For some of us, it seems we’re on a constant mission to do for those who are not us. We want to help others. We want to appease others. We don’t want to disappoint others. We want to make ourselves desirable to others.
But in this gravitation toward feelings that are not our own, we can lose ourselves and allow others to control how we think, what we feel, and even who we are. In getting caught up in this obsession, we forget the fact that we matter. We really do. We matter too. And we must realize that this desire to give into the demands of others at the expense of our own self is not okay.
Here are six reasons why we owe it to ourselves to set boundaries with other people, especially those that consistently seem to put their needs over ours.
1. It’s not all about them.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in wanting to meet the expectations of others that we forget that everything is not about those around us. Neither do those around us always expect it to be. Most people we interact with expect a reasonable balance of give and take. And this one’s often on us; we may want to give and give more than we realistically should. But balance is key, and a boundary—not only with another person, but also with ourselves—to adhere to a balance of give and take is important for the sake of our mental health and sense of self.
2. You matter.
I said it earlier, and I can’t drive this home enough. As people are sometimes less inclined to set and maintain firm boundaries, we are also people who seem to forget that we are just as important as those people we are trying to help or appease. But the reality is, we as individuals really do matter. Our wants, our needs, our thoughts, our preferences, they’re all just as important and require just as much attention as we might want to give to those around us. We as individuals deserve to make ourselves just as much of a priority as everyone else.
3. They set the tone.
Boundaries are limiters; they set limits on what behaviors toward us are acceptable and what behaviors are not. If we tolerate behavior from one person that’s unfair to us, don’t even begin to think that it will only be that one person acting that way toward us. By allowing someone to throw that kind of behavior in our direction, we’re giving not only the instigator of such an action permission to get away with such behavior and to treat us in a way that we maybe shouldn’t be treated, but also others. Setting boundaries on a micro level with individuals translates to showing others outwardly how we want to be treated on the whole.
4. Getting taken advantage of is not okay.
We’re all about helping others. But it’s not okay for other people to use us to handle their wants and/or needs at our expense. And some people are notorious for this. One of the primary goals of boundary setting is to avoid this behavior coming our way. Because others taking advantage of our good nature, flexibility, and drive to help for their own personal gain is never acceptable, period.
5. We ultimately have to please ourselves.
Again, we’re all about helping other people out. We want to give others what they want or need. But it’s going to be impossible to help others if we feel like we can’t help ourselves first and if we can’t be realistic about what we can give. Self-care is an important tool in ensuring we can give to others within a relationship in a healthy way without running ourselves ragged. It’s great when others get their wants and needs met, but it’s not great if it means we get depleted in the process. We all deserve to take care of ourselves first and foremost and to say no when it’s warranted.
6. Relationships should be mutually beneficial.
Healthy relationships should benefit everyone involved. If a relationship—be that romantic, platonic, familial, etc.—remains one-sided, with one person continuously taking and taking and us repeatedly giving and giving without return, it’s going to make you feel exponentially worse until you cannot take the burden of that kind of relationship anymore. Setting boundaries that promote respectful, mutually beneficial relationships ensures that you are healthy, happy, and staying away from toxic individuals, which are three things everyone needs.