Why does setting boundaries and protecting what we need most for ourselves sometimes make us feel guilty?
Setting boundaries and what to do if you feel bad or guilty about saying no.
If you feel guilty about setting boundaries, instead of dismissing the practice altogether, explore the guilt.
When I feel bad or guilty about something, I write it down. I write all my thoughts and feelings on paper so I can really examine what’s going on instead of letting my mind get carried away. In other words, I don’t believe every thought that crosses my mind.
Write it down and ask the following questions:
- Why do I feel guilty for taking care of myself?
- Is this really guilt or is it something else?
- Why don’t I trust people enough to let them know what I need?
- If a friend needed to create boundaries for their own wellbeing, would I fault them for it or support them?
Once you explore the guilt, you may discover it’s not guilt at all.
What you are feeling is likely discomfort which is very common if you aren’t used to creating and honoring your boundaries.
If you aren’t willing to experience the discomfort though, you might be resentful of yourself or others for not giving you what you need. I don’t know about you, but if I have to choose, I’d rather feel uncomfortable instead of resentful.
Discomfort fades more quickly and it’s not steeped in anger and animosity like resentment is.
If it’s fear of disappointing others that holds you back from setting boundaries, start with boundaries only you have to honor. It’s a good way to practice.
Most of the boundaries I set are ones only I have to honor. For instance …
- No email or social media before I’ve meditated, moved, written and read.
- Show up ten minutes early for every appointment.
- Dress with 33 items or less.
We often think of boundaries as harsh or mean, but they are kind. Boundaries aren’t designed to shut others out, but instead, when you set a boundary, you are giving yourself permission to take care of yourself.
When you set and honor your boundaries, you are saying …
I am important to me.
I am important to my loved ones.
Taking care of myself matters.
You can’t please everyone. You just can’t.
You may have noticed that when you try to make everyone happy all the time, the only result is burnout and even more disappointment.
If you need to set boundaries for your own mental and/or physical wellbeing, do it. Don’t worry about who you might upset. That part isn’t up to you.
Eventually, everyone will benefit from you taking really good care of yourself.