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Imagine driving in a place with no traffic rules, no signals or no footpath. How difficult would it be to drive or reach to the destination safely? The number of accidents would increase and it would be chaotic on the road. Just like the traffic rules, signals etc, boundaries act as those guidelines that protect us from what feels inappropriate, unacceptable, hurtful or undesired. It is an important factor for a solid foundation in every relationship, be it with family, friends, colleagues, client but most importantly with ourselves!

Boundaries help us feel safe, provides space to express our authentic wants and needs; and aid in regulating the autonomic nervous system responses. Establishing a boundary might feel scary when one comes from a family where boundaries were non-existent or constantly dismissed. As a result, a lot of individuals have difficulty saying 'no'. Saying yes too much to full-fill demands and please others brings in a feeling of suffocation. This sometimes leads to a ground breaking point where one might decide to put their foot down and speak up.

This cycle often results in feelings of guilt and shame, to overcome which, one might over explain, apologise repeatedly or over do things the next time.

It has often been observed that one of the most important factor preventing us from creating boundary, is the need to be 'nice'. It is based on an underlying belief that 'If I please others, only then will they like me or love me'. This conditional belief creates a barrier in accepting our own self, our needs, wants and in communicating them freely. Learning to create and assert boundaries can often help in developing self compassion, sense of freedom and stronger relationships.

Following are the characteristics of different types of boundaries:


  1. General difficulty in saying 'no'

  2. Engaging in consistent 'people-pleasing' behaviour

  3. Self- worth depends on others' opinions

  4. Tendency to overshare

  5. Taking up the unasked role of rescuer/ helper or fixer


  1. Difficulty in feeling deep connection

  2. Limited close relationships

  3. Difficulty asking for help

  4. Comes across as a very private person

  5. Underlying fear of rejection


  1. Aware of and able to communicate one's own thoughts. opinions, needs and beliefs

  2. Ability to regulate emotions and comfortable with others' expression of their emotions

  3. Consistently able to say 'no' as required

  4. Ability to understand and respect others' boundaries

  5. Shares private information appropriately and knows when to stop

Having looked at the different types of boundaries, it's important to remember that boundaries are not for others, but for you! It is a personal limit which assists in your needs being met. It defines an action we need to take for ourselves irrespective of others thoughts and behaviours. It's one of the most valuable gift from you, to you!

- Poonam Malpani Chordia

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