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Boundary settings

Learn to speak up and set boundaries

In this article you will learn how to improve your life and others’ by setting healthy natural boundaries. How it will make it easier for others to be with you if you master this.

We will also discuss internal and external boundaries and motivation.

Furthermore, you will get 8 examples of things that may prevent you from saying no and setting boundaries.

If it is in relation to your partner that you have challenges with boundary setting, Parterapi København might be helpful – because if it were easy and simple, you and your partner would have done it a long time ago…

How can you improve your life and avoid feeling bad?

Learn to say no and set boundariesIt is important to remember that when you set healthy natural boundaries and say no, it does not mean telling others what you think about them and their behavior. Nor does it mean telling them how childish, unempathetic, selfish, or annoying you think they are. Or demanding something from them by making demands (using the word “YOU“).
Setting boundaries and saying no is also not about complaining, criticizing, blaming, belittling, rejecting, or threatening others.

Setting boundaries and saying no means concretely and precisely stating how you feel, what you will participate in, and what you accept – empathetically and consistently.
Furthermore, it should be done at the right time, place, manner, and to the right person.
You must be able to express yourself clearly and distinctly.
However, if you are threatened, you must of course defend yourself with appropriate strength.

If you do not set healthy natural boundaries, it will gradually erode your self-esteem and self-acceptance.
If you rarely or never properly take care of yourself, there is most likely a good reason for it.
Perhaps you simply never learned how to do it….

And if you do not set boundaries, you risk rewarding inappropriate behavior.
The boundary violations will therefore likely continue in the future.

Boundary violations

There are many different aspects of boundary violations.

If people come crashing in over you without you asking for it, your boundaries have been violated.

They may have done it on purpose. If that is the case, you must carefully examine what you have done to them beforehand. Or what they have been exposed to, which makes them do what they do. It could, for example, be a bank robbery or being a civilian victim of war.

It could also be that they do it unconsciously and unintentionally, because you were not able to CLEARLY and appropriately set some healthy natural boundaries.

Maybe YOU are crossing others’ boundaries.

Most often, we do such things unconsciously. It could be that you said something that seems offensive or insulting to others, but where you come from, it was completely natural. I remember when I myself started my personal development 30 years ago and joined group therapy. Some people would walk straight through the circle instead of walking around it to get to the other side.

Or you may feel SO entitled to do something unpleasant to others because you think it is perfectly OK. For example, it could be interrupting a meeting because you have a message you think is extremely important. Or looking at your partner’s mobile phone without permission.

Or you are crossing your own boundaries

You do this, for example, by agreeing with yourself that you will quit smoking but continue. Or you will only drink one beer at the party but end up drinking five. Or not paying your debt.

How can you imagine that others will respect your boundaries if you do not respect them yourself?

So “boundary violation” is not just a boundary violation.

Boundary-Crossing Behavior

In a relationship, there are some things you cannot or should not say to each other.
This is because it will have the exact opposite effect than intended. The reason is that feelings are involved.
Many parents experience that their teenage child comes home from school and joyfully talks about something brilliant they heard from their teacher.
But the parent thinks: “I’ve said that a hundred times over the past ten years…
There are things we cannot hear, and there are things we do not want to hear, from our partner or others with whom we have an emotional agenda.

Boundary SettingMany years ago, I worked for a period as a kindergarten assistant.
One winter, one of my colleagues joyfully announced that she had finally gotten some gear to keep her warm.
She had bought a thermal coverall and a pair of boots with a large wide zipper in the front, and a pair of mittens.
But I realized that when we were out on the playground, she looked exactly like the children in the kindergarten.
Of course, I didn’t say anything to her about it because that would have been undiplomatic and boundary-crossing of me.
She had not asked for my opinion.
If I had said to her: “Is there something from your own kindergarten days that you lack or want to repair, since you both work in a kindergarten and dress exactly like the children?“, she would very likely have reacted negatively.
It would have been a boundary-crossing behavior on my part, so of course I did not do that.
But what is it really that makes some spouses feel they can say anything to their partner, even if the partner has not asked for it?

Back to the Kindergarten:

If the teacher was happy with her life, there was no reason to change anything.
But if something was not working for her, and it hurt enough, she might eventually be motivated to change something.
If this “something” was to seek out a therapist or psychologist, they could say things very directly to her – because she had invited it.

