CoachCast EP07: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Hello CoachCast

Listen to Hello CoachCast, your free weekly access to world-class, expertoaches helping you maximise your wellbeing, relationship and work success. 

EP07: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Creating and communicating boundaries is really about teaching others how we would like to be treated. Coach Suzanne specialises in working with people-pleasers, martyrs, and over-givers, helping them to say no in a way that feels good. Suzanne shares how to recognise the symptoms of poor boundaries in your own life, and gives her top tips for upholding your boundaries without creating resentment.

Your Title Goes Here

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.


Victoria: Hello. I’m Victoria Mills, founder and CEO of Hello Coach and host of Hello CoachCast.

Today, I’m talking with Coach Suzanne about how to set and enforce healthy boundaries at work, at home, and even with yourself. Coach Suzanne is an international mindset coach, author, and healer, dedicated to transforming bodies and minds. She specializes in working with people-pleasers, martyrs, and over-givers, helping them to say no in a way that feels good.

Welcome, Suzanne.

Suzanne: Thank you so much for having me Victoria.

Victoria: It’s lovely to have you here. I always love our conversations and always keen to hear more about how we can help ourselves say no, ’cause it’s quite hard.

Suzanne: One hundred per cent.

Victoria: So Suzanne creating and communicating our boundaries is really about teaching others how we also would like to be treated. So, one thing that obviously being a coach for so many years, we often learn the hard way with our clients in that when we do uphold our personal boundaries, we really go on the journey of ensuring that we take responsibility for our lives.

We take responsibility for our health and happiness and our emotional wellbeing, rather than handing that over to others. And this can play a huge role in protecting us physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. I’d love to hear more about some of the challenges and hardships that you have come across when you’ve been coaching clients, where they have lacked personal boundaries.

Suzanne: I think the first thing is defining boundaries because it’s such a broad topic. And I think Brene Brown said it best in four words, "Choose discomfort over resentment." So often setting a boundary or even upholding a boundary. Is uncomfortable to say to somebody, no, I don’t wanna do that. Or this, this isn’t delivered in the time that I was promised or this isn’t to the standard that I expected, like, you know, setting or upholding a boundary is really uncomfortable.

But when we don’t, then there’s the resentment of us going ahead with something that isn’t the standard or doing something that we really don’t want to. So it’s that, that discomfort of the moment of having a challenging conversation that will pay dividends later, rather than just not saying anything or being the yes person: "Can you do this?" "Sure."

And inside you’re like screaming, "no!" That you wanna be polite or you wanna be accepted. And also, I love the point that you raised about having them with ourselves because sometimes we set a lot of boundaries, external. Clients or family or workplace or even friends. And then the boundary we have with ourselves like I’m gonna get up early and go for a walk or I’m gonna drink a smoothie or whatever it is.

We’re just like, oh, not today. I’ll start again tomorrow or Monday, the universal day to change your life. And it’s having those boundaries with self as well. Choosing the discomfort of getting up when it’s cold or drinking a smoothie that doesn’t taste particularly nice. To avoid that resentment later of not following through.

Victoria: I’d love to dissect. What are the symptoms of when you have poor boundaries in your personal life?

Suzanne: Oh, that’s a great question. I think the biggest one would be. As soon as somebody asks you just say, yes, you don’t even run it through. Do I want to, like, you don’t have a filter or do I have capacity? Um, or do I have time? So just being the yes person and the other thing, like, people may not agree with me here, but I think a sign of poor boundaries is.

Having notifications onto everything like being that slave to your phone as soon as there’s a ding or a pop or whatever, because an email is someone else’s agenda, not your own. So if you are always checking emails and notifications and things, as soon as they come in and putting aside what you had planned to do to be at the whim of others, I think that’s a sign of poor.

Victoria: Interesting. I mean boundaries when we don’t have them contribute to, I do believe frustration and anxiety, and I’m thinking they are probably more emotional symptoms or mental wellbeing symptoms or perhaps it’s an area for you to stop and reflect and literally put a pen with a piece of paper to start to decide what your boundaries are. And I would love to hear from you – what’s the process? If someone knows that they say yes, way too often, and they’ve got a hundred notifications happening on their phone, what’s the process to help someone step through what boundaries are important?

Suzanne: A really simple, really easy tool that people can do to get started is to grab a piece of paper. If you’ve got a piece of paper there, Victoria, you can do this.

Victoria: I do.

Suzanne: One side, on one side of the paper. So you could tear it out or like, you know, um, just a small square. It doesn’t need to be whole page.

And on one side you write ‘yes’. And then turn it over. And on the other side, you write ‘No’. And I always keep one on my desk that my son’s made, so I can show you here. So if someone says, "Hey Victoria, Hey Suzanne, could you just do this?" And you hold up the yes to them. And you hold up the yes to them. What’s facing you? What’s on the other side?

