Coaching Tip: “We teach others how to treat us!”

For so many of my clients, the setting of boundaries seems to be the root cause of many unsatisfying relationships and inner turmoil.  Women especially seem to find difficulty in establishing appropriate boundaries that enhance relationships and in turn protect themselves emotionally and mentally.

Research was conducted, whereby women were dressed to impersonate men.  (I am not sure what the purpose of this research was – but the outcome is what interested me)  The one common denominator, found difficult by all these women, was to not smile so much!  Interestingly, women tend to smile more often than men and this was the “dead give away” when impersonating a man!  Is this not because we have a greater tendency to be “people pleasers” and aren’t all good girls supposed to be “nice” and smile?   An assertive man is respected and applauded.   A woman, who displays the same assertiveness, may be called a “bitch”!

Is it any wonder that we have trouble with boundaries?   So, the question is:  What are our “boundaries”?  For one thing, our skin is a natural boundary.  If someone hits or scratches us, they have transgressed a boundary, one that we are sure to react to.  We all have our “personal space” surrounding us that we use to keep our distance from others.  Depending on the particular relationship, some are allowed closer and others we keep at a fair distance.  After all, no-one enjoys talking to a stranger who positions themselves so close that we actually have to go squint to see them!

Then we have our emotional boundaries.  These are represented by our personal “rights” which we need to claim for our own emotional and mental wellbeing.  They are:

  • To be me
  • To love, affection and support
  • To ask for help
  • To be depressed sometimes
  • To be nervous
  • To make mistakes
  • To be listened to
  • To say what I feel, need and want
  • To be silly sometimes
  • To show my feelings
  • To time on my own
  • To time with my friends
  • To time with my family
  • To make my own decisions
  • To my own values and opinions
  • To be respected
  • To ask questions


If you have any difficulty in claiming your rights, then your boundaries are not being respected by others, or YOU are not claiming your rights.   Remember, we teach others how to treat us!


Posted by Stella Heuer

March 24, 2014