How To Set Boundaries: Other People’s Needs Are Not More Important Than Yours!

When you’re always trying to please other people, you stop taking care of yourself and you unintentionally send yourself the message that your needs don’t matter. In addition, you teach other people that your needs don’t matter. When you dismiss your needs, you give others permission to dismiss them as well.

We teach people how to treat us. Many people never learned the relational skills necessary to set healthy boundaries. If that is the case for you, you may unknowingly be teaching people not to treat you the way you wish they would. When they don’t, you reinforce the core belief that people don’t treat you well and never will. This furthers low self-esteem but it is not true! In reality, you just haven’t learned how to set boundaries.

You must start treating yourself well so that others will have to treat you well too. You start by recognizing what you want and need, you meet your needs rather than someone else’s needs, you expect your needs to be met by others, and you are outraged when they’re not!

Know that your needs are as important, if not more important than other people’s needs!

For example:

  1. You want to get a good night of sleep in order to do your best at work. You have a presentation to make. A friend calls you late at night, asking for a ride. You feel bad saying no, but you really want to sleep. Your need for sleep is as important (more important really) as your friend’s need for a ride. Yes, your friend might not like that you said no and it may hurt you to have said no, but ultimately you want friends who like you for who you are, not what you can do for them. This friend will understand that you need sleep and their need for a ride is not your responsibility. If they do not realize this then they are not a good friend and you can move on. If you say yes, you basically say no to yourself. If you’re not there for yourself, no one else will be either.
  2. Your husband wants to have sex and you don’t. You feel bad saying no. Maybe you say no, he persists, and you give in only to find yourself feeling resentful and voiceless over time. Your need to say no is as important as his need for sex, whether he agrees that it is or not. He should want to meet your need NOT to have sex as much as you want to meet his need for it. If your need to say no is not being met, eventually you may get so resentful that you will want to leave him.
  3. Your boss is being inappropriate with you. You’re not sure if you’re imagining it, if it’s as bad as you feel, or if you’re right. You don’t want to say anything to them or anyone else because you don’t want to make them uncomfortable or hurt their career. You just want the behavior to stop. So, you tough it out and you end up hating your job more and more every day. First of all, your need for respect at work is more important than your boss’s comfort. He or she may be uncomfortable if you tell them what you find inappropriate, but that discomfort is deserved; why do you have to suffer with the discomfort to spare him or her? Your boss is the one causing it after all. Secondly, if you report him or her, you are not doing something to him or her, but rather it gives him or her consequences for their actions. You can’t be responsible for the world, and you don’t have to suffer for others who are making you suffer. Is it their discomfort you want to avoid, or your own?

Yes, it would be nice if no one overstepped boundaries, if no one put us in the position to have to say no, if people knew when they had asked for enough, but that is not the way of the world. Some people will not ask you for anything and will not allow you to help them in any way. If you’re reading this, you may be one of those people. You may feel that your relationships are one sided, not reciprocal. This is a relational pattern. It’s not that something is wrong with you; you’re not just too nice and you don’t have to accept that the world will take advantage of you. You have power. You have a voice. It starts with believing that your needs matter.

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