Setting boundaries

In the last few months, I was brought to a realization that I’ve never been very good at setting boundaries. I like to think of myself as an independent, assertive, confident woman…but there are some situations and people that make all of that go out the window and I give in too easily — to myself, to others, because of fear, because of wanting to be liked or loved or accepted.

And what is the outcome of this? By not setting boundaries for myself and others, I become way too vulnerable, and end up hurt way more than I ever could have imagined. This isn’t to say that being vulnerable isn’t okay, or that giving people a second chance or a third chance isn’t a good approach either — within reason. It’s easy to get into a pattern of letting yourself go along with things that you really aren’t comfortable with, all in the name of wanting to please others, or not wanting to be a burden or to miss out, or lose out on a relationship.

But there comes a time when it’s important to look yourself in the eye and ask, is this what I really want? Is that what I really deserve? Who am I doing this for? Why am I doing this?

And if the answers to those questions make you uncomfortable, you’re not holding yourself accountable, and you aren’t setting the right boundaries. Where to start, you might ask? You start small. You start by saying no to a group happy hour invitation and sticking to your plan of going home or working out or whatever else it is you would actually rather do. Then maybe you acknowledge hurt or confusion a friend’s actions may have caused, but then determine how to discuss it with him or her and get back on track. In a tough situation where you feel pressured to do something, you remember what you’re made of, and you go with your gut, instead of just going along with it.

As humans, we want to be loved and liked and accepted and respected. We want people to be our friends because they want to, not because it’s convenient, or not only when the going gets tough. And others want that from us in return…and I’ve come to realize that in order to respect and love and accept myself, and to get others to perceive me this way, I have to follow through on my end. I have to act in a way that creates respect, I have to stick to my boundaries, and hold myself accountable, or no one else will. I have to be stronger, for me.

In the coming months, setting boundaries and holding myself accountable will be something I focus on — how do you do the same in your daily life?

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