The Power of Setting Yourself Lines, You Won't Let Others Cross
What is like for you to say the word no? What is it like to hear it?
Such a small little word, yet so very powerful.
Does it bring up guilt? Make you feel strong? Nervous?
All you are doing when saying no, is setting a boundary as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to you, so why can it feel so difficult?
Defining personal limits can be problematic. We live in a society where it is deemed as selfish to choose yourself, that to put your needs and wants before others is a negative and the reactions that we receive for doing so make us feel as though we are wrong.
Of course, we need to consider others when we are doing things, but do we really need to put their needs first or do things that come at a detriment to ourselves?
When you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, it will impact on your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
When you grew up, you were taught to conform, to do as you were told. Not only that, but you were made responsible for the feelings of others. ‘You make me angry’, ‘you upset me’, ‘behave yourself as you are annoying me’.
Whenever I see a parent drop their child off somewhere, they are nearly always told to ‘behave’, to ‘be good’ or ‘not cause trouble’. Like bad behaviour is the expected norm, even if they are usually the best behaved kid on the planet. You can’t be you; you must conform to what others need of you.
All of these messages are seeping into your subconscious until you conform to who they need you to be for their convenience. Obviously, there are times when you do need to follow the rules, as life is busy and people need to get places on time and so do you. But this continuous message leads to confused emotions and no, becoming a difficult word to say.
When it comes to interpersonal relationships, especially intimate ones, being able to decide what you do and don’t want and express that to someone else can feel very uncomfortable, guilt can surface for no reason and so you don’t say what you need to.
This is the ideal scenario for a manipulator, gaslighter or narcissist. They know that you won’t set firm boundaries and so take advantage of this to get what they need from you.
In abusive, neglectful relationships, they are able to make you feel as though you are in the wrong, because you are not comfortable drawing a line under their behaviour.
Apart from the reasons already mentioned, you may have trouble saying no, enough is enough, because of how you feel about yourself, low self-worth, confidence and esteem play a major part in boundary setting. Thinking you don’t deserve any better or doing anything for a quiet life, because of the fear of the unknown or known consequences if you do speak up.
Trust plays a part too, do you trust yourself enough to stand firmly in your own space, know what is good for you and be able to express this? Do you believe in you?
Are you aware of the importance of your values and principles to you? If not, it can be hard to set boundaries and you will feel incongruent, as you are not living authentically and to the standards that deep down make you feel whole and happy.
The difference is being selfish. You need to be selfish, in a positive way.
Negative selfishness is when you do things regardless of the impact on someone else, just because you want to or it suits your needs to do so. You don’t care who it affects or any damage it may cause.
Positive selfishness is when you need to do something, that you know other people may not like, that it may not suit what they want from you, but it is the best thing for you to do.
Imagine that you have a full diary, things that need to be done in order for you to achieve your desired outcomes. Your friend’s car doesn’t start and they call you to see if you can come pick them up as they have their own things to do.
Dilemma! You want to be a good friend, but you also know that by doing this for them, all of your plans are out of the window and you will then have to rush and stress to complete them, if you even have the time afterwards.
What are your thoughts? How do you feel? What do you do?
Do they put pressure on you to do what they need? Tell you how important their things are and the consequences for them if they can’t do them.
Do they consider that you may be busy, or not even ask?
Think of a real life scenario when something like this may have happened and what the outcomes were.
Are they are good friend to you if they don’t consider what is best for you, get upset or angry or try and coerce you into doing something for them if you say you can’t? Do they care about what you need?
No, they don’t! So, why are you trying to help them if it causes you so many problems?
What are the reasons why you wouldn’t say no in these situations?
There is immense power in setting boundaries in your life, ones that are concrete, that you won’t let others cross and those that are not so fixed and at the appropriate time you can be flexible with.
Empowering yourself with these will have a significant positive impact on all relationships you have, including the one with yourself.
Be good to yourself and get some in place.
Need some help setting boundaries in your life? Know that it leads to you getting yourself into difficult situations, repeating cycles of relationships and want those to change?