Do you constantly feel like you’re being taken advantage of, not respected, appreciated for your efforts or just plain misunderstood? This could be because you have poor boundaries – or, none at all.
- The step-by-step process I take my clients through to set clear and meaningful boundaries
- The 8 different types of boundaries
- The difference between boundaries, rules and agreements.
Links and Resources
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Hello my loves, and welcome to episode 11 of The Sensuality Academy Podcast.
I’ve got a question for you: Do you ever feel like you’re being taken advantage of, not respected, appreciated for your efforts or just plain misunderstood? This could be because you have poor boundaries, or none at all. In this episode I’m going to share with you the step-by-step process that I take my clients through to set clear and meaningful boundaries, the 8 different types of boundaries, plus I’ll share the difference between boundaries, rules and agreements.
Now, if you resonate with not having strong boundaries I want to first tell you that this is okay; most of us were never really taught HOW to set boundaries, or that it was even okay to do so. Many of us — especially those who exist in female bodies — have been conditioned in such a way where we feel we have to put everyone before ourselves. (Lest we be seen as “selfish”.) It’s the classic mother archetype — regardless of whether you’re a mother or not — that everyone else’s happiness and well-being comes before our own. This can manifest in all different ways: in friendships, romantic relationships, at work and (of course) in family settings.
Our inner people pleaser often just wants to be liked and seen as carefree and easy-going, but trying to come across this way can actually be really detrimental when we don’t speak up and voice our boundaries — and this can lead to us feeling like people don’t get us, that we are not being treated well, that people don’t understand us and that we aren’t being respected.
I reached out a few days ago on instagram and I asked you all to share with me what boundaries that you have had to set in your own life (or you want to), and which boundaries consistently get crossed in your own life. Here’s what you had to say:
One of you shared with me that you often have family members who give you their unsolicited opinion on your actions and how you’re living your life. Can you relate to this? This actually goes back to what I discussed in episode 9 about communication. This is where we often have this breakdown in the purpose of communication. Sometimes family, or other people, can think that they’re being really ‘helpful’ and offer opinions to try and ‘fix’ you, or help you solve your problem … which doesn’t really go down so well when that’s not what you’re asking. (And especially if it’s coming totally unsolicited.) Sometimes people just like to be really nosy and have their say on your business, which is not cool, and this is where boundaries will come in.
Speaking of this, I had another person from my community who shared with me that she struggles to set and maintain boundaries when they’re clearly not respected by men in her life. She said, “men who overstay their welcome and feel entitled to your time and body just because you had a conversation”. Can anyone else resonate with this? I can’t even begin to count how many times this has happened to me. And I don’t like to generalize or gender things, but we know that this does happen overwhelmingly more to those in female bodies. This is why I believe it to be so important for us ALL, as humans, to learn both the art of setting our own boundaries, but also recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.
Now, there is this inner people-pleaser, there is this concern that a lot of us have for coming across as a bitch, as coming across as rude, as coming across as bossy, or any of those other negative words, when we set our boundaries. And this is because we have been conditioned, again, to feel like we have to please others and put everyone else before ourselves — but of course, that’s only going to lead to us not voicing our inner-truth if we’re not voicing how we expect and deserve to be treated.
So let’s dive in a little deeper to boundaries. We’re going to explore what boundaries are and how to set them. And before I do this, just a reminder that I go really really deep into this work in my signature program, The Sensuality Academy, with an entire workbook on the topic with guided exercises. In this episode, I don’t want it to be hours long, so I’m just going to give you an abridged version today. But if you’re interested in doing this work even deeper along with a lot of other AMAZING juicy content, then make sure you sign up for the waitlist for the next round of The Sensuality Academy. (You can find that in the show notes.)
Let’s get clear on what exactly a boundary is and isn’t. Now I know this might seem like semantics, but it’s really important that we understand the difference between boundaries, rules and agreements.
Boundaries are something created by you, and you alone. YOU make the boundary, you apply the boundary to yourself and your behaviour, and it is your soul responsibility to enforce it. So this might be a hard pill to swallow, but this is not on anyone else — this is all on you! You must set your own boundaries, otherwise they will be stepped over time and time and time again.
When I talk about boundaries, they differ from rules and agreements. Now rules, these are more restrictive — these are guidelines that you place on someone else, or that someone else places on you. ‘Guidelines’ isn’t even a strong enough term; they are very much restrictions. Then we have agreements, and agreements are something that two or more people decide on together. If we look at boundaries, boundaries are you — this is all you! You set them, you create them, you apply them to yourself, and you are responsible for enforcing them. Rules are more restrictive, and they are something placed on you by someone, or something that you place on someone else. (It’s that kind of one-way.) Then agreements are the two of your together, or two or more people deciding collectively that this is something that we agree on.
When it comes to boundary setting, the first thing to do is to get clear on our core values. I’m gonna take you through this in a moment, but I just want to put it all together so that we can understand how this works.
