Intentional Living

Setting Boundaries – A Simple Guide


Setting Boundaries is important in order to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and healthy relationships with others – based on mutual respect.

By doing so, you are able to communicate your needs and limits clearly. This can help prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Why Healthy Boundaries are Important

Healthy Boundaries help you stay in control of your life. If you don’t set boundaries, other people will start to control your life for you. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and even resentful.

It’s also important to set boundaries in order to take care of your physical health and mental health.

If you don’t set limits, you can end up doing too much and becoming overwhelmed. This can lead to burnout, resentment, and even illness.

woman with hands on her face feeling overwhelmed and stressed
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Setting your Own Boundaries can be Hard

While it’s easy to see how others we care about need to have tighter boundaries, it is often much more difficult to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. You may feel like you’re putting your needs first, or that you’re being selfish. But setting boundaries is an essential part of taking care of yourself and your mental health.

In this post, we’ll talk about what boundaries are, and why they’re important. We’ll also give you some tips on how to set boundaries that work for you.

Table of Contents

What are Boundaries?

Boundaries are basically limits that you put on your behavior and the behavior of others. They can be physical, emotional, or mental boundaries.

Physical Boundaries

Physical boundaries are about your personal space and privacy.

These may also include sexual boundaries.

Emotional Boundaries

Emotional boundaries are about your feelings.

Mental Boundaries

Mental boundaries are about your thoughts.

Know your Limits

In order to set personal boundaries you need to know your limits.

What are you comfortable with? What isn’t okay with you?

You might not know your limits right away. That’s okay. Start by paying attention to your feelings. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why.

Once you’ve identified your feelings, you can start to figure out what limits you need to set.

speed limit 55 sign in the desert

Define Your Terms

When it comes to setting boundaries, it’s important to first define your terms. What do you mean by “boundaries”? What are you trying to achieve?

The goal of setting boundaries is usually two-fold:

Firstly, you want to protect yourself from harm (emotional, physical, or mental).

Secondly, you want to maintain healthy relationships by communicating your expectations and needs clearly.

Give Yourself Permission

Setting boundaries requires giving yourself permission to do so.

You are the only one who can decide what’s best for you, and you have the right to say no to anything that doesn’t feel right or that makes you uncomfortable.

Remember, it’s OK to change your mind. If a situation or request feels too overwhelming, simply tell the person involved that you need some time to think about it.

You’re in control, and you have the power to set your own limits for a healthy life.

Communicate Your Needs

One of the most important things you can do when setting boundaries is to communicate your needs.

This means being clear and direct with the people in your life about what you will and won’t tolerate.

Talk about setting boundaries in your personal relationship

Use “I” Statements

When you’re communicating your needs, try to use “I” statements.

For example, “I need some time to myself” or “I’m not comfortable with that.” This will help the other person understand your perspective.

It’s important to be assertive and respectful when setting boundaries. You may need to have some difficult conversations, but ultimately, it’s worth it to protect your time, energy, and sanity.

Remember, you deserve to be treated well!

Be Assertive when Setting Boundaries

It can be difficult to set boundaries if you’re not used to being assertive.

Assertiveness is the ability to express your needs and wants in a confident way, without putting others down.

If you’re not used to being assertive, it might help to practice in front of a mirror. role-play with a friend. Or try writing out what you want to say before you say it.

The more you practice, the easier it will be to be assertive when it counts.

Set Consequences

One of the most important steps in setting boundaries is deciding what will happen if someone crosses them. This is known as setting consequences.

There are a few different ways to set consequences, but the most important thing is that they are realistic and enforceable.

For example, if you tell your friend that you won’t be going out with them if they call you late again, make sure you’re prepared to stick to that rule.

And if you tell your partner you are only able to do the dishes on certain nights of the week, don’t start doing the dishes on ‘their’ nights if they don’t.

sofa with potato chips, bowl and cups cleaned up and put away

The best consequences are ones that may inconvenience people, without damaging the relationship. For example, refusing to speak to someone until they do the dishes is likely to damage the relationship, while choosing not to the dishes probably won’t. And if this does damage the relationship – you may not be in a healthy relationship.

Don’t be Afraid to Say “No”

Saying “no” can be hard, but it’s an important part of setting boundaries.

If you’re not comfortable with something, don’t be afraid to say so.

It’s better to communicate your needs clearly than to go along with something you’re not okay with.

No written on the road to indicate that it's ok to say NO to a work relationship

Give It Time

One of the most important things to remember when setting boundaries is to be patient.

It may take time for your loved ones to adjust, therefore there may be some trial and error involved.

But as long as you stay consistent and polite, they will eventually come to understand and respect your boundaries.

hour glass on table with purple sand

Check in With Yourself

The last step in creating boundaries is to check in with yourself. This means taking a moment to reflect on how you’re feeling and whether the boundary you set is still working for you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re constantly putting out fires, it might be time to revisit the boundary and make some changes.

On the other hand, if you feel like you’ve got things under control and don’t need the boundary anymore, it’s time to let it go. Not all boundaries have to be rigid boundaries.

The most important thing is to stay mindful and pay attention to your own needs. Boundaries aren’t one size fits all, so it’s important to be flexible and adjust them as needed.

Healthy Relationships Require Respecting Other People’s Boundaries

Just as you have a right to set boundaries, so do others. It’s important to respect the boundaries of others just as you would want them to respect yours.

This can be difficult, especially if you don’t agree with someone’s boundary. But remember, it’s not your place to judge what’s best for someone else. If you don’t respect someone’s boundary, they may not respect yours either.

Seek Professional Help from a Mental Health Professional

If you’re having trouble setting personal boundaries, or if you’re being hurt by someone who isn’t respecting your boundaries, it might be time to seek professional help from a mental health professional.

A therapist can help you figure out what’s going on and how to deal with it. So, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.

You can Do This!

Setting boundaries is a crucial part of maintaining healthy relationships and protecting your mental health but you can do this!

picture frame with "Your Can Do It" saying

By being clear about your needs and limits, you can prevent misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

And if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or like someone is crossing your boundaries, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Learn More about Healthy Boundaries and How to Set Them

The more you learn and understand what boundaries are and why they are important, the easier it will be for you to identify where they are missing in your life and how to set them.

The following resources can be nothing short of life changing by helping you identify the areas of your life where you are trading away your peace and happiness in an effort to go along to get along.

Setting boundaries is a powerful, actionable way to respect yourself and those you are in a relationship with. In addition, they lead to better relationships, more intimacy, more peace, more self-respect and greater clarity on what is important to you and those you love.

I promise – the more you learn about this topic, the more fascinated you will get and the better your life will get!

Grab one of these resources and read our post on Setting Boundaries at Work to learn more.

Start Reading these Today!

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. Townsend

Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Healthy Boundaries by Chase Hill

How to Say No by Steven Hopkins

Are you in a Healthy Relationship?

If a partner is routinely ignoring your boundaries, you may be experiencing abuse. Reach out to resources to get help if you find yourself in this situation:

  • In the United States, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE
  • In Canada, visit