Setting Boundaries That are Clear and Well-Expressed

Here’s an example from my own life:

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MY MOTHER: “Go downstairs and get the bucket.”

ME: “Pardon.”

MY MOTHER: ( a little more assertively) “Go downstairs and get the bucket.”

ME: “Pardon me.”

MY MOTHER: (louder) “You heard. Go downstairs and get the bucket.”

ME: “Mom, no one in my life gives me orders. I do not respond to orders.”

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MY MOTHER: (after a long pause) “Go downstairs and get the bucket, ……..(quietly), please.”


I got the bucket. My mother never gave me another order. Good result. Simple example.

We are 100% responsible for teaching people how to treat us. The only way we can do that is by:

  • Clarifying our boundaries by doing our own internal work
  • Expressing our boundaries when necessary, or in some cases, before they are necessary, to the people in our lives
  • Maintaining our boundaries consistently by moving away from those who demonstrate their unwillingness to respect them.

You are the only person who can do those three things. If you don’t do them, you have to take responsibility for allowing–or maybe even inviting–folks to walk over you!

Work on your boundaries today. If you are unsure about how to go about that, work with professionals to help you clarify your boundaries. It’s VERY important to your well-being and the health of your relationships.

Written by Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Originally appeared on

The Relationship Help Doctor
Relationship Consultant. Mediator. Speaker.
Urgent & Ongoing Care for Relationships in Crisis…including the one with yourself.

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Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD.  When you're ready to say 'No more!' to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now  Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others:Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals.
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