If you’re anything like me, you love helping other people and you have a hard time telling people “no”. Seriously, I’ve sacrificed sleep, time, opportunity, and peace of mind in the name of others. And chances are if those others knew this, they’d probably, no definitely yell at me. However, for a long time, I saw it as well I’m just trying to be nice. But there is a thin line between niceness and exhaustion.
Recently, I’ve been talking with my therapist about how the 99% I give to others and the 1% I give to myself just isn’t enough any longer. My need to be “nice to the point of exhaustion” started as a kid, since I was disabled, I just wanted other kids to like me. I somehow got carried away in my adult life, because I believe in karma (to the extreme). To make matters worse, I know that the people I love NEVER asked for my 99%, I just gave it to them because it seemed like “the right thing to do.” However, even they have told me I’m too nice. So here’s some tips on establish boundaries, in order to keep enough energy for yourself.
Wait until they ask
Don’t get me wrong, if you want to offer to help someone that’s fine, but don’t always offer. If they really need it and they know they can depend on you (if truly necessary), they will be grown-up girls/guys and ask.
The only person’s happiness you’re responsible for is yours
What makes me happy is seeing others happy, so putting a smile on their face is a big deal. You know what doesn’t make happy? Feeling like my happiness in other areas of my life isn’t as important. Now, I’m drained and unable to help myself. Additionally, you are not responsible for another’s choices. So while support is nice, you still have to live your life and make decisions that help you build the kind of life you desire.
You cannot “fix” anything
People are not machines that come with instructions or a warranty if something breaks. If a person truly wants to fix something, you can indeed be supportive, but they have to dig and do the hard work within themselves. Youtuber and author, Lilly “Superwoman” Singh, says in her book, How to be a Bawse: Your Guide to Conquering Life,
“When it comes to understanding our behavior… I believe each of us has a minimum of three layers. Surprise, you’re a tiramisu!”
The top layer consists of how we explain our actions to others (the easiest and prettiest layer), the middle layer is how we explain things to ourselves (the more dense layer) and finally, the bottom layer (the root of the issue) that may not taste the best or look as pretty. That means, your friend is gonna have to take a spoon and destroy their own dessert.
You cannot allow yourself be their only form of support
Think about a stool, it needs four legs to balance, if it only had one skinny leg, it wouldn’t be too safe. That one leg couldn’t hold the weight. Well you can’t hold the weight of your friends forever, there has to be a system of support: boyfriends, other friends, parents, etc. I’m aware that in some situations, this isn’t an option, but you have to make it one.