The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Are you a people pleaser? Are you the type of person who can not say no because you are too afraid of being perceived as unkind? I promise you are not alone. Sometimes, you may say yes to plans, opportunities, and questions simply because it seems easier to comply than to find your voice. Although it can be difficult, setting boundaries is freeing and absolutely necessary to practice self-care in the midst of chaotic life.
Boundaries are the limits and rules that are set within relationships. While being a good friend requires you to spend quality time and provide compassionate support, you can not expend all of your energy. When those limits are crossed or undefined, we end up in situations that are not healthy for us. Boundary setting does not always have to apply to complicated situations. Sometimes it is saying no so you can rewatch New Girl for the fourth time instead of going out with friends.
The first step to dismissing that Friday night plan is to recognize that saying no is not a bad thing. There is no penalty for prioritizing your own mental health. If you are struggling with a bad week, it is better for you to rest and reset than to push yourself to your breaking point. That is not only for your sake, but you are able to give more to those around you when you are refilling your cup.
Step number two is to acknowledge that you are not responsible for anyone else’s reactions. Often times we say yes because we are walking on eggshells around people we know. We are too worried about what they will say or do so we allow them to overlook our feelings. However, it is not your fault if someone reacts in a negative way. Most times the way people react is not personal, they too are dealing with the stressful ebbs and flows of daily life.
The next step is to be clear and concise. It is easy to ignore the text your friend sends you, respond with “maybe I have to see”, or make up a lie about why you do not want to hang out. Instead, tell the truth. A simple “Hey I can not hang out this weekend, I am feeling overwhelmed, and I need to prioritize my mental health” will do (copy-paste this in your notes for future reference). If you do not want to give all of that detail or you just do not want to hang out then just say “no thanks”. You do not owe anyone an explanation. If this is an in-person interaction remind yourself that it is worth it, to be honest during the moment rather than push off the conversation until a later date. I know some of you overthink every conversation, so you end up avoiding it.
Finally, give yourself some grace. We are all human and make mistakes. Setting boundaries and saying no is something that you learn over time and you do not always get it perfectly right away.
As Brenee Bown once said, “Daring to set boundaries is having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”