Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Setting Boundaries


Self-awareness leads to growth. As you accept your right to be happy, you will hopefully accept that to achieve it, you must set boundaries with people. Each bit of self-realization is a step toward valuing yourself enough to set small boundaries as you inch forward. Ask, “Do I get what I want from those I support?” Be honest!

Happiness is the best barometer of whether you should do things differently.

If you’re happy pleasing everyone at your own expense, keep the “welcome” on your forehead. But since you’re reading this blog, I assume you want to be happier. I think it’s impossible to be happy when giving is a one-way street and you’re going the wrong way. You might feel happy momentarily because of someone’s gratitude. But that’s not inner happiness. It’s superficial and won’t keep you smiling.

If you often feel discontent, pay attention and redefine your concept of nice. It doesn’t mean pleasing every but you!

Nice People on Top set clear boundaries–lines drawn that people recognize. Dancing around requests you want to turn down invites other requests. If you consider agreeing to something you don’t want to do, look in the mirror and say “Hello!” Then ask why you should do it? If you become conscious of what you do or don’t want to do, it’s easier to set boundaries that help you do less of what you don’t want.

Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Most of us have pretty full plates these days without adding excess form other people’s plates. Taking on too much can make you frantic. Why do that to you?!? YOU must come first IF you CHOOSE to be happy! Think before agreeing to a favor. Say you’ll check your schedule. People can’t put you on the spot unless you allow them to. Evaluate each request by asking yourself:

•    Will it take me out of my way or kill time I can’t afford?
•    Is it something I don’t want to do?
•    Will it make me complain later?
•    Do I really want to help this person?
•    Why should I feel obligated to agree?

Set your own terms for helping, if it’s not an inconvenience to do something. Create comfortable compromises. For example:

•    If you help a friend move, don’t stay all day. Choose an hour or two.
•    Instead of taking a neighbor shopping, shop for her when you go.
•    When asked for a ride, say you can drop her off at the closest point on your way.
•    If your child enjoys playmates, allow a friend to leave her child for a period of time YOU set.
•    If neighbors borrow things indefinitely, be clear about when they must be returned.

Decide where to draw the line for how much you give others. List the people who ask for help regularly in one of two columns:
        A – Those who support you whether you do favors or not.
        B – Those who might disappear if you weren’t their go-to person; who drain you, aren’t good friends; or always give excuses or disappoint you.

Be honest when you assess who deserves your help and who’s not worth your time and energy. Friends in column A get priority. Those in B are at your convenience, or not. Accept you can’t be there for everyone, unless you like playing Superman or Superwoman. It may take time to convince yourself that setting boundaries will ultimately be good for you. It can seem scary at first. Just take it slow and let the empowerment it brings make you cheer yourself on.

Affirm, “I deserve to be happy and give myself the time I need, even if it means letting people down sometimes.”

The more you take care of you, the more you can give. Hustling to please everyone is draining. A good balance between helping others and time for you feels better. Don’t get nasty to those in column B or stop favors. You won’t like yourself! Just be more selective about what you can do. Learn the difference between people that give energy and offer support and people that drain you.

Being a victim is YOUR choice, not your destiny. And it’s a choice you can change by setting boundaries. You can be a nice person with boundaries! It begins with accepting that it’s okay, that you deserve to choose who or what you give your time to. You do! It took me many years to learn that life gets better, not worse or scary, when you set boundaries. Try it! You’ll enjoy the power over your life that it gives you.

Please leave comments under my posts so we can stay connected.

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