Why Most Boundaries Don’t Work

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Blog

Why Most Boundaries Don’t Work


Creating boundaries can feel exhausting.

People don’t listen. You have to repeat yourself.

There’s an expectation we’re supposed to know how to create them, but many of us had no real examples of this growing up.

We grew up with rules.


Have you ever set a boundary with someone only to find it constantly tested or ignored? That despite your best efforts, the boundary seems to crumble under pressure, or you’re exhausted trying to uphold it?

If you’re like me, you grew up with rules disguised as boundaries.

Boundaries didn’t exist in my family. Even today, they’re still rare.


I grew up where little felt sacred. There were a lot of secrets… and a lot of rules.

Do this (so I feel safe with what you’re doing). Don’t do that (most of the time expressed after the fact).

Think of a boundary like a castle. The moat is meant to keep people out. But the moat creates a false sense of safety, because while it provides the image of separation, it’s something that constantly needs to be defended.


The energy of the kingdom is focused on the outside world.


Many boundaries are created from the mindset of, “I’m never going to let _______ happen again.” We might then take action and separate ourselves from the person. Thus, we create our own personal moat.

But at some point, there’s a similar situation with either that person or someone else.

It can feel like a paradox. I created this boundary, why didn’t it work? Why does this keep coming up?

We decide we want out and create a moat through action.

Just because we’re no longer in a place with a person doesn’t mean we’re not still connected with them. The moat gives a false sense of separation.

Action and mindset are important, but the often missing third component is our energy.


If the underlying issue isn’t resolved, of why we needed the boundary in the first place, the need to defend remains.

When we’re in reaction mode, we get pulled into the energy of a situation. If from this same energy you create a boundary, it keeps you tied to the very thing you don’t want.

We’ve been taught to be in the cycle of mindset – action – mindset – action – mindset – action. It’s like riding a wave. We react when something comes up, it sets off the mind and then we take action.

But our ego makes decisions based on what we know, based on what it knows.

 “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” ~ Albert Einstein


Meaning, when we create a boundary in reaction, it doesn’t solve the problem.

So, what do you do?

Use the space created, your moat, in a different way.

Explore the deeper reason behind the situation. Why did you feel triggered? Is this an old power struggle, that’s played out many times, that wants to be cleared once and for all?

When you give yourself the time to explore the deeper layers, the energy behind what’s happened becomes more evident. You get to discern what to do that will support you in the longer term, and then take action from this new space.

Rather than continuing to be pulled into the situation and the other person’s energy, you emanate from a place of your own personal power. You respond differently.

Then, if something similar happens in the future, you can be in the space of discernment.

When you shift the underlying energy, with it comes a shift in mindset. You’re in a very different space for different action.


You can choose to step back and act rather than react.

There’s a calmness and an ease because you’re less apt to be triggered by a person or a situation. You move away from the need to defend yourself and your focus on the outside world.

You shift to where your time and energy are for you.

The space of discernment is where you create boundaries that work.

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