This is a concept spoken about on repeat but I still feel it is difficult for a lot of people out there. This is because they genuinely cannot say no or have people in their lives who don’t understand and respect their boundaries. When someone wants to please people and has this drive to keep harmony by trying to please everyone, something happens and they may find their energy levels slowly start to deplete.
A person who wishes to please and not make anyone upset while still trying to be assertive and be there for themselves is in a deep mess if they meet someone who doesn’t understand what a boundary is and expects them to be there at their beck and call all the time.
The person P who has people-pleasing tendencies would want to have time for themselves and would want to engage in a hobby after a long day at work and their friend B might have something they want to talk about with P. When P tries to be assertive and tell B that they are tired they may refuse to understand and they would get into an argument. Person B, due to insecurities may think the other person doesn’t want to talk to them or doesn’t like them anymore and would be too emotional to think about what’s going on.
This is where the person P unconsciously pushes themselves into a deeper mess because of their desire to keep harmony and because they start feeling guilty for having upset the other person by not doing what they wanted even when there is a complete justification for them doing so. The person P starts to get tired if they have a lot of toxic relationships making them feel trapped, even after repeated attempts to explain boundaries the other person may continuously say things like,” I understand but I am not cool with it “. They may even say ” Your idea of boundaries won’t work; you will end up a lonely tree”.
So the other person doesn’t make any more attempts to set boundaries because even though they love the other person they feel establishing boundaries won’t happen and this prevents them from speaking up anymore. If the person has something going on in their lives, they may want some distance but the person who doesn’t understand the other person’s boundaries may start pressurizing this person to be there when this person is having personal issues of their own for which they need space.
It is quite obvious that such a person won’t walk out of the toxic relationship even though they feel suffocated because this desire to maintain peace is so inbuilt in them, they feel trapped in this vicious cycle which increases their desire to not upset anyone but also be assertive. They are stuck between wanting to not upset people but still fight for themselves. If someone is of the assertive type, they may try to push this person thinking it’s easy for them but they refuse to do it.
As I mentioned if people around them only think of themselves and blame them for setting boundaries this creates an impression in their mind that no one will listen to them. Ever since we are children, we try to set boundaries by saying no but some parents may ignore this and force their children. If this continues to happen, then the child starts to think they won’t be taken seriously if they try to set boundaries.
Tips on what you can do if you can relate
- Practice situations that are difficult to be assertive in like role play with a trusted friend or confidant.
- Try to have a talk with the person and explain that being there for everyone is exhausting and you would like time for yourself too.
- Let them know that you have difficulties setting healthy boundaries and want to practice being there for yourself.
- Ask yourself if it is possible to please everyone and keep everyone happy?
- Think about the consequences of trying to be there for everyone
- If you have a difficult time balancing between different people in your life, make some rules for yourself or prioritize who needs more of your time.
- For example: If a friend wants to spend time with you but you want to do something for yourself, then think of what you can do. Maybe you can listen to what this friend wants to say for a few minutes then get back to your hobby. Another solution could be to tell them know you cannot be there for them at that moment.
- This requires time and be kind and patient with yourself during this process and pat yourself on the back for the effort you are putting in for working on yourself