I’ve never been good at setting and keeping boundaries. I’ll chalk it up to my people-pleasing tendencies as a child and young adult.
“Danielle, can you help me with A, B and C?” someone would ask.
“Sure,” a tired and depleted Danielle would always respond to anyone who asked, whether I cared for them and the cause or not. In my younger years, doing what others wanted was the way I felt valued and of worth. And it was a way to avoid conflict. Phew, did I hate conflict.
Fortunately, now that I’m in my mid-thirties I can say that I’m not that person anymore (thank you therapy, journaling and other healing modalities). Over the years, I’ve gotten better about advocating for myself and I’ve learned how to say ‘no’ to things that don’t energize me.
But… I still slip up from time to time and… It’s still hard. Like, really, really hard. I like people happy. I like things in harmony. I hate ruffling feathers. And deep within me is still the younger me (although quieter) who wants to be validated by helping people and making others happy.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it’s good therapy for me but there’s another reason…
A few weeks ago, while walking my yellow lab Charlie, a neighbor I don’t care for (who knows I don’t care for him, we’ll just leave it at that) was walking his dog. This neighbor was headed towards me on the same side of the street. With plenty of time to avoid an interaction, I crossed the street, walked fast and kept my head down to signal to him that I didn’t want to talk.
This neighbor, not respecting the nonverbal boundaries I had just set, also crossed the street. Can you believe it? I was furious. It was clear he was adamant to interact with me whether I wanted to or not. Not okay!
As I sped by him, I squinted my eyes and sternly said, “I don’t have time for this. It’s clear I don’t want to talk.” I then swiftly crossed the street yet again.
Rather than get down on myself for not being the kind, sweet, patient people-pleasing self I used to tell myself I needed to be, I walked home feeling like a badass.
I’ve seen this man in the neighborhood since and he hasn’t crossed the street to get closer to me or attempted to talk to me. Ahhhhh.
What’s the takeaway? Don’t for a second think twice about feeling guilt for protecting your boundaries and if needed, be bold in protecting those boundaries. Trust me, I know it’s not easy. Most of us want others happy and feel we need to compromise our own happiness to do what others want. But that’s not always possible, and we can’t always sellout what feels good to us to feed that feeling for others.
Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this blog to a few family members and friends. The greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.
PS – Here’s an affirmation to use when you find yourself focusing too much on others and not enough on yourself, “I honor myself by honoring my boundaries.”
PPS – Do you need a bit more motivation to honor your boundaries? If so, grab your pen and journal. Think of someone you admire who sets and keeps healthy boundaries. This could be your mom, your boss, or a friend. What do they do to set those boundaries? And how do they do it? What can you learn from them? How could your life improve if you established and honored clearer boundaries?