Setting boundaries -

Setting boundaries

July 6, 2022

Setting Boundaries:


‘Boundaries aren’t trying to control someone or make them change. Boundaries are about establishing how you want to be treated, self-preservation in a chaotic or dangerous environment, and a path to healthy relationships’.

What are the tell-tale signs that someone might be overstepping your boundaries?

You are likely to feel anger, resentment, annoyance, disappointment, frustration, and you might start to actively avoid them.

Research has shown that overcommitment (from not having established boundaries) can lead to burnout and depression, and it increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, you lose your self-confidence because others’ needs become a priority, and you may start to believe that your needs no longer matter.

The most important point to consider when we want to change a behaviour is the ‘why”- with the answer to the “why” we can get a step closer to the “how”. Ask yourself the question: why is the overstepping of this boundary a problem for me?

Secondly, it will help for you to identify your boundary- once you have done that you will have a clearer way to communicate this to the other person.You can’t expect people to just know your boundaries.

Thirdly, you need to communicate this to the other person in a simple yet assertive manner.

One of the strategies to communicate assertively, is through “I’ statements. “I” statements communicate to the other person how you feel about an issue without blaming. They are particularly helpful when you want to express yourself assertively without causing the other person to become defensive.

The recipe for “i” statements consists of 3 steps:

1) The action, which needs to be objective

2) Your response, which will not cast blame

3) Your preferred outcome, specific enough to allow for different options to be developed.

For example: * To someone who struggles meeting deadlines and dumps the work on you at the last minute, you could express yourself like this: ‘When you need more time to finish a task {action}, I need to know as early as possible {your response} so that I can re-evaluate my own timing and resources {your preferred outcome}’.

Remember, communicating assertively through “I’ statements may be a new skill for you, hence it might initially feel unnatural and will require some practice for you to master this skill.

Also, in order for boundaries to work we need to be consistent, and we need to accept that some people will not respect our boundaries no matter what we say or do.

Time for reflection:

Visualise someone with whom you believe you need to establish or re-establish some boundaries with. This could be a family member, a colleague, a friend, a partner. Answer the following questions:

  1. Are your feelings as important as the other person’s?
  2. What’s the worst that can happen if you say ‘no’ to this person?
  3. Is it fear or habit that prevents you from setting boundaries?
  4. What would it feel like if you set boundaries with this particular person?
  5. What are some specific actions you can take to improve your boundaries?
  6. How do you think the other person will respond to these changes?
  7. How do you think your life will be different once you’ve established healthy boundaries?

“Sometimes you don’t realise you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor’.You have a limited amount of energy, hence if you’re feeling resentful, agitated or annoyed from the weight of trying to save others, you need to take a step back. Remember, generosity only works well when there are boundaries in place. Know when your batteries need recharging.

Time Management:

One of the main complaints of stressful clients is the notion that they have so much to do, and so little time. That is, their demands exceed their resources. Follow the tips below to assist you in managing your time more effectively and efficiently:

  • Firstly, track your time for a week. The way you would do this would be to have your waking hours segmented into half hour intervals. Throughout your day, choose 3 times when you can fill in your time tracker so that you do not have to do it all in the one go at night time when your mind is likely to be tired. The purpose of this exercise is not so much to figure out how much time you waste; the point is to make sure you are not telling yourself false stories, such as ‘I work full time so I have no time for exercise’.

If tracking your time seems like a challenging/tedious task, attempt to at least track the amount of time you spend on your device/s.

It is important to figure out where your time is going. If you do not know where your time is going, how can you know if you are changing the right things?


  • Laura Vanderkam, author of several time management and productivity books coined the idea that ‘Time is Elastic’. What this essentially means is that time will stretch to accommodate what you choose to put in it, hence it is imperative that we put our priorities first.

Laura encourages us to treat our priorities as mini-emergencies, or what you put at the top of your list. Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time for X, Y or Z’, you have to be honest with yourself and say ‘I don’t do X, Y, Z because it is not a priority’.

  • Take the time to jot down your priorities, categorised in these four groups Career, Relationships, Leisure, and Self. This exercise will help you identify what is important to you so that you can build the life you want with the time you have.


  • Remind yourself that there are 168 hours in a week. Sometimes there may not be enough hours in a day, but the picture looks differently if we look at a week. If we deduct the average number of hours we sleep in a week (56) and work (let’s say 50 to also consider commuting time), that leaves you with 62 hours free in a week. What will you prioritise into the 62 hours you have available this week?


  • Get help/learn to delegate. There is no glory in doing everything yourself. Often when people struggle to delegate it is related to their need to remain in control; check-in with yourself and notice if you have this tendency to control.


  • Procrastination is defined by the action of delaying or postponing something. Many of us have been guilty of leaving homework, work presentations, assessments, etc to the last minute, often making our stress levels and anxiety sky-rocket. Through research we have now found out that procrastination is mostly related to emotion regulation; this means that something about this particular task generates an unpleasant emotion for you. One of the most common is FEAR. We are often afraid of disappointing others or ourselves, we have a fear of failing, fear of getting something wrong and making a fool of ourselves, fear that our reality may not match up to our expectations.

If there is something you have been postponing for a while, check in and ask yourself, ‘what am I afraid of? What emotion/s is this task triggering in me?’.

Another common reason is the lack of motivation. If this is the case for you, it is quite possible that the task is not a priority for you, or perhaps is of no value or interest to you. Acknowledging this can help you to decide what you do with this task.

Time for reflection:

  • What would you consider to be one of your biggest time wasters, and what purpose does this activity serve for you? It could be a passive de-stress activity, or it might help with switching off from painful memories/thoughts?
  • What are some of the things you will do when time opens up? Write up a ‘bonus time’ list of all the things you will do when you improve your time management.

Time management requires self-discipline. Self-discipline is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

If you or someone you know could use some help in setting boundaries please reach out to our Psychology and Counselling team. You easily book online or simply call 95440477.


Take care,


The team @beachside.

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