Have you ever spent an hour with someone and felt drained of all of your energy, like the life force has been sucked right out of you? Have you ever had a great idea, something which involved a brave move but when you shared it with a friend you got shot down? Have you ever found yourself being spoken over in a conversation, knowing that this happens every time?

I want to talk about the relationships that make life harder! Yep, it’s that awkward conversation that needs to be had! Friends, colleagues, teachers, bosses, neighbours, even partners. 

We only have to think for a moment to realise how much relationships and interactions can influence our moods, how we feel about ourselves and how we look after ourselves. A parent may look at a teenager and realise that they are getting in with ‘the wrong crowd’ but what about the people we interact with throughout the rest of our lives? Who is monitoring that for us? Who notices that work colleague who spends the whole shift pouring their every life problem on you, without any resolution to change? Who sees the neighbour that keeps placing McDonald’s under your nose even though you’re trying to lose weight or who offers you a glass of wine with a wink and the words “One won’t matter”, even though they know you’re off the booze. The answer is nobody! We must do it for ourselves and realise that creating boundaries in all relationships is of huge importance for self care, progress and peace of mind. Boundaries can mean the difference between hitting the gas pedal on life of jamming on the handbrake.

Image courtesy of Jessica Da Rosa

We tend to be empathetic, to try and see the good in people, even when they keep it so well hidden sometimes! We will make excuses for poor behaviour and even feel guilty because the person who is draining us is clearly having such a tough time! Creating boundaries means that we can keep our kindness and our empathy and still make positive changes in everyday relationships.

The people around you will likely influence your decisions, your choice of language, your emotions, the actions that you take, even the clothes you wear, the career choices that you make and the house you live in. Our circle can bring a great energy, elevate us, remind us of our worth and capabilities and encourage us forwards yet remind us that we are enough just as we are. Conversely, they can moan, making us feel inadequate or stand in the way of goals. Most relationships don’t easily fall under the heading of good or bad though; most take some deciphering to know if that person is bringing goodness into your life or is at the very least, not standing in the way of it.


Here are a few questions to help you to think about the people around you. It’s worth applying these to everyone that you spend time with but initially start with the people who, on the surface, you think, make your life harder. The first three questions relate to something that the great Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Keep that in mind while answering these questions. The next three questions relate to the value that people bring to your life. Yes I know, this can feel uncomfortable, but push past it and remember that right now you are merely asking yourself a few questions.

  1. Are these people currently where you want to be in life?
  2. Do these people have qualities in their characters that you want within yours?
  3. How do these people speak about themselves? If you don’t know, start to listen… (How do these people talk about life in general? For example if it’s heavy rain, if they have challenges in life, if they make a mistake? )
  4. How do you feel after spending time with these people (Be honest!)?
  5. When something fantastic or awful has just happened in your life, would you tell these people and how would they react?
  6. If you are low, would you tell these people and how would they react?


We all have lines in life that we do not want crossing. The lines may be related to physical touch, types of conversation, actions, or behaviour. The problem is that sometimes we don’t know where our own lines are or that they even exist. Instead, we know that sometimes we feel angry or frustrated, drained or worn down by the people around us. We must find our lines, draw them and insist that they are honoured.

The focus of this exercise isn’t necessarily to remove people from your life (although I have certainly done this and there are many reasons why this is sometimes necessary) but right now you need to know how your interactions are making you feel, how they influence your life and what boundaries are needed. Try looking at your answers to each question, noting if and how people cross your line from being a pleasure to being a barrier and start boundary building!


Here are 25 boundary ideas to help you to discover where your lines are and what boundaries you want and need. Your boundaries may vary from person to person or some boundaries may only be relevant in certain types of relationships.  

  1. Nobody will shout at me.
  2. People will respect my time.
  3. People in my circle will speak of me with respect, even when I am not present.
  4. I reply to messages when it fits with my day.
  5. I will be heard when I say “no”.
  6. I will have time without my phone, where I am not contactable.
  7. People will not making jokes about the things that I feel insecure around.
  8. I will take some alone time.
  9. I will not keep listening to someone moaning about life when they are not proactive.
  10. I will turn off notifications to certain apps when I choose.
  11. I will not be a part of conversations behind other people’s backs.
  12. I will not spend time with people who are too drunk to look after themselves.
  13. I will not be a taxi driver regularly.
  14. I will not be the only one visiting and calling.
  15. No ongoing unsolicited advice.
  16. I will not accept racism in my presence.
  17. No phone calls after 8 pm or before 9 am unless it’s an emergency.
  18. I will not be made to feel guilty.
  19. I am allowed to change my mind.
  20. It’s not ok to make me feel bad in front of your other friends.
  21. I will not spend regular time with anyone who is only carrying negative energy.
  22. I will stay true to my principles.
  23. I will not have my privacy violated.
  24. I will be a part of conversations and not be constantly interrupted or spoken over.
  25. I will not be pushed into situations that make me uncomfortable.

Image courtesy of Joseph Pearson

One or more ideas on this list may have sparked some ideas in your mind about boundaries that you feel are weak or missing. Your boundaries may be very different from those on the list. Whatever your boundaries are, it’s right that you have them. Once you know what your boundaries are, setting them can feel daunting. Make sure you approach a boundary-setting conversation at a planned moment, rather than in the heat of anger or frustration after a line has just been crossed. Be firm but kind while communicating your boundaries and ensure that they know that you are doing it because you like or love them and don’t ever want to lose them. Help them to understand what you need and expect and be clear. Finally, ask them about their boundaries and what you can do to honour them. 


Good luck!



Cover image courtesy of Anthony Tran