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  • Writer's pictureCaren Gillespie

Boundaries Unbound: Set (Better) Boundaries in 4 Steps. One 'No' at a Time.



coach caren lady free at the beach

Establishing boundaries can be summed up in a simple 4 step process: ICEU .


Investigate: Pinpoint where you need stronger boundaries.

Create: Define your boundaries clearly.

Express: Vocalize your boundaries to yourself and those who should know.

Uphold: Regularly assess, tweak, and reinforce your boundaries as needed.


Sounds straightforward, right? Well, not exactly. Let's dive in.


Contents include:


Understanding Boundaries


Boundaries are perimeters you set for yourself to let others know how to treat you.

They have surged in importance, and it's no surprise. Historically, many of us didn't get a solid education on boundaries. We were taught to follow orders, be pleasant, and remain adaptable – essentially, be compliant. Even our role models, like our moms or dads, often followed this pattern. They were expected to excel as spouses and parents, putting others first.


Though boundaries aren't new, they offer a fresh viewpoint for many. We're now grasping the significance of outlining our limits and prioritizing ourselves, a shift from how we grew up. Boundaries act as our personal guardrails, shielding us from external influences. They're uniquely tailored; some people thrive on hugs, while others prefer distance. Reasons vary, but one thing's certain: boundaries are vital for our well-being.


Why Boundaries Matter


But why do we need boundaries? Picture a life without them – people could easily control every facet without considering our preferences. This is especially evident in strict religious settings, where personal choices are limited, and rigid rules dictate existence.


On the flip side, mastering healthy boundaries allows us to live life on our terms, comfortably. Our decisions align with our preferences, and we're upfront about what we accept and reject in our interactions.


Exploring Boundary Types


Boundaries come in different forms:


Permeable Boundaries: These are like a sieve, allowing influences to pass freely. Those with porous boundaries may struggle to assert themselves, putting their well-being on the line.

Inflexible Boundaries: Imagine walls that are hard to climb. People with rigid boundaries keep emotional distance, affecting relationships. These boundaries shield from manipulation but can hinder meaningful connections.

Healthy Boundaries: Think of them as fences. A balanced flow between you and others, where you express needs while respecting theirs. These boundaries nurture self-care, respect, and positive connections without compromising your values.


When Boundaries Matter


Boundaries look out for us in many different areas:


Emotional boundaries: Feeling safe to express emotions.

Physical boundaries: Defining personal space and touch.

Sexual boundaries: Outlining comfort zones in intimacy.

Intellectual boundaries: Honoring personal ideas and thoughts.

Material boundaries: Managing possessions, finances, and environment.

Time boundaries: Setting time limits for work, home, relationships, and more.


People pleasers need to look at each category above very carefully by the way.

coach caren people pleasing lady

How to Establish Boundaries: A Thoughtful Process <ICEU>


Creating boundaries isn't an instant task – it requires consideration, practice, and patience. The setting better boundaries in 4 steps ICEU method offers a solid starting point. Think "intensive care unit" or "I see you" to remember the significance of boundaries. Enlisting a great life coach ( me! ) can also provide invaluable guidance and support along the way.


1. Investigate Your Boundaries


Identify areas where boundaries are crucial. Are you often overwhelmed at work, sacrificing your preferences to avoid conflicts? Do others dictate your weekend plans? Maybe you're taking on too much due to your experience. Such behaviors lead to resentment and feeling adrift. It's your duty to define boundaries for peace and ownership in your life, or you'll betray yourself.


2. Create Your Boundaries


Craft boundaries to shield yourself from situations that cause discomfort or upset. Crossing a boundary often triggers specific feelings – a pit in your stomach, anger, self-doubt. If conversations leave you wishing you'd spoken up, boundaries can help. Once established, you'll be ready to express them.


3. Express Your Boundaries

coach caren girl speaking thought bubbles

Practice saying your boundaries aloud, at home or in your car. You'll find it easier to assert phrases like "I don't drink," "I prefer a handshake, not a hug" or "I need eye contact from you when I talk." With practice, these phrases become second nature.


4. Uphold Your Boundaries


Expect resistance from those who don't appreciate your boundaries. Gently or firmly remind them of your limits. Periodically review your boundaries to ensure they align with your values. Adjust them if needed, maintaining a sense of self-assuredness and respect.



Taking charge of your boundaries is vital. While some limits are universally understood, expecting others to read your mind won't work. Understand what's acceptable to you and communicate it clearly. Boundaries show kindness to you and guide others in treating you respectfully, nurturing successful relationships. It's an ongoing journey that liberates, boosting self-worth and empowerment.

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