New Years Resolutions Part Deux: Setting Boundaries

“When we feel anger, frustration, resentment, anxiety, depression – those are probably indicators that a boundary has been violated or that you feel uncomfortable about something.”

– Nedra Glover Tawwab

I am a people pleaser. Nothing makes me happier than when everyone in my inner circle is happy and fulfilled. Their lives be-bopping along in a happy haze of contentment. When things aren’t going well, I feel more than I should. This is the classic problem of an empath. It’s why violent movies are more upsetting to me than others. Or why I feel so emotionally drained when someone vents to me about upsetting circumstances.

I just don’t want people to be unhappy. But I’ve come to realize that to avoid those feelings of unease I have often done more than I should to alleviate their situation. Doing that once, isn’t an issue. Doing it repeatedly just gives license to the receiver to take advantage. On the heels of that, comes resentment and frustration.

My family calls it my “martyr complex”, which let’s face it is super unflattering. I think they mistake my actions to “help” others as a selfish need for reaffirmation and praise. At first this comment stung; in the long run it has helped me reevaluate my motivation and subsequent actions. Their somewhat unkind comment gave me pause to think about how my actions were being perceived by others. And I certainly didn’t like what I saw.

The key to maintaining a healthier balance is boundary setting. Not being forced or pushed into doing something that I don’t want to do, by emotional manipulation. What’s the worst that could happen, they are “mad” at me?

Yet another gem from Ms. Tawwab, “people make you think that setting boundaries is mean and rude, because they want to continue to take advantage of you.”

So this is the year of setting boundaries. I’m getting a thicker skin and a stronger spine. I’ll let you know how it goes….

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