something isn’t sitting right for you.  Having a safe place and a non judgmental partner to listen to your stories and tell you what they are hearing; helps you learn more about what your personal boundaries are and helps you to recognize them sooner. (Kind of like when you buy a new car and all of as sudden you see that car everywhere you look)  From this space you have a regular opportunity to replay the moments in your life and look at them from the perspective of, “how could this situation have been different had I recognized my boundary and asked for it to be honored?”  From this place your growth begins to happen.

Pay attention this week to conversations at work or at home, see how you find yourself reacting and ask yourself, “what boundary is being crossed for me right now and do I have the courage to speak up about it?”

Why not share your experience below in the comments section? I would love to hear any awareness that came up for you after reading this post. 




Again, another well written, relevant and timely article. Having just returned from a conference where all the lectures I attended were about leadership, attitude and communication, this article really landed. I think you are right; the first and most powerful tool needed is to be able to recognize when our boundaries are being crossed. Self esteem will enable us to do this. The next step, not touched on here, are the tools then needed to be ABLE to speak up and ask for what we need in a non-judgemental way without blame. And that ,means not blaming or judging others AND not blaming or judging OURSELVES for speaking up! Keep blogging, girl......you are sharing a wisdom that the whole world needs! K

Thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback Kristin!! I always appreciate you reading my blogs. 

Sounds like part two of this post could use a little NVC (Non Violent Communication) focus!! 


Millennials and Boundries

I have observed parenting that very much supports what Simon Senik was saying--Instead of teaching their kids responsibility, and that hard work is what it takes to succeed--they treat their children like they are entitled, and NOTHING is their fault! Not doing well in school--the teacher is an asshole.. Not doing well at their job--their boss in an asshole; Can't have all the time off they want, whenever they want--the boss is an asshole; Got let go from their job..--the boss was an asshole.. I don't agree with "participation trophies", kids need to learn how to loose and feel the accomplishment of working hard and winning.

As for having issues with boundaries- I sometimes feel people get too close in my personal space--I don't like to be so close to someone that I feel their spittle in my face when they are talking at me.. The other thing that I can't understand is how some people on social media have no boundaries in how they treat others with differing opinions than themselves on social media / facebook--Instead of having a meaningful discussion and maybe learning from each other, they insult, call people names, and say nasty hateful things that they never would say to that persons face, but behind the safe cloak of their computer or phone they are very brave..

Hi D!

Hi D!

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I agree with your comment on social media. It does appear that boundaries have disappeared with many people when they are behind the safety of their computer. It is sad how people feel that it gives them the right to be mean and nasty to others. Perhaps it is because there is little to no accountability when we are alone on our computers. However integrity is sadly not necessarily everyone's personal value. 

Thanks for your input on this one!


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

From The Blog


I love my clients, they never fail to make me think. It’s my job as their coach to work with them to find a different perspective that will resonate for them, help them get unstuck from their current position. Recently however it was one of my clients that made me stop and have an “ah ha” moment!


Boundaries.What are they and why are we told we should have them? And why are they such a big deal?Just like morals and values, boundaries are those things that are unique to each of us that we rarely think about yet we seem 

What would you do if you wanted to make a new friend? How would you go about it? I was sitting with one of my girlfriends, at the bar of a rather nice quiet restaurant, celebrating her birthday a few weeks ago.  The prep chef was doing her work behind the bar, creating hors-d’oeuvres and salads, it was an open concept kind of place