Setting Boundaries and Saying No
I’m often a “yes” person. If someone asks for help, I’m very lucky to drop everything I am doing to lend a hand. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that I would put my own needs aside to please others. I took people pleasing to an extreme and sacrificed my own happiness.
I started to find myself feeling flustered and anxious because I felt like I was expending so much energy each day, yet still wasn’t accomplishing what I needed (or wanted) to do. Honestly, it all boiled down to this:
Deep down, I felt as though others’ needs and happiness took priority over mine. I didn’t feel worthy of being the priority.
Now, I’m sure many of you know what this led to: burnout. I was so focused on everybody else that I forgot to put my own oxygen mask on first. And then I relearned the magical word, “no.” How is it that I had forgotten this simple two-letter word that I had so dearly loved as a toddler? (My mother has many stories about the year when “no” was my response to everything.)
For a long time, I viewed setting boundaries (such as saying “no”) as a negative thing. I was afraid that by setting boundaries, I was going to be viewed as mean, inflexible and selfish, and potentially ruin relationships and opportunities that I treasured.
Amidst my burnout, I had to give myself a reality check: “At what cost am I willing to please others?” And, “Is this good for my own wellbeing and mental health/recovery?”
The truth is, setting boundaries is really uncomfortable sometimes, but it is also incredibly important to do. I have found that I am much more present, level-headed and engaged when I have made decisions that put my mental health first. This doesn’t mean that I am unwilling or unable to help others; in fact, I have found that I have more energy and passion when I first make myself the priority.
We are going through some unprecedented times right now, and many of us are being faced with new challenges and difficult situations daily. From one people pleaser to another: Don’t forget to give yourself space to take care of YOU. After all, we can’t pour from an empty cup.