Let’s talk about boundaries (Part 1)

“How do you do it? How do you keep yourself as composed and energetic after your session with me?”

Asked one of my clients, a week after I facilitated a 2.5 hours RTT (Hypnotherapy) session for him. And he was serious about it.

Indeed, a very good question, and one that I have been asked a lot in the past few years.

So, the topic of today is about boundaries.

Why? Having and maintaining my boundaries are key to keeping my energy and composure during an intense and unpredictable time.

Truthfully, boundaries were a big issue for me too. The lack of them, to be precise. This actually led me to a burnout in 2008. What a profound lesson it was.

In fact, it got me making a lifelong commitment towards myself to do my best to honor this concept called boundaries (it is, after all, a concept. It is not a physical fence we gate ourselves with!).


What is a boundary?

Let’s reflect on what is a life without boundaries.

Everyday, we start the day by waking up and getting ready. Soon after, we roll with how the world around us revolves. We “play” according to others’ needs: the deadlines at work, the people to coordinate, the task list that keeps on growing, the tantrum a child throws that morning, etc. etc. etc.

The day continues. Meetings, calls, clients sharing their problems, colleagues asking us to solve their problems, etc. Before we know it, we’re in bed at night exhausted, often unable to recall what has happened, yet feeling somewhat defeated.

Defeated by life or by the events that happen that day.

You are likely lacking a healthy boundary when you feel one or more of these:
• Exhaustion, physically and emotionally;
• Irritated easily, by someone or something, as if there is something wrong, missing, or lacking;
• Unclear, confused and indecisive. Often the following thoughts come to your mind: “I don’t know who I am anymore, I don’t know what I’m doing here, why does this situation keep happening to me?” etc.;
• Anxious, anxious, anxious, as if you are lacking time, energy, resources, or support to do what you want to do;
• Feeling ashamed, as if regardless of what you’re doing, you’ll never come close to what is expected;
• Feeling scared of making mistakes or making a wrong decision;
• Feeling guilty for having a habit of being overly helpful to others that it actually takes too much out of you;
• Feeling overly worried for others’ problems.


In my mind, boundary is a concept. It is a guideline created to help us feel safe and comfortable being who we are. I imagine it is like an invisible circle around each of us. Operating from this space helps us stay centered and grounded. My client recognizes it as “composed and energetic”.

This invisible circle helps us to manage how we interact with others and how to handle others’ behaviors when they cross it. Everyone has a unique set of boundaries as it is determined by our personality, values and beliefs.

There are 4 types of boundary:

1. Physical boundary.

Personality, family and cultural upbringing usually influence this. You can sense it quite easily by close observation. Reading body language and facial expressions helps a great deal. Among others, see how people greet each other, how they position each other in a group (how much space is in between them), and how they express themselves through gestures. Honoring this boundary keeps us feeling safe.

2. Mental boundary.

When we interact with others, exchange of thoughts is inevitable.

Paradox to the label, a healthy mental boundary allows you to expand yourself while feeling safe. It enables you to openly share your view, based on your conviction while also accepting that others may disagree with you. You conduct the interaction calmly. When you decide to agree with other’s opinion, you own this opinion as your own, without judgment, especially against yourself. You have a healthy dose of open-mindedness.

Lack of mental boundary makes you build a tendency to always follow others’ opinions without internalizing it. Saying NO is difficult for you.
Another form of lack of this boundary is that you easily become defensive and highly emotional in a discussion. Everything, even little things, can feel like a personal criticism or attack. Yes, being much less grounded and composed.

3. Emotional boundary.

This is about distinguishing your feelings from others and keeping them separate.

A healthy emotional boundary allows you to be present for others without absorbing their feelings. It helps you to be compassionate with others.

When this boundary is robust, you have much more energy to help others. You empower them by being available to listen (with your heart and mind) to them. In essence, you offer a safe space for them to hear themselves.

An unhealthy one often makes you react in a highly charged up way. You tend to blame or attack others or take on guilt or any negative feeling that is not yours. Such situation drains you.

4. Spiritual boundary.

This is about what you believe about God/Source/Higher power/Universe and how you live this in your life.

All of these boundaries combined are useful to have in any situation, both in personal and professional settings.


Why boundaries are so important?

We are at our best when we are in flow. What does it mean, being in flow? It is a state of being where the comprehensive systems we have (mind, body, spirit) work together in a natural dance, without us neither over-engineering nor overthinking anything. We often label this state creative, inspired (In-spirit), ingenious, or resourceful.

You don’t tell your body how to breathe. You decide you want to live. Your body, mind and spirit combine do the rest. Your MAIN task is NOT to disturb this so the innate collaboration works smoothly.

See it?

Boundaries help us ensure we’re not blocking our mind, body, or spirit to do what they are meant to do to fulfill our desires. It is as simple as that.

We are the sole key holders of our boundaries. External actions done by others are just triggers to remind us how healthy or unhealthy they are.
Every time we are triggered, it is a sign that we need to do something uplifting to strengthen it.


Why is it so challenging to keep boundaries strong at all times?

Firstly, some of us do not have the concept of boundaries in our life.

Secondly, we’re not aware that these boundaries are organic. They are alive, like we are. It is not like the Great Wall of China that stands there for hundreds of years.