So when you’re saying yes to others, you’re saying no to yourself.

And why this is really, really powerful and a great tool for starting to set boundaries is if you had planned to do something, to go for a walk, to start writing your book, to do any form of self-care, and someone’s like, could you just, could you just pick up my groceries?

Could you just, you know, do this thing for me by you saying yes to them? You’re saying no to yourself. So when you want to start to set boundaries and you’re feeling uncomfortable about saying no to others, by saying no to them, you’re saying yes to yourself. So the, point that you made about journaling and sitting down is such a wonderful thing, because what are the things that you want to do?

Like the things we wanna do one day, like write a book, start a business, do a hobby. Like how many of us have.

Victoria: All of us have.

Suzanne: Floating around our houses, like gathering dust, the hobbies, or the things that we actually want to do, like it could be craft or scrapbooking, or I don’t know. Going to pub choir or some activity that we’ll do one day, but everybody always needs us in the meantime, make a list of all of those things.

And if the things is big, like something like writing a book or starting a podcast is so monumental, you don’t even know where to start. What is the first little step that you could take? And how will you carve out the time for that and protect it? Because sometimes, like, when I say boundaries with ourselves, I know when I’m having a moment, I will look for people to rescue that’s the martyr or the people-pleaser like, oh, my kids might need something or I’ll just call my mom, cuz then I can absolve myself for the responsibility by saying someone else needed me when it was like, oh, sometimes the goal seems so big that that little bit you do today doesn’t matter.

So then you’ll look for something else to do Instead of taking that little bit of time.

Victoria: There are some really great tips in there. what’s the best way to communicate and uphold your boundaries once they are in place?

Like I’m gathering that this is, this is a daily commitment when you’re wanting to shift your behaviour. So what are some tips to really help communicate, not only to yourself but also others around you, that you are changing the goalposts you are wanting to put in greater self-care.

And this is part of what it looks like with boundaries. What’s the best way to share that?

Suzanne: The best way is when you’re having that conversation with a loved one, make sure you have their full attention. Like, if your partner’s watching the footy or playing the Xbox and you’re like, oh, by the way, I’m going to take up Latin dancing. And they’re like, uh-huh not really listening. And then later it’s like, where are you going? "To my Latin dancing class! I told you about that?"

So like having that time that you are both actually connecting and not where they’re distracted. Or if it’s a health one, like a lot of my clients are wanting to make health changes. They’ll have that eye roll, like, "Oh, here she goes again."

But actually saying, like, this is really important to me.

And I know that in the past I have said this and these things have happened, but this is what’s different this time. And actually asking from the person. What support is for you? Like I remember on my last and final successful iteration of releasing weight, I said to my husband, I wanted his support and he’s like, "Yep."

Okay. And then later we’re in the supermarket and I pick up a pack of Tim Tams and he literally just like snatches them off me. And he’s like, no, don’t eat those. I snatched them back and grabbed another packet for good measure. Nothing, if not a rebel!

And then I’m crying when we get home and he’s like, "What’s the problem? You said you wanted my support."

I was like, I wanted you to give me a hug. I wanted you to remind me of why I’m doing this. I support for me, isn’t snatched. Like for me, taking something off me is not, is not supportive, but we hadn’t had that conversation. I had just assumed and he had just understood.

And like, I remember coaching a client recently. She met her sister every week for coffee and cake. And she said, I’m, I’m working with Suzanne now. Like, that would mean nothing to her sister. Who’s Suzanne? I don’t know.

And, and she’s like, and I’m setting these boundaries and I, I don’t want to have coffee and cake because I want to, work on, you know, my health.

And then the sister came next week. She’s like she brought coffee and cake again. She doesn’t care about me. And I’m like, did, what did you ask her to do? Instead? Like, sometimes we think we’re being clear. But we are really not, because imagine if she’d turned up and said, well, "Here you go. Here’s some water." Then you might have been offended.

And she’s like, oh, I’d never thought about that. So not assuming that people are mind readers and they know what we mean. When we say we are making these changes, what actually do we want from them? And what are we willing to give as well? Because like, if you’re meeting someone for coffee and cake every week, are you saying that they can’t have coffee and cake?

Cuz that that’s, that’s not just boundaries that’s you imposing on what they do. So a boundary. It’s your personal thing. It’s not telling other people what they can do.

Victoria: Again, it’s really great information there. There’s a, there’s a question that I’d love to ask because we know when we do need to make a change, and often when we listen to our body or our emotions, when we get frustrated or upset, it’s a time to really just stop and reflect and go, okay, what needs to change here?

What needs to shift? And part of that is absolutely putting in boundaries when needed. What’s the best way that in your experience, Suzanne, of when you’ve worked with clients, when they’re doing everything that they can to commit to the changes and committing to putting in healthy boundaries of what is important to them yet, they have other people around them who do not respect their boundaries.

