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Trashing my own boundaries (again!)

As I sit in a puddle of my own exhaustion and bubbling resentment, I realise I've done it again. Sigh. Despite my best efforts and intentions to say Yes when I mean Yes, and No when I mean No, it’s clear I’m still a well-trained woman of my time, and once again I got these two simple and potent words tangled up in a ball of people-pleasing yarn.

I said yes because I wanted them to think I was ‘nice’ (a word I actually have a big problem with!).  And then went on to pretend I was totally ok with my Yes, but secretly seething at…oh I don’t know who - the person who asked? Myself? Everyone? The world? Heck the patriarchy! (side note - if ever in doubt, it’s always the patriarchy!)

Over the years, I’ve done A LOT of work exploring ‘what the hell are my boundaries anyway?’ and then trying to honour, advocate for and live into these as best I can, but inevitably tripping and stumbling over my old conditioning more times than I care to admit.

I’m grateful for the huge strides I’ve made in this arena which has brought me so much more inner freedom and deeper connections: the essentials for a joyful life. And yet, it’s clear I still have work to do. Perhaps it’s why – when I do I revert into the trap of believing boundaries mean I’m not a nice or good person, or I’m selfish – it hurts even more.   Every time I believe a lie about myself, it hurts. 

Every time I believe a lie about myself, it hurts. 

I can also slip into confusion and secretly believe other people should know and respect my boundaries. That it’s somehow their responsibility and therefore their fault when they’re not respected. “How dare they ask me for something, don’t they know I’m swamped? (umm, no!)”

And here’s the funniest bit (just between you and me of course) - when other people don’t take the time to figure out what I really want and feel, or don’t make the effort to twist themselves out of shape to ignore their own needs and prioritise mine – well! It’s just proof that people can be so darn inconsiderate, and they clearly don’t care!

I jest of course. Sort of. There’s a slither of truth in this and I’m sure you get the point. Maybe you can even relate?

Boundaries is a word being thrown around like candy these days, and I can’t tell you the number of women I’ve worked with over the years who struggle in this arena. It’s a topic so many of us get wrong, here’s what I see (and experience) again and again –

🤦 Mistake #1 - people won't like me if I have boundaries (especially when it’s a no)

Nope! In truth, we tend to trust people who have good boundaries MORE.  We can feel they have a strong sense of themselves, and we can trust they say what they mean and mean what they say: we’re not left second-guessing. And they treat us as if we can handle the truth - as if we’re mature and capable. When I’m with someone like that, I feel safe and at ease. I may not like their no, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like them. This difference is so important.

🤦 Mistake #2 - boundaries are for other people to respect.

Na-ah! Our boundaries are for US to respect. Boundaries are what I need to feel healthy, safe, supported and in alignment – that’s it. And it’s my job to know what they are, to honour them, to request things from other people to help me do that - without any pressure, guilt or obligation, and be willing to take constructive action if someone can't or won't do that.  We cannot change or control other people – we can only change ourselves and control what we give access to. We give away so much of our personal power waiting for someone else to change. My love, please stop doing that – don’t give anyone that kind of power. When someone can’t meet us there, then WE get to change, we get to act, we get to leave or say no: it’s us that gets to decide what happens next. How can we expect others to respect our boundary if WE don’t respect our boundary.

Boundaries protect us from ourselves. They protect us from our tendency to say yes when we mean no, protect us from giving away more than we’re able to or want to give – our time, energy, stuff, attention, head space, money. When we don’t do this and get mad at everybody else – as if it's their fault - it’s truly crazy making. 


🤦 Mistake #3 – we think everybody knows our boundaries.

They don’t! If we want other people to know what our needs are and want their help in respecting them, we’ve got to tell them. We’ve got to spell it out, make them visible, and (mostly importantly) honour them in OUR actions (i.e. leave the room or conversation if need be). If we say something is a boundary and then fail to act in a way that honours that boundary, we’ve taught others it’s not a boundary at all.  Our action (or inaction) speaks so much louder than our words.


