People-Pleasing Vs. Boundary-Setting: Stay On Track For Success By Defending Your Needs

People-pleasing is one of those behaviors that have an immediate payoff. Practice it and you can typically expect a rapid boost to your popularity and an increase in how much people seem to need you. This can be a great boost to your ego. But remember, every time you say yes to someone or something, you may also be saying no to yourself. Thus, you need to be judicious in what you say yes to, and you absolutely have to have boundaries. 

Setting boundaries is critical because people-pleasing often involves denying your own needs. Without carefully-thought-out boundaries, you can drift away from your values and can even ignore your deepest ambitions. Over time, people-pleasing can cause you to forget your goals entirely. If you always put others before yourself, you are unlikely to achieve meaningful goals and the self-actualization that will allow your spirit to shine and make you better able to help yourself and others. 

A mention of boundary-setting can sound like putting up walls, the opposite of what you want in your life. But an awareness of your boundaries is critical to healthy interpersonal relationships and personal development. Clearly defined and respected boundaries allow you and those around you to know where you stand with regard to each other and to move forward with mutual respect. Remember that anyone who won’t respect your boundaries you probably don’t need in your life, anyway. 

Problematic People-Pleasing

One of the biggest problems with people-pleasing is that it is never-ending. It attracts people whose needs can not be satisfied. People-pleasers in such relationships are thus subjecting themselves to continuing requests for help by people who really should be dealing with their own problems and situations. Moreover, people-pleasers sometimes blame themselves for the unhappiness of others because they, the people-pleasers, have been unable to rectify every real or imagined difficulty. It’s a vicious cycle that you can interrupt by looking to the lessons of emotional intelligence (EQ). 

A high degree of EQ will allow you to raise not only your own awareness of the meaning and ramifications of your thoughts and behaviors but also your understanding of the motivations and actions of others. Equipped with this awareness, you can rationally and objectively decide which things you will do for which people and under what circumstances, all leading to stronger, more honest and more balanced relationships. 

Why Risk Saying No?

Saying yes tends to feel safe. Saying no can be scary because it almost always results in at least a little disappointment by others. It’s worth the risk, however, because it benefits both you and those around you. Whenever you justifiably say no to someone else’s agenda, consider it a resounding yes to yourself and your values. You have demonstrated that you have a high degree of appreciation for the value of your own time and energy and that you will not allow it to be impinged upon by those needier than yourself.

• Everybody Can Win — Saying no may feel selfish at first, but it’s a necessary part of the balance required for happiness. Setting boundaries is critical to your ability to achieve fulfillment and progress in your journey of personal development. With emotional intelligence, you can assert your needs in a way that means no one should lose face. You may even be able to negotiate a way for everyone to get what they want without sacrificing your needs.

• Protect Yourself From Energy Predators  By setting boundaries, you can assure that you don’t fall prey to the kind of person who actively seeks people-pleasers to take on their goals. By maintaining your boundaries, you can carry out your work, focus on your own projects and put energy into fulfilling your destiny.

A mention of boundary-setting can sound like putting up walls, the opposite of what you want in your life. But an awareness of your boundaries is critical to healthy interpersonal relationships and personal development. Clearly defined and respected boundaries allow you and those around you to know where you stand with regard to each other and to move forward with mutual respect. Remember that anyone who won’t respect your boundaries you probably don’t need in your life, anyway. 

Problematic People-Pleasing

One of the biggest problems with people-pleasing is that it is never-ending. It attracts people whose needs can not be satisfied. People-pleasers in such relationships are thus subjecting themselves to continuing requests for help by people who really should be dealing with their own problems and situations. Moreover, people-pleasers sometimes blame themselves for the unhappiness of others because they, the people-pleasers, have been unable to rectify every real or imagined difficulty. It’s a vicious cycle that you can interrupt by looking to the lessons of emotional intelligence (EQ). 

A high degree of EQ will allow you to raise not only your own awareness of the meaning and ramifications of your thoughts and behaviors but also your understanding of the motivations and actions of others. Equipped with this awareness, you can rationally and objectively decide which things you will do for which people and under what circumstances, all leading to stronger, more honest and more balanced relationships. 

Why Risk Saying No?

Saying yes tends to feel safe. Saying no can be scary because it almost always results in at least a little disappointment by others. It’s worth the risk, however, because it benefits both you and those around you. Whenever you justifiably say no to someone else’s agenda, consider it a resounding yes to yourself and your values. You have demonstrated that you have a high degree of appreciation for the value of your own time and energy and that you will not allow it to be impinged upon by those needier than yourself.Paragraph

• Everybody Can Win — Saying no may feel selfish at first, but it’s a necessary part of the balance required for happiness. Setting boundaries is critical to your ability to achieve fulfillment and progress in your journey of personal development. With emotional intelligence, you can assert your needs in a way that means no one should lose face. You may even be able to negotiate a way for everyone to get what they want without sacrificing your needs.

• Creator Fairer Environments — If someone is taking advantage of your people-pleasing trait, it’s critical to hold your ground. If, having done this, you do not receive the respect you deserve, consider it time to walk away, but on your terms. Standing up for yourself in this way can have a positive effect on everyone around you. People will know what they can expect when they work with you and may be inspired to consider and protect their own boundaries, as well.

Setting Boundaries That Work For You

If you believe you are too much of a people-pleaser, think back to your childhood years. Did you routinely sacrifice your happiness so that those around you could have theirs? As a child, were you overly solicitous of the feelings of your siblings and friends? If so, you may have a people-pleasing problem of long standing. Identifying it as such may make it easier to see unhealthy patterns that have developed in your life. But even if your people-pleasing behavior is of more recent origin, you can look to the immediate past to recognize situations where you should have said no.

As we look to ways to avoid people-pleasing in the future, it’s a good idea to write down your boundaries. Put them in writing so you can see what your values dictate should be said no to. As with a lot of things we commit to writing, putting them on a piece of paper causes you to clarify your thinking, to reach conclusions and to assess your values. It also makes it harder to compromise. Anyone addicted to people-pleasing may find expressing their thoughts this way particularly challenging, but it is also extremely useful.

Well-thought-out boundaries will make it easier for you to see when people are infringing on them. You can most easily prevent that infringement by always having your values and boundaries foremost in your awareness.

Thus, when you understand boundary-setting, instead of being resentful with trespassers, you will be more likely to respond from a place of knowledge and compassion. 

If you want to be respected, you have to start by respecting yourself. To be valuable, value your time, your thoughts and your needs. Because boundaries protect us and our values, boundary-setting is integral to your self-actualization.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

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