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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Know the Limits


When going through Marine boot camp land navigation (nav) in 1996, I recall there being foggy conditions which made for more realistic training. One learned very quickly that reality isn’t entirely safe.


The land nav course was in Camp Pendleton, in Southern California, and its ecosystem includes bluffs, mesas, canyons, and mountains. Use of the standard issue lensatic compass and associated map proved difficult in dense early morning fog.


While traversing through thick brush with another Marine recruit, we almost went over the side of a steep cliff. Because of the fog, we were unable to see the posted boundary signs. Not knowing the limits almost resulted in a tumble down the side of a bluff.


Like land nav, it’s important to know the limits when interacting with people. In common parlance, a “limit” is referred to as a “boundary”—something that indicates or fixes a point beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass. Expounding upon this concept, one source states:


Personal boundaries are established by changing one’s own response to interpersonal situations, rather than expecting other people to change their behaviors to comply with your boundary. For example, if the boundary is to not interact with a particular person, then one sets a boundary by deciding not to see or engage with that person, and one enforces the boundary by politely declining invitations to events that include that person and by politely leaving the room if that person arrives unexpectedly. The boundary is thus respected without requiring the assistance or cooperation of any other people.


This sort of boundary requires use of personal responsibility and accountability, something I teach through psychotherapy. When using Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) with clients, I invite people to understand the limits of control and influence.


Each individual person is responsible for one’s own reactions to violated boundaries, because you and I can’t control other people. Expanding upon this concept, I stated the following in a blogpost entitled Boundary Setting:


It is your responsibility to establish boundaries, because people aren’t mind readers and can’t always intuit what you’d like them to do. Still, you are the individual held accountable for your reaction to disregarded boundaries.


On page 11 of The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion, REBT practitioners are encouraged to teach this lesson to clients. If others don’t know your limits, they and you are likely to be placed in a situation whereby tumbling down a proverbial bluff will likely occur.


Likewise, when these limits are unknown, page 12 of the Pocket Companion invites practitioners to help clients understand that annoying behavior of others will inevitably occur unless one first protests against the socially limiting conduct. Thereafter, if the person continues acting obnoxiously, you then take personal ownership for your response to the behavior.


Know your limits and let other people know these boundaries. Though this strategy doesn’t guarantee that you will never find the actions of others offensive, it does allow you to take control of your own reaction to the situation.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW





Dryden, W. and Neenan, M. (2003). The REBT Therapist’s Pocket Companion. Albert Ellis Institute. ISBN 0-917476-26-3. Library of Congress Control Number: 20031044378

Hollings, D. (2023, August 30). Boundary setting. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Personal boundaries. Retrieved from

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