I’ve always been a person that does not like confrontation, conflict, chaos, misunderstanding or confusion. I don’t like to argue or go back and forth with people. It actually irks my nerves.
So, like many people for the sake of peace, a lot of times I would just give in to people and say ‘yes’ to things I really didn’t want to do. Agreeing to doing things that I had no desire to do, just never felt right. I would feel such an overwhelming sense of dread and resentment towards the person and then whenever that person called or came around, I would think to myself, ‘well, here they go’ and on and on about how this person has inconvenienced my life. A friend of mine used to want to borrow my car once a month to run her errands. But looking back now with more maturity and hindsight, this person simply made a request to which I had the option of saying NO to.
Why We Justify Not Setting Boundaries
I think we justify going out of our way for people and going over and beyond for people because in our minds we are simply trying to help, and that’s cool. But, what’s not cool is to agree to help someone and then hold a grudge against them for simply asking. Think of it as volunteering to be a victim or a martyr, and the only one hurting is YOU.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you told someone NO? Think about a recent time when you agreed to do something you didn’t want to do, and imagine that instead you said no, what would be the reaction?
A lot of us are deathly afraid of rejection and disappointing others. I had this same fear too. But, then one day I actually realized the emotional and physical toll it was taking on me was literally disrupting my life. Enough was enough. No longer could I be dragged around or made to feel guilty about other people’s stuff. We take such gentle care with dealing with other people, but fail to do so for ourselves. That’s just backwards when you realize the other person has no idea how you feel. Be honest and genuine with the person. Sincerity goes a long way.
How to Set Boundaries Even When You’re Afraid
There’s a saying that we teach people how to treat us. So, I began to teach people my new boundaries. You might get a little pushback at first. The trick is to let people know that you care, but let them know your plate is full right now (and maybe you can help out another time). Life happens to us all, so if they don’t get that, that’s fine, but stand up for yourself. It’s really ok. Trust that people are able to handle the truth, and if they don’t that’s just too bad. People will eventually become clear about what your limits and boundaries are, and you will value yourself and your time even more. You are worth taking the risk of loving yourself and being truly authentic.
Practice Setting Boundaries
To give you a bit of a confidence boost. Author and shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, PhD shares 3 amazing ways that you can practice setting boundaries in your relationships:
- Create a mantra. When Brené is caught in a difficult moment she silently repeats to herself, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” I love this because it reinforces that one, you have a choice, two, I rather feel discomfort temporarily then be bogged down by negative feelings and resentment, and three, my wellness and sanity matter.
- Keep a resentment journal. I love the idea of recording the times when you feel angry, frustrated and resentful, as those are the times when you feel more stressed, more tired and less able to deal with people and less able to set boundaries.
- Practice. Rehearse boundary setting statements in your head to mentally prepare yourself to the point it becomes second nature to you. It is such a freeing feeling to say, ‘no’ in a loving and compassionate way, as opposed to just being brutally honest. People will respect you more.
Need More Support? I Can Help
If you need help reclaiming your power and setting boundaries in your relationships, I’d be happy to talk more with you, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.