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Boundaries for People Pleasers: Why It’s Hard & How to Set Limits

If you’re a people pleaser, the very notion of “boundaries” might make you feel uncomfortable. After all, isn’t the point to make others happy and avoid conflicts at all costs? While coming from a good-natured place, a chronic inability to set boundaries can leave you depleted, resentful, and disconnected from your authentic self.

At the core, boundaries are about self-respect. They communicate what you will and won’t accept from others while protecting your physical and emotional space. People pleasers often struggle with boundaries because they prioritise others’ wants over their own needs. The fear of disappointing someone or being perceived as selfish keeps them saying “yes” when they mean “no.”

This persistent self-sacrifice takes a heavy toll. You may find yourself overwhelmed, experiencing physical and emotional burnout. Anger and bitterness can fester beneath the surface of your forced smiles and eagerness to help. Over time, relationships become imbalanced and unsatisfying if you don’t advocate for your own wants and limits.

The good news is, it’s never too late to develop healthier boundary skills. Like any habit, it takes conscious effort, but regaining a sense of agency in your life is incredibly empowering. Here are some tips to get started:

Name Your Needs

Tune into what’s most important to you in different areas of life. What energises you and what depletes you? Maybe you need more alone time to recharge. Perhaps you’re overcommitted and need to scale back. Give yourself permission to get clear on your priorities.

Use “I” Statements

When communicating a boundary, phrase it as an “I” statement focused on your feelings versus blaming the other person. For example, “I’m not able to take on any additional projects right now because I don’t want to become overloaded.”

Practice Self-Validation

If you struggle with guilt or doubting yourself, validate your own needs and feelings as valid and reasonable – because they are! Reparent that critical inner voice trying to convince you you’re selfish.

Start Small

Don’t try overhauling your entire life at once. Set a boundary around something minor and work your way up from there as you build confidence. Small wins pave the way for bigger strides.

Boundaries create healthy relationships because they create realistic expectations and mutual respect. As you become more skilled at setting limits, you’ll likely be amazed at how much more positive energy and joy you feel. It’s an act of profound self-love.

Could you use some dedicated support and accountability in learning to set boundaries as a recovering people pleaser? My 1:1 coaching program provides compassionate, comprehensive guidance to help you finally put yourself first guilt-free. Inquire today about program details!