“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker.
It is difficult to set boundaries, especially if you are used to being your friends ‘therapist or ‘go-to’ person for certain things. You may feel like you are potentially letting your friends down by uttering the word ‘no’. But it comes to a point when neglecting yourself by putting others first can be heavily taxing in your mental and physical health. So I have written a compassionate list of things you can do to set boundaries whilst keeping your valuable friendships.
Value your time
There are times when you and your friends are at different points in your life. And that is okay. Establishing and maintaining adult friendships is difficult because unlike in your teenage years, you don’t all have similar routines. Establish boundaries through open communication and letting your friends know when you are free for them. If your friends value you, they will respect this and act in conjunction with your time. But you have to communicate this in a compassionate way, because just like you they are human beings.
Value your mental health
Think of how you feel after speaking to or leaving your friends. By acknowledging how you feel after your interaction with them, you will be able to figure out if the friendship is generally good for you. When you’re adulting the majority of your week, you do not want to feel drained after spending time with your friends. You are supposed to feel good and replenished after a long week. So ask yourself if your friends are still your safe space. If not, avoid conversations that may upset you, by letting them how it affects you. Good friends would understand, needy emotionally draining friends won’t.
When you value and respect your wants and needs, you become more familiar with what you do and do not tolerate. Take time to yourself to understand what you currently need from your friends, this way you can establish boundaries that are relevant to you. Also ask yourself, can you rely on others, as much as they rely on you? But also remember that nobody owes you anything, and YOU also do not owe anyone anything.
Keep an open mind and be compassionate
If your friends do not value your boundaries, then maybe have a compassionate conversation and ask them why? This is because a good friend wants you to be happy, and if setting boundaries is what will make you happy, then your friends should respect that. Trust your instincts and value your feelings, as that is the ultimate self-care.