Why You Need to Set Boundaries Right Now
Updated: Feb 16
Boundaries: This is a very personal topic to me because I struggled with this for a very long time.
I'm naturally a people pleaser and want to make everyone (yes, everyone) happy. Read on!
I was constantly exhausted by inadvertently taking on the problems of everyone around me without even realizing it. I didn't even know this was a boundary issue until the last couple of years. I think that getting married to someone who isn't like that really opened my eyes to this. I would lay in bed at night and be wretched over something that was completely outside of my control and even more completely - not my problem at all.
And let me tell you that I have too many problems of my own to be burdened with those of everyone else.
I'd like to take a second to pave the way before I go any farther, and this is very important so I'm not misunderstood. I personally choose to live a life with Christian values, and because of that, I do have a requirement to live at peace and in harmony with those around me and to do what I can to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ. I think that even if I didn't have those values, I would still want to help those around me and be of service when within reason.
But the mistake I was making was taking on way more than was ever really needed. There's a difference between helping out when there's an actual need and giving in to every tiny request that's made of me when it's not really a big deal and when it's not my problem to fix.
I shudder to think back on the days when I would try to move heaven and earth to redo my entire schedule so that so-and-so can do whatever-it-is on any given day they want to do it. It makes me feel ill. Not because I helped out where I could, but because of my horrible lack of boundaries. This gained me no respect and turned me into a person who couldn't say no.
WHAT DOES HAVING BOUNDARIES DO FOR YOU?
- It gains you the respect of everyone around you. Not everyone may like it, but they have to respect you for it regardless.
- It lets everyone know you're a high-value woman. It reinforces that same idea in your mind and will spill over into other areas in your life.
- It keeps your mental health from declining by being overworked or stretched to the point of breaking.
- It allows plenty of space for priorities and does not allow meaningless fluff to plant itself.
- It keeps you happier by not being too overbooked and reduces resentment.
- Boundaries show mental maturity.
- They weed out bad relationships.
- It will inspire others who may have a boundary issue to follow your example and make some.
- It allows you to intentionally live and experience joy!
"The only people upset about you setting boundaries are the people who were benefitting from you having none."
WHAT DOES HAVING NO BOUNDARIES LOOK LIKE?
I'm convinced that when a person has no boundaries, they're missing out on the respect that would be given to them otherwise. What does having no boundaries look like? It can take on multiple faces depending on what area of your life you need boundaries in. But something like this:
- Saying yes to everything even when it's inconvenient for you or makes you uncomfortable
- Always feeling stressed and anxious in your own home because of things outside the home intruding
- Allowing yourself to be spoken to or about in a way that demeans or lowers you
- Allowing negativity to blossom and bloom wherever it wants in your life
- Being laden with so many responsibilities that you hate and despise every single one of them
- Not feeling confident enough to say what you think (in a graceful manner - not like a jerk)
- Not being able to control eating habits/eating whenever you want and whatever you want resulting in an unhealthy body and lifestyle
- Never having time to yourself to unwind and re-energize because all your time is given away
- Always feeling the need to anticipate any need that anyone around you will have and trying to supply that
- Always striving to make everyone else happy
- Avoiding conflict or angering others when it can be necessary sometimes
- Taking it upon yourself to fix all the problems in everyone you see
If you struggle with one or all of these issues, then I'm glad you're reading this post. It's so easy to let boundaries go. I'm here to tell you that it was like the weight of the world lifting from my shoulders when I came to the realization that I'm not the solution to everyone's problems. In fact, there are only a few choice people in my life with whom I need to actively concern myself in this matter.
I'm here to encourage you all not to live like this and to find something better. Keep reading!
HOW DID I REALIZE I HAD A BOUNDARY ISSUE?
As I said, I'm not married to a man who will bend over backward to do something menial for just anyone. Tyler really helped me to get my boundaries in line. If he's asked to do something that intrudes on his time and his space too much, he says no. Period. And to go even further, he turns it back around and verbally makes it clear that it's an unreasonable thing to ask of anyone. I'm so completely attracted to this trait because I don't naturally have it. The fact that he can stand his ground and say "no" in a very kind and loving way - without any guilt whatsoever - to anything that intrudes on our space too much or too often literally makes me view him as a superhero.
Many times he showed up and told me that what I was undertaking shouldn't be asked of me and that I don't need to participate. He never told me not to do it. But he helped me to see when I was allowing myself to be taken advantage of. Now it couldn't be clearer to me when it happens.
And those instances have significantly dropped since I regained control of my boundaries.
