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  • Writer's pictureSarah M.

Boundaries I Set to Stop People-Pleasing

Necessary boundaries.

Our drive to please others comes from biology, we seek social acceptance and connection; and caring for others gives us a sense of purpose. The trouble happens when you make others a priority and don’t truly tend to your own needs. Many people pleasers measure their worth by what they do for others, and never learn the value of who they are without the giving, doing, and pleasing. This was and is me. Helping other has become such a large part of my life that it's in my DNA, it's a big part of my identity.


But sometimes I took it a little too far. I began letting others who might have not been worthy of my help take advantage of me. Those who might have not been appreciative of my time and efforts. I made them feel comfortable even at the expense of my own sanity.

I guess a lot of us have. Letting your boss bounce you around and treat you like crap or having that friend guilt tripping you to do something or maybe even feeling responsible for how other people feel.


Actually science says that being raised in a certain environment may have conditioned your behavior to become a people pleaser.

Being raised in an environment in which love was conditional, caretakers were emotionally unavailable, or when even small mistakes were severely punished can lead children to develop a strong fear of disappointing others. This carries on through our lives. - Dr. Sherry Pagoto

I’m sure there are people you respect because they don’t take nonsense from anyone. They’re not afraid to say no, and they do it with such poise and grace. So why do you feel such resistance when it comes to standing up for yourself?


Often we don’t say no to people because we’re afraid it might offend them or create tension. We are taught to be kind to others, but we ultimately need to find the balance between being kind and being firm. Otherwise, we give others permission to take advantage of us.


When you set boundaries and stick to them, you'll find that you have more time and energy to put towards the things and people you love. Standing up for yourself and your time can make a huge impact on your well-being and life satisfaction.


There’s a fine line between being a good person and trying to make people think you’re a good person (and holy moly have I had a bunch of these in my life).


I know it’s hard to stick up for yourself when you don’t agree with someone. But if you don't stick up for yourself, who will?


Setting healthy boundaries is an important aspect of self-care. If you want to stop people pleasing, here are a few ways to set boundaries in your life.


1. START SMALL

Start setting simple but firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but as you take care of yourself you gain confidence and it will make it easier. For example, stop taking business calls during your personal or family time. Or maybe you agree with everyone to avoid conflict? It is perfectly fine to voice your opinion and not agree with all things all the time.


2. DISTANCE OR A BREAK

One of the most difficult, yet most rewarding forms of boundary setting is to take a break from the relationships that no longer serve you.

I know you might have to see and tolerate your boss more than you'd like and you can't divorce your dad but if these are situations that cause negativity or anxiety, you are allowed to distance yourself for your own well-being; this is not selfish or cruel, it's putting your health first.


3. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT INSTINCT

I will say this over and over until the cats come home, but your gut instinct is usually right. You know the difference between excitement and dread. Use that instinct to help you make decisions. There is no reason to feel guilty if you want and need to say no.


4. DO THINGS BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU HAPPY

If you find it all too easy to try and make others happy, why not let yourself be happy for once? Make sure you spend time doing things that bring you joy. We all know that self-care isn’t selfish – it’s necessary to live a healthy life. Schedule self-care, downtime, and fun things into your calendar and treat them like an important meeting with a client. Schedule everything around these things and do not cancel them.

How can we expect people to put value on our work when we don’t value ourselves enough to set and hold uncomfortable boundaries? - Brené Brown

So set your boundaries and stop apologizing for them. They are yours, and they are personal to you. They don’t have to be rigid and unchanging, you can choose to move them if it serves you and your values.


Have you recently set new boundaries? Do you have tips on how to say no? I would love to read your comments and connect. Let me know some of your tricks on how you schedule self-care into your life.

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