Setting Boundaries: A Practical Formula for Meaningful Relationships

Dr. Rebecca Cardona sitting in a chair


Setting boundaries is a critical life skill that often goes overlooked, yet is fundamental to our well-being and the quality of our relationships. Whether in a workplace setting, within the family, or among friends, clear boundaries allow for better communication and mutual respect.

The Simple Yet Effective Formula

I have a straightforward formula to help you set and enforce boundaries effectively. The formula goes like this: “If you [insert boundary break], then I will [communicate your need].”

Here’s how it works:

  • Identify the Boundary Break: In the first blank, you insert what action or behavior constitutes a breach of your boundary. This could be anything from interrupting you while you’re speaking to showing up unannounced at your home.
  • Communicate Your Need: In the second blank, you define what action you will take if your boundary is broken. This is where you get to assert your needs clearly.

For example, you might say, “If you interrupt me while I’m speaking, then I will stop the conversation until we can communicate respectfully.”

a person and person sitting on a couch

Flexibility Within The Framework

It’s crucial to remember that your needs and boundaries may differ from those of other people. That’s entirely okay. The formula serves as a flexible framework to fit a variety of situations and relationships.

Accountability and Consequences

If a boundary is repeatedly broken, you can escalate your response. For example: “If you continue to interrupt me, then I will limit the time I spend around you.” This adds a layer of accountability and consequence, emphasizing the importance of respecting boundaries.


Setting boundaries is an invaluable skill that fosters healthier, more respectful relationships. Utilize this simple yet effective formula to communicate your needs and enforce your boundaries clearly. It’s a tool that encourages both parties to communicate openly and treat each other with respect.

If you find that you’re struggling with setting boundaries and would like further guidance, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help you navigate these challenges.