People often ask me how to set boundaries without guilt.
I decided to put all of my knowledge about how to set boundaries into an easy to read workbook.
Gloria is a neonatal nurse and single mother. She’s always exhausted, always gulping coffee and energy drinks just to keep up with all of her responsibilities. Gloria knows she’s burnt out, but continues to offer to work extra shifts whenever the department’s short staffed. She can’t seem to say no when her colleagues ask her to cover their shifts. She wants to help them out, but feels resentful when she’s working weekends and missing her kids’ soccer games and Girl Scout meetings.
Gloria lives on the same block as her mother. Gloria relies on her Mom to babysit often and she’s grateful for the help. But Gloria’s mom has a habit of opening her mail and criticizing her spending despite Gloria’s repeated requests to stop. Lately, Gloria’s taken to locking the front door because her mother would just come in without even knocking.
Do you relate to Gloria’s story?
People-pleasing can take many forms. It simply means that you go to extremes to make other people happy, often at your own expense. People-pleasers are sometimes described as “doormats” because they let everyone walk all over them.
As a people-pleaser, you derive some of your identity and self-worth from doing things for others. You feel good about being the dependable, go-to person who can fix things and make people feel better. You have trouble saying “No.” You’re always agreeable. The problem is that you compromise your own needs to make other people happy. Maybe you buy your kids nice, new clothes but only shop at the consignment store for yourself. You figure you can do without. Or perhaps you let your partner choose the restaurant every time you eat out. It’s not worth a disagreement or upsetting the status quo.
Pleasers carry a lot of fear. Fear of disappointing others, being rejected, anger and arguments. This can lead to intense shame, guilt, and resentments. When you’re being mistreated and not standing up for yourself, you may feel alone and ashamed, as if it’s your fault. If you’re abused or mistreated, anger will build up over time.
People-pleasers are also big conflict avoiders. Saying “Yes”, being agreeable, volunteering, and not having your own opinion keeps the peace, but it also squashes your own identity and needs. If you identify yourself as a people-pleaser, you probably worry that others won’t like you if you say “No”, disagree, or express a differing opinion. Pleasing others is a way of making sure they like you, need you, and ultimately stick around.
People-pleasers tend to be passive. You stay quiet to avoid conflict. But when your own needs aren’t getting met, anger and resentment eventually build up. When this happens you may lash out in anger or act in passive-aggressive ways. Being passive-aggressive is an indirect way of expressing anger, such as the silent treatment, that you use when it feels unsafe to directly express your unhappiness. The solution is learning to assert yourself through healthy communication and boundaries. This allows for your needs to be met and for conflicts to be expressed and resolved safely.
What problems are weak boundaries creating in your life?
How do you feel when people violate your boundaries or when you fail to set boundaries?
What scares you or holds you back from setting stronger boundaries?
What do you think will happen if you don’t make any changes to your boundaries?
Are you interested in learning how to set healthy boundaries, communicate more assertively, and treat yourself and others with respect?
If so, pick up a copy of my new e-book Setting Boundaries Without Guilt: A Workbook to Move You From Doormat to Empowerment.
This post contains an excerpt from Setting Boundaries Without Guilt: A Workbook to Move You From Doormat to Empowerment © 2016 Sharon Martin. All rights reserved.