In an example of me in a relationship, I really value — so one of my core values — is alone time, time for myself. With that core value, I would set a boundary that “It is my boundary that I have at least three nights a week to myself”, for example. Now, if I was to set this as a rule, the rule would be like, for a partner I would say, “You’re not allowed to come over on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — you’re NOT allowed” — that’s very restrictive, and I’m saying that to him. That’s different from me setting my boundary of “I really appreciate my alone time, so I’d like to have three nights a week to myself”; this is me saying, “I’ve decided, and this is my rule, you have to abide by it” — you see how boundaries and rules differ there?
Then, if we take it a step further, an agreement is me and my partner having a conversation and me expressing my boundary, which is, “I really value my alone time, I need three nights a week to myself”. And then together we agree, “Okay, maybe what we’ll do is we’ll have date night on this night” and we’ll see each other on that night, “and then on these few nights” he’s gonna go off and do his thing, I’ll do my thing on that night … and we create an agreement together that we’re both comfortable with. My boundary has been honoured — and he probably created one of his own throughout that conversation — but it’s not restrictive and it’s not saying, “If you break that rule then you’ve broken this”. If we break an agreement, that’s different because we created the agreement and we can amend the agreement.
So I hope that makes sense. I’m not gonna go too deep into agreements and everything, but just for a little bit of context with how they differ — boundaries, rules and agreements.
Back to values: So important that, before we even start thinking about setting boundaries and creating this big ol’ list of boundaries to kind of go out into the world with, we know what the hell our values are. What do you live your life by? What things do you need to feel totally fulfilled and calm and content in your life?
When we want to figure out what the hell our values are, and what we want to bring into our life as boundaries, it’s great to ask ourselves: In certain situations (or conversations, or things that have happened in my life), did they violate my core values? Did I feel like my core value of freedom was being crossed when someone told me I had to be here at this time, or you’re going to do this, or some sort of situation where they have told you “You’re doing this!” That’s where a value would be crossed, and that illuminates an area where a boundary needs to be set.
A few questions to consider for your core values, if you’re not sure what they are yet, is: What do you believe in? What things do you really hold close? How do you want to be treated? And — this one is such a good one — what behaviour or treatment is absolutely unacceptable to you?
This is gonna be different for everyone, and this is where it’s very very important that, once we understand these certain behaviours are unacceptable to me and now I’m going to create boundaries around them, because these are going to be so different for so many people, and where you find certain things are not okay, other people will be totally fine with it. So this is why it’s important that we know, in our own heart, these things are okay and these things are not … and then we communicate them with others. When we assume that everyone has the same core values and expectations, then that’s where we can create so much conflict, because we’re not understanding each other. We’re not understanding each other that each other are different, and we’re also not communicating how we are different (and respecting how others are different to us).
I’d love for you — again, this is my inner-coach speaking — I’d love for you to create a list of your values (the things that are most important for your life). Perhaps it’s things like adventure, or gratitude. Perhaps it’s thoughtfulness. Perhaps it is recognition. Maybe it’s connection, curiosity, time alone. Different things like this that you want to make sure are upheld in your life. So explore those values, and then we can start to explore our boundaries. When you’re clear on these core values, and what behaviours are and are not acceptable to you (this one’s really important), look back at moments in your life where people have acted a certain way and you’re like, “Woah, that goes against my values” — look at those. Now you can start to create your boundaries. Remember again that boundaries apply to your own behaviour and what you will and will not accept. It is your soul responsibility to enforce your own boundaries.
With this in mind, consider what behaviour goes against your core values. For example, like I said before, I really value my alone time. In this scenario of ‘in a relationship’, my boundary is that I would like three nights a week to myself. If that is overstepped and a partner just sort of comes over again and again — or comes over, stays over, spends the whole day, while I’m trying to work. (I have had this conversation with a partner in the past where I’ve said, “Hey, I really value my alone time”, I actually also set a boundary as to how much I value my time alone, not just alone but to work, and that I need space to do that by myself, and not with someone hovering around … I had this conversation and said, “I’d really appreciate it if you left, and then we got back together when I was free, not focused on work, and I could be present with you”.) Because the thing is, when you set these clear boundaries, it means that everything else is gonna be so much more meaningful. So in this scenario, when he’d stayed the night and he was still here, and I was like, “I need to work”, and he’s like, “Cool, I’ll just hang out over here”, and I just couldn’t get into my zone because he was still here. It’s like, “Okay, I don’t feel like I can be fully present with you because I’m distracted, because I’ve got things that I wanna do in my work”. And, yes, even though I work from home and I can work anytime that I want, it doesn’t mean that I can just kind of quickly switch into work-mode. So in this situation, it’s really really valuable to say, “Hey, these are my boundaries”, and we come up with an agreement that matches each of our boundaries, and then from there, every time that we spend together is going to be intentional and connected and we’re going to be so much more present — in that situation, I would be way more present because I would’ve had that time to myself to fill up my cup, and now I’ve got some to share. (I hope that that makes sense!)
It’s really important that we recognize as well that “no” is a full sentence. So if we have set our boundary, and someone asks to cross it, we can just say “no”. Be sure not to place blame on others; rather than saying to someone, “Gosh, you always stay over, you always do this thing that bugs me”, instead it’s important to share with someone that, “I value this, and so this is why I need you to do this”. It’s asking, it’s communicating your boundary and asking a question.
