Are you a people pleaser? Do you feel like you agree to do too many things, but you’re not sure how to say no? Maybe you don’t want people to think you’re rude or unkind. You don’t want them to see you as needy, demanding, or “high-maintenance.” You don’t want to let others down.
If these sound familiar then its a sign that you have poor or no personal boundaries. Many people fall into this pattern. The good news is that setting boundaries can save you stress and give you a sense of control and freedom over how you live and spend your time.
Boundaries make it clear to ourselves and those in our lives where we start and they stop. Learning to set boundaries is a valuable skill that helps you heal and enriches your relationships in the future. Boundaries help us be more aware of ourselves and our relationships and they’re important for self-care and making yourself a priority.
If you feel like you’re unhappy, resentful, insecure in relationships, being taken advantage of, or losing a sense of identity, you might like to think about whether you have unhealthy boundaries and consider setting healthy ones.
Remember ‘No’ is a complete sentence
You don’t need to be rude or aggressive, you just need to state your position and stand by it.
Here are many ways to say ‘no’:
Just say ‘no.’ No wavering. No second-guessing. Just no.
“I won’t be able to make it; I have another commitment.”
“Thank you, I’m not able to take that on right now.”
“Thanks for thinking of me, but I have to say no.”
“While I loved being a part of the last presentation, public speaking really isn’t my thing, so I won’t do it this year.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t make it.”
"I can't do that."
“Thank you for thinking of me for this project. I can’t take more work on right now, but I would love to be considered for other things in the future.”
Benefits of Setting Boundaries
Establishing boundaries is good for you and the people around you. When you’re clear about your boundaries, people will understand your limits and know what you are and aren’t OK with, and they’ll adjust their behaviour. The people who don’t respect your boundaries are ones you may not want in your life.
Healthy boundaries can also help you:
Build greater self-esteem
Get clear on who you are, what you want, and your values and belief systems
Bring focus to yourself and your well-being
Enhance your mental health and emotional well-being
Gain a greater sense of identity
Tips to Use Boundaries to Improve Your Well-Being
The best way to start setting boundaries is to offer direct, open, and honest feedback about your limits.Here are some tips:
Communicate your thoughts. Be honest but respectful when sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone else. It’s OK to take some time to gather yourself before and after the conversation. But don’t let that become an excuse to avoid telling them how you feel.
Never assume or guess someone else's feelings. Making assumptions can create a lot of misunderstandings in a relationship. You may feel like you know someone so well that you could guess what they’re thinking, but it’s always best to ask rather than assume.
Follow through on what you say. Setting boundaries but not following through lets the other person think they have an excuse to continue to overstep your boundaries. Don’t make any exceptions to your boundaries without thinking about it carefully. Otherwise, you may find yourself compromising on things that aren't acceptable to you.
Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of placing blame or complaining about the situation or how you’re feeling, take a step back and think about the choices you’ve made in a relationship and whether they may have contributed to the situation.
Know when it’s time to move on. You can share how you want to be treated in a relationship, but you aren’t responsible for your partner’s feelings or communication. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and fairness. If someone can’t respect your boundaries, it may be time to end the relationship.
Working on and setting strong boundaries can make a world of difference to your self-esteem, how you see yourself with others and how they see you.
If you would like to explore ways to build and strengthen your own boundaries, please feel free to get in touch. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation, or if you would like to make an appointment for either a face to face or online counselling session whichever is convenient.