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Are You Confused About Boundaries? By Fraya Mortensen

Do you have trouble understanding how to set boundaries?


If you’ve never set a boundary with someone before, set one with yourself!

Here's a few examples:

I will not work on the weekends.

I will not speak negatively toward myself.

I will say yes to the things that bring me joy and, no to the things that drain my energy.

I will spend at least 1 hour a day working on my project.

I will drink my water and take my vitamins first thing in the morning.

I will get at least 7 hours sleep every night.

If that person speaks negatively to me, I will leave the room.

If I get rejected I will journal about it and do my best not to take it personally.

Boundaries are about what YOU will do. Because you are the only person that you have control over. Boundaries are about self control, how you control your emotions, how you control your responses and how you are in control of your own thoughts instead of letting your thoughts rule you.


Boundaries are about the standards that you set for yourself. Boundaries are about self respect. Boundaries are how you teach others how to treat you. Having healthy boundaries is the highest form of self care.

I've recently made the connection between having low self worth and having low standards. If you have low self worth, the more tolerant you will be of toxic and abusive behaviours. Without standards in place for yourself it seems like you're willing to tolerate just about anything and you'll end up with people in your life who will take advantage of this.


Even the word "Boundary" gives us a visual of a line drawn in the sand, or a gate that is put up to say, "Do Not Enter" or "No Access Beyond This Point". But why? Most places that erect such "boundaries" do so for either their own protection or for your safety. It's letting people know how we can interact with them or a very clear way to say you are not permitted here.

But in this case of boundaries we want to understand it as a way to form connections with others in a way that let's them know how they can enter.

When you express yourself and other people know your preferences, and your standards, you are building a bridge for connection healthy relationships.

I always say: Healthy boundaries = Healthy relationships.


It's likely you may not have had healthy boundaries to begin with and as a result you allowed many people into your life who benefitted from that. They were always getting what they wanted from you, while you were left feeling at a loss.

So now it’s time to reclaim your power by no longer enabling their toxic behaviour.

This is actually good for them whether they realize it or not because the longer we continue to tolerate toxic or unwanted behaviours, the more we send a message that this behaviour is acceptable. If no one is calling them out on their unhealthy patterns, they may continue this type of behaviour in other relationships too.

This is where we need to have a “firm but fair” approach. Many of us will wind up in toxic workplaces, and relationships because we don’t set our standard for how we want to be treated from the onset and the longer we tolerate toxic behaviours, the harder they are to break.

Because they may have gone on for too long, some relationships may be too difficult to repair and so we have to take a step back. Some people do need rigid boundaries and that means that the consequence to their ongoing harmful or hurtful behaviours now means that they no longer can have access to us the way they used to. The wall has been placed, the door has been closed and the gate has been locked no longer allowing them entry.

This can be a difficult period to go through which may come with a lot of pushback from people who don't understand this new attitude of yours and are not used to seeing you stand up for yourself.


The biggest barrier to setting boundaries is the fear of conflict. Dealing with conflict is an important aspect of healthy relationships, however most of us have not witnessed what healthy conflict looks like or sounds like, leaving you to see conflict as only a negative thing.

How else are we supposed to have our needs met if we don't have the opportunity to express ourselves in a safe environment? We don't we go without and suffer the consequences. And those consequences seem better than getting into an argument.

Telling someone that you're no longer agreeable to doing something that you used to always do, might raise some eyebrows. So just be prepared for the pushback that might arise, and let your nervous system know that in no way is this a real threat. It just a normal reaction that humans have to something that isn't serving them anymore. Some may call you selfish or rude, While others may say they completely understand and would feel the same way.

It's like telling a two year old they can't have a cookie because it's dinner time. They might throw a little tantrum or refuse to eat their dinner, but you know that it's understandable, especially when you've been giving into this for the last few weeks and now decided that you don't want to continue enabling this unhealthy habit that's been developing.

Or a teenager who has just gotten a new job and since you were so proud of her offered to drive her there and pick her up every time she has to work. After a while, you realize how disruptive this has become to your own needs, and suggest that she will need to take the bus to work from now on. She will likely be a bit upset at first, but over time will learn that it's up to her to take responsibility to get herself to work, and you driving her isn't something she can always rely on.

When people have come to expect something from you and one day you tell them otherwise, it's natural for them to have this type of response. It's your responsibility to stay calm, not overreact with them, and acknowledge the change in circumstances that they now have to adjust to.


You never need to explain yourself or your boundaries to anyone.

Avoid getting into statements sounding like "I always do this for you and you never". This is coming from an emotional response that ultimately you to yourself, you allowed to happen, you enabled and it’s your responsibility to remedy this pattern of imbalance in your relationships.

Sounding like a "broken record" means exactly as it sounds. So If you told someone that you can't lend them money anymore and they're giving you pushback for it, you simply restate this boundary with a firm and fair attitude. If you're not able to loan them money anymore, then what are you willing to do? And most times you are willing to develop a healthier relationship with them. Letting them know that you want a healthy relationship with them that is fair and balanced is an important message worth repeating also.

