Do you have unhealthy boundaries?

Boundaries, as discussed in an earlier post, are difficult to understand. In a nutshell, boundaries give us personal integrity – they create separation between us and others. No one is born with the ability to set boundaries – it is a skill we all have to learn.

Without clear boundaries, it’s easy for others can violate our boundaries or for us to violate our own boundaries. These violations often leave us feeling used, unloved, misunderstood, overwhelmed, out of control, worthless, or powerless. Here is a handy list of unhealthy boundaries many of us struggle with. If you answer “yes” to one or more of these, you might want to reach out to a therapist for some support in setting and maintaining boundaries.

Do you trust people too easily or not at all?

Do you overshare private information and later wish you had not?

Do you feel people usually treat you unfairly?

Do you become overwhelmed by other people’s problems?

Do you accept physical intimacy from another person you do not want?

Are you easily overwhelmed by conflict between others?

Do you struggle saying “no” to giving your time, energy, or resources?

Do often feel overwhelmed because you are over committed?

Are you sexual solely to please a partner?

Do you take responsibility for other people’s problems?

Do you accept gifts you do not want and then feel obligated to that person?

Do you give more than you take in relationships?

Do you do or say things to get people to like you?

Do you feel guilty if you say “no”?

Do you let others make decisions for you to avoid conflict?

Do you focus on pleasing others?

Do you expect others to anticipate what you want or need?

Do you act in a way that violates your own values or morals?

Are you easily hurt by people who are untrustworthy?

Do you do or say things that make you feel bad about yourself?

Do you feel guilty if you disagree or express an opinion?


New Divorce/Uncoupling Group Starting

Are you in the process of divorcing or uncoupling? Or are you still struggling with the effects of a divorce or breakup?

Are you struggling to figure out who you are? Or how to set boundaries and communicate with your ex? Would support from others struggling with similar issues be helpful?

Then, this 4-session group is for you! Each session begins with tools for identifying values, setting boundaries, assertive communication, or healthy relationships. Then there will be time to share stories and support with each other. Limited seating, registration is required. Sessions open to men and women, LGBT friendly.

Dates: Fridays, October 14, October 28, November 11, November 18

Time: 3:00pm-4:30pm

Location: 6550 York Avenue South, 4th Floor Conference Room (turn left when you step off the elevator, the conference room is next to the vending area)

Cost: $40/per session. Payment due prior to each group.

Facilitator: Tammy Tucker, MA, LPCC

For more information or to register, contact Tammy Tucker at 612-656-9394. Or register online at:

What are boundaries?


Boundaries are abstract and therefore can be difficult to understand, especially if we don’t already have boundary-setting skills. Boundaries cannot be seen or touched. But, we can experience them when they are crossed. For many of us, the idea of setting boundaries seems overwhelming and scary. But, they are essential for our well-being at home, work, or school.

Boundaries are the rules of interactions we have with other people. Many people have at least occasional problems with managing boundaries. Boundaries vary by type of relationship, time, place, and situation. This is made more complicated by the need to read and respect others’ boundaries, while at the same time maintaining our own boundaries.

According to Anne Katherine, a boundary is, “a limit that promotes integrity…By the limits you set, you protect the integrity of your day, your energy and spirit, the health of your relationships, the pursuits of your heart. Each day is shaped by your choices…Boundaries provide a clear moral compass. They keep us on track. They protect the important, tender parts of ourselves.” Setting and maintaining boundaries “protect your time and energy for the things that matter. It can help you to be clearer about what you want to include and leave out, so that you can fill the spaces of your life with the people, activities, and pursuits that are truly yours.” (from Where to Draw the Line, 2000)

To set a boundary, you must first consciously identify your boundary. For instance, if you spend most days feeling overwhelmed, then it’s possible you are not setting boundaries about your time. “Yes, but…” is often the response to this observation. “Yes, but my kids have piano lessons, I have to work, my mom needs help now that she’s getting older, I volunteered to help with a work project, I’m coaching my nephew’s little league team because no one else volunteered, etc.” Does this sound like you? Do you sometimes feel lost in the midst of your own life?

If so, chance are you are not setting healthy boundaries around your time and energy. Yes, you are “doing” lots of things and possibly making lots of people happy, but you are also overwhelmed which may be affecting your attentiveness, your sleeping, your nutrition, your health, your effectiveness, and/or your ability to be present and enjoy any of those events. You may be delaying or ignoring your own needs and self-care, thus violating your own boundaries. So, the question becomes, which option increases your sense of well-being: decreasing the amount of time you spend “doing” things, or continuing with or increasing your “doing” activities?

“Yes, but…I made commitments and I will feel guilty if I don’t help or do that thing.” “Yes, but it feels selfish to put myself before my loved ones or my work or my community.”

Here are two really important things to remember:

  • You have a right to say NO without feeling guilty.
  • You have the right to take care of my mental, physical, and spiritual health.

There are a few caveats. You do not get to refuse to feed your children, but you can refuse to take them out to eat and spend time and money you may not have. You probably cannot refuse to complete required work tasks without getting fired, but you have a right to say no to additional, non-required work projects without feeling guilty. Yes, your boss or your children may be unhappy, but setting boundaries is not about making others happy.

Setting boundaries may be uncomfortable.  It may cause some conflict with people in your life. But, setting boundaries and maintaining our personal integrity is our right and our responsibility.