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Having a Weak Sense of Self is An Epidemic Issue Infecting Humanity Worldwide
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by Aletheia Luna ยท
Flash photography Gesture Entertainment Performing arts Elbow

You feel pushed. Manipulated. Exploited. Dominated. Coerced. Pressured. Bullied. Controlled.

The person in front of you has gone too far and has overstepped your personal boundaries. But you donโ€™t know what to do.

You feel weak and helpless. A quiet desperation rises inside of you. You feel like a fly stuck in a web.
What can be done?
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If you struggle with energy loss and issues such as overcommitment, lack of assertiveness, and peer pressure, keep reading. Itโ€™s time to draw a clear line and reclaim your personal power.

Table of contents
What are Personal Boundaries?
Personal boundaries are the mental, emotional, and physical walls we create to protect ourselves from being used, manipulated, or violated by others. These limits help us to clearly distinguish who we are and what we need, from other people and their needs.

Creating and maintaining personal boundaries is a key way to cultivate physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

Why Are Personal Boundaries So Important?

Personal boundaries are an essential part of creating and upholding a healthy self-image. When a person has strong personal boundaries, it communicates to the world that they exude healthy self-respect and self-worth.

Hence, creating boundaries makes us feel good about ourselves and preserves our personal integrity.

But without personal boundaries, we run the risk of confusing our needs and wants with others, which leads to codependency.

Codependency is a term that describes a toxic one-sided relationship. It is impossible to enjoy a healthy relationship without strong and clear boundaries.

Without personal boundaries, there is also the risk of experiencing heightened stress and feelings of hopelessness.

Overcommitting to everyone and everything tends to take a serious toll on your mental health, which can eventually lead to burnout. Or worse: a nervous breakdown.

Finally, a lack of personal boundaries can result in feelings of being worthless, weak, or not good enough.

In other words, our self-esteem is severely impacted and we might struggle with issues such as chronic self-doubt or self-loathing.

Not being able to voice our truth and communicate our needs in a clear way can be deeply distressing.

18 Signs You Have Poor Personal Boundaries

Pay attention to the following signs:
  • You fail to speak up when youโ€™re treated badly
  • You give away too much of your time
  • You agree with a person when you actually feel like disagreeing
  • You say โ€œyesโ€ to a person when you want to say โ€œnoโ€
  • You feel guilty for dedicating time to yourself
  • You feel taken for granted by others
  • You permit people to touch you when you feel uncomfortable or want them to stop
  • You have toxic relationships (i.e. you are always giving, and the other is always taking)
  • You make too many grand sacrifices for others at your own expense
  • You are passive aggressive and might have manipulative tendencies (as a way of trying to regain your lost power)
  • You constantly feel like the victim
  • You feel like you have to โ€œearnโ€ respect by being nice
  • You over-share details about your life with others
  • You feel guilty when others arenโ€™t happy (as if youโ€™re responsible)
  • You are what other people want/need you to be, and not who YOU need to be
  • Youโ€™re out of touch with your needs
  • You attract people who try to control or dominate you
  • You have chronic fear about what others think of you
Why Do We Suffer From Poor Personal Boundaries?

Before you blame yourself for having poor boundaries, stop for a moment. I want you to understand that it wasnโ€™t your fault, but it is your responsibility to now develop strong boundaries.

So take a moment to feel some compassion for yourself.

As children, we had no control what our parents, teachers, and the adults around us taught us.

Most people who possess absent or weak personal boundaries were set a bad example when young.

Observing codependent dynamics within our families contributed a lot to this issue, as well as being taught that love = what we did, not who we were.
As a child, the first role models you had of โ€œacceptableโ€ behavior were your parents and family members.

So pause to reflect here: what messages did your mother, father, siblings, or other adults send to you growing up?

Were you only given love when you pretended to be who your parents wanted you to be?

