Being a human is hard. We are constantly bombarded with the push and pull of the people around us, and it is easy to forget that putting ourselves first should be our number one priority, especially when someone on the other side of the planet is only a button click away.
To protect yourself, it is important to have strict boundaries. Without them, we are so much more likely to be manipulated, taken advantage of, and even abused. Figuring out what is important to you, and putting that over the needs of others is strangely the most important step towards helping other people for the simple reason that we are no good to anyone else if we are no good to ourselves! It is vital to be able to tell when our boundaries need adjustment, or when they aren’t strong enough and are not being taken into account by other people.
So, keep reading for our list of 7 signs that your boundaries are poor, and make sure you keep reading until number 7 as that one is the most important!
Number 1: You are easy to read.
Being open is a nice thing. It makes you easier to get along with and be understood by your friends and loved ones, and it also makes people feel closer to you more quickly. Sadly, the downside of that is that people might feel they know you better than they do, or better than they have any right to. When this happens, this is when they start walking all over you, because they think they know what is best for you when in actual fact they might not be making you feel good at all. People who share too much information about themselves often have poor emotional intelligence and even attachment problems, and the foundation of this is likely one of fear.
Those of us who are afraid of being seen as shy or unemotional often swing the other way in order to preemptively counteract this perception of ourselves. But sharing everything is not necessary to connect with others or to have good relationships. Learning to share the right amount that makes people want to know you more is far better than simply laying everything about yourself down on a page in front of them. Keeping part of you to yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, and this boundary will likely lead to stronger interpersonal relationships and a more comfortable relationship with yourself.
Number 2: You feel that no one listens to you.
Feeling invisible, whether that is to strangers or to partners or close friends, is often a sign that you are not laying down strong enough boundaries. For example, if you feel as if your housemate leaves you to do all the cleaning and does not recognize how much work you put in to keep the apartment tidy, this might not be because they are being selfish. It is possible that they simply are unaware you feel that way, and this is likely because you have to tell them. Everyone reaches a limit, and telling those around you exactly what your limits are, whatever they may be, should be encouraged.
Feeling as if no one notices you or the things that you do is a sign that you are not setting these limits and laying the good groundwork to be respected in your relationships. Most people who do this fear that if they express these concerns they will be seen as the villain, or as unwilling to compromise. But in reality, most people will respect you for saying what your capacity is, and will be happy to know exactly what you need to feel seen and valued. There’s no such thing as mind readers, so you may as well say what’s on your mind!
Number 3: You feel you are being walked over.
This is similar to that feeling of being invisible, but it can present itself in different ways. Sometimes we let our guard down because we are tired or stressed, or simply exhausted by trying to keep our defenses up at all times. Whatever the reason is, emotionally unintelligent people will not recognize this and will use it as a sign of weakness. It is then that you leave yourself open to being manipulated or taken advantage of.
The phrase “don’t take my kindness as weakness” springs to mind here. Remember that you do not owe anyone anything, so if you feel that someone takes your kindness as something other than that, it is okay to cut them out of your life, or at least keep them at arm’s length. This is all part of setting up the appropriate boundaries to keep you as happy and healthy as you can be.
Number 4: The list of people you have cut out of your life is a long one.
A bad boundary isn’t necessarily a weak one, the opposite can be true too. Sometimes in the pursuit of protecting ourselves, we cut out the parts that can be good as well. Every situation is different, and of course, it is up to you to decipher when a person in your life has become toxic, or when you think they are beyond the point of being able to change. That said, taking a look at the people you have cut out is a healthy exercise. If the list is extensive, maybe there are people who might have deserved a second chance, or more helpfully, people who could have had a positive influence on your life if you had been willing to give them one.
We all need to find where our limits are, and keeping our boundaries strong, without being overly rigid, is a goal to strive for. On the flip side, if you can look back and see that there is no one in your life you have ever had the strength to cut out, that might be a warning sign too! Perhaps you have only encountered perfect people, but the higher likelihood would be that your boundaries could be a little more clear-cut.
Number 5: The rules you’ve set for how you want to live your life are too rigid.
If you have set rules for how you want to live your life—when you want to do things and how you want them done—this might be a good thing. It is important to have a good moral code, and a set of ways to live that benefit our body and mind. At the same time though, nothing in life is predictable, so allowing a level of flexibility is important too. If you know the rules you’ve set for yourself this is a good sign, but be sure to make a note that it’s okay to break them too if that’s what the situation requires.
Number 6: Many of your relationships feel dramatic or extreme.
If the boundaries you are setting are not healthy, this leads to you feeling out of control, and like sharks in the water, others around you will pick up the signal that you are not taking care of yourself. The more toxic people in your life are likely to sense an easy way to control you, or in a less extreme scenario, simply take more from you than they are giving back in return. On top of this, if your boundaries aren’t strong enough you might lack a sense of power and have lower confidence as a result. In turn, this will make it harder for you to stand up for yourself and open yourself up to being manipulated.
The chances are that if your boundaries are not strong enough, you have a number of codependent relationships. These are friendships or difficult partnerships where you rely heavily on others with equally low self-esteem in order to function and feel happy. Two parts may feel greater than one, but in the long term, this will lead to greater problems. It is important to feel confident and happy by yourself in order to have happy and strong relationships with those who mean a lot to you.
Number 7: You often feel guilty and anxious.
Do you hate letting other people down? Are you constantly plagued by the feeling of either having failed those close to you or feeling scared that you are about to? Even the slightest yes to this is another strong sign that you need to set clearer boundaries, both for yourself and for others.
Feeling anxious or feeling the need to apologize even for the smallest things, like asking to turn the volume on the TV down, is not so much a sign of you being a thoughtful person, but more that you need to be stronger in speaking up for yourself. Feelings like this are often deeply ingrained in us from childhood, but they can be changed easily. Saying sorry is important, but if you say it too much you will end up taking responsibility for things that weren’t your fault, feeling like a victim, and constantly appearing as the villain in the process.
One exercise you could try in order to avoid these feelings is to limit yourself to 5 sorries a day! That way you will only apologize when it is necessary, and you will likely notice in the process how often you are apologizing for things that aren’t your fault. It’s all part of the process of getting stronger and healthier boundaries!
Read More: Top 10 Signs a Person has been Mentally Abused.
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