Article Boundaries are not about controlling you; they are about something strong and healthy for me. 2 2022 Life coaching Relationship coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

Boundaries VS Control: Is Boundary Setting a Form of Control (A Coach Perspective)?

TAGS: coaching, life coaching, business coaching, coach, life coach, self help, personal development boundaries, boundary setting

personal boundary setting and healthy boundaries in relationships

Updated December 28, 2022

Boundaries vs control 

I was reading a thread on a Facebook group recently about whether or not to “allow” or “forbid” group members to engage in casual sex. The conversation erupted and went all sorts of different directions. I am not going to chime in with my opinion on that topic in this post. Instead, I want to explore something that emerged from one of the comments that can be applied more widely. The comment was: 

 I'm not trying to control the actions of others. I'm trying to establish healthy group boundaries. People can do what they want, they just can't be a**** and expect to stay members of my group.


A boundary is for me, not against you 

People set boundaries, not as a way to control others, but to control what others can do to them.

It seems that there is a significant amount of confusion regarding what it means to establish boundaries. In the case of this particular discussion, the topic was group boundaries, but it also applies to personal boundaries.

Many people who have bumped into another’s boundaries experience a sense of personal rejection. These people seem to take it as a “f*** you” directed right at them, when really the person expressing a boundary is simply trying to protect themselves on some level. 

People set boundaries, not as a way to control others, but to control what others can do to them. I have a friend who states it this way: “It’s not against you; it’s for me.” This concept basically means that you can do whatever you want, but I get to decide what is done to me.

That may mean that I take the initiative and leave a group, change the channel, close my eyes, or otherwise remove myself from a situation or interaction or expression of behavior that I choose not to be exposed to or interact with.

People set boundaries, not as a way to control others, but to control what others can do to them. Inara de Luna Coaching Quote

Maintaining boundaries: a way to preserve my sense of identity

It took a while for me to accept that I also have needs that I must meet. I was used to following what my family, close friends, or even my colleagues and previous supervisors told me. 

I didn’t realize that in an effort not to disappoint anyone or be there for them, I was neglecting my growth and happiness. My once sunny personality turned into a dark one so that I couldn’t even recognize myself. I was just full of anger and felt emotionally drained.

Though the pandemic turned our world upside down, I consider it my silver lining. It allowed me to discover more about myself and made me embrace my strengths and weaknesses. That was when I learned about setting healthy boundaries so my family, friends, and colleagues could respect my beliefs and values.

WebMD outlines the rewards of a healthy boundary. These are: 

  • Get to know yourself deeper
  • Help you build a higher self-esteem
  • Let you focus on yourself and your overall well-being
  • Free you from mental stress and burnout
  • Support you to evolve and gain your much-needed independence 

The rewards of a healthy relationship

All these contribute to a better you. Someone who respects others’ opinions and is unafraid to voice out their own. Someone who doesn’t compromise their own beliefs just to accommodate others. Ultimately, someone who has a greater sense of identity.   

Do my boundaries control your behavior? 

While these actions meant to protect myself may influence you to change your behavior, if you wish to remain in contact with me, they are not an attempt to control you.

If you allow my actions to change your actions, that means that you have made a choice to do so, either out of a true reflection on your actions and your own realizations about them (whatever that might be), or from a codependent place in which you are so desperate for my attention that you’re willing to try and change yourself to become that which (you believe) I desire.

Your change is dependent on your own internal stuff, not what I do externally in response to you. 

fence boundary

What kind of boundaries do you need to set?

If creating personal boundaries does us more good than harm, why don’t most people set boundaries? It can be because they find it hard to say “no” or they’ve become too involved in others that they don’t want to cause disappointment.

But knowing when and what bounds you need to set can support you in building healthy relationships. 

There are 7 types of boundaries (Nash, 2018). 

#1 Physical. Physical boundaries protect your privacy, personal space, and body. They also explain why you move away from someone you don’t know if they sit too close with you.

#2 Mental. Mental boundaries support your need to form your thoughts, beliefs, and values freely. They are also about being able to openly share your opinion and express your disagreement on various matters.

#3 Emotional. Emotional boundaries allow you to safeguard your feelings and not let someone invalidate how you feel. Emotional boundaries encourage you to look after your well-being. Even if that means being emotionally unavailable to others. 

#4 Material. Material boundaries help protect the things you own and the money you earn. They also allow you to spend your money however you want and lend it (or not) to those who borrow. 

#5 Conversational. There are things we are not comfortable discussing, and that’s okay. Conversational boundaries keep us from participating in such kinds of discussions.

#6 Time. Temporal boundaries allow you to spend your time how you want it, but they need to be properly communicated. Time boundaries protect you from doing things based on your priorities.  

#7 Internal. Internal boundaries are more for self-regulation and well-being. They focus on your need to recharge after a long work-week and support your “me-time” when you mingle with your friends.

types of boundaries

Politely communicating your boundaries and setting expectations can help improve your relationships. The key here is to know when and what boundaries you need to keep intact to live a happier and well-balanced life.

A study among full-time working professionals in a telecom company revealed that gender plays a crucial role in setting work boundaries (Mellner et. al., 2014). For instance, women with children had low work boundaries on where, when, and how they work. The opposite is true for men with a high boundary setting and a better work-life balance.    

People get to feel what they feel 

Being able to say No is a very powerful and healthy ability, demonstrating self-respect and the courage to stand up for yourself.

Boundary setting is healthy. It shows that you have come to an understanding of yourself that includes knowing what kinds of behaviors you do not want in your life.

And being able to say No is a very powerful and healthy ability, demonstrating self-respect and the courage to stand up for yourself.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who get angry or hurt when told No, but their reactions to your boundaries are not your responsibility. They get to feel whatever they feel in response, and you don’t need to help them feel “better.” They have their own lessons to learn.


  1. What is the difference between boundary and control?

The main difference between boundaries vs control is that boundaries are a way to protect yourself, your values, and your beliefs. While control is a way to manipulate others or make them do what you want. 

  1. What is meant by boundary setting?

Boundary setting is a process that takes you to understanding yourself more. This includes your beliefs, values, and needs to make you feel safe and comfortable. We need boundaries to protect ourselves from others who have a tendency to be controlling. So we can focus on what we want and what’s essential for our growth and happiness.

  1. Is it controlling to set boundaries in a relationship? 

The quick answer is No. Setting boundaries in any relationship is vital - whether with your peer, family, colleagues, or partner. It ensures that you continue to grow without compromising your beliefs and values. Setting boundaries must not be seen as a form of control but as a form of protection. It helps to establish boundaries for your safety and well-being. People who don’t respect boundaries may think of you as controlling.

  1. How do you set boundaries with someone who is controlling?

It’s often not easy to set boundaries with people who don’t seem to respect our needs and opinions. You may have experienced this too - trying to be nice to talk it over. But after a long conversation, it feels like you’ve failed in your goal to establish limits.

Here’s a formula to effectively set boundaries with someone who’s controlling.

  1. Focus on what you can control - that is yourself. Start by telling the person what you will do and not what they have to do. Plan how to establish your point despite their reactions or possible resistance. Own up to your opinion.
  2. Stand your ground and use the 3Cs in setting boundaries. Be clear and concise on the boundaries you set. State your case calmly and as neutrally as possible.
  3. Remember, you’re establishing the limits for your own good, not to control them. This is about you, not about them. 
  4. Cut out the power struggle. Even if it’s about you, acknowledge that you can also be wrong. But get real that it’s not about who’s right or wrong here. This is simply about what’s comfortable for you and what’s not.

Inara de Luna, Life coach


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