“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behaviour or a choice.” – Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

The best way to avoid becoming involved in an abusive relationship is to set healthy personal boundaries. A personal boundary is a rule that you set that cannot be broken without consequences. Personal boundaries protect individuals from negative words and actions by other people. Your personal boundaries define how you interact with others, and how you allow others to interact with you. One of the biggest mistakes men and women make in the Dating Game is to lack clear personal boundaries. The most important result of setting firm boundaries is to recognize very quickly whether you are being disrespected or abused.

When dating, those with poor or virtually non-existent boundaries are likely to:

  • Touch others or allow other people to touch them inappropriately
  • May confuse sex with love
  • Become sexually involved too quickly 
  • Be sexually promiscuous

Physical and emotional boundaries define your standards and where your feelings end and another’s begin; if your boundaries are weak you will be easy to manipulate and convinced that the negative behaviour of others is really your fault. Living with poor boundaries can also result in allowing yourself to be burdened with the issues of other people that in reality have absolutely nothing to do with you.

Are You a People Pleaser? 

Some people have difficulty with setting personal boundaries because they don’t want to say ‘no’ to anyone or feel they must try to accommodate others as much as they can. This behaviour is often motivated by the habit of people pleasing.

Chronic people pleasers usually lack confidence and are always putting everyone else first and themselves last. Many want to feel needed and can have co-dependency issues with their feelings of security and a self-confidence based on receiving approval from others. Some worry about what people will think of them if they say no, or are concerned about being thought of as being selfish by family members, friends or colleagues. What many don’t realize is that excessive people pleasing can have serious risks. These people unknowingly put themselves under a great deal of stress by overcommitting, eventually burning out and becoming depressed or physically sick. This happens due to taking on far too much while trying to please everyone instead of setting priorities and looking after themselves.

A Few Effective Strategies to Avoid People Pleasing

If you have identified yourself as a people pleaser there are several strategies that you can begin working on right now to change this destructive habit.

Feelings

Listen to your feelings. If you feel uncomfortable you are probably agreeing to do something you may not really want to do.

Choices

People pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help. Always remember you have a choice and can also say no. 

Be selective

Make a clear decision regarding who is worth your time, energy and effort. Learn to recognize the important people in your life who you’re confident would be there for you instead of agreeing with those who wouldn’t return a favour.

Values

Being clear regarding your values will help tremendously when deciding whether to agree or decline a request for assistance. Decisions are not difficult (and much easier!) when you are clear about your values.

Understand You Can’t Please Everybody

People pleasers tend to want everyone to be happy but this is totally unrealistic and in the medium to long-term simply doesn’t work. For those who do not learn to be assertive and say no, burning out with exhaustion is a very real danger. Understanding clearly that you’re not responsible for the happiness of others is a big step toward pursuing your own priorities as well as preserving your physical and mental health. Creating and maintaining healthy personal boundaries and being a people pleaser are two mindsets that are totally incompatible.

Abusive Relationships and Personal Boundaries

Abuse within relationships can be insidious and not always obvious until the abuser has established control. If you have been involved in a relationship currently or previously where you felt: 

  • Guilty for addressing your own needs
  • Verbally abused, demeaned, humiliated, insulted or assaulted
  • Used, threatened or unsafe

…then it is likely that you have been a victim of an abusive relationship. Learning to protect yourself and maintain your personal safety by setting personal boundaries is paramount as these types of toxic relationships often escalate. The lack of personal boundaries or of protecting them is the number one reason why abuse often continues. Extract: ‘How to Avoid Making The BIG Relationship Mistakes’ Nigel Beckles available now on Amazon
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