top of page

Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

What are Boundaries? (And How to Not Violate them)

It’s your first day in forever without plans.  A day that’s free of obligations is a rare event so you plan a nice day that’s all about you.  You are stretched out on your sofa in TV bliss and someone shakes the front door.  The visitors realize the door is locked, but they continuously knock and ring the doorbell. They know you’re home because your car is parked outside, however, they keep trying to invite themselves into your home. Sound familiar?


What are boundaries?  


Lack of boundaries allows you to become accessible to other people whenever they are available on their terms, but not yours. Boundaries are the individualized rules we set for other people to follow. They can be emotional, physical, and financial. There are several mental health benefits to maintaining boundaries including increased self-esteem, established sense of identity, independence, and core values, as well as decreased levels of burnout. 


How do people violate your personal boundaries?


People violate your personal boundaries by asking overly intrusive questions without realizing your discomfort.

They just push and push and push until they get the info they need.  It’s a game to them, so they can be oblivious or don’t care that you do not want to share something.


People violate your personal boundaries by refusing to accept NO for an answer and continually persist.

No should mean NO. They are so caught up in their own agenda, they completely ignore your “no”, let alone your feelings.


People violate your personal boundaries by doing something they were specifically asked not to do.

There is no excuse or reason for someone to do something you specifically asked them NOT to do. It’s a blatant form of disrespect when someone completely rejects your wishes and does it anyway. 


People violate your personal boundaries by borrowing one of your belongings without asking.

Sometimes entitled people take what’s yours because they think it’s available for their use as well. They might not realize they might have to ask for permission.


People violate your personal boundaries by standing too physically close or becoming overly affectionate.

The beloved Seinfeld comedy of the 1990’s had a funny episode that ridiculed “close talkers”, people who stood in each other’s faces to talk. Sometimes they don’t understand the social cues, when you try to give yourself some physical space. 


How can you maintain personal boundaries?

Knowing your limits is the core foundation of setting and maintaining personal boundaries. Awareness of how much you can take is essential for setting, managing,  and communicating your boundaries. Learning your personal boundaries can be a journey ignited by people overstepping them.


You can maintain personal boundaries by refusing to answer questions that make you feel uncomfortable.

Just because they are asking, doesn’t mean you have to answer the question. It is 100% your choice as to which information you divulge and with whom you share. A response that usually quiets people is, “why do you ask?”.  


You can maintain personal boundaries by saying NO thank you.
Ignoring your no, doesn’t mean you have to say yes. Although “no thank you” is the politest way possible, I will dish out a “no” that is loud, terse, and salty if I feel like I’m not being heard.


You can maintain personal boundaries by addressing it when people do something you didn’t want them to do.

It’s the ultimate form of disrespect when someone does things you told them not to do. When your requests are completely ignored, yell at them in a journal, so you can cut through the negative emotion to find the right words for a constructive conversation.


You can maintain personal boundaries by requesting that people ask before they borrow your belongings

Your stuff is not public property. Unless they are partial owners of the item, you can say “no” or request that people have to ask before they try to use something of yours.


You can maintain personal boundaries by being mindful of your physical comfort zone

Your body and space are not public property.  Evaluate the people in your life and determine the level of affection with them. All relationships are different, so hugging and kissing might be appropriate for some, but not others. Be mindful of other people’s cultural norms for touching as well.


Looking inward to strengthen your intrapersonal relationship and learning your own limits is the first step.  Expect that people will get angry with you when you begin to practice new boundaries..  However, real friends don’t get angry; they understand and respect.  


How about you?


How can you do a better job at honoring other people’s boundaries? 

Where do you need to set and maintain boundaries for yourself?

Hi Beautiful Readers and thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

bottom of page