Do You Need to Set Boundaries?
As children, we learned that it was often advantageous to make others happy. Children crave the approval of their parents, teachers, and peers. When praise is received, our hearts literally ‘glow!’ Some of us carry that same tendency into adulthood and become people pleasers. While it’s natural to seek the consent of others, sometimes it might not be for the best. If you are a people pleaser, do you need to set boundaries and learn when to say NO?
Live Your Own Life
To be a confident and free person, one needs the ability to move freely through the world without excessive concern about the opinions of others. Think about the people you respect the most. Do they allow the views or lives of others to dictate their decisions or override their time? No. They put their wants and desires first, then help others in the times scheduled for that activity. When you set boundaries by putting yourself first is not selfish or narcissistic. It is necessary to maintain self-worth and balance.
Learn When to Set Boundaries:
Learn to say what you think. If you’re concerned about the opinions of others, you’ve probably developed a habit of keeping your view to yourself. Don’t allow others to dictate how you think, the clothes you wear or the friends you make. Learning to set boundaries is essential to maintain control of your time and choices.
Start giving your opinion on minor issues. For example, when asked what movie you’d like to see, provide a specific answer. You can compromise and decide what to see when you have choices. As your comfort level improves, you can speak up about more important issues.
Take the time to appreciate yourself. Keep a few minutes each day to remind yourself of all the things you like about yourself. Think about all the good things you do each day. List your positive characteristics. If you can approve of yourself, you’ll be less likely to need approval from others.
Don’t Get Bullied into Saying Yes.
Remind yourself that it’s impossible to make everyone happy. There are so many people in this world. So no matter what you do or don’t do, there will always be someone who doesn’t like you. Interestingly, those that try to please everyone tend to be less respected. We tend to admire confident, self-assured people who march to the beat of their drum.
Perfection is a Myth
Many people desperately seek the approval of others, believing that perfection is the only thing that pleases others. You’re not going to be condemned (or considered a saint) for everyday words and actions.
Others understand that no one is perfect all of the time. Even the best people can do or say things that are harmful or unnecessary. Do you judge people harshly over minor issues? I am sure you don’t. So don’t expect others to treat you that way.
Disapproval is Just an Opinion
Avoid reacting to disapproval in a way that encourages the criticiser. Many people use disapproval as a tool to control others. When you apologise unnecessarily or change your opinion in reaction to disapproval, you often reward that other person.
If you feel that another person is being unreasonable, consider confronting them in a calm, reasonable manner. You’ll likely find that the criticiser’s tendency to disapprove will stop when it fails to affect your choices. The disapproval you’re showing is fair under the circumstance. For once, the objection will work for you instead of against you!
Do You Say Yes to be Liked?
Before undertaking a task or action, ask yourself if you’re primarily doing it to receive approval. Are you saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no?’ Try to eliminate activities and choices from your life driven by the need to have others think highly of you.
Learning not to say yes when you really mean no is the hardest boundary to set and adhere to if you are a people pleaser. How you do this is equally as important. Being apologetic and minimising yourself is sending a message that you will bow to pressure and change your mind. When your friend asks: could you pick up my kids tomorrow? It’s fine if your afternoon is free, you have nothing planned and of course, you want to do it. But what if you have a hairdressers appointment, or a shopping trip planned and you have to re-arrange your schedule? Then, you have a decision to make – who do you please? The other person or yourself? Because when you say ‘yes’ to cancel your plans so you can help out someone else, you are effectively saying they and their needs are of greater value than yours. And sometimes they will be. But this is never just because you want to please them or need the other person to like or accept you.
Put Yourself First
Do a few things each week that you enjoy, even if they’re not going to impress anyone. It gets easier with time.
We all seek the approval of others from time to time. But allowing that need to control your thoughts and behaviour makes life less enjoyable and more challenging.
Set Boundaries and Free Yourself
The first step to changing approval-seeking thoughts and behaviour recognises them as they occur. With a bit of work, you’ll find that you gain more respect from others when you first respect yourself. Take the time to set boundaries. Put yourself and your needs first. Of course, help others. But do so only when you have the space, time, energy and never because you think you have to! You will find the disapproval you’ve been avoiding has much less impact than you thought! It’s simply not a big deal. Free yourself from needing the approval of others. Set boundaries around your time. You’ll be glad you did!