If you are a giving person by nature, a person that thrives on helping others and seeing them succeed, that can be a beautiful thing.
If you are always that person that people call to offload all their worries and issues on, if you are constantly picking up after other peoples messes and feel duty bound to do so… that is not ok.
When you feel overwhelmed and carry the weight of others problems and emotions on your shoulders and they feel better but you’re left drained, it is time to put yourself first and start enforcing your emotional boundaries more effectively.
Emotional boundaries allow for your best qualities to thrive in a safe environment and simultaneously allow for you to be the best version of yourself under the umbrella of self care.
Emotional boundaries separate your thoughts and feelings from others, allowing yourself the respect, time, care, privacy and value you deserve.
It can be extremely difficult to put boundaries into place especially with those we love or feel a sense of duty towards. If you are a giver, putting yourself first can be overridden by feelings of shame and guilt. However, emotional boundaries are crucial for your mental well being and to be there for yourself as much as you would like to be there for others.
You are allowed to let people know you have a lot on and maybe are not the best person to talk to at the moment. You need to say “no” if you can’t emotionally do what is asked of you and you can certainly use your own emotions as a compass of when you feel uncomfortable and when you feel like you are being taken advantage of.
You need to honour and recognise your emotional boundaries when…
1. You Listen to people complain about the same thing.
There are times where someone really needs a listening ear to navigate through their thought processes. To come to peace with things and find closure. To get affirmation of things that are troubling their conscience.
Sometimes being that person they trust and open up to can be a privilege and you can help them through this process by simply being there and listening.
However, when someone has an emotional rant about the same thing that they are not dealing with or a situation they are not growing from over and over it can be draining.
You have no purpose or role in these conversations and if you feel anxious seeing their name pop up on your phone or are hesitant to see them its time to honour your boundary and not be a part of that conversation.
2. You give advice to people that don’t value your feedback.
Sometimes you are that person people come to for advice. You try to be unbiased, thoughtful and empathetic and really try to help the person that has come to you with a problem as best as you can.
Some people take from the advice whatever they can use or feel applies to them. Thats fine. Others will listen and do what they think is best. Absolutely ok.
However, some continuously come to you with problems they are quite capable of dealing with and not only disregard what you say but always end up doing what they intended to do anyway.
They sometimes pass on subtle but belittling comments, respond to your suggestions with sarcasm and demeaning comments. This can leave you questioning yourself and the advice you gave. It can also leave you with the dreaded “if only I had responded with…”.
Rather than troubling yourself with the what ifs and over analysing the conversation of what you could have said that might have been more helpful etc honour your boundaries. If they don’t need help and leave you feeling upset and overwhelmed learn not to be part of that conversation.
3. You have unhealthy dialogue with toxic people.
There are some people within your circle of friends, work colleagues, family or loved ones who spark an unhealthy conversation sometimes in the guise of a “debate” to make themselves feel better.
They enjoy riling up your emotions, being right all the time, making you look bad in front of others and themselves more knowledgable or witty etc. Anyone that doesn’t add value to your life, brings you joy or appreciates the person you are exactly as you are is when your boundaries need to be put in place (and in this case quite firmly).
You can be polite when you see people like this but do not let them get the worst out of you by entertaining or being a part of unhealthy dialogues.
4. Others have unrealistic expectations of you.
You might give good advice and enjoy helping others, but you are not a councillor. You may have a good way with words but you cannot be expected fix people. You can be there for others but not on call 24 hours a day.
You are your own person, with your own priorities and needs. You may already be overwhelmed by other commitments in your life and it is never okay if people do not consider what you may have going on in your life before quite literally dumping their problems and issues on you.
It isn’t okay for people to volunteer you for something you haven’t agreed to. “Amy is good at so and so, she’ll do it” or “Brian wont mind if …” You can put yourself first and communicate assertively if you cant with “I would have loved to but won’t be able to” “unfortunately I have other commitments on that day” etc. without giving an explanation.
5. There is a lack of balance in your roles and duties.
You cannot emotionally give your all to one aspect of your life and neglect others. It is important to prioritise yourself and those that are under your duty of care like your children.
You cannot be everyones everything if you are not there for yourself first. The most difficult thing can be finding a balance within your life that caters for yourself and others. It is therefore really important to put things in order of importance.
You will have some days where you have over exerted yourself and other days you have fully listened to your needs and met them successfully.
If the roles and duties you have are not balanced whether in the home, with friends or at work, you need to step back and think about what impact this is having on you and what you can do about it. Because the first change has to come from you and if you feel that its all on you and others are quite comfortable with that your emotional boundaries need to be put in place.
Boundaries of any kind can be difficult to establish and put in place, but they are essential for safeguarding your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. It allows you to be yourself, it helps prioritise your needs and get you out of the vicious cycle of doing things out of feeling duty bound and guilt ridden which leaves you drained and unhappy.
This blog is drawn from my own experiences and when I started seeing the need for boundaries, I was already broken and lost and realised I had no boundaries to even start working from. I still struggle with boundaries today.
What I can say is that it is definitely a work in process and it isn’t an easy one. If you struggle like me remember to start small and build up to more challenging boundaries.
Some Boundaries need to be put up immediately to protect yourself from more toxic and harmful situations. Reach out for help if you require it as councillors and professionals can guide you through the process in constructive and safe steps a lot better than a list of tips can. No one will be there for you or take care of you the way you can.
My previous blog “5 Ways to create healthy boundaries that work for you!” is a good read if you find it difficult to put boundaries into place.
reflect. love. heal Always xxx
Brown Girl N.