Boundaries is a word that is tossed around a lot and many of us know we need to set them but don’t know how. Some of us set them but then end up feeling guilty. Other people find it impossible to set boundaries and feel worse doing things they really don’t want to do. The thing is, setting boundaries is the key to healthy self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
Weighing the Pressure Against Doing What is Right for You
Family and friends will always pressure us to do things we don’t want to do. Even just being invited to a social gathering might be stressful for some people, even more for others. But instead of saying no, we go anyway, and the anxiety builds until we don’t feel well. Society has taught us that we have to meet these obligations to be worthy, and that is just not true.
What is more important is our own healthy minds and bodies. We are no good to anyone if we don’t feel well. Sometimes it’s just a matter of weighing disappointing others with feeling okay ourselves. The choice should always be to put our oxygen mask on first; then we can help others.
You Can’t Please Everyone
Certain people in my life love cooking and want me to try their foods. I have special dietary needs due to food allergies so I cannot accommodate anyone who wants to cook for me. Instead I always have to set firm boundaries and provide my own food. I have annoyed more than one person doing this, but I have no choice, my health is at risk, and I am willing to hurt their feelings so I can be okay.
Although boundaries have always been difficult for me, over the past couple of years, I have found it easier to refuse social gatherings even with family. I don’t need to put myself through the agony of feeling anxiety and pressure if I am not up for it. I don’t even feel guilty anymore; saying no feels better than pleasing someone else. For years, I did what everyone else wanted me to, and it never turned out well. Now I know to prioritize my needs ahead of others in many cases.
Push Back “Pushy People” With Boundaries
A dear friend of mine is going through a difficult situation with her son right now. Some pushy family members want to get involved and control the situation, and I am so proud to see my friend pushing back with her own healthy boundaries. Not only is it growth for her, but it also tells the pushy family member that their behavior will no longer be tolerated. It’s good for both of them.
Boundaries Saved My Life
I went through a similar situation like my friend about a year ago, and if I had not dug deep and found the strength to set some firm, very hard boundaries, I would not have survived it. Even though taking care of me was part of my program of self-compassion, I felt extreme guilt for having to separate myself from someone who was damaging to me. I love this person with all my heart, but it took a solid boundary to put the distance between us that I needed to be okay. I genuinely believe that by me setting this boundary it was the best thing for both of us.
Boundaries are Not Only Okay, But They are Also Necessary
When we do things that we don’t want to do to please other people, it creates resentment. We think at the time we are sacrificing and doing for them, but really, we are just being martyrs and setting the stage for ill feelings later. Instead, establishing a healthy boundary makes you feel confident; you take care of yourself with self-compassion and let the other person know that their needs are not more important than yours.
Whether you are dealing with family, friends, or co-workers, learning how to set healthy boundaries is essential to building your own self-worth and feeling strong and healthy.
It’s not only okay to set boundaries but necessary for us to evolve as people, accept one another for who we are, and love unconditionally. No matter how hard it is in the beginning, start setting boundaries, and you will find it gets easier with time, and you feel better and better.
Start today by putting you first this time and honoring your needs.