• Alice Irving

Why are boundaries so *#”@ing HARD sometimes??!!

Updated: a day ago

Have you ever tried to ask for something you needed and then fudged it, backed down or simply avoided the whole conversation?

Does the thought of saying “No, I don’t want to do that” cause minor palpitations?


You are not the only human being reduced to an emotional puddle at the thought of being more boundaried.

I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t fallen apart over boundaries at some point. I’ve done things I’m downright embarrassed about now, just because I didn’t know how to say no. I didn’t know what I did want, either, even if I could have spoken up and asked for it.

It wasn’t until I started to get really serious about my coaching practice and my health that boundaries came up for me good and proper.

In spite of doing a lot of work around boundaries and clear communication, I still feel challenged when I have to put my foot down.

In fact, my personal fantasy is still that other people just know what I need. You know, magically, without being asked….?! But of course this is just a fantasy. In real life, everyone else has got stuff going on too.

It doesn’t have to be the big stuff to get massively triggered around boundaries.


I still get triggered if I have to set a limit. But I’m getting pretty good at moving through this more quickly using some of the processes I share with my 1-1 clients.

Whether it’s your scrapping, filthy kids, your narcissistic boss, the side project you used to love but now, not so much….boundary issues are all over the place.

The fact is, if you’re spending any time feeling uncomfortable and not speaking up, you are leaking energy: you’re directing your creative life force away from the things you were put on this earth to do.



More No means More Yes:


Setting clear boundaries is such a powerful tool. As you let go of what you don’t want, you’re creating space for what you do want. You clear out the meh, the bleh and the horrifyingly NAH to make space. For what you DO want.


When you finally set a boundary and get done with XYZ in your life, you can stop spending your time thinking about how horrible it is and how much you DON’T want it and how difficult and hard and…… and you can focus on enjoying and calling in what you do want.


Whether that’s more spaciousness. Whether that’s exciting new work projects. Whether it’s more sleep, more time with your kids or with your beloved, saying No is going to get you waaaaaay more yes.

You clear out that crappy, stuck, non-exciting energy from your life so you can have a lot more full body YES.

Terrifying? Uh-huh. Massive opportunity for growth that will return the favour tenfold? Hell yes.


Clues that you’re ready for better boundaries:

  • Too much of your week goes on stuff you’re not that bothered about, but can’t get out of “because xxx will be upset/disappointed”.

  • You’re sick of a certain person’s behaviour, but at a loss what to do about it.

  • You wish you had more time to relax or do creative stuff but can’t imagine where the time will come from.


What about the Drama?

The bottom line about boundaries? Everybody’s stuff gets triggered.

That’s the reason why boundary lessons always have the flavour of initiation. Boundaries bring up big, challenging feelings ….and you learn to deal with them in a new way. Net result? New emotional superpowers.


So what about other peoples’ feelings? Often we hold back from saying no or setting a boundary because we’re worried about what other people will think, or feel, or say. Saying no can bring up ALL kinds of stuff. How do you deal with that?


Taking care of your own feelings is the first stage of ending any drama. And knowing how far you need to take care of other peoples’ feelings.


Letting go of responsibility for other people’s feelings is a huge step in taking back control of your own boundaries.


One of the reasons we get so caught up in this is shockingly simple when you realise it: we want permission from others to say no. Once you let go of this – and truly understand that only you can decide where your limit is – a lot of the drama unravels. You’re not hanging on someone else to bolster you or tell you you’re ok.


And so it becomes easier to let them have their feelings: because your future isn’t contingent on their opinion.


“I’m rubbish at boundaries, though.”

Even if you know you need to get better at boundaries, it doesn’t make it any easier to do it in practice.

In fact, I know a lot of women who feel quite defeated about the whole subject.

It can feel like you have two choices


  1. Go along with something you don’t like or

  2. Risk being seen as a total bitch and ending up with no friends, no job and a partner who hates you…..

If this is you, don’t give up. The world needs your giftedness and you deserve this every bit as much as the next woman.

I’m not naturally good at boundaries. They were almost non-existent in my house growing up, and I was bullied throughout my primary school years. I didn’t even know what I wanted a lot of the time and it was incredibly hard for me to say it out loud.

Becoming more boundaried in any area of your life means letting go of identities which have kept you safe like the nice girl, the good girl, the girl who doesn’t have difficult feelings or ask for too much.

But it doesn’t mean having a personality transplant. Being more boundaried certainly isn’t unfeminine.

In fact, boundaries are essential for the feminine. Every river needs deep banks to hold it.



Saying no is a muscle

The more you use it, the more deft you become, mainly because you get quicker at processing the tricksy feelings that come up.

Over time you get better at noticing that feeling, which is your body telling you “Say No!”. You also get bolder, quicker and cleaner at delivering your message (and there are some really neat little tricks for doing that.)

What does this topic bring up for you? As always, happy to answer your questions in the comments and it’s great to hear other people’s personal anecdotes.



Let me help you uncover your innate intelligence and turn that into the kind of success which lets you breathe. Book a free 15 minute call here.


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© Alice Irving 2019

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