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“People-Pleasing”- the GOAL to setting boundaries

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

“We need to create a new revolution, and to do that, don’t waste your life: stop pleasing people, and become who you always wanted to be”.

- Paulo Coelho

We as people have tendencies innate to us. People-pleasing as much as we can for the sake of being accepted, and the sense of belongingness might be one of them. But sometimes, as we do this, we slowly lose who we are as a person – we try to become true for others, but we become fake to ourselves. To what extent can we tolerate this behavior, and when do we say 'I've had it?'

To tweak a famous quote, "To please people is human, to set boundaries is divine," something like that. We only go so far as to please people for whatever's worth, but we can also develop personal goals for setting boundaries with a win-win situation in mind. Let's talk about some factors to diminish people-pleasing as we set boundaries towards reaching our goals in life.

The Line in the Sand

Drawing the line in the sand, proverbially, is a frequently used metaphor in setting one's boundaries. This famous quote means a point beyond which one will not venture or dare to – it is a limit to what we can do or accept. This line is the best example when we talk about drawing boundaries. But how do we do so?

Every one of us has our motivations, paths and triggers for us to set boundaries. It can be any aspect of our lives – physical, mental, social, emotional – the list goes on, but you get the gist. In general, we can trim it down to four (4) things we can try to do so we can start setting our boundaries straight:

  • Know and define your limits.

Knowing our limitations as an individual can help us be in fine tune with who we are. After doing this, we can easily define our limits with other people and clearly define boundaries like physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual we have with people around us – family, friends, intimate partners, school and work colleagues, and strangers.

  • Become assertive.

Being assertive is defined as having or showing a personality that is confident and forceful. Now, becoming assertive is relatively subjective since we each have unique experiences, but we all boil down to one result. Here are some ways how we can easily become assertive:

  • Check your style of communicating with others

  • Have a few planned responses for general situations

  • Never let guilt get in your way

  • Utilize optimistic self-talk

  • Breathe in, breathe out

  • Exude a confident stance

  • Practice with a trusted loved one

  • Know and believe your worth

  • Practice makes it near-perfect.

Contrary to popular belief, practice won't make anyone perfect as much as we want to. But the good news is that by practicing, we can be better at whatever we are practicing. So, this famous ideology is not debunked but is somehow realistically configured so that we can absorb the real essence of what it wants us to learn.

  • When all else fails, erase and move on.

In the end, our efforts only go so far in being successful in all things we try to do. Most of the time, we succeed and achieve what we want, but the other side of the coin slams us with the reality of failure. If this happens, never give up. Instead, let us learn from it, delete and ignore all the negativity, then move forward in our lives.

Facing Our Demons

As we eliminate our people-pleasing tendencies by setting boundaries towards our goals, more often than not, we start to have doubts, empowering the inner demons we have that will contradict what we have already begun. But we need to keep calm and try to follow these helpful tips on how we can face our inner demons:

  • Focus on what lies on the other side and not on what hinders us at the moment.

  • Never bring up the past to the future unless we are making peace with it.

  • Use these demons to our advantage towards a life of joy and bliss.

  • Tackle head-on whatever skeletons we have in the closet and repurpose them to something positive.

  • Shine light on our demons – let light win over darkness.

Saying “Yes” to a “No”

We are now slowly gearing towards eliminating that people-pleasing human nature and finally setting boundaries for ourselves. Through this process, we enable ourselves to say "yes," agreeing to give a "no," and learn every once in a while, eventually letting go. This attempt can be very challenging, especially if we are very used to agreeing with everything at the expense of our free will and preference. It will take a lot of strength to do this eventually, but we can conquer this hurdle by staying true to ourselves and knowing and establishing boundaries as we move forward in life.

Self-Sabotage is a No-No

Towards our goal of setting boundaries, we become susceptible to self-sabotage when everything doesn't go our way. This behavior becomes our scapegoat to a life of less-hurting rejection onto a reality of guilt and self-doubt. But we can still go after our life goals without sabotaging ourselves and our goals in the process. Here's how:

  • Catch yourself by addressing self-sabotaging tendencies we might have.

  • Embrace mistakes we have committed, then learn from them eventually.

  • Be as realistic as possible and have high yet feasible goals.

  • Learn to identify negative self-talk and take note of the 'don'ts.'

  • Most importantly, take action for what we have identified as those that can break us.

Embrace the REAL You

After everything said, the vital ingredient we need to set boundaries effectively is just truthfulness or being true to ourselves. Even if we have other people who influence or trigger us, our authentic selves would dictate and set these boundaries. So, as we define and create boundaries, it is best to know ourselves first because we can never go wrong no matter what we achieve.

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”

– Anna Taylor

Today's article tackles the ideal scenarios that showcase why we don't need a people-pleasing mindset and why we need to set boundaries as we reach our goals in life. These are helpful tips that we may or may not use and follow because our own master is ourselves. So, go ahead and discover who we indeed are in our aspiration to set necessary boundaries.

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