By nature, people will try to overstep and cross your boundaries, and they’ll do this either intentionally or (most often) very unintentionally. This is a great opportunity for you to reinforce those boundaries, because they’re in your best interest.
Let’s talk about different types of boundaries. There’s eight different types of boundaries that I have categorized, and these are ways that you can kind of group these different boundaries and set them, so it’s really really helpful to look at these different areas of our life and think, “Oh, okay, I think in this section these are the boundaries that I’d like to have in place”. (It’s a really good exercise to do.)
First things first is material boundaries. These relate to how you feel about sharing or allowing others to borrow possessions, such as your money, your car, clothes, books, food … things like this. How do you feel about that? Are you totally fine, like “everyone can have free range to borrow my stuff left, right and centre”? Or, do you have some boundaries that you’d wanna place like, “Hey, I’d like it back in the same condition” or “Yeah you can borrow it, but only for X amount of time” — things like that. Setting boundaries, and then from there creating agreements with the people that you have set these boundaries with.
Then we’ve got physical boundaries, and these relate to your personal space, to your privacy, and — very importantly — to your body … and who’s allowed to access these, and how. So who can access your personal space, your privacy, and your body? And in what ways? This is a really really important one, because I think so many of us grow up thinking or being expected to share (especially our body) with people in a way that might not feel totally nourishing. And I’ll go into this a little bit more deeply when we talk about sexual boundaries. BUT, personal space, privacy — just like I’ve been talking about, if time to yourself is a huge value of yours, then a boundary is going to be a physical one with your actual time.
Then you have mental boundaries, so these apply to your thoughts, your values, your opinions, and if (or when) you allow others to influence your truth. This is where you can control what social media you’re using, what accounts you are following, what media/news/tv shows you are consuming, what books you’re reading, and also the kind of conversations that you’re having — if someone is going against a core value of yours, and doing so in an aggressive way (or something like this), you can set a boundary for your mental health. If you do not accept being treated a certain way because it’s detrimental to your mental health, this is a mental boundary that must be set.
Then we’ve got emotional boundaries. So these differ from mental boundaries in that they require very clear internal boundaries, knowing your feelings and responsibilities to yourself and to others.
Then we have sexual boundaries. These protect your comfort level with sexual touch and activity — so this is the what, where, when, and with whom of sex (and anything related to sex). Are you comfortable being touched like this? If not, you must set a boundary. Are there boundaries that need to be set — are there? I’m gonna just rephrase that: There ARE boundaries that MUST be set at the beginning of every romantic sexual relationship that you have, and revisited regularly. I think that it’s really common for people to sort of just go into sex — we just kind of flow into it — but there’s not often a discussion of “What do you like? / What don’t you like?”, “Can I do this?”, “Do you like that?”, “How about this?, “What are your thoughts on x, y, z?” And I know that, from working with a lot of clients (especially female clients), often we don’t feel we have the permission to voice what we do and don’t like.
(Gosh, you know what? This is tangent time! I’ve been spending far too much time on TikTok lately, and I noticed that there was this trend. This one video in particular that I saw, which was set to a funny song or whatever, but basically it was this girl and she was lying down, and the caption said, “When you’re low-key in pain and he thinks you’re moaning in pleasure” … and then it went off to some scat music thing, and she was doing all these weird shapes with her hand, basically just insinuating that she’s moaning, it’s in pain but he thinks that it’s in pleasure, and then he starts doing all this crazy stuff with his hands because he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. And it’s funny, but it’s also like this kind of stuff just makes me cringe ‘cause it’s like, “Woah, woah, we should NOT be in a situation where we are not voicing what feels good and (especially) what feels bad”. And it’s normalized so much, especially for people who identify as women, that we don’t enjoy sex apparently and that we just sort of do it to please our man, and these kind of really really bullshit old-school kind of thoughts. It can be maintained when we aren’t speaking up, if we aren’t saying, “Woah, that hurts!” or “Woah, I don’t think you know what you’re doing mate, try again! I’m gonna teach you, I’m gonna share with you what I DO like”. I mean of course, given the nature of what I teach about, I’ve spent a significant amount of time on sexual boundaries and I think it’s really important … so please have conversations with your partners about your sexual boundaries, about what you do and don’t like, and do this regularly — do this before sex, do this during sex, do it after sex, and do it regularly within a relationship.)
Next up is spiritual boundaries. These relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with your faith or a higher power. So this is where, if you have a certain belief system and it’s not respected by someone else, it’s really important to set those boundaries. Maybe you’re setting boundaries in your own life about how much you will practice or meditate or pray, or whatever your belief system is — setting those boundaries within yourself and with others.
Okay, that is a little wrap up of what boundaries are, how to set them, and the different types. I hope that that all resonates with you, and if you got anything from this episode, I’d love for you to screenshot and share, I’d love for you to DM me and share with me your biggest takeaways as well, and I hope that you go out there and set some really nice clear boundaries and feel empowered to do so. As always, stay sensual, and I will see you (speak to you) next time.
Let me know your thoughts!