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Boundaries Versus Ultimatums: 7 Things You Need To Know


It's a common occurrence to hear people establishing boundaries in their modern-day relationships today. No matter who you are talking to, at some point they will mention a setting boundary with a partner, friend, family member, or colleague to meet their needs.


However, it can be confusing to distinguish the difference between setting a boundary and giving an ultimatum due to the amount of information shared on the internet. And, there are quite a few approaches to setting boundaries, but we hope you will have a deeper understanding after reading this post so you can set them accurately for the best results.


When it comes to setting healthy boundaries, creating a solid foundation of self-respect and mutual respect in all types of relationships, including personal and professional connections, and promoting overall relationship health by defining limits to maintain high value.

Personal boundaries empower individuals to take care of their own needs without attempting to control or change others while feeling emotionally secure with themselves. Whereas, relationship boundaries foster alignment between parties based on shared goals and values, with each person having a voice and being accountable for their own happiness.


Ultimately, boundaries preserve one's self-worth and emotional security, allowing for individual and joint decision-making within a relationship.


In contrast, ultimatums aim to force compliance with one's own demands, often seeking power and control over others due to feelings of inadequacy. Individuals who threaten or use manipulative language ignore outside perspectives other than their own and offer zero options to repair trust or resolve differences. Expecting someone else to change is a sign a person needs control, leading to relationship impasses and self-sabotaging behaviors. The unhealthy behavior can cause the other person to walk away, shift blame, or create significant barriers to finding a resolution.


Here Are 7 BIG Differences Between Setting Boundaries Versus Ultimatums:

1. WE vs. ME Mindset

When setting a relationship boundary, you will want to come from a WE Mindset, even though you are expressing your personal limit using an “I” statement. As you express your concerns based on your relationship values, you are communicating what you need for the connection to continue to grow with someone. We are addressing the behavior, not the person which can make all the difference in how a person receives the boundary.


The purpose of using a WE Mindset shows self-respect and mutual respect for the other person while valuing the connection you share together. It’s all about how you can work together to reach a resolution instead of expecting them to agree to your request. Sometimes it can take negotiating back and forth until you reach a mutual agreement that supports both each person’s needs and the relationship.

If you are trying to set a boundary using a ME Mindset, you are bound to be met with resistance or avoidance. Because when you bring up the relationship issues, you are more than likely using “you” statements that personally attack someone instead of coming from a place of value. This can be seen as manipulative or better yet an ultimatum. Once again, we want to only address the behavior that feels disrespectful, not the character of a person.

Since boundaries are about your personal limits based on your values, you will want someone to respect your need for healthy boundaries and who is willing to work together as a team. But, if you are personally criticizing their personality, it’s less likely they are going to listen or understand your concerns. Therefore, avoid blaming someone for poor behavior as that’s a ME Mindset.

Use a ME Mindset for personal boundaries, like self-care, self-love, professional goals, etc.

2. Heart-Centered vs. Ego-Based Thinking

Boundaries give you flexibility and support the foundation of the connection elevating it to the next level when differences arise. One of the healthiest ways to speak up about your needs is using heart-centered thinking, but not in a romantic way.

When you operate from the heart, love and logic, you are able to rationally express what you need based on your self-worth and values. This allows you to advocate what's important without wavering from hard conversations or becoming emotionally dysregulated because you have a healthy self-esteem that helps you voice your value.

The stronger your mindset on the value of respect, the more you will live according to your boundaries and not accept or tolerate poor behavior.

Choosing to operate from ego-based thinking, also known as emotions, can keep you from speaking up and setting healthy boundaries. It may lead to a trauma response where you are fearful to speak up because the other person will get mad at you, leave you, or will flip the script can blame you for their behaviors. Or emotionally reacting because you feel completely violated and trying to protect yourself.


Assuming the worst, shows you are not feeling worthy or have unhealed emotional wounds that need to be worked through. When you have these limiting beliefs, they can hold you back from honoring your worth, supporting your emotional health, or engaging in healthy relationships.

3. Healthy vs. Unhealthy Behavior

Boundaries promote growth in your relationships and allow you to form a deeper connection with someone. It gives you the opportunity to understand each other better while overcoming differences that may keep you complacent.

Communicating in a calm, concise, constructive, confident, and cordial manner invites a healthy change to occur leading to greater alignment within the dynamic of the relationship. When your communication channels remain open regardless of the topic, it shows there is mutual respect between both individuals and both have a healthy mindset. It’s WE vs the relationship problem, not ME vs you.