We are human, with emotions, and we evolve continuously. As an adult, what is a good boundary today may not be a good one in 6-months time.

We know that our boundaries need upgrading when interacting with others brings more pain than joy. That’s a big clue. Conflict with others is actually useful as it tells us a new boundary needs to be placed. Whilst painful, it’s a tool to help you re-establish what the new boundary is.

The truth is a boundary is something that we develop overtime. We were not born with it.

Babies cry when they feel like it, to communicate what they feel and need at that moment. They really don’t care that the parents are sleeping, even if it is 2:14 AM.

Growing up, we learnt from our immediate environment what kind of boundaries there were. What was right and wrong, accepted and not.

We adopted these standards very early on in our childhood, mostly before 7 years old. We eagerly did that as a way to belong and to ensure that we were loved and taken care of. It was a way to keep us safe and alive.

The most powerful machine in our mind, our subconscious, records everything that we experienced and it found patterns of what was good and not, what was acceptable and not, what was safe and not.

Once these patterns/assumptions are set, our subconscious mind runs and powerfully influences how we behave and responds to the environment around us. Without fail. Until today.

In essence, boundaries are a cocktail of chosen beliefs about ourselves, about others, and about life mixed with our personality.


So, how do we create and maintain boundaries with ease?

Here are some important ingredients to a healthy and strong boundary:

1. Accept that you have the right to have a boundary.
This is the foundation. While you are a part of a family unit or a community, you remain your own person.


2. Accept your personality and your values as they are.
Embrace that you are an outgoing introvert, for example, and feel at ease with how you recharge your energy. Choose to act in a way that feels aligned with who you are.


3. Identify what emotional needs you have in your life right now.

Tony Robbins categorizes 6 human needs that everyone across the globe has in common and we all do all that we can (consciously and/or unconsciously) to meet them:

a) Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure;
b) Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli;
c) Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed;
d) Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something;
e) Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding;
f) Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others.

Take a moment to identify what you need right now.


4. Set your intention, based on your needs.

Once you identify which need(s), set a powerful intention for it.

What is an intention?
It is a powerful sentence that captures your deepest desire for and of yourself based on your needs (see step 2 and 3), at a particular point of time.

Here are a couple of examples:

When you want to have more “love” in your life, a possible powerful intention for you would be “I am here to experience love for myself and others” or “I am love” or “I am lovable” or “I am enough”.

When you want to feel more “significant” in your life (feeling recognized, acknowledged, unique, etc.), an intention could be “Through work, I gain clarity of what talents I have” or “I live my life loving and embracing my unique self and talents” or “I embrace opportunities to share my talents” or “I am appreciating and accepting who I am”.

An intention is inward focused.

The intention you choose will bring all kinds of experiences into your life. It also plays a role as an alarm system that goes off when an experience that you DO NOT want enters your life.


5. Choose for actions, big and small, that are aligned with your intention, regularly, every day.

What does an intention have to do with your day-to-day life? A whole a lot. Its most important role is to bring you back to your center when the world around you is chaotic and messy.

Whether you realize it or not, your life is filled with decisions. All the time.
How you respond and conduct yourself at any time is a decision point. When you know what you intend to allow being in your life, choices on what to go for become obvious. Much more obvious.

How you bring yourself in dealing with challenging situations at work or in your personal life would be more impactful when they are fueled by the same energy that you wish for yourself. In the examples above, it is from a place of giving love and significance.

Law of physics says action leads to reaction. What you give out is what goes back in.

When you love yourself, how you deal with others, regardless of how challenging the situation can be, will be fuelled with love. This is the REAL BOUNDARY that I am talking about.

A real boundary is the deepest desire you have for what you want in your life leveraging who you are and what you stand for. The other side of this is what you want to filter out from your life.

When you are committed to yourself and your intention, a real boundary is formed. It is an uplifting one. It is easier to let go of your needs to get something from the outside world. It is easier to say NO. It is easier to let go of the needs to be RIGHT over doing what is best for you.

What happens when you face difficulties in any of the steps above? Wait for Part 2 in the next newsletter.

Now, let me let you in on my inner world.

These days, I want more connections (with myself and others), growth and opportunities to contribute.

I decide that my intention is to open myself up for good, love and wisdom, more than I ever experienced, realized and imagined before.

I learnt a profound lesson from the burnout in 2008. I used to believe that I would be accepted and loved only when I over achieved. This was consistent in all areas of my life. I always gave more, even when not asked. My boundary then was the fear for not being loved, for feeling that I was not enough. Of course I did not realise this at the time. I delved deep, asking myself how I drove myself to the point of a burn out. The answer was clear – the unconscious fear was the driver. I had an unhealthy boundary at the time.

I’ve changed my belief since. I commit to my wellbeing over anything else. Since, my boundaries have grown stronger. I make better choices for my life. Not easier, but better. Definitely more often than not. The bottom line is that I feel grateful for my life today and excited about what is to unfold.

This is why facilitating an RTT/Hypnotherapy or a life coaching session or a workshop does not take more energy than it needs. It’s because I am clear of why I am doing it and of my boundaries. I give my best without sacrificing my wellbeing.

Makes sense?

For now, I want to know what are your challenges in keeping your boundaries and what you plan to do about it? Please share in the comment section below.

Looking forward to hear from you and see you again, latest in Part 2!


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