Self-Improvement Friday Fix: 10 Signs You Need Better Boundaries By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Learn about our editorial process Published on March 31, 2023 Print Verywell / Julie Bang Table of Contents View All Table of Contents More About the Podcast Episode Transcript The Verywell Mind Podcast's “Friday Fix” is a short episode that features a quick, actionable tip or exercise to help you manage a specific mental health issue or concern. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Amazon Music More About the Podcast The Verywell Mind Podcast is available across all streaming platforms. If you like the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews and ratings are a great way to encourage other people to listen and help them prioritize their mental health too. Episode Transcript Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you. Welcome to The Verywell Mind Podcast. I’m Amy Morin, the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind. I’m also a psychotherapist and a best-selling author of five books on mental strength. My newest book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do Workbook is now on sale. It’s filled with mental strength-building strategies, quizzes, and reflection questions that can help you become the strongest version of yourself. You’re listening to the Friday Fix. Every Friday, I share a quick mental strength strategy that can help fix the thoughts, feelings, and actions that can hold you back in life. And the fun part is we record the show from a sailboat in the Florida Keys. Now let’s dive into today’s episode. [EPISODE STARTS HERE] You’ve heard people talk about the importance of setting boundaries. Hopefully, you have set some for yourself. But, how do you know if you need more boundaries? You don’t want to have rigid boundaries. If you set tons of rules about how other people must treat you, you’re going to alienate or hurt people if your expectations are unreasonable. But if you don’t have enough boundaries or your boundaries are too relaxed, you’ll let other people hurt you. That’s not to say the people around you will hurt you on purpose, but they might do things that offend you, hurt your feelings, or make your life more difficult without ever knowing the impact it has on you. Boundaries can include anything from telling someone you don’t have time to talk right now to letting someone know you aren’t going to lend them money. At first boundaries feel uncomfortable. You might worry that you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or that they’ll be upset with you. But, when you set boundaries regularly, you’ll empower yourself to create the kind of life you want to live. And you’ll discover that other people are probably not as offended by your boundaries as you think. And those who don’t honor your boundaries are simply reinforcing your decision that you need to establish healthy limits in your life. I did an Instagram poll to find out how many of you struggle with boundaries. And just over 85% of you said that you have a hard time setting boundaries at least some of the time. There may be times in your life when you have better boundaries than others. There may also be areas of your life where you have better boundaries. It might be easy to set boundaries in your personal life but not in your professional life. Or maybe you set great boundaries with your friends but struggle to set good boundaries when you start a new romantic relationship. Not having good enough boundaries feels awful. You might not be able to put your finger on what’s off in your life–at least not at first. But you’ll likely feel overwhelmed or you’ll feel like things are spinning out of control or that everyone is taking advantage of your kindness. Here are 10 telltale signs that you need to establish better boundaries in your life: You rarely say no. It’s tough to say no sometimes. Maybe you don’t want to disappoint someone. Or maybe you don’t want to admit that you are already feeling overwhelmed and you can’t add one more thing to your to-do list. You might find it’s also tough to say no to someone who you want to like you. If you’re scared someone is going to abandon you or be upset with you, you might find that you say yes to whatever they want. It’s impossible to prioritize your life if you aren’t saying no to things that don’t fit with what’s really important to you. You take on more tasks than you can handle. You might overestimate how you can accomplish. Or, your self-worth might depend on being a bit of a superhero. If you like it when people talk about how you’re able to do things that no one else could do, you might find that accepting nearly impossible tasks feels good–at least at first. Then, it feels terrible when you realize how much work you’re going to have to do to get it done.You apologize for things that aren’t your fault. If you lack boundaries you might apologize whenever someone is having a hard time–even if it has nothing to do with you. I’ve worked with a lot of people who have gotten into the habit of apologizing for almost everything they do. They say sorry before they speak at a meeting or they say sorry when they walk down the hall–almost like they’re apologizing for taking up space. Even if you're not apologizing quite that often, apologizing a fair amount is usually proof that you’re taking too much responsibility for other people–and you probably could benefit from better boundaries for yourself. You stoop to someone else’s level. If you have a “I can’t beat them so I’m going to join them” attitude, it might be a sign you need better boundaries. If you don’t feel comfortable asking someone to do things differently or you can’t excuse yourself from an unhealthy situation (which walking away can be a great boundary), you might decide to just join in with whatever everyone else is doing. But if this goes against how you normally behave, it’s not going to work out well for you in the end. Remember, you don’t always have to communicate your boundaries with your words. Changing the subject or leaving is sometimes a better way to communicate boundaries. I’ve talked about that on the show before because it’s one of the biggest boundary mistakes I see people make. To hear more about boundary mistakes, check out episode 189 where I discuss 5 boundary mistakes to avoid.You complain about someone