On the flip side, ultimatums lead to unhealthy communication channels causing the relationship to deteriorate and become destructive. Often this results in the relationship coming to an end because you have reached an impasse where no movement can occur. Trying to seek power or control over someone repels them in the opposite direction or completely shutting down.


When you value the relationship, you focus on growth as a team.


4. Asking vs. Demanding Communication Style

When you begin setting boundaries, you will want to ask someone to work with you instead of telling them what they need to change. Using “I” statements will assist you in communicating what you need based on your personal limits. After you establish which value is being violated, recommend identifying five values for your relationship, you will want to ask someone to work you from a WE mindset to engage in a healthy conversation. They are more likely to listen than be resistant.

Boundaries offer resilience and collaboration yet hold firm weight when communicating what you need out of respect for the relationship.

If you find yourself demanding or threatening to get what you need, they will sense you are only concerned with yourself and find it to be disrespectful. Your communication style will come across as rigid, aggressive, impulsive, or hostile, which prevents cohesion. You may find yourself saying, “It’s do this or else I’m done with you.” When you demand, others lose respect for you because they feel you are threatening them as opposed to “Can you help me understand?”…or “How about we work on communication so we can find a middle ground that works for both of us?”.


5. Needs vs. Wants For A Healthy Relationship

Boundaries derive from a place of need, meaning you need them in order to be fulfilled in your relationship. When your personal limits are being violated, also known as your relationship values, this will be your cue to ask for what you need in your relationship.

Whether you value open communication, integrity or honesty, you will want to live by your values every day so you can ask for them in your relationships. For example, if someone isn’t keeping their word, yet you aren’t being forthcoming either then you will not be able to ask for them to be honest through setting a boundary.

If you are more concerned with your wants in a relationship, then you are operating from more of a ME Mindset. It’s not about keeping the relationship functioning in a healthy manner where each person feels heard and understood, it’s about only what makes you happy. This eventually gets tiresome and demanding to someone because you are only thinking about yourself and not about the other person or what makes sense for the relationship as a whole.

You may say, “I want you to take me on a trip to Italy or else I can’t be with you.” Creating conditional terms around your wants is manipulative and leaves no room for growth in the relationship.


6. Secure vs. Insecure Attachment

Owning your self-worth gives you a place of emotional security with yourself instead of depending on others for external gratification. You feel aligned, have inner peace, and know you are worthy of relationship fulfillment and success. This shows you have personal boundaries with yourself to remain a healthy person within and outside the relationship.

Believing you are a valuable asset to all of your relationships, gives you the power to use your authentic voice and communicate without second-guessing yourself or the outcome. You trust yourself enough to know you are deserving of a healthy connection and that your emotional or physical needs aren’t needy. It’s an indication you have a secure relationship with yourself and will continue to push ahead until mutual agreements are reached.

If you find yourself trying to manage your needs by using ultimatums, then you are experiencing feelings of inadequacy with yourself or the connection. You feel quite powerless in the moment, that you try to force someone to abide by your rules and abort their own beliefs to accommodate your demand. The more you try to control, the greater out of control you will feel internally. Allowing insecurities to dictate your goals, only lowers your self-esteem, robs you of happiness, and sabotages your chances at a healthy relationship.


7. Calm vs. Anger Emotional State

As previously mentioned, using a calm tone of voice when setting boundaries opens up the door for mutual understanding to resolve differences. Most disagreements occur because one or both individuals failed to communicate their needs to form mutual alignment in the relationship or use a heightened tone of voice.


By using a calm tone of voice, it signifies your strength to have resilience and overcome the obstacle you are facing with someone by allowing for a healthy resolution. The information you gain when a person is speaking allows for misunderstandings to become clear while having a respectful conversation. Having emotional intelligence skills is critial because it allows you to be self-aware, have self-management around your emotions, and choose choices that complement relationship management.

However, if you are feeling emotionally heightened with anger, frustration, or hurt, it will be nearly impossible to seek a resolution. Discord is unlikely to be resolved when emotions are high, as 90% of conflict is due to tone of voice and 10% is only due to the choice of words. At the same time, you can use anger as an indicator your personal limits are being pushed but it will be important not to use anger to fix the problem. It leads to a bigger gap between differences and can shut down the conversation altogether.


If you are looking for more support check out our boundary coaching or Boundary Badass online course to gain the skills you need to have fulfilling and healthy relationships.




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