True life: I am a recovering people pleaser.
If people pleasing was a sport? Grab some chalk and throw it in the air, because I was the Lebron James of people pleasing.
The Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Muhammad Ali.
Need someone to agree with you? Look no further! I’ll serve you a “yes” nice and hot like Serena Williams.
….You get the point.
You know in the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man” (for those who haven’t seen it, the main character signs up for a self-help program based on one simple covenant: say yes to everything… and anything.)
That was my life up until January of this year. Except… unlike the movie, where his yes-es transformed his life in a positive way, my yes-es were the reason for my mental health and energy declination.
Unlike the movie, my yes-es did NOT benefit me.
My failure to set boundaries resulted in these things for me:
- Left me feeling drained and running on empty
- Made me uncomfortable just to make someone else feel comfortable
- Made me say yes to things I truly wanted to say no to
- Didn’t give me room to express my needs honestly
- Made me constantly walk on eggshells
- Made me feel like it was my job to fix others
- Made me give too much of my time away
- Made me have a chronic fear of what others thought about me
- Made me feel guilty for dedicating time to myself
Just like a ton of blog posts I’ve written, my life changed when I had an epiphany.
Specifically for boundaries, my epiphany happened when I noticed that a close friendship of mine was extremely one-sided. I did a bunch of things (constantly) for a close friend and when it was her turn to reciprocate?
After that, I told myself 2019 was the year of ME. That I’m putting myself first.
It took me so long to wake up, but I thought to myself: for as much as I do for others? I deserve the WORLD.
And guess who’s the only person I can truly count on to give it to me?
ME. MYSELF. & I.
“This year is for ME” – is my mantra.
I’ve repeated it to myself every single day since the start of the year. And because I repeated this outloud- the decisions I made automatically became a reflection of that.
Affirmations and mantras really work for me. After implementing them on a regular basis, I was finally able to set boundaries and start taking charge of my life.
Repeat after me:
This. year. is. for. me.
Now that I’ve told you my mantra, I’m gonna equip you with the things that helped me not only set boundaries this year, but maintain them.
“Boundaries give a sense of agency over one’s physical space, body, and feelings,” says Jenn Kennedy, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “We all have limits, and boundaries communicate that line.”
Learn how to say no.
Let me tell you… this was super hard for me. My first “no” was the hardest. But after that? They kept rolling in.
My no’s got stronger and stronger each time I dished them out. And soon… my no’s became unstoppable.
How to say no:
1. Be clear of your vision.
(What you want to say yes to) Everything else= no.
One of my favorite authors Rachel Hollis said something in her book that really stuck with me: “When someone asks you about a plan with them, if your immediate answer isn’t a “hell yea” then it’s a NO.”
Example: If a friend asks you to go to the mall with her to choose an outfit for a date, and you’re on the fence about it… issa NO girl.
If you rather be doing something else like sleeping, relaxing, cleaning- then stick to that.
2. Use the medium you’re comfy with.
If you’re more brave over text, text it. If you like face-to-face, do it face-to-face. Email, etc.
3. Keep it simple.
You do NOT owe anyone an explanation for saying no!
When I ask my friends if they wanna do something with me and they say no, I never ask “why not?”; Nor do I pressure them to say yes. And I like it to be the other way around.
4. Answer on your own time
No need to reply with an answer right away!
5. Be assertive
“If someone sets boundaries with assertiveness, it feels firm but kind to others,” Kennedy says. “If they push in to aggressive, it feels harsh and punishing to others. Assertive language is clear and nonnegotiable, without blaming or threatening the recipient.”
You can be assertive by using “I statements.”
“Your self-esteem and identity can be impacted, and you build resentment toward others because of an inability to advocate for yourself,” explains Justin Baksh, a licensed mental health counselor.
Stand up for yourself, ladies! Speak your mind even if your voice shakes when you do it.
Here are different ways to say no:
- “I’m sorry I’m busy”
- “Thanks for thinking of me. I really wish I could.”
- “I’d love to, but I’m already overcommitted.”
- “Unfortunately, that’s not something I can do at this time.”
- “I’m already booked.”
- “Maybe next time.”
- “I don’t think I’m the right person to help with that.”
- “Sorry I can’t help you this time”
- “Sounds fun, but I’m not available.”
