Is people-pleasing ruining your relationships?
For chronic people-pleasers, the hardest part of putting your own needs first is setting boundaries with others.
Sometimes, your first instinct can be to overcorrect, setting boundaries that are too firm out of fear of falling back into old patterns, but going from one extreme to the other will not help you in the long run.
People with healthy boundaries are able to communicate their needs while also maintaining close relationships with their loved ones.
Healthy boundaries help you to establish how you expect other people to interact with you and how others can expect you to interact with them. They’re a two-way street, helping you comfortably keep your distance and keeping others from expecting too much from you.
There are four different types of boundaries: physical, intellectual, emotional, and financial.
We’ve put together a list of phrases for each boundary type to help you create healthy boundaries with others in every aspect of your life!
Physical boundaries are related to your body, personal space, belongings, home, and whatever other physical elements you directly interact with on a regular basis. These boundaries can be some of the hardest to enforce, as different cultures have different perceptions of personal space and physical interaction. Within each culture, individuals may have their own preferences that may or may not align with the norm as well.
When asserting any kind of boundary, it helps to soften the language by leading into your request with phrases such as, “If you don’t mind…”
When enforcing a physical boundary, you may say, “If you don’t mind, I’d appreciate more personal space.”
Of course, if the person doesn’t respect your gentle approach, it may be necessary to get more assertive. Practice what feels right to you, and don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Your body is your own, and no one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable.
Intellectual boundaries protect your thoughts, beliefs, and values. When someone violates your intellectual boundaries, it can come across as condescending, dismissive, and extremely rude. This most commonly happens during discussion of politics, religion, or human rights issues, but it can span outside of those topics as well.
If you are feeling that someone is violating your intellectual boundaries or trying to push their thoughts, beliefs, or values onto you, it is completely okay to end the conversation then and there or establish that you do not wish to discuss that topic with them any further.
We recommend saying, “I can see that we will not agree on this subject, and I’d prefer to not talk about it with you anymore.”
With that, you’ve said all that you should have to say to end the discussion and move on in a respectful manner. It’s up to the other person to respect that boundary and move on.
It can be difficult to express emotional boundaries without reacting in an emotional way, especially if the person you are setting boundaries with is already having an emotional reaction.
When you feel overwhelmed, hurt, angry, or frustrated with someone, the natural reaction is to get emotional, but the goal when setting emotional boundaries is to keep yourself from going over the edge emotionally, take time to collect your thoughts and feelings, and come back to the conversation when you can both discuss the subject calmly.
Take a deep breath and tell the other person, “When we are both calm, I’ll share my thoughts and feelings. I will let you know when I am ready to come back to this conversation.”
With that, you take control of the situation back and give yourself enough time to collect your thoughts in order to have the conversation with a level head. You also give the other person time to do the same and rethink their approach to the discussion.
In situations where money is involved, setting boundaries can be the difference between whether or not you can pay your bills. It is vital to set firm financial boundaries with others, especially in situations where you may be left vulnerable to the consequences of someone else’s actions.
Typically, situations where you may need to set financial boundaries include when a friend or family member asks you for money, to go out to dinner or shopping, or when grappling with a large potential purchase.
Most of the time, financial boundaries are easy to set with strangers, and difficult to set with loved ones. Loved ones may take your enforcement of these boundaries as an expression of distrust rather than a protection of your own financial security, but that is in no way your fault. You have to protect yourself, and a loved one should understand, even if it means you can’t help them out.
For loved ones, try the phrase, “I love you, but I don’t have the means to loan you/spend that much money right now.”
For strangers, simply say, “Unfortunately, I can’t afford that at the moment.”
You know your financial situation better than anyone else, and you have every right to set that boundary so that you can pay your bills and achieve your financial goals.
If a stranger, friend, or family member becomes angry when you try to enforce these boundaries, remind yourself that creating healthy boundaries is the only way to protect your inner peace and maintain your independence. Healthy boundaries limit our exposure to stress and anxiety, ultimately improving our mental health.
Advocating for yourself is the first step to stopping habits of people pleasing and reclaiming control of your life.
It may be uncomfortable at first, but starting with setting small boundaries and working your way up to the important ones can change your life for the better and free you from the expectations that other people have tried to place on you.
Don’t let people-pleasing continue to ruin your life and relationships. You deserve to show up for yourself and be your biggest cheerleader in life.
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Dani & Keely
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