The 4 different types of boundaries

May 8, 2017


'Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.’  Gerard Manley Hopkins


The 4 different types of boundaries.


Which one do you fit into?


A boundary is the imaginary line you draw between yourself and the rest of the world. It is the personal psychological limits that you set for yourself. It marks what you will allow as acceptable behaviour and what you don’t allow. So when you say, ‘you have crossed the line’ you are talking about your boundaries. You are warning the other person that their behaviour is unacceptable.


There are four different types of boundaries:

  1. There are weak boundaries, where the person cannot say ‘no’ to anything. These are the ‘doormats’ of the world. Everyone else’s’ needs are greater than theirs.

  2. Then there are the spongy boundaries. These people say ‘no’ to some things and ‘yes’ to other requests on a random basis. There is no clear line for themselves or those around them.

  3. Then there are rigid boundaries. These people are completely unmovable and uncompromising and have limits on more than they need for their protection.

  4. Then there are strong healthy boundaries that can be kept or changed depending on their needs and circumstances.


Clearly, the ideal is to aim for the latter category of these boundaries. However, many people have had some trauma somewhere in their early lives. They learnt to tolerate the abuse, by telling themselves that they are unworthy. They must deserve it. They need this faulty belief so they could allow themselves to be degraded. There are many people, who need help to overcome the first three categories of boundaries.


Good boundaries help you boost your self-confidence. Plus they are vital for your dignity and your personal value. There is a great analogy to anyone who flies commercially. In the safety demonstration in a plane, you are asked to put on your mask first before ‘assisting others’. At high altitudes, lack of oxygen confuses people. If you try to put on someone else’s mask before your own, you may well both pass out. So you are urged to put your mask on first, only then can you help others around you.


Boundaries are similar. If you look after your own boundaries first, then you will survive. And your confidence will improve and stay intact. If you allow others to walk all over you, then you will ‘lose your oxygen’ and or confidence. 


Boundaries are, in fact, an important part of survival. They are a natural part of the survival instinct. Even animals have boundaries, that they call territory. They defend their territory – sometimes to the death.


To work on strengthening your boundaries, you can write in your diary about what you really want and where you want to go. Once you are clear on these, then you can ask why do you not allow yourself to get these things? What is stopping you? How can you defend your boundaries in future? By defending your boundaries, you are showing that you respect yourself. Self-respect is a pre-requisite for self-love. Defending your boundaries is not rude to others. It is your right as a human being. If anyone crosses your boundaries – they are the rude ones – not you.


In Fast Track Real Confidence there are many examples of how weak boundaries can impact your confidence - and how to strengthen your boundaries.


Real confidence relies on strong boundaries.


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