Personal Boundaries

Mind Matters: Personal Boundaries

February 15, 2013

How Are Your Boundaries?

There is a saying that good fences make good neighbors. The same can be applied for personal boundaries. Good boundaries make good relationships and create high self- esteem. Learning how to set boundaries is an important step to respecting and loving yourself.

How do you know if you have unhealthy personal boundaries? Answer the following questions about yourself:

  • Do you ever find yourself going against your personal values to please others?
  • Do you feel bad or guilty when you say no?
  • Do you do things that you don't want to because someone asked you to?
  • Do you not speak up when you are treated badly or disrespected?
  • Do you allow others to define you?
  • Do you give to others beyond what you really want to?

If you find yourself answering "yes" to some of these questions, you need to look at creating healthy boundaries in your life.

Personal boundaries define your personal preferences. They identify what is acceptable to you and what is not, based on your values and beliefs. Personal boundaries define how you allow others to treat you. It is your way of communicating to others that you have self-respect and will not allow others to define who you are and what you do.

The main function of setting healthy boundaries is to protect, respect and take care of yourself. Unless you are able to recognize your personal boundaries, you won't be able to respect and love yourself. You don't want to feel like an emotional doormat or allow others to treat you in that way. You get a sense of your personal boundaries when someone says something or a situation occurs that makes you uncomfortable. A healthy boundary will cause you to speak up for yourself.

Personal boundaries are the mental, emotional and physical limits you need to keep yourself from being manipulated or used by others. They allow you to separate who you are and what you think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Essentially, personal boundaries allow you to be who you are.

4 Tips to Establish Personal Boundaries

  • Become aware of actions and behaviors that are unacceptable to you.
  • Communicate to others in a kind, yet direct manner when they've crossed the line, disrespected you or acted inappropriately.
  • Say "no" when you mean it. In other words, don't be a people pleaser and accommodate everyone else over yourself. Don't please others at your own expense.
  • Realize that other peoples' feelings and needs are not more important than your own. If you are fulfilled, then you are more able to give to others in your life. If you feel depleted and empty, you have nothing to give to others and can feel resentful. Give to yourself, so you don't depend on others to. You are important!

Me Minutes

Use your Me Minutes on a daily basis to reflect on your day. Write down examples of ways you lived out your personal boundaries or ways you could improve for the future. Trust and believe in yourself. You know yourself best. Don't allow others to make decisions for you. When you respect your strengths, abilities, and feelings, you have healthy boundaries. Consider information from others, but ultimately use your Me Minutes to reflect on what is best for you. You are the CEO and in charge of your life.

cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

Read more articles by Cathy!

-Feature photo courtesy of rkramer62