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Boundaries and Limitations

How often have you said to yourself “Oh, that’s too much, I can’t take it on!” and then said “Yes, okay I’ll do it”? Do you have a reputation for helping and supporting others perhaps at your own cost? Does this lead others to giving you more and more to do?

One solutions to this is to let yourself know what you are important and certainly as important as other people. In some circumstances you are actually more important than others because if you don’t take care of yourself then you could become burnt-out.

Consider the following:

  • How do you know when something is too much?
  • How do you feel when you have too much to do?
  • How do you feel when you believe that you have too much to do and are then asked to do more?

Often people who believe they have to please others experience a knotted feeling in their stomach, a tightness int their chest, or perhaps a dry through. This is the time to listen to yourself and take the space to feel about your thoughts and think about your feelings before agreeing to do yet another task. Whether people like you or not, should not be reliant on whether you please others or not and say “No”. Your decision to say “No” may lead others to be surprised but change is possible and in the long run will be more helpful.

So take a moment to think about whether:

  • you are someone who needs to please others
  • you often say “yes” but then wish you’d said “No”

If the answers to the above are “Yes” then what will you do differently? Who will you ask for support?

When we decide to change it is important to make small changes first. For example, it may be that someone asks you to fetch a report, agree to do it and then inside say “No”. The rationale for this is just to practice how you will feel when might do it in the future, but at this stage you don’t change your behaviour. When you feel comfortable with this first stage then the next one is to find a suitable way to say “No”, for example:

Okay, I will just finish this and then go and get it 
Is it urgent? Because I really need to complete this first”

and other such comments that keep you and the other person okay. It is one small step toward autonomy. Sometimes it is helpful to try this at home first asking family members for support and letting them know that they may have to do more around the place from now on.

When we change others are often surprised and may react negatively as you have not acted this way before. Ensuring that you find ways to keep yourself and others okay during the change process. If you have received recognition for pleasing others by taking on more and more then you will need to ensure that you find other ways to get this recognition. Change can be difficult sometimes as people want to pull us back into our old ways. After all it’s great if someone is willing to do more than their 50% of the work. When we get discouraged having an “encouragement committee” is a good idea. Who would you ask to be in yours?