This post is dedicated to the powerless people-pleaser.
It’s time to take back what’s yours: your life and your power!
I am a person who lives for others, performs for others, and would literally give my life for any person on this earth and, yes, I mean that. Whether I love, hate, or am indifferent about someone, it’s been deeply ingrained in me that people matter.
But, what I’ve struggled with over the years is this single concept: I MATTER.
We all matter.
This post is dedicated to the person who struggles to look in the mirror and believe deeply within themselves that someone of value is staring back at them. This person, in turn, is an exhausted and burnt-out person who often places everyone before his or herself. He or she is exhausted from lack of self-care, too many tears shed, and not enough hours in the day to fulfill the needs of everyone around them and themselves.
If you’re tired of letting others take advantage of you and sucking you dry then there is only one thing to do:
Let’s be honest, none of us like boundaries.
I’ve never met someone who’s said “I’m so glad I’m setting boundaries! Everyone just loves this new and assertive me.”
Sadly, dear reader, it is usually the opposite. If you want to see how much other’s influence and control is evident in your life, try saying “no” when you’re asked to do something. Seriously. Try turning down an invitation to volunteer when you really don’t have time, the desire, or energy, or better yet, that family dinner that saps you of your strength, and see how respectful people are of your decision.
More than likely, you’ll be met with resentment, criticism, and the ever so popular ‘Why not?’
But, after some time (and probably tears) you’ll start to feel stronger as people start to honor your boundaries. Remember, children will test boundaries about as fast as you set them, and here’s a little secret–so will their parents! People love to test you and see how far you’re willing to go for their sake. This doesn’t mean that people are bad–only human. We all can be selfish at points in our lives and I think it’s important to acknowledge that, but it’s important to choose your selfishness wisely.
People love to test you and see how far you’re willing to go for their sake. This doesn’t mean that people are bad–only human. We all can be selfish at points in our lives and I think it’s important to acknowledge that, but it’s important to choose your selfishness wisely.
Be selfish about the things that matter such as your eating habits, exercise, self-care, days off, vacation time, hobbies, etc. Be selfish about the things that serve you and, in turn, help you serve others because you’re full of life, vitality, and power as a result of honoring your boundaries.
A friend of mine, a minister, once told me over the phone, “Dan, I’m sorry I don’t have time to get coffee with you. I’m so busy with the church; I don’t even have time to have coffee with my wife.” This broke my heart then and, even as I write it out, hurts me now.
Life is too short, folks.
You must make time for yourself and those dearest to you.
As Anne Lamott once said “No is a complete sentence.“
Be willing to say “no” to things that take you away from those you matter to and those who matter to you. Money can always be earned, but time and people cannot be replaced.
Relationships truly are a series of transactions and deposits, but you have to be equal because an imbalance in either area can lead to resentment, pain, and possibly a broken relationship.
You cannot serve others and neglect yourself. To do that is nothing short of enslavement because your life is being dictated, directed, and motivated by another.
At times, you must withdraw and recharge even from those you love the most. For people like me, those who identify with the term people-pleasers; it’s easy to live in imbalance and serve others with great detriment to self. But, over the last few months, I’ve invested in myself with different methods of recharging from photography to daily walks.
Fences and Walls: Why Boundaries Matter
I’ve even learned to say “no” to a few.
I urge you to take time for yourself and set boundaries in your life, but don’t turn those fences into walls.
Remember, boundaries are like fences and walls. Vocabulary.com tells the difference between a fence and wall:
The difference between a fence and a wall is that you can almost always see through a fence, at least to some degree, while a wall is solid.
If you were to look at your heart right now, what would you see? A fence or a wall?
Are you open and receptive to others (a fence) or do you keep them at an arm’s length only to experience deep loneliness and rejection (a wall)?
What surrounds your heart?
What are you willing to do about it?
For some of you, it’s time to play brick breaker (the real life version) and, in your best Ronald Reagan voice, “Tear down this wall!”
For others, it’s time to invite a friend in or receive the invitation that’s been offered to you to step out of your fenced-in heart and visit someone else’s sacred space.
Set and examine your boundaries often. If you need some practical steps on how to get started, Chloe Thea from Tiny Buddha offers some practical steps. It’s imperative that you examine and adapt your boundaries to every season of your life, but always practice some sort of boundary-setting. Your Self will thank you and others will respect you.
Keep in mind, if you let the fence of your heart become a wall, you will be robbed of the very things once provided to you by setting boundaries–power and protection. The choice is yours.
For some, choose wisely.
For the rest, build wisely.
For those of you who may be “on the fence” about this post because the last time you let someone inside your heart they ravaged it and left you with nothing but destruction and pain, I encourage you to fall back on the words of British author C.S. Lewis in his world-renowned book The Four Loves, he states:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis,
And lastly, to those who need to practice setting boundaries and build a fence around their hearts, I leave you with the words of author Brené Brown:
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
― Brené Brown,
Be well. Build well. Live well.