What do you do when people push your boundaries? Here’s our input on why it happens and how to go about it…
First and foremost, here’s the hard pill to swallow…it’s not really “people pushing your boundaries”, it’s that you aren’t holding them appropriately (and that’s OK, and totally normal when first practicing boundary setting).
What’s really going on is that it’s highly likely you didn’t make your boundaries super clear to begin with. And we bet you’re using soft talk (kind of, sort of, probably, maybe, could, etc). And that makes it unclear for the person you’re communicating with.
For example, your boss asks you,
“Can we meet on Thursday at 12pm?”, and here would be one version of an unclear response, using soft talk and ambiguity…
“I might be able to, I’ll check my schedule, I kind of have a lot of other things going on.”
Then your co-worker (or friend) may say, “I can only meet on Thursday at 12pm, can you do that?”
And you may cave in at that point and agree. Or, you could use firm language and hold your line better by responding this way…
“I have other projects prioritized at that time, I can meet with you Friday morning to talk about it?” (that “project” could be your lunch or workout time, that’s OK!)
“Thursday at 12pm is the only time I have open the rest of the week.”
Then you could say, “Then let’s find a time on Monday or next week, as my schedule is full too for the rest of this week.” It’s not on you to figure it out, unless you want to make it a priority.
If it’s a friend asking you to go to a party, you can be upfront and honest and say “Hey, I’m really tired this week, can we plan something for the following?” Or, “I’d prefer to have my Friday clear for me to recharge, can we do “this” instead?” And if they say that doesn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work, and that’s OK! And you can also always simply say NO (without explanation) or, create space when someone does ask you – pause, think about it.
If you feel like you need to cater to their needs, ask yourself WHY? Because if you cater to their needs even when you don’t want to, it will likely lead to feelings of resentment and overwhelm, and deprioritizing yourself and your health.
We found this perspective from Jim Rohn, that can help shift perspective when we find ourselves wanting to say YES to everyone else…
Instead of thinking, “I’ll take care of you, you take care of me.”
“I’ll take care of me for you, if you take care of you for me.”
The best thing you can do for others is to focus on you and your emotional and physical health. Not self sacrificing, but self development.