10 signs you need better boundaries
If you’re well initiated into the world of self-improvement and personal growth, you’ve probably heard the word ‘boundaries’ being thrown around. While they may conjure up images of barriers keeping things out, in reality, they’re a line in the sand which protects you and your energy.
Having healthy boundaries allows you to take care of yourself, gives you time to do what you truly care about and improves your overall well-being. But how do we know when our boundaries need some work?
There are various hints your mind and body can give you, but here are 10 common signs that you need better boundaries.
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1. You feel burnt out
When you don’t have strong boundaries in place, you may find you take on a lot of work, tasks and responsibilities. Perhaps you describe yourself as a people pleaser, saying yes when really you want to say no. This puts a strain on your energetic capacity and, after a while, you may feel burnt out.
Burnout can feel like pure exhaustion – like you want the world to stop turning for just a moment. You may have feelings of overwhelm or even feel paralysed, like you can’t take one step further. This is a sure sign that you a) need to take a break and b) need to work on your boundaries.
2. You feel resentful
When you don’t feel secure enough within your boundaries, you may start to resent those who do. Perhaps a colleague says no to a task request because they have too much on their plate so you say yes, even though you don’t have time either. Instead of being honest with whoever is requesting the task, you take on the role of martyr and feel resentful towards your colleague.
This resentment is often, at its core, jealousy that they have strong boundaries and communicate them clearly.
3. You’re irritable most of the time
Taking on so much from other people and allowing them to cross your boundaries can start to grate on you over time. This can lead you to feel angry and irritable a lot of the time. Perhaps you notice these emotions spilling over from time to time – maybe when you snap at a loved one or have an outburst over something seemingly small.
This ongoing sense of irritation is a sign that something isn’t right and may be trying to tell you to improve your boundaries.
4. You find it hard to make decisions
With weakened boundaries, you can find yourself ‘going with the flow’ often – saying yes to whatever other people want. Over time, this can make it difficult for you to make up your own mind about what you want. You might find yourself looking to other people to validate your choices or rely on others’ opinions before making a decision.
5. You let people take advantage of you
Do you ever get the feeling that people in your life walk all over you? Perhaps your people-pleasing nature has led some people to believe you’ll say yes to anything and, therefore, they come to you whenever they need something.
This can develop into a toxic relationship, where you are giving far more than you’re taking. This can be a tricky one to spot as often we think being a good friend/colleague/partner means supporting them and helping when you can – which is true to a point, but it should never be to your detriment.
6. You have a never-ending to-do list
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel a sense of dread when you think about your to-do list? If it feels never-ending, consider the tasks on there and who’s asking you to do them. You may find a lot of them have been put on there by other people or you may have put them all there yourself.
When we don’t have strong personal boundaries, we often don’t respect our needs or our time. This can lead to us filling our time with tasks that feel ‘more important’ than taking time for ourselves.
7. You don’t ask for what you need
Without healthy boundaries in place, it can be hard to not only recognise what you need but ask for it. The people-pleaser in you may worry about being a burden or asking too much from others, so you stay quiet.
Not getting your needs met over time can have a detrimental effect on your mental health and well-being, leaving you feeling low and unwell.
8. You struggle with your identity
If you spend a lot of time agreeing with others and allowing them to make decisions for you, it can be easy to lose your sense of identity. You may find it hard to know exactly who you are and what your core values and beliefs are.
This can take its toll and leave you feeling unfulfilled, unhappy and lost.
9. Your relationships are often one-sided
If you don’t have strong boundaries within your relationships, you might notice them becoming one-sided. This could be where someone constantly comes to you for advice or to help them with something, but never offers the same in return.
Relationships should be balanced, where you get as much as you give. If you don’t feel this is the case for you, it’s probably time to think about setting clearer boundaries.
10. You feel responsible for other people’s feelings
This is often the case for those with people-pleasing tendencies. If someone close to you is struggling or unhappy, you might take this on yourself and feel like it’s your responsibility to make them happy. You might put your own needs on the backburner and dedicate everything you have to them.
While supporting others is a key part of relationships, we cannot control other people’s feelings. Taking on too much of this from others is often a sign you need to work on your emotional boundaries and protect your energy.
If you found yourself nodding along to these signs, please know that you’re not alone. Setting and maintaining boundaries can be difficult, especially if we’ve had certain experiences that affect our self-worth. Recognising that they need work is an excellent first step.
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