Nobody wants to be treated like a doormat or taken advantage of, so how can you ensure that it doesn’t happen? Boundaries. They are the line that people know not to step over.
It might seem harsh, but it’s not. Putting boundaries in place doesn’t make you mean – or mean that you don’t care. In fact it’s an act of self-care, it’s putting your own needs nearer the top of your priority list, and that is essential to your emotional wellbeing.
Here are 5 signs that you need stronger boundaries, and what to do about it:
1) You back out of commitments
It’s so easy to say yes in the moment then regret it afterwards, but backing out of things can leave you feeling awkward or like you’re letting others down.
Next time someone asks you to do something, take your time to mull it over before giving them a decision to make sure it’s something you really want to commit to. Politely say that you’ll check what you’ve got on and let them know, or that you’re right in the middle of something and will get back to them shortly.
That gives you the time and space to consider your response and make sure it’s right for you.
2) A friendship feels one-way
Friendships should be two-way. They should be give and take and add to both of your lives.
The trouble is, some people take more than they give and it can leave you feeling exhausted, let down, or resentful.
Don’t be afraid to take some time out if you need it. Sometimes giving the other person a little space enables them to see that the friendship has become out of balance.
Try to build a good mix of friends so you have social support around you and you get to enjoy going out or chatting regularly to people who understand you.
3) Your partner takes you for granted
The strain of feeling like a partner takes you for granted can completely break a relationship, but more often than not it’s not intentional.
Be upfront about your needs and expectations and be prepared to have difficult conversations when they are required.
Find out what your partner’s needs and expectations are too and take time to listen to them. Maybe the way you were perceiving something was causing you unnecessary stress, or maybe your partner wasn’t clear on your wishes, or how their actions were making you feel.
Agree some common rules, take time to listen to each other, and compromise when necessary.
Never feel like you have to put up with degrading, controlling, or aggressive behaviour though – if things have strayed into the realm of domestic abuse, get support as soon as possible.
4) People expect from you without asking
If you find that people demand or expect things from you without even asking you, it’s time to take back control.
Whilst it can be hard to stand up to some people, such as close family or friends, or even work colleagues, sometimes you just have to be assertive and say no.
You don’t need to be rude about it, just explain that you can’t do that right now. Maybe suggest someone else who could or suggest another time when it would be convenient for you.
5) You’re at the bottom of your own priorities list
If you’re starting to feel like you are at everyone’s beck and call but never have time for yourself then it’s probably high time you put yourself higher up on your priorities list.
Taking care of your family’s needs and being there for friends is all well and good as long as you are looking after yourself too.
When you fly on a plane, the crew explain that if the oxygen masks deploy in an emergency, you are to put yours on first before you put on your child’s mask or help other people. That’s because you need to be able to breathe to be able to help others, and that’s true in life too.
If you look after yourself well, you’ll be in a better place to care for and support others.
Still struggling to set boundaries?
If you’re struggling to set boundaries in your life, or feel like your needs just don’t matter, you might need some help to reframe your thoughts and stand up for what you deserve in life.
I’m here to provide professional counselling and give you the space you need to work through whatever is holding you back.
Get in touch to see how I could help you.