I’ve heard stories about people feeling drained because they don’t know how to stand up for themselves. Whether this be in a movie, TV show, or in real life with my friends and family, this issue seems to come up pretty frequently. It’s significant to remember that setting boundaries can make all the difference for your mental health. Putting yourself first is important in the long run with any relationship, including the relationship with yourself. These boundaries can consist of many different things and at the end of the day anyone who truly cares for you should understand these boundaries.
As a child I remember it being so easy to reply to people with “yes” or “no”, and I didn’t have to give it a single thought on how they would react. Now my replies are over-thought and I worry about the effects of replying a certain way. An effective way to create boundaries is by learning how to say no to people. Saying no to people comes in many different forms because sometimes saying yes makes situations temporarily better. For example, if a person adds good into your life every so often, you say yes to hanging out with them just for those few positive moments with each other. Any relationship in your life shouldn’t be a rollercoaster of emotions because you deserve nothing but the best all the time, not just when people feel like being nice. In situations like this, it’s better to let go of those few great memories in order to keep your mental health stable constantly rather than momentarily. People come and go and there will be new people who will appreciate you everyday, not just when they feel like it.
Going hand in hand with being able to say no to people, it’s important to take time for yourself and give yourself some credit. Setting boundaries looks like knowing when to stop adding on to your plate and step back from your responsibilities to breathe. For a lot of people, their relationships in life consume them and they don’t know when to stop giving and start setting time aside to check in on themselves. An easy way to solve this is by physically writing down in a planner the time of day you will take for yourself. During this time, don’t worry about anyone else but yourself. The true relationships in your life will understand this break you need and be right there for you when you come back. Just as you appreciate other people and their accomplishments, do so for yourself as well.
These few boundaries seem so easy written down, but once actually put into action they can be very challenging. It may feel like saying yes to people is being unproblematic and what’s best for the other person, or taking a break is being selfish and you need to always be there for people no matter what. When you begin to feel this way, reverse the roles and imagine someone you care about telling you this is how they feel. The way you care and give attention to this person’s feelings, is exactly how you should handle your own. It’s completely valid to take time for yourself and prioritize your needs above others. The more you’re able to help yourself, the more you will be able to help others.
People too often mix up the definitions between selfishness and prioritizing yourself. There’s a difference between not caring at all and caring to the point of needing to step back and take a self check. Setting boundaries can ultimately help the relationships in your life because when you’re mentally healthy you are able to give more to others. At the end of the day, setting boundaries is giving more rather than running to the point where you have nothing left.