How to set boundaries step by step

How To Set Boundaries - Step by Step

Dec 07, 2022

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This week on the podcast, I’m diving into boundaries - How to say no, how to set boundaries with kindness, and how to communicate your boundaries in a way that works. I’m giving you my detailed, step by step process that you can use with the teens and adults in your life.


Why do we need boundaries?

Ultimately, we set boundaries because we want to feel better. We want our life to work better for us. We want to have better relationships with people. We don't want to feel angry, resentful or overwhelmed. 

Showing up as the mom you want to be and helping your kids grow into the people that you want them to become takes capacity and energy. 

Without clear boundaries, we end up feeling drained and it takes us away from being present with our kids. 


What’s bothering you?

Before you communicate and hold your boundaries, you have to know what they are. 

You need to figure out what you actually want or how you want to fix or improve your relationships with others. You can even think about behaviors you want other people to change. Remember that we can’t control what anyone else does, but we can make a request and ask them if they're willing to show up in a different way for us.

A good clue that you need a boundary is if you often feel annoyed, frustrated, angry or resentful with a certain behavior or situation.

Get curious and try to figure out why it bothers you the way it does. 


How to set boundaries - step by step

Step 1: Make a request

The first step in setting a boundary is communicating what you are or are not willing to do. 

This is a request that we make to someone else. We either ask them if they're willing to do something or we let them know what we are willing to do and under what conditions.

Start by asking yourself:

  • What do I want? 
  • What works for me? 
  • What is going to make my life better? 
  • What is going to make this situation work?

Step 2: Wait for the answer

Making a request or setting a boundary doesn’t mean that the other person will agree. They can respond any way they choose. It might bring up some feelings for them, and that’s ok.

Your job is to be open and curious about what comes up.

You can let their response just be words and sentences that are coming out of their head. You don't need to justify your request, defend yourself, or fix that uncomfortable, awkward moment. 

You just listen. Then circle right back to the original request and say, “Yes, I hear you on all of that. And I'm asking you, would you be willing to do this?”

Step 3: Observe the situation

This is where you wait and see what happens. How will they show up? Will they hold the boundary you set? 

Pay attention and notice whether or not the person is staying within your boundary or whether you’re crossing your own boundary to avoid uncomfortable situations or conflict. 

What I see with moms sometimes is that we actually give up on ourselves before letting the person respond. You decide that your boundary doesn't matter. But what you’re really telling yourself is that you don't matter, that what you want doesn't matter. 

You actually do really matter. Your energy, your time, your brain and your body. 

Step 4: Acknowledge what’s happening

It's important for your own sense of self worth that you acknowledge what is happening to you. Acknowledge whether someone is holding or crossing your boundary. Acknowledge your experiences and feelings. 

And if you want to (and feel safe), you can acknowledge it aloud to the other person.

Step 5: Decide to take action or not

It’s up to you whether or not you take action when a boundary has been crossed. 

Ask yourself, “How can I take really good care of myself right now? What do I need here?”

Sometimes that means not doing anything but noticing what is happening and making note of how you want to be in the future. 

Action can look like removing yourself from the room or turning down the invitation next time. 

Or you can choose to talk to the other person about it. Explain that your boundary was crossed and what you want to do next. 

This is hard, but the more you teach yourself that you matter and take action to care for yourself, it gets easier.  

It can even improve your relationships over time when you clearly communicate and hold your boundaries. It becomes more nurturing, supportive, loving, kind and safe.

Listen to the full episode for lots of examples and scripts you can use to practice setting your own boundaries.


You’ll Learn:

Why we need boundaries

The hardest thing about setting boundaries (and how to work through it)

My 6 step process to setting and following through on boundaries

How to say “no” and communicate boundaries with kindness (with scripts)


Connect With Darlynn: 


As you get stronger in your own boundary work, you’ll also start to set better limits as a mom. It'll make you feel better and feel happier. And then you'll show up calmer. That's what it's all about. 

If you want more support, I’d love to talk with you. 

Book a free call and you can talk to me about what's going on in your family, what you're struggling with, what kind of boundaries or rules or limits you want to set. You can let me know what's going well. 

I'll give you some insight, some guidance, maybe some perspective, and then I'll let you know what it looks like to coach with me.

Schedule your call now.