Setting Personal Boundaries

13 Jan

When someone asks you a favor, how do you respond?  Do you tend to say yes without really thinking about the consequences?  Or say yes and knowing the consequences, prepare yourself for the worse?  Do you buy yourself time and say “I’ll think about it.”?  But you’ve already made up your mind to say no and just want the other person to think that you actually gave the request some consideration.  Or do you respond according to a (written or unwritten) list of personal boundaries you have set for yourself?

If you’re a yes man, you will eventually become known as such in your family, at work and in your community.  You will often find yourself at the receiving end of requests for your time, effort, and even money.  People will know who to look for when they need favors.  Helping out is great but taking on other people’s responsibilities, not so.  Both for you and the recipient.

I am risk-averse.  Most often, it doesn’t work out in my favor.  I pass up too many opportunities.  But on cases like these, it does.  I don’t like cleaning up other people’s messes.  I don’t like solving other people’s problems.  I have my own responsibilities, messes to clean up, and problems to solve.  I am willing to help, but not at the expense of my own priorities, which are my family, work, and personal finances.

It doesn’t surprise me when people end up being in trouble for putting other people’s needs before theirs.  I’ve been there.  I have granted favors because I was afraid of displeasing the person and of not being liked.  When I found myself in a dreadful situation because of this, I asked myself what did I do to deserve it?  I was only trying to help, after all.

I have since learned to determine how far I’m willing to extend myself to another person.  And to examine also if the move would actually help the person without me ending up being an enabler to him or her.  And if I actually have the extra time, energy and money to help without sacrificing my own needs and especially, that of my family.

It takes a little getting used to, but learning to say NO is important.  Setting up personal boundaries is a must.  Determine which things you will say yes or no to, in general.  Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule.

People will understand.  Some people might not like you anymore, get offended, or even get angry when you start denying their requests.  But I’m sure your own priorities, even sanity and self-preservation, are worth losing a few “friends” and straining a few relationships over.

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