I used to be that girl that felt like I had a use-me sign on my forehead, that was apparently visible to everyone but me. Did getting treated like crap meant I deserved it? Was I not worthy enough? Or likeable enough? Was I getting this treatment because of the way I looked? I mean what was it about me? Little did I know that I was the orchestrator of my own dilemma. I was allowing people to get away with treating me subpar.
These are some ways we’ve allowed people take our power
The people who ghost you and you allow them to walk right back into your life. You allow your boss/co-workers to speak to you in a totally unacceptable condescending manner. Your friends plan dates but they always stand you up. The guy you just met, thinks it’s appropriate to hit you up at 10 pm so you can meet him in his car. That family member that is hellbent on intruding on your personal space and making everything about them. And what about Keisha, who is always breadcrumbing you and totally forgets you exist until she needs something from you.
You give so much but what are you getting in return? Dust… Nada….Crickets. You don’t have to be treated that way. The disrespect starts and ends with you when you decide to take back your power. We teach people how to treat us.
How To Stop Being Used by Others?
Taking your power back requires you to get some boundaries.
Boundaries are an important aspect of any healthy relationship. It sets the standard for how we want to be treated and how we want to show up in our relationships. Boundaries show that we have high self-esteem and we are willing to not let people disrespect us by being unkind to ourselves.
It communicates an imaginary line where you stand and where other people begin otherwise you would have people walking all over you and being all up in your personal space. In short, boundaries gives us our power back.
Also, If you tend to have self-sabotaging habits or if you find that you are being so hard on yourself that’s where personal boundaries come in. It’s human nature to reserve the most criticism, blame and judgement towards ourselves and these thoughts we have of ourselves aren’t even our thoughts.
How to know when to set boundaries
- When you feel disrespected or powerless
- They make you feel unworthy
- Your wants and needs are not getting met
- If you feel walked all over or taken advantage of
- Do you find yourself keeping the peace by not speaking up?
- If their actions have triggered certain emotions in you- do not ignore it – confront it
- They give you an uncomfortable nagging feeling in your gut.
- When you don’t want to give consent to something.
- You feel negative emotions around someone or something
It comes down to how you feel, if you feel good about something, great. If you don’t, you know it’s time to set boundaries. It’s always best to set boundaries at the start of any new relationship so it does not come as a shock to the other person.
Benefits of boundaries
- It protects your energy and gives you your power back
- Gives you peace of mind which is highly underrated
- You can form opinions on who to trust
- You get to know who is emotionally safe
- Clear roles and expectations in your relationships with other people
- More time for yourself (self-care)
- Honor your needs
- It is empowering standing up for yourself
- Less worrying about other people
- Healthy mutually supportive relationships
- Less, frustration, anger, resentment, and burnout
- Narcissist/energy vampire repellent
- Can be used to determine who’s genuine and who’s not
- Strengthens relationship and is a chance to really connect
- Allows you to take responsibility for your life
What to expect when you set boundaries
As you can imagine, not everyone will be happy with you when you start setting firm boundaries. I mean if people are used to getting over on you for years, taking that supply can feel like a threat to their survival.
It is normal to feel guilty
Just because you feel guilty for doing something does not make it the wrong decision, it’s a trauma response to always being the people pleaser and making sure that everyone around you is kept happy. It’s completely normal to feel guilty, afraid or anxious having set a boundary. You have to keep at it with EVERYONE you meet especially at the beginning of the relationship.
The people in your life are used to you playing a certain role that fulfils their needs.
When you stop playing your role by deciding to take your power back, it reveals the demons in other people specifically the toxic ones. That’s when you see their mask drop. Toxic people will most likely think that you’re being disrespectful, mean, rude and look for all mean words under the sun to attack your character and to gaslight you. But honestly, they can kick rocks because these are the same people who pay no mind to the pain/inconvenience they caused you in the first place. You have to stop caring what other people think of you if you want to be a pro at setting boundaries.
The moment I started setting boundaries was when I realised the intentions other people have for me and the so-called role they expected me to play in their life.
You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. You’re not responsible for the version of you that other people have created in their own minds. You’re not responsible for what people think of you. You’re not responsible for how they choose to respond to your boundaries.
You are not going to be liked by everybody and that is okay
How people respond to your boundaries says a lot about who they are, not you. If setting boundaries will end your friendship, then they were never your friends, to begin with.
Boundaries help you figure out who is really for you and who’s worth keeping around. Instead of guessing if people around you are genuine or not, boundaries will expose their true character.
How to set boundaries with examples
Boundaries apply to money, time, physical (space), personal. Notice how I did not over-explain or apologise for my basic needs in the examples given below.
“Do not touch my hair, with or without permission I still do not like it”
“You are standing too close to me, let us maintain some distance”
“I need to spend some time alone in my space”
“I do not want to talk about Stephanie when she isn’t here”
“I do not feel comfortable talking about my personal life at work”
“I would appreciate it if you do not keep talking over me while I’m speaking”
“If that works for you that’s fine but I did not ask for your advice”
“When I tell you something, I’m expecting that it wouldn’t be shared with the whole group”
“After 9 pm I generally do not respond to phone calls or emails from anyone”
“I won’t be responding to work calls on my days off”
“When we make plans and you don’t commit to them, I find that very disrespectful of my time. It would help if you let me know way ahead of time that you can’t make it”
“I have to be somewhere, we can talk later”
“I don’t kiss on the first date”
“Do not touch me there, that is highly inappropriate”
“If you continue to throw sexual innuendos with me I will stop having this conversation altogether”
“I consent to safe sex only, nothing else”
“Everyone has an opinion, it doesn’t make me stupid for having mine”
“Let us agree to disagree, we do not have to see things the same way”
“I do not want to keep talking about this as it is getting us nowhere”
“I have been listening to you talk, I would like to share my views on the topic as well”
“I do not want to lend my clothes out”
“I don’t have any money to give right now”
“Can you keep my room the way I have left it please”
“No, I do not feel comfortable sharing clothes”
Yes boundaries apply to you too
“I choose to let this go and not complain about this anymore”
“I will prioritise rest while making plans for work”
“I will not go back to toxic people just because I am lonely”
“I am going to bed early so I can show up as my best productive self”
“I choose to be happy in this moment”
What happens when people keep direspecting/ overstepping your boundaries?
Setting boundaries can be very uncomfortable to do, you don’t want to appear confrontational. It’s much easier to avoid conflicts now but in the long run, it leads to explosive anger and resentment. Instead of expecting people to extend the same kindness, why not do yourself a favour and show yourself respect by offering that same kindness to yourself.
Keep firm with your boundaries as people will try to test to see just how serious you are. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t agree the first time, keep setting those boundaries out of respect for yourself. If people recognise that you are more than willing to please them at your expense they will be more than willing to suck you dry of everything you have.
Take your power back by vocalising your boundaries as that is synonymous with telling yourself that you are worthy whether the other person chooses to see it or not. Here’s to using our voice and taking our power back in 2022 and beyond!