Were you only rewarded when you went out of the way to sacrifice your needs and desires in favor of someone elseโ€™s? Were you punished for saying โ€œnoโ€ or speaking up?

Did you feel obliged to emotionally โ€œtake careโ€ of an adult, perhaps a parent? These were all signs that you were taught that lacking personal boundaries equaled a โ€œgoodโ€ thing.

5 Myths About Personal Boundaries

If you struggle with setting clear boundaries, you might carry a number of mistaken beliefs that you were conditioned to believe.

Here are some myths that I want you to become aware of:
  • โ€œHaving personal boundaries is selfish.โ€ This is an unhealthy perception. Having personal boundaries is a form of self-respect and is part of possessing good self-esteem. All mentally and emotionally healthy people possess boundaries.
  • โ€œHaving personal boundaries will cause my relationships to suffer.โ€ If you are in a codependent relationship, creating boundaries will most certainly create uncomfortable waves of change. If your partner is codependently entangled with you, he/she will be shocked and will certainly resist your efforts to be happy and healthy. The same thing goes for codependent friendships. If this is the case, I encourage you to consider whether being in a toxic relationship/friendship is worth it. Any healthy and supportive relationship will actually THRIVE and encourage the establishment of personal boundaries.
  • โ€œHaving personal boundaries will cause people to dislike me.โ€ This is only partly true. The reality is that yes, setting clear boundaries might step on a few peopleโ€™s toes. But creating boundaries will also cause more people to respect, hear, and like you. There is nothing more admirable than a person who refuses to take bullshit from others. Not only that but when you set boundaries, you will actually attract more people who are willing to respect you and be authentic friends/lovers.
  • โ€œHaving personal boundaries will make me miserable.โ€ This is a common concern. But my response is simple: creating personal boundaries might feel uncomfortable at first, but pretty soon itโ€™ll make you feel empowered and in control of your life again. So the opposite here is true: having personal boundaries will actually make you MUCH happier!
  • โ€œHaving personal boundaries sounds rigid.โ€ Personal boundaries are not black or white or set in stone. They are flexible according to your needs in the moment.
12 Benefits of Creating Strong Personal Boundaries

Hereโ€™s what you can expect from putting in the hard work of setting clear boundaries:
  • Youโ€™ll be able to say โ€œnoโ€
  • Youโ€™ll feel empowered again
  • Youโ€™ll feel more in control of your life
  • Youโ€™ll attract healthy + supportive partners and friends
  • Youโ€™ll have more mental, emotional, and physical energy
  • Youโ€™ll be able to speak up and be heard
  • Youโ€™ll feel more appreciated and valued
  • Youโ€™ll be more in touch with your needs
  • Youโ€™ll spend more time on yourself (without the guilt)
  • Youโ€™ll experience more emotional balance and happiness
  • Youโ€™ll experience increased self-esteem and self-worth
  • Youโ€™ll feel more courage and freedom to be yourself
Remember that these qualities wonโ€™t develop overnight, but with practice and persistence, you will be able to experience these wonderful benefits.
Download FREE Personal Boundaries Worksheets!
Go deeper into learning how to establish Personal Boundaries with this journaling prompt + printable meditation mandala:
Download Worksheets!
How to Create Personal Boundaries That People Donโ€™t Ignore

Creating boundaries is less about other people and more about you and the beliefs and mindsets you have.

The following practices and pieces of advice will help you to target both your core beliefs and habitual behaviors.

1. Understand that you have the right to have boundaries

Lurking underneath the surface of people-pleasing behavior is the belief that we โ€œhave no rightโ€ to set boundaries. Itโ€™s time to challenge this ingrained assumption. Why are others allowed to have boundaries and not you?

Why must you feel like a lesser human being and elevate others above yourself? It is a fundamental right of all human beings to have personal boundaries.

Consider it your birthright to establish boundaries that define and protect you. Not only is it your right to create boundaries, but it is also your responsibility.