What are some ways that we can? How to tackle that and how to navigate that because not everyone as you’ve shared already, not everyone is going to be supportive of those changes because it also then reflects on them and perhaps changes that they also need to make. So…

Suzanne: Mmm.

Victoria: But what could be some, some wise words in your experience as a coach, when you find that you do have people in your close circle that are important to you that may not agree with the boundaries that you’re wanting to put in place?

Suzanne: I think that’s such a great question because having that support and having that – Cheer squad sounds… it’s not quite the right term I’m after – but the people who have your back, because when you are making these changes, setting these boundaries, you are not yet the person that you want to be. And the people immediately around you are used to you behaving in a certain way.

They’re used to you saying yes, they’re used to you always being there. So then perhaps in the beginning, not gonna be the most supportive people to have in your corner, as you are shifting. I like to tell my clients, you know, choose your audience, like, choose who you’re gonna share with. So if you have a coach, like this is the perfect thing.

And I know for my, for myself, there’s things that I share with my coach. Not as a secret, not as a gossipy, but like my coach reminds me why I’m still doing these things and having that, that boing each session, like this is why we’re in the room. We celebrate. And then we look at what’s suboptimal and then we make a plan for next time, as opposed to like leaning into, you know, family or friends who, as you said, you changing may inadvertently trigger.

I don’t like the term trigger… activate them or highlight to them areas in their life. They too wanna change and they can, instead of becoming support can become kind of enablers. Like I know in the health aspect, "Oh, just one won’t hurt. Oh, you’ve been so good." And, and they enable you to, you know, steer away from the path.

So having a coach or having a community of people who are also creating boundaries who are also making changes, and having that person be in your corner and also go to ’cause sometimes I think the difference between coaching and friends is a coach will hold you be accountable lovingly, but accountable.

Whereas a friend will be like, "Oh, that’s okay. You’ve done so well, you know, just try again next week." Whereas a coach will be like, okay, so you know what, we’ll break it down. What happened? Like we had this plan and we are never mad and we’re never judging, but we’re like, okay. So what really happened because there’s what we do and plan in our heads.

And then there’s the real life where we have the conversation where we set the boundary, where we risk the relationship sometimes. And then it’s like, it just didn’t go well. And the other thing a coach can do is sometimes we get in, we all do it. We get in our own heads and make all this drama. And it’s like, so what actually went well?

And it’s like 90% of it went well, and it’s the 10% we focused on that didn’t go well. So having that person like be that mirror or, you know, be that light to guide you and keep you on track to the goal that you set rather than getting stuck in the stuff when it doesn’t work initially. You know, I always think of small children.

They don’t walk straight away. They pull themselves up and fall and pull themselves up and fall. And every time they fall, they’re building that strength to be able to walk it’s like that when we are making change, often we’re our own worst critic because it didn’t happen straight away. So we are like, it just means I’m fundamentally not supposed to do this.

And it’s like, no, you’re just building your muscles.

Victoria: That’s amazing advice. Thank you so much for sharing all that, ’cause it’s it is a really important area to be really aware. But to be able to take it a step further, not just to have the awareness, but to be brave and courageous and strong, to put yourself first and know that you’re important to be able to put in changes.

And that doesn’t mean that you’ve gotta put in these radical boundaries all in one go, you could put together a list of what’s important to… that is missing for you to feel important. And for you to take that as part of your self-care journey, which is important. So to summarise, we’ve got, I think the biggest things from our conversation, listen to your body, listen to your emotions, listen to your frustrations, listen to how you are feeling on any given day and have a little bit more awareness around "Okay. If I make this decision, what’s the consequence? How do I feel about that decision before you just jump in and say yes to something? When you are communicating your needs that are important with regards to boundaries, to make sure that the setting is done at a time where the other person is present, that they can actually hear the conversation.

I think that’s a really important piece of advice. And it also sets you up for success and the conversation up for success rather than jumping on to someone when they’re dropping kids off or running dashing to the catch, the bus, like that’s never gonna have a great outcome. And to be able to communicate it in a way that is not reactive, communicate it and come from a place of vulnerability and sharing of what’s important to you.

And really the last really important step is to make a plan, you know, be aware of what the boundaries are that you’d like to put in place and start to chip away at those, but to have a plan. Part of that daily plan is to check in on your self-care every day. And from there, change can happen.

Suzanne: A hundred per cent. I love that you summed it up so well.

Victoria: Thank you always a pleasure to have you on the show. And today, a really important topic around how to create and stick to those boundaries that often we know that we need to put in place. So thank you so much for joining us today, Suzanne. It was amazing to have you on the show and thank you to all of our listeners for joining us today.

We hope that you’ve certainly gained some valuable tools and insights to start setting healthier boundaries in your life today. Thank you, Suzanne.

Suzanne: Thank you.

Hello Coach Horizontal Logo

Want to be your best self at work?


Create stronger bonds. Kick-start your coaching for $49