- “That’s not going to work for me.”
- “I can’t give you an answer right now, will you check back with me?”
- “I’m going to say no for now, I’ll let you know if something changes.”
- “I’m honored you would ask me, but my answer is no.”
Via Forbes “10 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries at Work”:
“Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done suggests choosing some easy, low-risk situations in which to practice saying no. Say no when your waitress offers you dessert. Say no to the street vendor offering to sell you something. Go into a room by yourself, shut the door and say no out loud ten times. It sounds crazy, but it helps to build your “no” muscle.”
Tips when setting boundaries:
- Be honest with yourself and what you need. (i.e. if you want and need more sleep, stop over committing to plans!)
- Be direct and don’t apologize for your needs.
- Practice with your closest friends first. (the more you practice with people you’re close to, the more comfortable you’ll be setting boundaries elsewhere)
- Stop seeking approval and validate yourself
- Give yourself permission to say no
- Continue to set strong, consistent boundaries.
- If boundaries are ignored, speak up. (real life example: an ex-friend of mine wanted to text every minute, every single day. I politely told her I want to cut time on my phone, but she would repeatedly blow my phone up all day. I had to remind her again.) She eventually couldn’t keep herself behind the boundary I had set, which leads me to this next point-
- Accept that some people will not respect your boundaries no matter what you do. (Remove yourself instead of trying to change others)
- When a boundary is set and you receive immediate pushback, that boundary was long overdue. (If someone throws a fit because you set boundaries, it’s just evidence that the boundary was needed.)
- Remember that setting boundaries is an on-going process.
Examples of setting boundaries with *yourself*:
- Schedule non-negotiable alone time or time when you’re just doing your own thing.
- Set a cut-off time for answering emails or texts.
- Use the “out of office” responder on email accounts when on vacation.
- Use the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone and other devices.
This is what healthy boundaries look like:
(after I got the hang of saying no)
- I started saying no without feeling guilty
- I started asking for what I want/need (example: if someone asks me if I need a hand, my old self would be like “oh no! I got it don’t worry. Now, if you ask me- I’ll take the help!”
- I started behaving according to my own values and beliefs (if someone asks me to do something that I don’t believe in or is against my moral compass, I decline. Before setting boundaries, I would say “yes” to everything to be “polite”.)
- I started feeling safe expressing difficult emotions and when I had disagreements
- I started to not feel responsible for someone else’s happiness
- I started having more free time!!!!!
- I stopped walking on eggshells
You know that feeling when you take your bra off after your tatas have been pushed to your neck and gasping for air while you were out with your girls all night?
Or that feeling Dobby had when Malfoy gave him that sock?
I FEEL THAT FREE NOW LADIES.
If I can make an assumption, I would say that you chose to read this blog post in its entirety because deep down you have a feeling that you truly need to start setting boundaries, too. Whether it be at work, with friends, with family.
If you’re anything like me, you probably (at some point) have given too much of yourself. Or maybe you’re giving too much of yourself right now.
Put yourself first.
Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it just means that you know you have to focus on yourself to get to where you want to be.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.
This is a reminder that it’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to walk away.
It’s okay to cancel plans.
It’s okay to take a break.
It’s okay to change your mind.
Before I depart, I’ll leave you with some affirmations, and some resources!
Repeat after me:
- I don’t need to do what everyone wants me to do.
- I have a right to be treated with respect.
- I don’t have to overextend myself to be enough.
- I don’t have to minimize my emotions.
- I have a right to not meet others’ unreasonable expectations of me.
& last but not least:
This. year. is. for. ME!!!
“Listen to Learn How Set Boundaries – It Will Change Your Life” by YogaGirl
In the podcast, she talks about cutting a former friend off like I did! I felt this podcast on so many levels 😭 (Also, skip to 12:30 minutes. That’s when she really starts talking about boundaries)
“Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life” by Henry Cloud
- “The No BS Guide to Protecting Your Emotional Space” via HealthLine
- “10 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries at Work” via Forbes
- “9 Ways to Set Boundaries with Difficult Family Members” via CopeBetter
- “How to Set Boundaries in Friendships” via ThriveGlobal
If you enjoyed this post, you’d probably love my [Are you an empath?] post!