Setting Boundaries As A People Pleaser

Setting Boundaries As A People Pleaser

Setting Boundaries As A People Pleaser 2560 1703 Peyton Rockford

Are you a people pleaser? You might be one if you tend to: 

  • Focus on other people’s needs more than your own. 
  • Ease other’s discomfort, even if it increases your own discomfort
  • Desire acceptance and connection at any cost
  • Have difficulty saying, ‘no’
For all you people pleasers out there, keep reading. There is hope! 

As people pleasers we often say yes due to an underlying fear of setting boundaries. However, in setting boundaries, we are creating opportunities for people in relationship with us to know us better through stating what our wants, needs, and limitations are. In doing so, we are developing a foundation of trust in others to respect those boundaries we have built, which improves relationships. 

Setting boundaries as a people pleaser seems like a paradox, right? We’ve all been there. A friend asks us to dinner, we say yes when in reality our emotional tank is empty. Not only is our emotional tank empty, but there are dishes and laundry to do that have been sitting in plain sight for at least a week. Still, we say yes. When we get home after dinner we are tired, worn down, and need rest to replenish in order to touch the dishes or laundry. In essence, in saying yes to people-pleasing, we have said no to ourselves. 

So how can we set boundaries? 

Setting boundaries will take time as you continue to grow in your relationships and in confidence of yourself and limitations. The first step is to understand that having uncomfortable emotions that come along with boundary setting is normal. Take the example of the friend asking you to dinner. When you say no there might be uncomfortable feelings attached to your no. However, in your answer of no, you are saying yes to the goals and objectives you set for yourself of doing the laundry and the dishes. This does not mean you don’t want to go to dinner, you are instead leaning into trusting yourself in knowing your limitations and in turn building confidence in your ability to set boundaries in your most intimate friendships.

Setting boundaries isn’t always about saying no. There are also ways to align your ‘yeses’ to your boundaries. For example, ask yourself these questions when deciding if your yeses come from a place of people pleasing or a place of boundary setting: 

  • Does saying “yes” align with my goals/values?
  • Is the “yes” coming from a place of guilt or from a place of desire for connection?

When we say, “yes” within our boundaries we are opening ourselves up to mutual respect in relationship with others. Our yeses in relationship to people who align with our goals and values allow not only the opportunity for personal growth, but also, for growth in the relationship. Saying yes within our boundaries provides a place for us to explore the feelings of comfortability, strength, and confidence. Boundary setting doesn’t mean saying no, it simply means working through life in the yeses of opportunities that align with the limitations you have already identified. 

When thinking about setting boundaries, we need to consider some of the myths you may have heard about boundary setting. These can include: 

  • Boundary setting is selfish
  • Boundaries are one size fits all
  • Boundary setting means being rude
  • Boundaries hurt relationships
How can we change the narrative of those myths to perpetuate healthy boundaries? 

Instead of framing a situation as a people pleaser, we are able to frame it from a stance of self-respect. From that self-respect, we can take agency over our choices and become confident in our ability to set our own boundaries. If you notice yourself getting stuck on some of these myths, try these mental shifts on for size:

  • Turn, “Boundary setting is selfish” into, “this boundary is an internal guidepost I need to trust.” 
  • Turn, “Boundaries are one size fits all” into, “This is the boundary I need to have based on my own set of life experiences.” 
  • Turn, “Boundary setting means being rude” into, “There are ways to express my boundaries in a respectful way.” 
  • Turn, “Boundaries hurt relationships” into, “Boundaries solidify the foundations of my existing relationships.” 
In becoming a boundary-setter you will be able to:
  •  Communicate needs without guilt
  •  Understand your limits without feeling guilty
  •  Understand uncomfortable emotions that come along with boundaries is normal

The results of boundary setting will usher in improved relationships, self-awareness, and an ability to work towards your goals. 

If you want to practice moving from being a people pleaser to a boundary setter: 

  • Pay attention to your feelings about situations/circumstances
  • Maintain guidelines for how you want to be treated and how you will address it if you are not
  • Communicate the boundary
  • Practice saying no without giving reasons why

Setting boundaries may not be easy at first, but it’s important to remember that every boundary set is a step towards self-respect and self-awareness. Don’t be discouraged when you aren’t living within your boundaries. Throughout time you will notice the internal confidence that comes from boundaries made. Step-by-step and boundary-by-boundary you will develop a greater sense of self and improve your existing relationships. 

While this blog lays out some strategies for boundary setting, it can be helpful to seek support and guidance from a licensed mental health professional to build a foundation of healthy boundaries. If you’re struggling with people-pleasing and setting boundaries, Thrive Collective can help.

If you like what you read about setting boundaries, you can check out our other blogs HERE.

About the Author: Thrive Collective’s intern, Peyton Rockford, is studying social work through Aurora University to obtain a Masters in Social Work. When Peyton is not working she enjoys chasing her two large puppies around and receiving slobbery puppy kisses.