Also on my post, “People-Pleasing: Today Is Not Your Day,” reader Michael posed this question:
The hardest thing, for me, about setting boundaries, is that they not only keep the people I wish to keep out of my life out, but that they also keep me in … and I feel lonely. Any advice on how to feel comfortable in this uncomfortable alien place? I am so tired of being a doormat in order to have a little company in my life.
First, Michael, let me say that I empathize with you. When I was younger my mom used to call me the “pink little powder puff,” meaning that I wore a sign around my neck that said, “Go right ahead, walk on me.” I am far from having mastered this boundary thing, but I can say (with my hand on a Bible) that today I would rather be alone than with people who mistreat me. And I think that’s because I value myself more.
Sometimes learning how to enjoy yourself alone (and I’m not talking “Slumber Party toys”) is the best thing that you can do for your friendships and family relationships. It’s all part of getting comfy with the real you.
Now that I’m starting to sound like Oprah or Dr. Phil, let me quote reader Deb, who wrote this on the same people-pleasing post.
I too have struggled with setting boundaries, and people-pleasing most of my life, but now in my 50’s it is getting easier. I have found that setting boundaries is crucial, especially with toxic people and family members. I respect myself and love myself now, I don’t have to be liked by everyone, or have relationships with “psychic vampires” that suck the life out of me. That is really freeing. I guess the questions to ask is: Does this relationship add to my life, does it enhance my life? If not, why am I in it? What’s in it for me other than feeling used, belittled, etc? I believe that if stay in those types of relationships, there IS something I am getting out of it, but it’s not positive. I no longer wish to do that to myself, it is no longer “attractive”, the chaos of it is no longer appealing. I do believe that for a long time, having lived in chaos, I helped to re-create it by choosing friendships and relationships with toxic individuals. Takes awhile in recovery to realize and see these things! –Deb
So, I guess I’d say, pat yourself on the back for identifying the toxic relationships in your life, and when you’re ready to part with them, you will!