For a very long time my happiness was based on the happiness of those closest to me. If someone needed something, I was always the first to offer. If someone was struggling with something, I was always the first to try to help. I loved helping others. At least I loved it until I became an adult.
In life we have two options: (a. let your circumstance control you, or (b. be in control of how you react to your circumstance. For me, I have always been a pleaser. I have found throughout my life that most people are either one or the other: giver (pleaser) or taker (pleased). It seems to be written into our DNA before we even have the chance to choose. And because of that, I fault neither.
In your life you go through a series of events: college, friendships, dating, heart-break, marriage, divorce, ect. Suddenly you will find your self in a space of wanting to please others, while also wanting your needs to be met. As you grow and your needs become more complex, so do the needs of those around you. What is your natural reaction? Take on both. WARNING: this is a danger zone. You have spent your whole life putting everyone else first, how are you going take it all on now? How do you ensure your needs don’t get lost in someone else’s story?
Boundaries. It took me 28 years to realize I did not have any, then I had to make the tough choice to start instilling them in every area of my life. And then, I had to put in the work.
Do you feel controlled by the need to always please others? Do you find comfort in unhealthy substances (food, alcohol, medication, shopping, ect.) when you cannot seem to make everyone else happy? Do you find yourself cringing when someone asks you to do something because at this point you don’t know if you are saying yes because you want to or because you feel like you have to? Are you longing for someone to finally put you first?
Here are some tips on how to start instilling boundaries in your life:
You are just as important as anyone else.
You have been told your whole life it is better to be a giver than a taker, and that makes you feel good about yourself. Newsflash: people who do not have boundaries also do not believe that their needs are just as important as everyone else’s. Understand this, you have a purpose and it is not to help everyone else fulfill their’s. You are the only person who is in control of making sure your needs are met, you have to invest time and love into yourself. I cannot stress enough how important and how valuable you are in your own life.
Boundaries are for everyone.
Every relationship in your life needs boundaries. Friends, family, work, significant other, all of them. You will struggle at first, especially with those closest to you. Those people are used to, “ask and you shall receive”. So when you start to say no, or instill a boundary, they may not like it. That has to be ok. These boundaries are set for you, it’s not personal. They are set as an action for personal needs, growth, and happiness. Your boundaries should be respected just as your respect theirs. Reminder: You are not expecting anything more than you are willing to give yourself.
There can be no resentment.
Setting any boundary is difficult. You are a pleaser, it does not feel good when someone is upset with you. What you have to remember is that this is new for them too. I promise, they will adjust. And if they don’t, you now know how significantly they value your relationship. Everyone has the right to a choice. You are not accountable to their choices, just as they are not accountable to yours. That is a really tough one to accept, and once you do, you are set free.
Put down the pizza.
There is nothing more unhealthy than turning to something else to fulfill your happiness. For me, this was food. Every time I was at a low of not being able to make everyone happy I would open the fridge. Again, I did not realize this until I started my journey of self-help. Let’s be honest, you can look at my Facebook pictures and pretty quickly determine when I was comforting myself with food, and when I was happy. Figure out whatever your comfort trigger is, and love yourself enough to start saying no. This is a boundary between you and your mind.
Boundaries are not selfish, they are selfless.
The place between realizing your lack of boundaries and actually starting to instill them is an emotional roller coaster. For me, it was almost like grieving the old version of myself, while celebrating the new version of myself. When you have been conditioned to being a certain type of person your whole life you are going to really struggle with removing layers and adding new ones. What you have to remember is that you are a giver because you love people. Here is the truth: no one will ever get the best version of you until you start giving the best version of you to yourself.
This is just the beginning. I am not an expert, but I can share my experience. What I have learned is that if you live by your circumstance or other’s happiness, you will find yourself with a lot of empty buckets. If you want life long happiness, it will only come from loving yourself first, and that means unconditionally. That road is a really long one, but once you commit to it, you will never look back.
If you are struggling with setting boundaries in your life or you want more advice on how to start please leave a comment below, use the contact us tab, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever is most comfortable, we are here for you.
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