Dinner Confidential: “Pleasing and Boundaries”
I am a pleasing addict. Ever since I can remember I’ve been pleasing other people. As a child, I used to always played what my cousins wanted to play (vs. what I wanted); as a teenager, I dated guys I didn’t really like because I knew they liked me and I simply couldn’t “hurt them;” as an adult, I would always be the first to offer help when a coworker needed support (even if I was already swamped).
I do everything in my power not to come across as confrontational. If I am going to be my most honest self, I need to set some boundaries. I need to find a way to be gentle and sweet AND also firm and provocative. I need to find a way to say NO even if it feels uncomfortable.
This is hard for me. I’m afraid that people would not like me in the same way if I don’t agree with what they say. Talking to other women about pleasing and boundaries inspired me to take action. And most importantly, once again, it reminded me that I’m not alone. You are not alone.
Here are the key takeaways:
- Not all boundaries are the same. Some boundaries are irrevocable, like a big mountain (i.e.: protecting time with my kids) while others are softer, easier to bend (i.e.: protecting a night in). Identifying the kind of boundary we want to set, will allow us to be either flexible or firm.
- Boundaries vs. Barriers. This is an important distinction. For instance, when a boss sends an email over the weekend asking us to do something and we ignore it, but feel angry inside (who the hell they think they are to disturb my family time?), we are creating a barrier. But, if we are able to reply: “I won’t be able to look into this until Monday, but rest assured it will get done,” we are setting our boundary (respect my time and trust my capability). There is clarity, honesty and power in this behavior. Danielle LaPorte talks more about this in here.
- Pause pleasing and enjoy receiving. Many of us care so much about others that we love to please. We want to help, protect, organize… but when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to receive without guilt or need to give back, something magical can happen: we experience being fully loved.
- Identify what’s really driving your behavior. For many of us, our pleasing behavior is driven by fear… fear of disappointment, fear of not being needed, fear of not being accepted or included and ultimately fear of not being liked and loved Uncover the root so you can generate new — and more empowering — behaviors.
So what’s next…
- Connect with your true, deepest desire: identify what’s truly important to you and create strong boundaries around it (i.e.: Friday morning is when I write).
- Be kind, not nice: being nice can yield passive aggressive behaviors (we have to swallow our emotions to constantly be nice). But being kind (to ourselves and others) can boost our confidence. If you are interested in this topic, read the wonderful book The Power of Kindness.
- Be honest about your boundary, even when it’s uncomfortable: tell others (including your boss or parents), what are your no-nos. Be confident in protecting your space. People will respect you for it.
- Continue to give, but on your terms!: being a “giver” is a wonderful thing, but giving too much leads to burnout. Psychologist and author, Adam Grant talks about this concept at work. He says that companies want to hire “givers,” but there are good givers and bad givers. Creating boundaries is one way to be a good giver.
Things to experiment with
Model others: think about people in your life that have healthy, strong boundaries. Now look at your weekly/monthly calendar through their eyes — what would you change?
Written by Veronica Marquez, www.veronicamarquez.me
Dinner Confidential is a monthly event that brings together a small group of women to talk — with vulnerability and openness — about key sensitive topics in our lives (i.e.: self-confidence, dealing with fear, etc). Check out www.dinnerconfidential.org to learn more or attend a dinner!