It’s crucial to establish boundaries with friends and in relationships, in general, so you don’t leave yourself running on empty.
Your energy is the most valuable thing you have and it must be protected. It must be saved for the people you love and care about. And, most importantly, your energy must be conserved for YOU.
You owe yourself energy so you can show up at your best, do the things only you can do, and live your life authentically.
And listen, in order to do all of that, you need to realize you’re in charge of setting up boundaries with friends.
We often think that people who are needy or broken or wounded have poor boundaries. The fact of the matter is, though, the boundaries are ours.
Hence, if a friend has overstepped, it’s due to YOUR boundaries being too weak or unestablished or unclear. Honestly, it really boils down to personal responsibility.
Here are 3 ways to establish boundaries with friends…
The 1st thing you have to do: Recognize your own patterns.
Picture it: You walk into a room and without anyone saying anything, you can feel who’s having a bad day or who’s feeling self doubt.
For me, that situation is all too relatable. And for years and years I would be drawn to that particular person over and over again. I’d start asking them questions. Before I knew it, I was carrying home another wounded bird.
Catch yourself in your patterns! Think:
- “How do these relationships often begin for me?”
- “What am I doing that makes me almost too attractive?”
When you begin to recognize this behavior in yourself, you’ll slowly but surely stop repeating them.
The 2nd thing you have to do: Parent yourself with consistency in your actions.
In other words, set up rules. An example of that might be… a friend who’s going through a really difficult time and you want to be there for her.
But this friend seems to ALWAYS be going through hard times and, sometimes, it feels like it’s just too much.
Let’s just say, this particular friend is constantly texting or calling or needing you in the evening hours when you’re with your family. Simply respond with, “Hey, busy with the family right now, getting everyone ready and settled for bed. Let’s chat tomorrow!”
Though remember, if the very next night you DO respond in the evening, what you’ve done is weakened your boundaries. You’ve made them unclear.
Consider this scenario for a moment…
Your friend (yeah, same one who always seems to be struggling) has texted you. Now, your texting relationship has followed a similar routine for years. Normally, you text back within minutes. Like clockwork. But! This time, you choose to reply several days later via email.
She responds to your email with an email. Okay, not bad. Progress.
But a few weeks pass and she shoots over a text. Once again, you respond — days later — by email.
Eventually, she’s not going to try texting you anymore. She understands that the boundary has been set and her expectations have changed. And none of it had to be spoken about or put in writing.
Consistency made those boundaries understood.
The 3rd Thing You Have To Do: Be okay with disappointing people.
If, in fact, it’s for the right reasons. And in order to know that, you have to be very clear on who you are and what your responsibilities are. You are never responsible for the happiness of another. It’s wonderful when we can help people be happier, but happiness isn’t something we can give to others. Nor is it our responsibility. That has to come from within.
Please, also, consider whether another person’s disappointment in you is reasonable.
Just ask yourself…
“Is this even fair? Are they treating me with the same awareness about my own needs, commitments, and responsibilities? Or is this a very one-sided, needy situation and their disappointment in me is selfish, frankly?”
In that scenario, because their disappointment comes from unrealistic and self-involved reasons, you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty.
We should only feel guilt when we’ve knowingly done something to hurt another.
For so much more on this topic, like:
- My childhood story of moving from the city to the country, rescuing wounded birds, and what I later learned from the experience
- When / how I took personal responsibility for the relationships in my life
- What kind of individuals attract needy people
- Why we attract those who are broken
- Why I, personally, sought very fragile people into my life
- How to be effective and set boundaries as a parent, co-worker, etc.
- The power of clear boundaries
- A personal story recounting the time when a friend asked Bret and I for a monetary favor
- My epiphany in regard to giving money to those who asked for it
- The question you must ask yourself if you find you’re often helping others (to the point where your energy is negatively impacted)
Then you must listen to The Chalene Show episode below!
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