2. Understand that your thoughts, feelings, and needs are equally important to others

No oneโ€™s thoughts, feelings or needs are โ€œaboveโ€ anyone elseโ€™s. Social status is an illusion created by the human mind โ€“ in other words, the Queen of Englandโ€™s needs are equal to a homeless personโ€™s needs.

The only division created between us and others exists in the mind. Therefore, you are not โ€œless important,โ€ valuable, or worthy than others.

Your needs are equally important to those in your life. Learn to see yourself as equal to others. Affirm your worth each and every day with a mantra such as โ€œI am worthy and my needs are important.โ€

Learn to distrust and disagree with those who try to make you think or feel otherwise.

3. Explore your needs

Likely, you donโ€™t have much experience or knowledge of your needs, especially if you ignore them to cater to otherโ€™s demands.

Now is the time to start learning more about yourself. Keep a daily journal in which you record your thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires.

Practicing self-reflection and introspection will help you to become more in tune with what you really need at any given moment. Practicing mindfulness exercises is another powerful way to know what boundaries you need to set during the day.

Dedicate to a self-discovery practice each day and aim to learn more about who you are and what you really want out of life. This is one of the best ways to begin setting personal boundaries.

A fun way to start learning about who you are is by taking self-discovery tests (take a look at our tests).
Learn more about how to journal.

4. Practice daily self-care (because youโ€™re worth it!)

Practicing daily self-care is a supplementary practice that will bolster your ability to set clear personal boundaries.

When you get into the habit of nurturing yourself, you are already setting yourself up for success.

Youโ€™re sending yourself the message that โ€œIโ€™m worth taking care of.โ€

Setting firm boundaries will then seem like the next natural step in your self-care routine.

Simple ways to perform self-care include taking time to relax, practicing meditation, making delicious and nutritious food for yourself, exercising, setting daily goals, complimenting yourself, rewarding yourself, taking a nap, connecting with nature, drinking a soothing cup of tea, and many other practices. Check out this article on self-love for more suggestions.

5. Learn to say โ€œnoโ€

Saying no is a key part of learning to be assertive and honoring your needs. You donโ€™t need to flat out or aggressively say โ€œnoโ€ if the situation doesnโ€™t call for it.

Instead, you can try saying phrases such as โ€œno thank you,โ€ โ€œI canโ€™t,โ€ โ€œIโ€™m not able to,โ€ โ€œNot now,โ€ โ€œIโ€™m busy, sorry,โ€ โ€œMaybe next time,โ€ and so forth.

6. Identify when people cross the line

Itโ€™s not always easy to identify when others overstep your boundaries, particularly if youโ€™re used to not having any.

Take time to record in a private journal each day all of the moments when you felt uncomfortable, upset, or disrespected by someone during the day.

This journaling exercise will help you to develop more self-awareness.

Another way to know when people have overstepped your boundaries is by tuning into your body.

Try to notice when you feel sensations like butterflies in your stomach, tension, or an increase in blood pressure which will manifest as feeling flustered and hot.

Use these sensations as triggers to help you tune into the present moment and practice assertiveness.

7. Stop overcommitting

You are not obliged or indebted to uphold every single social commitment that you have.

Donโ€™t try to please others at your own expense. Committing too much to other people and circumstances creates stress and burnout.

Learn to say no to non-essential things like work get-togethers, parties, and other social duties that are not life-or-death.
Inner Child Journal:
Go on a journey through the mountains and caves of your heart. Befriend, heal, and nurture the broken child within. Go to the root of your pain and transform old patterns. This is intense and powerful work!
8. Be courageous: let go of toxic friendships and relationships

It takes a certain level of courage to make a commitment to keeping personal boundaries. Fake friends and flimsy relationships will inevitably self-destruct and fizzle away.

This might leave you feeling guilty, ashamed, or like youโ€™re doing something wrong. It is important in these tough times to keep affirming that setting personal boundaries is your fundamental human right. You are WORTH it.