My recent trip into ‘boundary-trashville’ has left me feeling waves of being tired and wired, and a nagging feeling of self betrayal. No shit Sherlock! This is what I mean about boundaries protecting me from me. It’s been a useful wake-up call, inviting me to scan over my life once again to see all the ways I’m leaking energy right now by not taking care of myself.  And truthfully, I’d score myself ‘not bad, could do better’.  My digital boundaries are a little frayed at the edges (phone off 8pm – 8am) with a whole stack of “yeah buts” as excuses. My work time boundary has blurred like a water colour. But mostly I’m saying yes to a million different things because I get overexcited about fun connections, new possibilities and adventures, forgetting my ambition is always greater than my capacity when it comes to my time and energy.


So it’s time for a reset. If this is resonating with you, then come along and join me on my boundary reset today! Here’s the steps I’m taking -

❤️ Step 1 - It starts with radical self-acceptance. Being honest about what I need to feel healthy, safe, supported and in alignment.  This is where our practice of yoga and meditation is useful, when we're on our mat or cushion listening in for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ✋ Still not sure? A sure-fire way of finding out is noticing when I’m feeling triggered, agitated and resentful – it’s like an alarm bell. Being honest about these and not pretending or convincing myself I’m ok with something when I’m not – it will only come back to bite me. I cant tell you the years I spent in my early 20s presenting as someone who is ‘bright and breezy, happy to go with ‘whatevs!’ (I am definitely NOT that girl!)

❤️ Step 2 - Have absolute clarity on where I am in the five key areas -

1.      Self – sleep, food, what I give airtime in my head, my relationship with tech + mediaScreens off at 8.30pm and bed by 10pm, Not worrying about things I can’t control (other people, the US election)

2.      Time – clear about when I’m available for others and when I’m not “I’m happy to work until 5pm, otherwise I’ll send it to you in the morning”

3.      Topics – what topics I’ll discuss, and which topics I won’t“mum, my weight is not a topic of discussion–let’s move on” or “I’m not available to talk about your ex-husband again, can we talk about something else”


4.      Material stuff – what I’m comfortable lending, what I’m not and under what terms“I don’t lend out my books, but you’re welcome to take a photo”

5.      Emotional – what’s mine to own, feel and process and what isn’t“I totally understand you’re disappointed I said no, and if I were you, I’d feel disappointed too. I hope you can find someone else”


❤️ Step 3 - Let people know what I need – it’s the kindest and most compassionate thing I can do for me, them and the relationship.


❤️ Step 4 - Be prepared to take action, including circling back and changing my mind “I said yes, but actually that’s not going to work for me – can we reschedule for another time” (radical!)


Why is worth doing? While boundaries may appear to create restriction or distance, paradoxically they create more freedom and deeper connection. Compassionate boundaries come from a place of love - accepting and respecting our own limits. Telling the truth with all of the kindness and love we can muster up in that moment, builds a strong sense of trust with ourselves and with others. When we do this, we create more ease in our life. In knowing ourselves, accepting who we are and what's best for us in an unapologetic way – we give permission for others to do the same. THIS I believe is LOVE!


Let me know below if this resonates, especially if you’re working on this right now. We can inspire and help each other by sharing about a boundary you’ve recently been figuring out - how’s it going? ⬇️


If you’re in the middle of a boundary crisis – know that there is a way through. And I promise you, it’s both awful and beautiful. Having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others – will push you squarely in the face of fear: the fear of not being liked. And THIS my darling, is exactly what’s keeping you small. And the crazy-beautiful thing is you'll actually be liked more for being your whole, glorious, authentic self. The people in your life who truly love you, wants this for you as much as you want this for them. Come along with me, let’s grow some brave together, because what’s on the other side of this is MARVELLOUS!


If you need some help figuring this out or putting it into action, then I’m your girl.  I'll share great tips, tools, and fab ideas for finding your way back to what matters most – and be your support team along the way. Message me with a brief of summary of what bump in the road you're working through and how I might help, and let’s see if we can navigate this road to freedom together.

This is tricky terrain my darling, fraught with dead ends, dark alleys and tripping over other peoples' mess. But you are so much braver than you can just haven't met that version of yourself yet! Walk slowly and take your time, we've got our whole lives (or at least this week) to figure this out and you'll discover many treasures along the way.

See you along the path my treasure hunters!

Go lightly, and always, ALWAYS with love

Deborah 💛


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