I identify as an assertive person and I have been learning over the last few years that I sometimes struggle with setting boundaries. I am working through the reasons why I'm not as good at this as I want to be.
Here's a few possible reasons and why it feels hard...
Fear of rejection: Setting boundaries usually involves saying "no" to others, or letting them down. Many of us fear that setting boundaries will lead to rejection or even abandonment by others.
Lack of self-awareness: We may not fully understand our own needs, making it difficult to communicate these to others. In many families, parents may not be aware of their own needs and operating outside of their comfort zones as well. This can lead to the kids thinking that they need to push to meet the needs of others, even when it doesn't work for them - it's just something you have to do.
Codependency: People who struggle with codependency tend to prioritize the needs of others over their own, making it difficult for them to set boundaries. This looks like “If they aren't ok, I am not ok”. There's a sense of anxiety when you feel someone is upset with you.
People-pleasing: Some people prioritize making others happy over their own happiness and have difficulty setting limits. This is how they learned to feel safe as a child, typically.
Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem may not feel worthy of having boundaries or may fear that setting boundaries will make them appear selfish or unlikable.
It's important to remember that setting boundaries is a skill that can be learned and practiced. By identifying the factors that may be contributing to your difficulty in setting boundaries, you can work on addressing them and developing healthy strategies. Working through this with a therapist can help.
~ Laura, Clinical Therapist
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