Those who are trying to control, use, or abuse you will try to stop you, but donโ€™t let them hold you back. Cut away those who are polluting your life and seek out new friendships that are supportive and uplifting.

9. Seek help (but not from friends or family)

If youโ€™re still needing help setting strong personal boundaries, chances are that those around you probably reinforce this behavior.

So itโ€™s not a wise idea to seek advice from them, however well-intentioned they may be. If you need more in-depth advice and personal assistance, I recommend either reading a book such as Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend or seek the help of a therapist (or both).
Finally, remember to be gentle with yourself and show compassion. You were not responsible for developing poor boundaries (it was how you were conditioned).

But you are responsible for now changing them and owning your personal power.

I hope this article can help you do that.

What experiences have you had with people overstepping your boundaries?

And what advice can you give to others in your situation? Please share below!
18 Signs You Lack Personal Boundaries (and Feel Constantly Used)

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About Aletheia Luna
Aletheia Luna is a prolific psychospiritual writer, author, and spiritual mentor whose work has touched the lives of millions worldwide.

As a survivor of fundamentalist religious abuse, her mission is to help others find love, strength, and inner light in even the darkest places.

She is the author of hundreds of popular articles, as well as numerous books and journals on the topics of Self-Love, Spiritual Awakening, and more. [Read More]


We spend hundreds of hours every month writing, editing and managing this website. If you have found any comfort, support or guidance in our work, please consider donating:

Reader Interactions
(51) Comments
  1. Liona
    December 24, 2021 at 1:04 am
    What is the difference between setting boundaries to yourself and setting boundaries for others? Is there a difference? And if one is closely related to someone else, does telling them to never bring up personal or โ€œintimateโ€ matters that you share with them? Do personal boundaries have a boundary? A line, which once crossed, will project oneโ€™s incapacity to maintain a mature relationship with that person?
    • Mateo Sol
      December 24, 2021 at 11:39 am
      Thanks for raising some valid questions Liona.
      Iโ€™m not quite sure what you mean by setting boundaries with yourself. You can have guiding rules/principles/values that you decide to follow like โ€˜not stealingโ€™ but Iโ€™m not sure how you could have a boundary with yourself.
      With other people is where boundaries usually function. You have the right to share what your needs are, what youโ€™re comfortable with talking about, etc. Depending on how close the connection is, you may need to explain that it makes you uncomfortable for example.
      There are no boundaries to boundaries. But if you find yourself having to create a lot of boundaries with someone, itโ€™s naturally going to affect the connection with them, and then youโ€™d want to question why you feel the need for some many boundaries with them and whether youโ€™d like to spend so much time around that person depending.
  2. Joyce
    August 28, 2021 at 5:28 am
    This is a brillant and helpful article- thank you. It took a lot for me to uncover I actually had a โ€˜stateโ€™ of guilt about making other people happy, and not being happy myself. It has only been by taking myself away from other people and really getting to listen to myself with love and compassion have I started to enjoy being me just who I am. I play music most days, dance and just let myself go. Learning to be responsible for my own wellbeing first at the age of 61 โ€“ it is never too late
    • Aletheia Luna
      September 24, 2021 at 2:24 pm
      This is so beautiful and inspiring, THANK YOU Joyce! โ™ก
  3. Tuba
    August 22, 2021 at 10:34 pm
    Canโ€™t say no? Its so simple yet to so subtle, its weird how I never noticed it within me as well as other listed signs, I can finally see it, I was in a toxic friendship for 7 years, when it broke, I kept punishing and blaming myself, after losing track of time and my own self, iโ€™ve finally stepped out of that grief stricken darkness and can see the reality(though I still struggle, asking for a friend, an empath if possible?) :)
    • Aletheia Luna
      August 27, 2021 at 10:24 am
      Iโ€™m glad youโ€™ve stepped out of the darkness, Tuba, being in a toxic friendship for 7 years sounded extremely challenging. I hope youโ€™re feeling more empowered at saying โ€˜noโ€™ now. Researching different ways of saying no (there are many!) may help. โ™ก
  4. Michael
    May 23, 2021 at 6:08 pm
    I have struggled with many of the signs listed above. This has to be one of the best, most comprehensive articles on how to create strong, helpful boundaries and live a life of personal sovereignty and freedom.
    Thank you for this, gift my friend. I look forward to applying what I learn. This website truly is a blessing and I feel it will help greatly in my journey of self transformation.
    • Aletheia Luna
      August 27, 2021 at 10:24 am
      Thank you Michael! Much love โค
  5. Suzan Moore
    April 02, 2021 at 10:00 am
    Oh my goodness! Guilty because other people are unhappy! Thatโ€™s dysfunctional?? That explains SO much. Thanks Mateo!
    • Mateo Sol
      April 02, 2021 at 2:39 pm
      Youโ€™re most welcome Suzan, itโ€™s amazing how warped our worldview can become due to our past experiences.
  6. Irene
    March 26, 2021 at 8:08 pm
    You say about physical boundaries but what about spiritual boundaries or does it start with physical boundaries?
    • Mateo Sol
      March 27, 2021 at 11:40 am
      Thanks Irene, it starts with physical boundaries. You have no hope of creating any form of internal boundaries if your external self is lost in a whirlwind of reactions.
  7. Clyde Carriedo
    November 20, 2020 at 12:41 pm
    Perfect piece of work you have done, this web site is really cool with superb info .
  8. what is lingerie called on taobao
    November 11, 2020 at 3:17 am
    Can someone recommend Screaming O? Thanks xx
  9. Vapor Republic
    October 27, 2020 at 1:23 pm
    Has anybody visited Zombieland Vapor Shop? ;-)
  10. E-Cig Expressions
    October 20, 2020 at 3:19 pm
    Has anybody ever shopped at Vape Citi Vapor Store located in 1500 W Algonquin Rd?
  11. Desirae
    September 09, 2020 at 7:19 am
    There is a energy vampire just like a article from here describes, who disrespects my boundaries and punishes me when I set them. They are a person I cannot avoid because they are my parents but more so mother. Even now as I type this I have the extreamly unpleasant sensations that she is disrespecting my free will and sucking my energy. I donโ€™t know what to do about the sucking sensations rn but I am going to do something until it goes away again. And learn how to stop them or be immune to them and this article is where I have started on this epic medicinal self love and respected boundries quest.
    • Lillian Duxbury
      October 30, 2020 at 11:49 pm
      Desirae, I am sorry to hear that this is happening to you. Continue reading about self help because that is how I help myself and we all deserve to be happy or the very lestโ€ฆContent in our families. Try writing a letter to your mother explaining how you are feeling and maybe the two of you can sit down and have a conversation about it but if that doesnโ€™t work seek out help from a third party/organization.
  12. Aaron
    July 01, 2020 at 10:59 am
    I had a reality check a while back, realizing that the energy I put into my close friendships was not being reciprocated. Iโ€™ve since asked the necessary questions and reaffirmed who my friends are.
  13. Sparta
    June 10, 2020 at 11:16 pm
    I feel as though the lawmakers have violated my personal boundaries by issuing laws regarding the virus that are not based in sound reasoning but irrational fear exacerbated by falsified data.
    • Georgi
      September 08, 2020 at 9:54 pm
      I feel exactly the same! What I remind myself daily is that there is always a balance in the universe. Hugs and love!
  14. Becky Grunow
    May 26, 2020 at 2:36 am
    You certainly understand what youโ€™re referring to, thanks for the info.
    • Monika Gahlot
      September 21, 2021 at 3:37 am
      Mam, really feeling proud to be part of your journey of self assessment, From last 20 years,when I got married,I am suffering from this imotional abuse,but canโ€™t able to understand,what todo but after reading ur article,I learned alot,a very big thanks to you.
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