PQ 9.13 — Am I afraid to express my boundaries? Do I feel they won’t be respected?

a wooden fence that is broken and missing one of its boards. The fence is on a green pasture. There are trees in the distance
Image by Mr. Gray / CC BY

PQ 9.13 — Am I afraid to express my boundaries? Do I feel they won’t be respected?

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Am I Afraid to Express My Boundaries?

These issues are near and dear to my heart. I’m a recovering people pleaser.

As I’ve written about in past articles, it can be a terrifying experience to start asserting yourself. Especially if you’ve spent a long time being a people pleaser. And just going along with what you think other people want from you.

When you start saying, “No, I won’t accept that,” or “I’m sorry, but I need to set this boundary for myself,” it can feel like you’re shouting at the top of your lungs.

And the reality is? People pleasers are invariably surrounded by people who are used to hearing “yes” all the time. Some people will understand your changing into a person who exercises better boundaries with others. But others? Really won’t.

For me, it was rather shocking to watch it all unfold. To see who supported this change about me. And those who… well, really freaking didn’t. I couldn’t have predicted who would fall into what category. Because the thing is? People tend to look alike so long as you are saying yes to everything they want from you.

Do I Feel My Boundaries Won’t Be Respected?

Even if you can work up the courage to exercise boundaries with folks, sometimes they won’t respect them. And yes, this can be especially devastating when it was difficult for you to set them in the first place. You conquer your fear and put it out there, only to find… your request is basically ignored.

At that point, you have a couple of options. If it’s the first time or the situation seems like it might be salvageable, one option is having an accountability talk, as a way to try to get them to on the same page. Here’s an article on the best way to have accountability talks, according to researchers.

But if it’s a pattern of repeat behavior and/or they’re rather intransigent, you also have the option to walk away. Because healthy relationships are founded on a mutual respect of one another’s boundaries.

Further Reading

For more information on people pleasing, boundaries, and working towards more direct communication, please see these posts:

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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