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What is a Personal Boundary: Tips to Establish and Maintain Healthy Mental Health Boundaries

Updated: Dec 23, 2023


When you have poor psychological boundaries, it can be difficult to function in everyday life. It can also impact your relationships and make you feel like a victim of other people's abuse. However, I'm going to show you how to implement psychological boundaries and how a psychologist can help with this process.

Psychological Boundaries are important,

Personal Boundary: What are Psychological Boundaries?

Psychological boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves in relationships and interactions with others. A personal boundary is a rule that you set for yourself about what you will and won't do. A personal boundary defines what is, and is not, acceptable behaviour from ourselves and others. They help us maintain a sense of self-respect and self-worth.

Personal boundaries can include physical, emotional, and mental boundaries and may be different for each person. They help us to set limits on what we will tolerate from others, and to communicate our own needs and wants in a relationship. They help you to protect yourself from being hurt by other people.

For example, if your friend is going through a breakup and needs some time to herself, she might say: "I need space right now." That means it is important for her not to be around other people while she sorts out her feelings. This way she can focus on her own healing process without being distracted by other people's problems or needs. That is being assertive, recognising her needs and implementing appropriate boundaries.

Who has Poor Psychological Boundaries?

People with a variety of psychological conditions can have poor boundaries. Here are some examples:

  • People with personality disorders, for example, may find it difficult or impossible to set limits on other people's behaviour and/or control their own impulses.

  • People who have experienced trauma or abuse may have learned that their boundaries were not respected or were violated by others during their formative years. This can cause them to feel unsafe in relationships as adults.

  • People who grew up in neglectful families may lack the confidence and skills necessary for setting appropriate boundaries later in life.

  • People who have a tendency to be "people pleasers" may struggle with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in their relationships. They may have a hard time saying no to others and may put their own needs and wants aside in order to avoid conflict or to make others happy. This can lead to feelings of resentment and burnout, and can negatively impact their own mental and emotional well-being. Additionally, people pleasers may have difficulty recognising and expressing their own needs and may have a hard time setting limits in their relationships. However, it is important to note that everyone is different and the tendency to be a people pleaser does not necessarily indicate poor psychological boundaries.

  • Individuals who are members of an enmeshed family also tend to have poor boundaries.

Do People with Personality Disorders have Poor Psychological Boundaries?

Yes, people with personality disorders can have poor psychological boundaries. Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions that affect how you think, feel and behave. They’re diagnosed when certain lifelong traits. They can be inflexible and cause problems in your relationships or day-to-day life through their demands and interpersonal dynamics.

People with personality disorders can be self-centred and have difficulty recognising other people’s needs or feelings. This means they may disregard what others want or need – which is why their behaviour could be seen as selfish. They may also struggle with empathy for others, so it may not occur to them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes before making a decision. They tend to be focused on their own needs and engage in behaviours to meet them, including manipulating others.

What Happens When You Have Poor Boundaries?

When your psychological boundaries aren't in place, you can feel like you're being taken advantage of and manipulated. You may even begin to feel as though you are being smothered or controlled by others.

This happens when someone doesn't have clear psychological boundaries, they often feel like they have no control over their own life. As such, they might allow others to influence decisions that they should be making on their own—or worse yet, they might not take responsibility for themselves at all!

This can happen because people who don't have strong psychological boundaries tend not to be assertive with others. As an example, let's take the situation in which a friend asks you for help with something but the task requires more effort than originally planned (e.g., moving furniture). Instead of saying "no" directly, and asking their friend if there's anything else they could do instead, these individuals may just say "yes". Despite not wanting to do the task they agree, without thinking about how much time or energy this will require from them later on. They then might feel frustrated, used and end up resenting their friend for it afterwards!

Can Poor Psychological Boundaries Enable Bad Behaviour in Others?

Yes, poor psychological boundaries can enable others to engage in bad behavior. People with poor psychological boundaries may have difficulty setting and maintaining limits with others, which can lead to them being taken advantage of or mistreated. This can also make it harder for them to recognise and address unhealthy or abusive behavior in their relationships.

For instance, take a mother who does everything for their children without expecting them to do anything in return. This can result in them taking her for granted. She might be enabling them to be lazy, and entitled. As they do not learn about personal responsibility, doing things for others and engaging in household chores as a team they do not learn important life skills. They are also more likely not to appreciate what she does for them and take her care, and hard work, for granted. While she might think she is a wonderful, hardworking mother, she is not likely to be respected by her children for her hard work and dedication.

Establishing and maintaining healthy psychological boundaries is an important aspect of self-care and can help individuals build healthier and more fulfilling relationships.

Why Implement Psychological Boundaries?

Implementing psychological boundaries is important for several reasons:

  • Self-care: Setting boundaries allows individuals to take care of their own physical, emotional, and mental well-being by not allowing others to take advantage of them or treat them poorly.

