If you find yourself saying yes to everything and being exhausted, you might have a problem setting boundaries. Workaholics often have a problem separating work and home life because they cannot find a balance between the two. People-pleasers want to be liked and want to please those they love. It's human nature in a way to want to be part of the team and to do for others, but when a person cannot say no, it leads to stress and feeling burnt out. Let's spend some time talking about boundaries.
How to Set Boundaries
Brene Brown, author of three bestsellers and research professor at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, said, "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."
It can be difficult to tell a child that she cannot go to a concert or that he cannot get a new smartphone. When we set boundaries, we have to be aware that other people may get upset or be disappointed. However, the short-term reaction can be handled much easier than bitterness or resentment, which builds over time when you do not feel as if you can say no.
When setting boundaries, one of the first things you have to do is figure out what your boundaries are. You have to respect your own boundaries in order to set them with someone else. Brene Brown has an excellent YouTube video explaining how boundaries equate to love and compassion. It's not very long, and it is an excellent reminder of why we have to set boundaries to be caring individuals. The old saying that you can't get blood from a turnip is quite apropos. If you keep saying yes to everyone without taking care of yourself, pretty soon you won't have anything left to give.
An Ongoing Process
Learning to set boundaries takes time. Ideally, every child would learn that saying no was okay and that would carry over into adulthood, but the reality is anything but. Many children are taught to unequivocally obey adults and are never given a chance to be autonomous. This lesson carries over into employment, when the boss asks you to do something, it's implied that you cannot tell them no without jeopardizing your job. Fortunately, as an adult, you can learn to set good boundaries with others even when people are difficult about it.
Henry Cloud, PhD, co-authored a book called "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life." It was published in 1992 and has sold over 2 million copies. Cloud tackles the problem of setting boundaries with every relationship you could think of in his book. It is an excellent resource that provides an understanding of how and why boundaries are important. Then, the book goes into detail on ways to manage boundaries with different people, parents, pastors, bosses, children and friends. Cloud presents boundaries from a Christian point-of-view, but his book would benefit anyone, no matter what their spiritual background and faith was. One of the best quotes from Cloud is this: "Every human being must have boundaries in order to have successful relationships or a successful performance in life."
If you are new to setting boundaries, give yourself permission to say no. Respect yourself first. When you've always been the one that people run to when they need something done, then expect some push back when you say you cannot do something. Avoid over explaining why you are saying no. Boundaries are not threats. Boundaries are about honest communication of your own needs. Healthy relationships have good boundaries, in order to protect and take care of yourself. Use the resources to help yourself take steps to a healthier you.