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July 2024

Help: My serial people-pleasing means I have no boundaries

Question

Hi!

I was hoping to get some advice :)

I find that sometimes I struggle to set effective boundaries with the people I’m close to in my life. I have a bad habit of people pleasing which sometimes means I don’t stand up for myself when I need to.

I’m not quite sure how to balance doing what I think is right which ensures the people I care about are happy, whilst also not totally compromising my own happiness and stability.

I find that I get super anxious and stressed which means I’m not the best version of myself and end up not being able to please anyone. I’m not sure what the next step is in trying to help myself whilst still helping others and finding the right balance in these two things.

feel like this struggle has taken over my ability to make any decisions or trust my own judgement as I become so overwhelmed with all the different choices I could make, which often ends up being the choice that doesn’t best suit me.

Any suggestions?

Answer

Hey there.

The first thing I want to mention here is how proud you should be for identifying this as a boundaries issue. It can take a lot of self-reflection to be able to dig up what is going wrong before we reach boiling point.

I really hear you when you say it’s gotten to a point where you are so overwhelmed that it isn’t helping you or anyone around you. I think there are a few important clichés to remind yourself of here (clichés are clichés for a reason, right?). The first thing I want you to remind yourself of is that you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help everyone else around you. Meaning, that you need to take care of yourself first or you can’t show up for everyone else. If you burn yourself to the ground, not only are you sacrificing what you can do for others but also for yourself. The second cliché I have for you is that you spend more time with yourself than anyone else, so you need to be your most important person. You need to invest the most energy into your relationship with you because you are your own biggest asset.

While the first step is reminding yourself of these key clichés, the next step is to take action on this. I think the best way forward for you right now is going to be to step back and take stock of your priorities and where you need to be investing your time. You have a limited amount of time and resources you can give, and it is likely that right now, the balance of where you are giving those resources out is not aligned with your priorities. Once you have a good sense of this, you need to take action on it. This is the hard part, I know, but you need to practice saying no. You can try role-playing it with someone you trust or talking to yourself in the mirror. Make yourself little mini scripts so you don’t feel so stuck on what to say the next time you need to say no. Maybe try these:

Hey, I’m really sorry that you’re struggling, but unfortunately, I can’t be the person to work through this with you right now.

I love that you thought of me, but I’ve got a bit much on my plate right now. Best of luck with it!

This is all going to take some practice, and you will need to work at it to be able to find your perfect balance. This is something most of us are working on every day with the scales tipping back and forth, and we need to be okay with the process as well.

Disclaimer: Please note that all information given in this article is general in nature and does not constitute psychological treatment. For tailored support, please ensure you reach out to a registered psychologist. In the case of an emergency, please contact LIFELINE (13 11 14) or call 000.

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Amber Sargeant

Meet Amber Sargeant, The Modern Muse’s resident psychologist, however, you might know her better as The Anxious Psych on TikTok or from her clinic The Sunshine Club Psychology. With a Masters of Professional Psychology, and a Masters of Psychology Practice (Clinical) under her belt, Amber works with all different kinds of presentations from anxiety and depression to personality disorders, ADHD, and everything in between. Her TikTok forms a community hub for accessible information about mental health and psychology in a way that is more approachable and understandable to the average person.

Amber is also someone who also struggles with Anxiety and aims to highlight that while we each have our own experience with difficult emotions and situations, we can learn to manage effectively and to make sure we are still able to build the life we want. Amber is such a warm and passionate clinician and we are so lucky to have her on our team. We can’t wait for her to help our readers “find their sunshine”.