I may earn commission on any links in this post.
See Disclaimers for more details.
Hi there, how’s life been treating you lately? Are you taking care of yourself? You’re worth the effort. ❤
I’ve been working on boundaries over the last several months.
I’ve never been very good at saying no. I feel obligated to be nice. Polite. Helpful. “Lady-like”.
I think that’s something ingrained in us as children. Especially for women.
We are taught to be quiet.
To just deal with it.
Keep pushing through.
A lot of women get into trouble when there’s a situation where they should get out, but society tells them they have to be polite.
You have the right to feel safe.
And you don’t have to “be polite” to someone who is scaring you.
Everyone, every gender, is taught to value politeness over boundaries.
But there are ways to protect your boundaries without damaging your relationships.
And, honestly, boundaries won’t damage your relationships with people who truly value you.
For a long time, I was told to be quiet.
I received both subliminal, and explicit, messages that my feelings don’t matter.
As a child, I wasn’t really allowed to have boundaries.
Do what I say, because I say it. I don’t care how it makes you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, suck it up.
Even children (especially children) are entitled to boundaries.
Growing up like this, you learn to keep a lot inside. To shove your feelings down and ignore them. Something I’ve had to work against in adulthood.
I became Passive.
I didn’t stand up for myself.
I’m learning how to reverse this in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook.
It can be scary, changing yourself so drastically.
People who know me are used to me just going with whatever people say.
Don’t ask questions.
Don’t stick up for yourself.
Even if you don’t like it.
Even if it’s painful.
I’m working on finding a happy medium.
Standing up for myself, while staying true to my moral standards of kindness and respect.
Boundaries can be stated in a kind and healthy way.
This is something I was unsuccessful with at first.
I swung in the opposite direction and sometimes came off as rude or aggressive.
Also, people were so used to me “just being nice” that my new outlook rubbed some people the wrong way.
Especially people who were used to using my doormat-ish tendencies to their advantage.
That sounds gross, and manipulative, but it’s true. Honestly, everyone uses “too-nice people” to their advantage every now and then. We’re human. We err.
It’s been quite the learning curve, to watch who accepts and who rejects my boundaries.
It says a lot about what I mean to the people close to me.
For example, I recently told someone close to me that driving causes me a lot of anxiety. I asked them to give a little more space from the car in front of us, just while I’m in the car.
They listened, and they changed their behavior to make sure I felt safe.
Here’s another example:
A while ago, I asked someone close to me to be respectful towards myself and my husband.
They refused, then took steps to cut me out of their life.
It was shocking.
I had not expected them to run from my life after such a simple request.
It’s been a couple years and we’re still not speaking. And honestly? I’m ok with that.
I know how important I am to that person now, and I’m not interested in cultivating a relationship with someone who isn’t interested in respecting me.
Yeah, it sucked. But I’m better off knowing the truth than continuing on thinking they care about me when they really don’t.
Nowadays, I’m doing more to set boundaries.
I’m saying no. It’s become my favorite word.
I’ve learned that downtime is a good enough reason not to make it to every event.
I don’t have to hurt myself to make others happy.
My mental health is a priority.
But how do you go about setting boundaries, when standing up for yourself seems so scary?
The first thing you should ask yourself is what is important to you?
For me, I value kindness and respect pretty highly.
People are important to me.
My mental health.
Then you ask yourself what you need.
I need to feel valued by my loved ones – wanted and important.
I need hugs and affection from the people closest to me.
I need kind words and compassion from those whom I consider friends. (I don’t like to be touched, which is why my needs differ from friends and family, to close friends and close family. This is a boundary I’m still working on establishing with people.)
Then you ask yourself what is not ok with you.
I’m not ok with unkindness or disrespect, in any form.
I’m not ok with physical touch, except from those closest to me.
I’m not ok with people using my neurodivergence against me.
This is obviously a short list, and one that can be expanded on over time.
The most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to have boundaries.
You deserve to feel safe.
Your boundaries are more important than politeness.
If someone doesn’t respect the boundaries you set, that says more about them than it does about you.
And finally, even when you’re scared, you should push yourself to set the boundaries. Stand firm. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Because setting boundaries can be the best thing that happens to your relationships. While, not setting them, only leads to discomfort and bitterness.
I hope this article helps someone out there who, like me, is afraid to stand up for themselves.
You have needs. You are worth the effort it takes to meet them.