For several years, I kept having “say no more” on my goal list but would get frustrated that I didn’t make more progress with that. I’d always end up feeling burnt out and frazzled while wondering how I got to that point. So, at the end of 2018, I had a solo retreat to really brainstorm how I could work on that. What I realized was that I needed to be better about setting and maintaining boundaries. So, I made it a goal of mine to set boundaries with friends to maintain healthy relationships and create positive space for myself. Today, I decided to share how to set healthy boundaries with friends through 8 essential tips!
I mentioned that I created a flow chart to determine why I was always ending the year feeling burnt out and frazzled. I really began jotting down the frustrations I was feeling in relationships whether they were friendships or professional relationships, and I created three different “buckets” of feelings from that. Then, I started thinking about what I could control with those interactions. From there, that drove my next steps, including questions I should ask myself and how I could move forward while maintaining my boundaries for my own emotional protection. See below for the key steps I took based on those personal frustrations so that I could maintain a positive outlook and relationships.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Friends
Know Your Limits
Creating this flow chart with buckets really helped me to identify triggers for me that began negatively impacting my mood. Negativity, unsolicited opinions, and constant complaining about the same problems over and over again without making steps to change were big factors for me. By coming to terms with interactions that were causing me discomfort or stress helped me identify what my limits are in day to day interactions. I also identified ways that I could politely excuse myself in these situations so that I could protect my emotional health.
I was feeling emotional drained from saying no because I did not want to disappoint friends. I felt that sometimes it was more stressful over-explaining why I couldn’t or didn’t want to do something, so I would end up committing, only to dread whatever the event or outing was all day, sometimes week. I realized that was (and is) unfair to those who I have committed to because I was resentful. So, instead of overexploiting, I just simply started saying “Thank you for thinking of me but I can’t.” And I was shocked at how easy it was to do more frequently, and how I wasn’t haven’t to over-explain or cancel at the last minute. It also made interactions more positive when we did spend time together because I wasn’t overextending myself any longer.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my marriage with David is that humans are not mind readers. We work really hard to use our words to speak about what is bothering us or when we need something. That has changed the dynamics of our relationship in the utmost positive way. I found it important to translate that to my other relationships. In the most respectful way I can, I let the other person know what is bothering me and how we can work together. It can be intimidating at first, but I learned that by being direct, it eliminates anxiety and potential drama because it takes the guess work out of what the dilemma is within that relationship.
There were times where I could feel myself slipping, so I went back to my flow chart and back to my questions to remind myself of my boundaries. I consistently ask myself “What can I control?” in situations so that I don’t spiral into things that are out of my control. This particular practice has been helpful in alleviating my anxiety because it reminds me what is in my sphere of influence.
Find an Accountability Partner
Fortunately, I have a few friends who have been around on my self-awareness journey I’ve been on for the past couple of years. I am hyper aware of what my strengths and weaknesses are and I enjoy surrounding myself with people who will ask me hard questions. On those days where I may have needed help with my self-awareness, I would reach out to one of my accountability partners for a tough word and a vote of confidence.
Be Clear About the Ways You are Willing to Help Others
It was important to me as I went on this journey of setting boundaries with friends that they still knew that I loved them and would help them. Setting and maintaining boundaries was a personal goal of mine and it was important to say no to things that were not contributing to my growth or were leaving me feeling drained. Despite all that, I am still here in the event of an emergency, a shoulder to cry on, or an encouraging word.
Love Yourself Loudly
This all got started for me when I saw a quote on a friend’s Instagram that said “You do not have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” I realized that there were some who were not okay with boundaries because I wasn’t giving my energy away as easily as I did in the past. I measure my time by how I feel when I leave an interaction. Do I feel exhausted and mentally/emotionally drained? Or do I feel excited, encouraged, and light? Ultimately, I find it freeing and invigorating to say no, mind my own business, solve my own problems, and if something makes me feel unworthy, uncertain, or unclear… I’m out.
Obviously, making these changes did not happen over night. It really did take seeing that quote about not having to set my soul on fire for others that was a light bulb coming on for me. I realized that I wasn’t able to give my best to myself because I was draining myself for others. I recognized that this was a big change for me and I didn’t want to overextend myself on this journey. I started small and as those small victories came, it became easier to turn those into big victories. There are still hard days and difficult interactions, but it’s a constant evolution of learning and growth.
Do you have any tips on how to set healthy boundaries with friends? Let me know in a comment below!
Shop the Post