"I’m not able to loan you money anymore, I would like to have a relationships with you that is not dependent on me loaning you money. I am not able to loan you. money anymore, and ! would like to have a relationship with you that is balanced and equal."

They might start to get upset and tell you, "this isn’t fair" or "this is ridiculous" or talk about all the things that they have done for you. YOU REPEAT: I would like to have a relationships with you that is not dependent on loaning you money anymore so that we can have a more balanced relationship.

And another key message to repeat is: "I hope you understand this, so we can continue spending time together." Because this is where if they don't understand then not only will you not be able to have a healthy relationship with them, you may also choose to no longer have a relationship with them.

Remember pushback is normal, and sticking to only a few key messages is essential to not overcomplicate your boundary and give them time to allow this to sink in.


It doesn’t matter who you set boundaries with because boundaries are not about anyone else but YOU!

Telling your mother that her ongoing criticism and negativity is not healthy for you and that if it continues you won’t be able to spend as much time with her anymore is your attempt to build a bridge with her. You are letting her know how to have a healthy relationship with you, and now it’s her choice if she wants the same.

Chances are the people we're forced to set boundaries with do not have a lot of healthy relationships or examples of healthy boundaries in their lives to role model what boundaries even are. Many people like that will grow to be entitled to get what they want and seek our relationships with people who are people pleasers.

When it comes to workplaces, we must set the stage for how we will conduct ourselves and stay firm in our personal boundaries. We will decide that we will not engage in conversations to do with office politics or gossip. We will see that we are just as important as any other person in the office and that includes our boss or managers.

If you've found yourself in a toxic work environment or one that has expectations to work or be on call while you're on vacation, then you may need to look for a new job. Office culture that doesn't respect your work hours over time will leave you feeling drained and resentful.

Typically I wouldn’t recommend setting a boundary with a boss. Instead I’d make a plan to look for a new job and give my notice. The longer you stay in a toxic workplace, or in a toxic relationship the bigger the toll it takes on your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. No one can pay me enough to sacrifice my own self worth.


We all have common needs such as the need to eat, sleep, stay hydrated and have a roof over our head. While other needs such as the need be treated with respect is one that needs to be specifically defined. What respect means to you, may mean something different to someone else. Within your definition of respect, you’ll discover further needs such as the need to be spoken to in a kind manner, trustworthiness and being on time.

We all need to have relationships that are balanced and reciprocal, because to say you're fine to always be the giver, while never the receiver may speak to the value you place on your self worth.

Other needs that come to mind for me are the need to be mentally stimulated instead of insulted. The need to have fun instead of feeling bored all the time. The need for validation instead of invalidation. The need to be supported instead of demeaned. The need to be loved instead of hated. The need to feel safe instead of threatened. The need to share instead of take. The need to be understood instead of always misunderstood. The need to be heard instead of ignored. The need for kindness instead of rudeness. More specifically, the need for alone time, the need for quiet, the need for calm and relaxing activities, the need for scent free environments and natural lighting.

The way in which you are getting these needs met for yourself is by setting standards for the people and environments you are spending your time in, and first and foremost, the time with yourself! Because you are always with yourself 24/7, which brings the key message of setting boundaries starts with yourself.


Communicating our standards, our preferences, and our needs are to be asserted in a kind and respectful way so that the outcome is win-win. Communicating our needs to others also allows them to feel safe to communicate their needs to us.

If you order someone to do something, that's not setting a boundary, that telling them what to do, and that's being controlling. Remember, boundaries are not about what you want others to do, it's about what you will do if things are not in alignment with what you need to feel safe and secure.


If all you do is tell people to "stop that" or "I don't like that" but it's not followed up with an action when it repeats itself, we teach people that we're not really serious about our boundaries.

You've heard me speak about the "broken record" above, and if you continually tell someone that you don't like something, or to stop doing something without a consequence to what will happen if it continues you will be unsuccessful setting boundaries.

This is probably the second most difficult part about setting boundaries, because we may say "I don't tolerate cheating." and then you find out that your partner cheated on you, but you stay and expect that they won't do it again you're setting yourself up for a rocky road ahead.

I know it's hard to stand firm on your standards, while you also want to give people a second chance, but often these second chances turn into third, fourth, and you eventually succumb to turning a blind eye to avoid conflict or having to leave the relationship.

Remember what I said about your self worth and low standards. All of these points are connected and without one aspect you will not be successful in achieving the relationships you want. It takes work and practice, so don't think all of this will change over night. For many people it takes decades to finally turn the ship in the other direction until setting boundaries actually become a natural part of who you are.


Fraya Mortensen is a Canadian based Transformational Mindset Coach who helps empathic and highly sensitive people to build their self-awareness, self-compassion and set healthy boundaries without the guilt.

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