a lot. If you find yourself complaining about someone a lot, it’s a sign that you need better boundaries. If you spend a lot of time talking to your partner about a co-worker you dislike or you waste a lot of time talking to your mom about how your sister hurts your feelings, take it as a sign you need to establish some better boundaries. You might need time boundaries where you tell someone you can help but only for an hour. Or you might need better financial boundaries where you tell your sibling you aren’t going to loan them money. But the fact you are complaining about someone should signal to you that you need to address the situation.You lose your temper. You might find that you feel irritable much of the time and occasionally lose your cool or you might find you lose your temper with people. You might misdirect your anger too. If you feel like you’ve been pushed around at the office all day, you might lose your cool with the grocery clerk after work. There’s research that shows that the harder you have to work to regulate your emotions in a difficult environment, the less willpower you’ll have to manage your emotions well outside of that environment. Essentially, if you have to invest tons of energy into being polite all day to people who are mean to you, you might not have any politeness leftover at night. I know you can’t always set boundaries if you’re going to work in a certain industry. I used to work at a call center where I was expected to be polite to people who hurled insults at me over the phone and blamed me for things I had nothing to do with. If I wanted to keep my job, I couldn’t hang up on the customer just because they were mistreating me. In cases like this where you can’t set a physical boundary, you can still take steps to prevent their behavior from having a big impact on you–essentially taking it less personally. In my case, I used to just collect insults I received by writing them down–and then at the end of the week, one of my coworkers and I would compare insults. It helped us find humor in the situation and take things a lot less personally. So remember, you can always set some sort of boundary – don’t let convince yourself that you can’t.You blame other people for making you feel a certain way. If you blame someone for making you feel bad or making you mad, it’s a sign you need to focus on setting boundaries that prevent that person from having that impact on you. That could mean not talking to someone who puts you down or walking away when you start to get upset. When you set boundaries it means you’re taking responsibility to ensure you’re in an environment that is healthy for you.You feel powerless. A lack of boundaries can cause you to feel like you have zero power over your time, your money, or your life. If you’re feeling like that, take a step back and look at your boundaries. You’ll likely find that setting a few boundaries will empower you to regain control over your life.You spend a lot of time dreading that you’re going to see someone. It’s interesting that you can spend five days dreading the fact that you’re going to spend five hours with someone. Whether you are going attend your child’s event alongside your ex and their partner or you are attending a family event with a relative you don’t like, that feeling of dread is a sign that you need a boundary. You might set a boundary on how much time you’ll spend interacting with that person or you might develop a plan for yourself about how you’ll set a boundary if needed. For example, if your relative starts ranting about politics, you might walk away or remind them you’re not discussing that over dinner. Just having a clear plan can decrease your dread.You resort to unhealthy coping skills. Pouring yourself a drink or indulging in an extra helping of comfort food may make you feel better in the moment. Over the long term, however, those unhealthy coping strategies can cause more problems. If you're resorting to quick fixes to help deal with the stress, take a look at your boundaries and where you might tighten them up a little. Maybe you’re letting your coworker interrupt your work too often. Or maybe you’re saying yes to things that you really could say no to. Setting more boundaries or addressing the ones that are a little on the lax side can go a long way to reducing your stress. So those are 10 signs you might need to establish some better boundaries: you rarely say no, you take on more tasks than you can handle, you apologize for things that aren’t your fault, you stoop to someone else’s level, you complain about someone often, you lose your temper, you blame other people for making you feel a certain way, you feel powerless, you spend a lot of time dreading that you’re going to see someone, and you resort to unhealthy coping skills. If those things sound a lot like you, listen to episode 54, how to set boundaries with therapist Nedra Tawwab. Make sure to tune into the show on Monday. I’m talking to actress and author Ali Landry about how to reshape your life. She shares how a really small change to your habits can make a huge difference to your life. [OUTRO] If you know someone who could benefit from hearing this message, share the show with them. Simply sharing a link to this episode could help someone feel better and grow stronger. Make sure to subscribe to us on your favorite platform so you can get mental strength tips delivered to you every single week. Do you want free access to my online course? It’s called 10 mental strength exercises that will help you reach your greatest potential. To get your free pass, all you have to do is leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Then, send us a screenshot of your review. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll reply with your all access pass to the course. Thank you for hanging out with me today and listening to the VW Mind podcast. And as always, a big thank you to my show’s producer, who just watched the new John Wick movie with me, Nick Valentin. If You Liked This Episode, You Might Also Like These Episodes: Friday Fix: 10 Ways to Say No and Stick to It How to Set Better Boundaries With Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab Friday Fix: 5 Signs You’re Giving Negative People Too Much Power Over Your Life How to Set Boundaries With Your Partner By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.