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What are Boundaries?

Boundaries are often mistaken to be a fiery wall ready to burn those who overstep the said boundary. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Boundary practice is an act of self-care – where an individual decides this is how they want to be treated and this is how they choose to relate to the self and to the world.

Each person’s boundaries are unique to them – as they are based on their values, belief system and principles. Of course, parental upbringing and societal influence contribute to one’s view on what their boundaries are. That said, your chosen boundaries are yours and no one can disagree or argue because your boundaries are about you and your personal truth. Your personal truth is informed by your needs, wants, thoughts/views and feelings at any given moment.

You can gauge what your personal truth is by asking the Self the following simple questions

  • What are my needs and wants right now?
  • What is my honest opinion about this thing, situation, or environment?
  • How do I honestly feel about this or that?

This inner talk is already happening subconsciously as we navigate each and every minute of our lives.  We often don’t hear the response from the Self because we’ve been raised to look outward for the answers.  Thus, ignoring our personal truth when interacting with our loved ones, and colleagues and when making decisions.  We are too busy being busy to hear ourselves.  Not knowing our personal truth and therefore not communicating it causes conflict and frustration within ourselves – putting you out of alignment with the Self.  Conflict and misalignment are the opposite of peace and flow; if ignored for long – they intensify into emotional and mental ill health.

Boundaries and Mental Health


It’s impossible to achieve mental health without boundaries! People who lack boundaries struggle to speak their truth – expressing their needs, wants, views and feelings is a dreadful task. It’s not because they choose not to but more so because they don’t know how and because they’ve learnt, over the years, to deny their needs, wants, thoughts and feelings in return for love and acceptance in families and social settings. Subconsciously, they are terrified of the judgement that comes with speaking their truth so much that if they try, they choke on a lump on their throat, their heart starts racing or they break out into a sweat. Yes, that’s fear showing up in physical form. Suddenly, they talk themselves out of it. It happens in marriages, friendships and families.

Are you a person with a lot of unspoken truths?


If yes, you may be struggling with the practice of boundary setting – which involves knowing what they are, communicating them with love and compassion and it requires that you hold yourself and those who violate your boundaries accountable.

How to know if you struggle with boundaries…


  • You find it difficult to say No, and if you do you feel bad about it.
  • You are saying yes while your truth no and vice versa.
  • You stay in relationships where your needs, wants and desires are not met.
  • You don’t call out a person who oversteps your physical or emotional boundaries.
  • You prioritise other people’s needs over your own in an unhealthy way.
  • You take on way more than you can handle because people of pleasing tendencies and being concerned what others think of you.
  • You don’t communicate your needs in your primary relationship.
  • You laugh at jokes that you deem inappropriate such as a racist, sexist or homophobic.


All of the above behaviours are rooted in the belief that it is safer to keep silent about your honest views or feelings to maintain a sense of peace.  Not realising that silence and peace are not synonymous.  Unexpressed truth is a silence that causes inner-turmoil – which is far from peaceful. 

Are you in silence or at peace in your various relationships?

Not having boundaries in place leads to toxic and dysfunctional relationships.  People with difficult personalities pry on people with weak boundaries.  They test you by pushing boundaries bit by bit using mind games such as manipulation, gaslighting and lying for them to gain control over you.  Having weak or no boundaries attracts bullies and narcissists into your life.  These relationships are toxic because the person with weak boundaries is constantly operating from a place of fear and anxiety – tiptoeing around the unpredictability of the environment caused by the person who holds the power in the – the bully or narcissist.

Not standing up to the bully leaves you with feelings of shame and guilt, and at times resentment towards to the bully and towards yourself, for not standing up to the bully.

Fear, shame and guilt are in the same WhatsApp group with sadness and disappointment.  These low-vibration emotions are draining – zapping you of your physical and mental energy.  If left unattended, low-vibration emotions coupled with the misalignment of not speaking your truth, they bubble up and eventually explode – showing up as mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, chronic stress, and depression.

Boundaries may seem like an unnecessary added responsibility, but the truth is, boundaries are a basic requirement for self-preservation and self-care.  If you don’t take care of yourself at this basic level – who will?

Creating Boundaries with Love

Lastly, boundaries are not synonymous with being mean or aggressive.  Contrary to popular belief, communicating your boundaries to your loved ones doesn’t necessarily have to lead to an explosive argument.  This can be achieved by adopting an approach of a win-win when addressing issues relating to boundaries.  A win-win is possible when you let go of rightness – i.e., wanting to prove that you are right, and the other party is wrong.  This ego-driven approach is destructive.  The win-win approach means your intentions come from a place of love and compassion.  As such, you express your boundaries in a way that is non-accusatory, i.e., When you don’t communicate change to our plans ahead of time I feel taken for granted and disrespected.  As opposed to an accusatory approach which would be… ‘You take me for granted and you disrespect me.’

Boundaries are an efficient hack to sustaining your mental, emotional and physical wellness, a tool for survival if you will.



  • Define your boundaries in various areas of your life.
  • Own and accept them without any judgment regardless of how different, ridiculous or trivial they may sound to the next person.
  • Communicate with love and compassion.


Practising boundaries leads to freedom to be yourself and inner peace. You deserve it! 

About the Author

Ndumi Hadebe
Self-Leadership Coach, Kwande Global

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