Do you feel overwhelmed because everyone seems to think you’re superwoman? Are you the one people always call on when something needs to be done? When we have trouble setting boundaries, it’s hard to say “no” when we’re asked to do something. The result can be a lot of stress and depression.
As women, we’re taught from a very young age to be people-pleasers. We’re taught that in order to be “nice,” we should do what others want or need us to do. We think that by saying “no,” we’re going to upset or offend someone, so we allow people to use us and take advantage of our giving nature. That’s okay to a point—-the point in which it becomes detrimental to our mental and emotional health.
First, we have to understand that we have the right to say “no” whenever we want. If someone has a problem with that, it’s their problem. It might bother you, but think of it this way—-if by not doing what this person wants you to do, this person pulls away from you, or gets angry with you, maybe you should rethink your relationship with this person. Maybe this person shouldn’t be so important to you.
It’s very difficult to establish boundaries with people you’ve known for years, and especially with family. They have it in their minds that you’re willing to be there to get things done for them. They depend on you. For this reason, they will resist when you try to create boundaries where there haven’t been any before. They won’t understand, so it’s up to you to explain your side of the situation. Tell them how you’re feeling, and that their expectations of you are causing your depression and stress to snowball.
The standard answer to this explanation is usually, “How do you think I feel?” Or they try to make you feel guilty for attempting to stand your ground. It could cause serious disruptions, and even end some relationships, but as I said, you should re-evaluate those relationships. If setting healthy boundaries is all it takes to end a relationship, then that relationship was based on some very shaky ground to begin with.
It all comes down to you, and what you know in your heart is best for you. If you’re okay with going on as before, that’s your choice. However, if you’re so overwhelmed that your depression is worsening, it’s time to take a stand.
• Decide what you can do that is expected of you, and still feel better mentally/emotionally.
• Explain your side of it. Tell them how you feel, and that what they are expecting of you is more than you can do, and still take care of yourself.
• When they try to “bully” you, or shame you, into continuing to do what they want you to do, stand your ground.
• Do not cave in to them. If you begin to feel guilty, or that maybe they’re right, remember why you are setting these new boundaries. It is for your own benefit, and very likely, also the benefit of your children and spouse.
• Do not panic if relationships with family members and/or friends (or even co-workers) change, or end. Remind yourself that if your healthy boundaries are deal-breakers, the relationship was not a healthy one.
• Take care of you! Do something good for yourself. With some of that extra time, money and energy, do something you would enjoy, and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it! You deserve it!
You will have people who will tell you that you’re being selfish. Don’t buy into that. It’s not selfish to do what you need to do in order to preserve, or improve, your mental/emotional health. Stress and depression are very serious matters. Taking care of yourself is not selfish—-it’s smart, and it’s very important. So have lunch with a friend, have a good time, and don’t worry about what the others think. You’ve earned it!