  • Self-esteem: Having boundaries in place can help individuals to respect themselves and their own needs and wants, which can lead to increased self-esteem and self-worth.

  • Relationships: Setting boundaries can improve the quality of relationships by promoting mutual respect, trust, and understanding between individuals.

  • Self-awareness: By setting boundaries, individuals can become more aware of their own needs and wants, which can lead to better self-awareness and personal growth.

  • Empowerment: Setting boundaries can help individuals feel more in control of their lives and can empower them to make decisions that align with their own values and beliefs.

  • Mental Health: Having healthy boundaries can have positive effects on mental health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

Overall, setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for personal growth, self-care, and maintaining healthy relationships.

Setting Psychological Boundaries is a Balance

Psychological boundaries can be either too loose or too rigid. When boundaries are too loose, it can lead to feeling taken advantage of, disrespected, or even abused in relationships.

People with loose boundaries may have difficulty saying "no" or setting limits, and may struggle with setting healthy boundaries in their relationships. They may also have difficulty asserting themselves and may have a hard time understanding and respecting their own needs and wants.

On the other hand, when boundaries are too rigid, it can lead to feeling isolated, disconnected, or unfulfilled in relationships. People with rigid boundaries may have difficulty being open and vulnerable with others, and may struggle with intimacy. They may also have difficulty with compromise and may have a hard time understanding and respecting the needs and wants of others.

Having healthy boundaries means that boundaries are flexible and can be adjusted to different situations. It means being able to assert one's own needs and wants, while also being open to understanding and respecting the needs and wants of others.

How do you Implement Personal Boundaries?

Implementing personal boundaries involves setting limits and expectations for how you want to be treated and communicating those limits to others.

Here are a few steps that can help with implementing personal boundaries:

  1. Identify your limits: Take some time to think about what you are and are not comfortable with in different situations. Consider your physical, emotional, and mental boundaries.

  2. Communicate your boundaries clearly: Once you have identified your limits, it's important to communicate them to others. Use "I" statements to express your feelings and needs, such as "I feel uncomfortable when you raise your voice at me" or "I need some alone time after work."

  3. Learn to say "no": It's important to be able to say "no" when someone asks you to do something that goes against your boundaries. Saying "no" is not only okay, but it is also important for maintaining your boundaries.

  4. Stick to your boundaries: Once you have set your boundaries, it's important to stick to them. If someone crosses your boundaries, it's important to assert yourself and remind them of your limits.

  5. Be prepared for pushback: When setting boundaries, you may encounter resistance from others. It's important to be prepared for this and to stay firm in your boundaries, even if it means ending a relationship.

  6. Take care of yourself: Implementing personal boundaries requires being self-aware, being able to assert yourself, and being willing to take care of yourself. Remember that you have the right to have your boundaries respected, and don't let anyone else make you feel guilty for setting them.

It is important to note that setting boundaries is a process and it may take time to learn how to effectively communicate and maintain them. The key is to be consistent and to remind yourself that having boundaries is a sign of self-respect and self-care.

How Can a Psychologist Help?

If you have a boundary problem, there are some things a psychologist can do to help.

First, they can help you learn how to implement and maintain your boundaries.

Second, they can work with you on understanding your personality and why it is so difficult for some people to have healthy psychological boundaries. This type of information will help the psychologist determine what is causing the problem in the first place, which could lead to specific treatment options that would otherwise never be considered.

Talk therapy approaches, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can assist. These types of therapies aim at helping people with poor self-awareness learn about themselves and their behaviors. This helps them change those behaviors.

Where Do You Get Help?

It's important to remember that you are not alone. There are many people who have experienced what you're going through, and some of them have found ways to get help.

Working with a psychologist can help you learn how boundaries work, and how to develop them. A psychologist can help you understand your own psychological boundaries, help you respect other people's psychological boundaries, and guide you in implementing psychological boundaries in your daily life.


In summary, psychological boundaries are an important part of any healthy relationship. They help you avoid being used or manipulated by others, and they keep you safe from emotional harm. If you are having difficulty with your own personal relationships, it’s a good idea to seek out professional help from a psychologist who can help establish these boundaries for you. This is especially true if there is a history of abuse in your family or childhood experiences which may have left emotional scars that need healing before they become effective tools in building better relationships moving forward!

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If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty, professional support is available. Contact iflow psychology today at 02 6061 1144 to schedule an appointment.

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Visit iflow Psychology in Leichhardt, Inner West Sydney, NSW, Australia for in-person consultations. We also provide convenient telehealth services, ensuring accessibility no matter your location.


The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Prior to making any decisions, we recommend consulting your treating doctor, health professionals, and legal representatives. This is particularly important if you have health concerns, existing mental health or medical conditions, or if you feel you are not coping.

(c) 2023 Dean Harrison

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