It is difficult to set boundaries with anyone. Especially if you’re shy or scared of the repercussions of speaking up. In this case, it is difficult to set boundaries with your friends if you are their ‘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 becomes heavily taxing on your mental and physical health.
It’s important to know that you’re not the only one who goes through this, it’s actually pretty common. A lot of us just do not know how to even utter the word ‘no’ when asked for a favour. This is especially true if you are like me, and love making people happy.
So I have written a compassionate list of things you can do to set boundaries whilst keeping your valuable friendships.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker.
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.
Value your mental health
Think of how you feel after speaking to or leaving your friends. Do you feel drained and unbothered after a phone call? Do you wish you could be home when you are out with them? If so, then you may need to self-assess why that is. In some circumstances, we may need time off, but we just don’t know how to communicate to friends that you are not feeling well enough to engage with them.
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 know how it affects you. Good friends would understand. Needy and 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 them, them as much as they rely on you? But also remember that nobody owes you anything, and YOU also do not owe anyone anything. Relationships shouldn’t be transactional. If you are a giving person, then you deserve to be yourself. Just be mindful that you are not emptying your cup to fill somebody else’s.
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? 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.