But neither a colleague, a spouse, nor anyone else – not even her best friend – would be able to say something to her that she could understand and hear – even if she asked for it.
There will always be a filter of emotional blockage and a (hidden) agenda.
Furthermore, a friend is unlikely to have the knowledge of the mechanics of psychology that can heal a wound and make things work optimally.
If you are not trained for it, you have no basis to know what is at stake and how it should be handled.
It is equivalent to me not asking my very best friend for help with my car or my teeth if I have problems with them.
He has no basis to do it properly, so I go to a mechanic or a dentist to get these things fixed.

Internal and External Boundaries

There are differences in boundaries. I will illustrate this with the difference between two countries. First, a country that no longer exists: East Germany. They had external boundaries in the form of walls, barbed wire, machine guns, etc. They had to spend many resources to keep the enemy away. An example of an internal boundary is the islands in the South Funen Archipelago in my childhood. People didn’t even lock the front door when they left home. All boundaries were intact in a respectful manner.

When your internal boundaries are intact, you do not need to say anything. People respect you for who you are. If you are not in balance with yourself and do not radiate self-esteem and self-confidence, you risk having to shout and scream to prevent people from crossing your boundaries.


For us to be ready to seek a change in our lives, we must be motivated.
The pain of staying where you are must be greater than the pain of making a change. Motivation is crucial for being able to change anything. However, you cannot motivate others. You can inspire them to motivate themselves.

Here are 8 concrete examples of things that may prevent you from saying no and setting boundaries:

  1. Violation of Personal Boundaries You have never learned to defend yourself against advanced verbal attacks – for example, when you are scolded, manipulated, subjected to sarcasm, belittled, and so on. You feel powerless and therefore put up with the unfairness.
  2. You crave other people’s praise and recognition because you feel it strengthens your self-esteem. But when you do this, you also allow yourself to be dominated. If you clearly need others’ praise, you place yourself in a dependency relationship that reduces your ability to take responsibility and be yourself, which will eventually erode your self-esteem and self-acceptance.
  3. You seek others’ acceptance to such an extreme that you feel bad thinking that there are people in the world who do not like you.
    Therefore, you let others cross your boundaries without saying no.
  4. You are perfectionistic and have very high expectations of yourself.
    You do not accept making mistakes, saying something wrong, or revealing your feelings, and therefore you let others cross your personal boundaries to avoid ruining the image of perfection.
  5. You are afraid of your own and others’ anger.
    You constantly seek harmony and balance and cannot handle sulkiness and rejections.
  6. You do not like to face resistance, negativity, and demands, and you let yourself be controlled by avoiding being called hysterical, difficult, a victim, demanding, or hypersensitive.
  7. You are uncomfortable showing your feelings to others.
    You feel that if you express yourself exactly as you are, people will not like you, or they will criticize you.
    You refuse to admit when you are sad, feel betrayed, become jealous, angry, or similar.
  8. You are so afraid of rejection that you would rather put up with being treated poorly than say no, and thereby risk subsequent rejection.

When you pay attention and express yourself appropriately and clearly, you set healthy natural boundaries.
Being able to set boundaries is a skill that must be learned, preferably from childhood.
If you have reached adulthood without learning it, it is high time to start.

Example of Lack of Boundary Setting

There was a couple where the woman was very controlling and manipulative.
At one point, she asked her husband to shovel the driveway, which he protested because he was too tired.
But she insisted so much that he grabbed the shovel and went out to shovel.
However, it was too much for him, so he collapsed with a heart attack and died.

Afterward, in her grief, she felt enormously guilty but was also angry with him for not saying no and setting boundaries with her.
That is, saying no, and sticking to it.
It took her a long time to process her grief, frustration, and anger.

In a way, one could say that he lost his life because he was unable to set healthy, natural boundaries – even with his wife.

Example of Boundary Setting

A little tip: The difference between making demands and setting boundaries is the little word “you“.
Only speak from yourself and about yourself, and stay on your own side of the court.
This can be difficult, especially if you have spent a lifetime practicing blaming others for all grievances and irritations.
However, the good news is that it is always possible to learn to change your attitude, habits, and thus behavior, which will also cause others to change their behavior.
You just need to know how it should be done.

Setting boundaries is rarely about shouting and yelling.
A healthy natural boundary setting could be that you had agreed in advance with your partner that when your partner, for example, belittles you or similar, you put your hand on their shoulder and say: “I get so tired”.
That could be enough to stop the boundary violation.
But you need to have agreed on it in advance with the White Flag method.

If you want to find out if I can help you and yours, call me on telephone +45 – 21 79 18 50