A few years ago, a friend of a friend who I was just getting to know invited me to her birthday celebrations. She had planned a birthday brunch, then dinner at a fancy restaurant followed by drinks after, all on the same day. I said yes to the dinner plans but didn’t respond to the brunch invite. I didn’t want to attend brunch but felt bad about saying no. I take it she saw my silence as a “maybe” and so she kept pushing till I caved and attended the brunch. I ended up spending most of my day and a lot of money celebrating the birthday of someone I barely knew and who hardly acknowledged my presence.
I later found out that she only invited me because her other friends had grown tired of her many demands on her birthday and she needed someone/anyone there. Total clown moment for me. 🤡
If I had set clear boundaries and said “No”, I would have saved myself a lot of time and money and avoided the irritation and embarrassment of the entire ordeal.
Setting and sticking to your boundaries might seem difficult at first, but they really do make your life easier. I read somewhere that “clear is kind and unclear is unkind”. The fact is, you’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a favor when you set clear boundaries. Being a people pleaser and always saying “Yes” to things we would rather not do can lead to inauthenticity. When you learn to say “No”, your “Yes” starts to carry more value. You become more intentional in how you spend your time and get to be truly present both physically and emotionally in your interactions. Your time and energy are finite so use them wisely.
Your time and energy are finite so use them wisely.
5 Notable Facts About Setting Healthy Boundaries
Understanding, establishing, and maintaining boundaries are key ingredients to self-actualization and taking control of your life. Here are a few reasons why:
Boundaries Are Empowering
It might be hard at first, but setting and sticking with your boundaries is empowering and even exhilarating. It gives you agency over your life and improves your self-esteem because you get to stand your ground more and more and notice how the world did NOT fall apart because you put your needs first. You realize that you are in the driver’s seat of your life and not a spectator watching other people determine how you spend your time or live your life.
Life is About Balance
The sooner you realize this the sooner you can start to design the life you want. There is a saying I learned from my brother: “you can’t be all sugar or people will lick you completely till there’s nothing left”. Some part of you has to be sour so people know when to back off. Even the Bible says “be gentle as a dove but wise as a serpent”. Letting people walk all over you is not how you prove to yourself that you’re a good person. Boundaries ensure that there are some of you left for YOU. Balance the sweet with the sour.
You Cannot Be Truly Authentic Without Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries allows you to be intentional and present on how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and what you invest your emotions and resources into.
Clear is kind and unclear is unkind.
Boundaries Are a Form of Self-care
When you say yes all the time, over-exert yourself, and neglect your own needs, it starts to affect your mental health and most likely will lead to burnout. Spend your time doing things you want, how you want them, and watch your sense of fulfillment and life enjoyment go up.
You Don’t Need Anyone’s Permission to Have Boundaries
The people who get upset when you set boundaries are those who have been benefiting from you overexerting yourself. The people who genuinely care about you and value your time would respect your boundaries.
This article was first published in an issue of The QLC Newsletter.
The QLC Newsletter covers finding your purpose, self-actualization, job dissatisfaction, mental health, relationship issues, money anxieties, and more. These topics are typical stressors for an adult’s quarter-life crisis and every week our founder Jiji Ugboma shares her advice, insight, and unique perspectives on these topics.
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