The Importance of Boundaries

What are boundaries, why boundaries are important and how to communicate and honor your boundaries


According to Pia Mellody, author of the best selling book, “Facing Codependence,” Boundary systems are invisible and symbolic “force fields” that have three purposes:

  1. to keep people from coming into our space and abusing us,
  2. to keep us from going into the space of others and abusing them, and
  3. to give each of us a way to embody our sense of “who we are”

Whether you’ve acknowledged these “force fields” or not, boundaries are absolutely crucial in all facets of our life: relationships, work and family. However, it is only when these boundaries are violated that we realize the importance of having them. Take for example a kind-hearted person who genuinely wants to help others. Have you seen people take advantage of their kindness? Or perhaps you are that kind person and this happens to you! If you are running your own business, you might have encountered clients who want extra service for no cost. This is an example of an unclear boundary that needs to be set.   


The first step is to acknowledge what your boundaries are. A simple way to look at this is to clarify what you are willing to tolerate, and what you aren’t willing to tolerate. What you will tolerate becomes part of your boundary and everything else is past your boundary.


The second step is communicating your boundaries. This can be done tactfully by managing expectations from the get-go. Such as, being upfront and clear about what you can and cannot do. If it is business related, clearly detail the scope of the project (what it includes) what you will deliver (outcomes of the project). For example, let’s say you are tasked with creating a brand new website for a client. However, the client then requests for you to set-up their social media pages. This is clearly out of scope of the initial project brief but is all part of their online presence so we can see why the client has sought your advice. To ensure everyone is on the same page, and to mitigate any grievances, the scope of the initial project and its deliverables needs to be communicated to the client. Remind them that you are creating their new website and anything extra will need to be discussed and appropriately expensed.


If you are kind-hearted and seek to be of service to others, this can be a tough situation to handle. You’re most likely non-confrontational, find it hard to say no (even in situations when you really want to!), and you dislike causing a fuss, preferring to just get on with it rather than make a scene. This probably leaves you exhausted and stressed. Finding your voice and sticking up for yourself can seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the better you get. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but you need to honor your needs above others. You can’t pour from an empty cup and you have to understand that your needs are just as important. Know that you can simply say, no without providing a reason.

If you have resonated with any of this information, drop a comment below.

Shyra Smith