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Understanding boundaries for self-preservation, confidence, and overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Understanding boundaries for self-preservation, confidence, and overcoming Imposter Syndrome

I need to confess, I love setting boundaries.

Yes, you read that right, I love it.

Boundaries protect you, your energy, your time, your money, your health, your heart and the list goes on.

Boundaries are also 100% within your control (oh yes, love that!)

But mix in some Imposter Syndrome and setting boundaries can be downright scary.

We are so fearful if we say no, we will be judged.

Or we will look inadequate or incompetent.

Or that people will finally ‘realise’ we just can’t ‘cut it’.

None of this is true of course, it’s just the Imposter Syndrome talking (but it feels very real)

Which brings me to today’s Coaching insights:

Understanding boundaries for self-preservation, confidence, and overcoming Imposter Syndrome.

In our personal and professional growth, we need to set boundaries.

‘Clear, defined limits that protect our time, energy, and well-being. Boundaries are essential for self-preservation, fostering confidence, and mitigating feelings of Imposter Syndrome’.


Boundaries act as a shield, protecting us from overcommitment, burnout, and emotional exhaustion. By clearly defining what is acceptable and what is not, we safeguard our mental and physical health, ensuring we have the resilience to face challenges head-on.


Establishing and maintaining boundaries boosts our confidence. It communicates self-respect and signals to others that we value our needs and limits. This, in turn, garners respect from peers and superiors, reinforcing our self-assurance in various contexts.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome:

The pervasive feeling of being a fraud despite evident successes, can be mitigated through robust boundary-setting. When we prioritise our well-being and assert our limits, we reduce the likelihood of overextending ourselves and falling into self-sabotaging patterns.

By acknowledging our boundaries, we affirm our competence and worth, countering the negative self-perceptions associated with Imposter Syndrome.

Introducing the The D.E.A.R.M.A.N Method: (describe, express, assert, reinforce, mindful, appear confident, negotiate)

The D.E.A.R.M.A.N method is a structured approach for assertive communication, first created by acclaimed Therapist, Marsha Linehan.

It is also particularly useful (in my opinion) in setting and maintaining boundaries, ensuring our needs are met while maintaining healthy relationships.

I’ve also adapted the original D.E.A.R.M.A.N method to suit Imposter Syndrome.

Here’s the breakdown for you:

Describe – Start by identifying specific situations where Imposter Syndrome is triggered, what, when, where, who was involved? be specific so you know who or what you’re setting a boundary around/for.

Express – Convey the emotional impact of these triggers. Example “I feel anxious and overwhelmed in these moments, believing I must go above and beyond to demonstrate my competence’.

Assert – Clearly state & document the need for boundaries to protect your mental and emotional well-being. Example “I need to set realistic limits on my workload and the types of tasks I take on, to ensure I can deliver quality work without overextending myself.” Key tasks / outcomes must be prioritised and then reaffirm this back to the business/managers/colleagues and ask for their input.

Reinforce: Explain how these boundaries benefit not just the quality of your work but also your personal well-being. “Setting these boundaries will prevent burnout and allow me to focus more effectively on key tasks, ultimately leading to better results’.

Mindful: Stay focused on the goal/objective/task based on the boundary / order set above – you may not eliminate Imposter moments entirely, but you can manage its impact constructively. Use language like …“I will remind myself of my past successes and qualifications, focusing on my strengths rather than perceived shortcomings’. Also remind yourself you’re not a machine, your brain and body needs rest in order to present and perform at your best.

Appear Confident: This is not ‘fake it til you make it’ this is about standing in your strengths first. Focus on the conversations that matter or the key tasks only. Practice calm body language and tone plus maintain eye contact when discussing boundaries and capabilities.

Negotiate: Find a balance between challenging yourself and setting healthy limits. No one has infinite energy, boundaries will help you direct your time and energy to high priority tasks first, deemed high priority by you and your managers. If there’s a high-stakes project that triggers Imposter feelings, negotiate the terms or seek support where needed, instead of automatically saying yes, people pleasing or overworking yourself.

By using the D.E.A.R.M.A.N method, you can create/ set boundaries that preserve you and limit the impact(s) of Imposter Syndrome.

It also encourages acknowledging your personal limits (you’re not a superhuman or machine), reinforces self-worth, and focuses on constructive action rather than overthinking or other forms of self sabotage.

So the next time you need to set a boundary, use this framework to guide you, be specific in your responses and track your progress.



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