Again, I really want to reiterate that helping people is a good thing. I want to help and serve those around me when it's reasonable, doable, and doesn't intrude on my peace. But there really is a difference between that and living in a way that allows anybody to request anything and for me to do everything I can to make it happen.
This is unhealthy, and no one is called to live this way.
This is being a pushover and a doormat. And if you're allowing others to use you as a doormat, then they're going to keep wiping their boots all over you. Not to mention you're creating no respect for yourself in the minds of those people.
Personally, I don't think "those people" were ever using me as a doormat because they're good people and wouldn't intentionally do that. But my point is that I wasn't stepping up and asserting my boundaries, and this issue was entirely my own fault, not the fault of those asking these things of me. I do know there are people out there who will intentionally take advantage of you, and by having these safeguards in place, they won't be able to touch you.
WHAT DOES SETTING BOUNDARIES LOOK LIKE?
- Not attempting to fix the problems of those around you when it has nothing to do with you
- Saying no to unreasonable and inconvenient requests
- Not spilling everything you know when you converse
- Not speaking too intimately with someone you just met. They're a stranger and have no right to know your personal goings-on
- Being guarded with what you share.
- Taking yourself immediately out of uncomfortable and inappropriate situations.
- Not agreeing with everyone and definitely not bending over backward to get others to agree with you
- Not explaining yourself
- Keeping time aside for yourself and your family and allowing nothing to intrude on it
- Not getting permission to do what is best for you and your family
- Not going against your personal thoughts and beliefs in order to please others
- Not allowing your feelings to overflow and swallow others
- Never allowing others to completely drain you
- Being honest and upfront about the responsibilities you take on
- Journaling every night to reflect and identify your boundaries from the day and planning for the next
- Not always being available. You have a whole day at home to do your things? Don't change it
- Being responsible for your eating habits and what you eat
- Being dedicated to an exercise/physical activity routine
- Reading, studying, and expanding your mind
- Finding things that bring you and/or your family joy. Then doing those things
HOW TO EXERCISE YOUR BOUNDARIES
- Start saying "No" more than you say "yes". This sounds harsh, but if you say yes to everything you have drained yourself and have deprived your family (who needs you) of any care you can give.
- Be choosy about your availability. Just because you have a day at home to yourself does NOT mean you have to fill it when anyone asks you to change that.
- Don't waste your time and energy in making other people agree with your views.
- Don't feel the need to agree with everyone on everything. Disagree and then say so in a kind manner that's easy to hear. You're not required to pound your beliefs into everyone who raises an eyebrow. You can do whatever you want to do.
- Dedicate the majority of your time to your spouse and family. They need you to be present in their lives more than so-and-so needs a babysitter so they can go and get their nails done. They can figure out other arrangements that don't cross your lines.
- Convey what you mean in a concise and clear manner without adding in those softener words. Here are a few ways of changing the way you respond and converse with people. This will start to change the way others view you if you put them and similar texts into practice:
TIMID ANSWER | CONFIDENT ANSWER
- "I don't really know if that works with my schedule" | "My schedule doesn't allow for that."
- "I guess I would just rather you not say that to me" | "Don't speak that way to me again"
- "I'm so, so sorry for the delay..." | "Thanks for your patience"
- "No problem, I'm always here to help whenever you need it" | "Happy to help, have a great day."
- "I think we should maybe do this?" | "It would be best if we..."
These responses kind of sound like a robot is saying them, but the point is that you convey your expectations, standards, and rules in a way that won't be defined or changed by anyone else. I think these phrases (and similar ones), when spoken softly and assertively, will start enhancing your self-confidence. And, therefore, they enhance your ability to expect your boundaries to be respected.
THINGS TO TAKE AWAY
- Your boundaries are not subject to change when someone asks
- You don't need to explain yourself
- It's okay if others get angry
- You don't need permission to do what is best for you and for your family
- You don't have to agree or make others agree with you
- It's not your job to fix everyone's problems
- Do not be or feel responsible for anyone else's responsibilities.
- Having boundaries will command the respect of others. You'll no longer be seen as someone who can be at anyone's beck and call. It automatically makes you a higher value person in other peoples' eyes as well as your own.
- Never be unwilling to help others when you can. Sometimes there really are pressing needs that you should be there for if at all possible. But be reasonable about pleasing others around you and don't let it control your life. Don't think you have to be a slave to gain the love of others.
- Have a heart full of love and kindness...and boundaries to keep those in check.
- Get a notebook and write down the areas where you need to define and assert your boundaries more.
- Keep track of the times that you do keep your boundaries. These will encourage you to keep going.
- Make goals for yourself. You have so much to give and accomplish when you're not laden down with the cares of the world.