Do you find yourself saying yes, when you really want to say no? Or maybe you’ve said yes without even realizing that you wanted to say no, only to find yourself feeling resentful later on while doing the task you said yes to?
Trust me… I’ve been there. I still go there sometimes.
One of my biggest “aha” moments regarding boundaries was when I realized that I had a habit of taking responsibility for other people’s reactions to my decisions. Setting boundaries
For example, if I told someone that I wasn’t available when they wanted me to be and they got upset with me, I would instantly feel selfish and guilty. This would lead me to sacrifice my needs.
Ever been there yourself?
Without even realizing it, I was setting boundaries that were entirely permeable. I would shift my boundaries to meet the other person’s needs if they became upset with me or gave me a good enough guilt trip.
A boundary isn’t really a boundary if you cave the second someone gets angry or pulls a guilt trip on you.
This realization allowed me to start paying attention to how often I shifted my boundaries to please others. This awareness led me to be able to start leaving other people to deal with their own emotions, instead of trying to make them feel better by choosing to allow myself to feel worse.
I am now much firmer in my boundaries. When someone gets upset with a need that we have expressed, we can remind ourselves that we are not responsible for their emotions. Our first responsibility is to ensure that we are not sacrificing our own needs to meet someone else’s.
It is important to be willing to consider how others might be impacted by our decisions. However, we cannot let guilt drive our decisions. The difference is profound.
As I have become more consistent in expressing my needs and sticking to my boundaries, some people have disappeared from my life. I guess they were so used to me sacrificing my needs that the patterns were too hard to break. It can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that some people only want you in their life if you will be a certain way. But this may be a step that you have to go through to readjust your relationship with yourself and others.
I won’t lie – the transition was tough. But with these new boundaries, I have attracted new people into my life who respect my needs as much as they respect their own. And the dynamic is mutual. I now find myself surrounded by people who allow me to set the boundaries that I need without any drama. If I have to change a commitment last minute, or tell them I can’t do something that’s important to them, they understand that it’s not because it’s not also important to me, or that they are not important to me. It is simply because I cannot do what they are asking in the moment.
There is no longer any pressure to sacrifice my needs because I stopped reacting to the pressure.
What could your life look like if you also stopped reacting to the pressure?
The new relationships that I have are with people who support me to be me, not only when I am pleasing them, but also if I am disappointing them. I am allowed to be imperfect.
The liberation this provides is also profound.
If you find yourself stuck in interactions with people who are constantly pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do, the first step may be examining if you might be reinforcing their pressure by shifting your boundaries and doing what they are pressuring you to do.
This has been one of those big “aha” moments for me and by sharing it with you I hope that may become an “aha” moment for others too (if you haven’t already figured this out years ago…!).
If you are looking for tips on how to communicate your needs effectively with others, you can download my eGuide, 10 Tips on How to Navigate a Difficult Conversation at Work.
You will find that the strategies in my eGuide can be applied not only at work, but in all domains of your life where you are experiencing stressful interactions.
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