Have you ever felt like you just can’t get ahead because you’re constantly being weighed down by the weight of other people’s issues? Maybe you have family members who believe they are entitled to your favors or your financial help. Or, perhaps, you have friends who believe that you need to drop whatever you’re doing and help them the moment they ask for your help. Although you may want to help out whenever and however you can, you may find that you’re neglecting your goals and your needs in order to support others. While it’s always good to help others, you cannot give what you do not have. In order to be the best version of yourself, and help others to the fullest extent, it may be necessary to set boundaries with more difficult people.
Accept Their Limitations
When you think about the person that’s constantly taking, even when you’ve got nothing to give, it’s important to understand who they are. When you’re dealing with someone who is incredibly difficult and takes your help for granted, it’s important that you list their limitations and accept their limitations. For example, if your mother is constantly making cruel jokes about the fact that you still haven’t gotten a graduate degree, you’ll have to accept that your mother may be deficient in empathy. By accepting her limitation in empathy, you’re not condoning her behavior. Instead, you’re acknowledging that she is not likely to change and it’s not your job to change her.
They Can Take Care of Themselves
Once you’ve accepted your difficult person’s limitations, it’s important that you realize that they can take care of themselves. Difficult people may attempt to guilt trip you into doing what they want. They may try to make you feel bad for not helping them out financially. Or, they may make an attempt to make you feel guilty if you do not spend enough time with them. Though they may be very good at making you feel like they need you, they’re fully functioning adults who can take care of themselves. Their world will not end if you don’t visit them enough, or call them enough.
Decide on What You’re Willing to Do
Back to the example of the mother who’s shaming her child for not having a graduate degree: you may not want to be the subject of her cruel jokes for a daily phone call. However, you may decide that you could stomach a weekly phone call with your mother. If you consider the difficult person in your life, and you believe that the relationship will be unable to go on unless you do exactly what they want, you may need to end the relationship. Good friends and loving family members will not ask you to sacrifice your happiness in order to support them. If your friend, significant other, or family member, is threatening to cut ties with you if you won’t do what they want you to do, it may be a sign that they are benefitting from a lack of boundaries.
You Can’t Change People
Remember, you can’t change people. Since difficult people are unlikely to change, you’re going to have to be the one to change. Let’s say your father tells you that you need to call him for an hour every day. If you don’t want to do that, it’s okay to tell him that you aren’t willing to do that. If you’re willing to call your father for an hour once a week, it’s okay to offer that up as a compromise. However, don’t offer up compromises you’re not willing to make. If your mother tells you that you need to fly out to see her once a month. It’s perfectly reasonable to tell her that you’re not going to do that.
Be Kind but Firm
A lot of people who struggle with respecting the boundaries of others will attempt to test boundaries the moment they’re put in place. In times like these, it’s important that you remain kind, but firm. If a difficult person becomes antagonistic or disrespectful when they aren’t getting their way, it’s perfectly acceptable to politely excuse yourself from the conversation. This may mean hanging up the phone in a polite and dignified manner, or physically leaving. You do not have to put up with disrespectful behavior just because you aren’t supporting a person who feels entitled to your support.
You Are Worthy
You are a human being worthy of chasing your dreams, creating opportunities, and pursuing your goals. If you are constantly feeling as though your kindness and support are being taken for granted, setting boundaries may benefit you and your dreams. Although it may be nice to support your loved ones from time to time, you need to support yourself as well. As a human being, you deserve the chance to do what makes you happy.