5 Steps to Setting Boundaries Assertively

Strong personal limits, otherwise known as boundaries are the cornerstone of strong relationships and intimacy.

A personal limit is a dividing line between you and your significant other, or between you and anyone else.

This line indicates both physical and emotional limits that others cannot violate.

A strong personal limit is firm yet flexible and allows you to build a bridge between you and another instead of laying down doormat- style or putting up a wall.


Flexibility in terms of personal limits is very different from being negotiable. Your personal limits aren’t to be negotiated, but your stance should be kind and respectful.

Therefore, it’s your approach that’s flexible and not your boundaries. You want to be open in your nature while remaining firm and closed with regard to your limits. It’s a challenging balance but with practice it gets easier and easier.

Sometimes people have trouble putting boundaries in place with those that they love the most. Unfortunately, strong limits are most important with those that you care about and want to keep in your life. It’s necessary to be open and honest about how you feel and what you need to maintain friendships, relationships and professional associations in the long-term.

Enforcing your personal limits requires you to be assertive and take a stand by expressing yourself with confidence. People often think that being assertive will push people away but the opposite is actually true. Assertiveness allows others to know where they stand with you and allows them to be close to you within the confines of the limits you set. It’s aggression (not being kind and respectful, while stating what you need) that pushes others away and passivity (being so kind and respectful to others that you end of disrespecting yourself) that also ends up pushing people away at such time when you can no longer stand being taken for granted and you let them have it!

To create stronger relationships and feel more confident, follow these:

5 Steps to Be More Assertive with Your Boundaries

  1. Practice being in touch with your emotions so that when you are uncomfortable in any way, you know you need to say something.
  2. Promise yourself that you will no longer wait to do something IF it happens again. Save yourself the misery of “it” inevitably happening again and say something now.
  3. Remind yourself that nobody likes conflict even when it doesn’t appear that way, and use your courage to feel the fear you’ll have if you say something, and say it anyway!
  4. Always give the person you’re being assertive with the benefit of the doubt by saying something like, I’m not sure if you realize, but… (I don’t like being spoken to that way).
  5. Take a deep breath, think about what you want to say, and say it in as few words as possible, without using the word you (to avoid defensiveness), and while using a kind and respectful tone of voice.

The personal limits you have for one person are the same limits you have for everyone else. It doesn’t serve you to have limits for some people and not for others because the way you deserve to be treated doesn’t shift based on who you’re interacting with.

You deserve to be treated well at all times and with all people. Remember, that there is never a good reason for anyone to treat you poorly.


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Susan Blackburn

Susan Blackburn

About Susan Blackburn:

Susan Blackburn, M.A., C.Psych. is a Registered Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Counsellor & Therapist in Toronto at Yonge Eglinton, a Published Author and a guest Relationship Expert on radio and television.

Susan enjoys working with people to enhance the quality of their lives. Her collaborative psychotherapy and counselling approach offers clients effective tools and strategies to increase happiness, manage stress, find balance, improve confidence, embrace self care and focus on the positive so that they can relax and enjoy life.

Services are covered under most extended health benefits and workplace insurance plans requiring clients be seen by a Registered Psychologist through her registration with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Susan is the owner of Susan Blackburn Psychology a boutique therapy private practice located in midtown Toronto at Yonge and Eglinton.

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