For a number of reasons, we can avoid setting boundaries. We might feel guilty when we set a limit on something or when we ask for something in particular. It can be natural to feel guilty; it is understandable. However, if you don’t set boundaries, it can lead to some bigger problems. The reason being is that boundaries are vital in life for a whole host of reasons. They are there to help to create healthy connections and relationships, as well as making clear guidance and expectations.
When we have boundaries, we protect ourselves from being hurt or taken advantage of. They also ensure that we are doing what matters most for us, not for anyone else.
Being able to set yourself boundaries by not feeling guilty is hard, but it is not impossible. In order to reduce the guilt and to be able to enjoy life more and feel more free, you need to rethink things relating to yourself as well as the boundaries that you want to set. It is important to be able to avoid the mentality of being a people-pleaser (definitely easier said than done), because that kind of mentality allows others to speak for you or decide what you’re going to be doing, instead of you taking charge and prioritising your own needs.
We all need boundaries
When we have boundaries, we are setting expectations or limits that we have for ourselves, as well as others. This shows what we see as acceptable and what we see as unacceptable. When there are no boundaries set, we can let other people treat us however they would like to. This could be invading personal space, touching you, asking inappropriate questions, or other anti-social behaviour towards you. All of this can have a big impact negatively when it comes to your health, both physical or mental.
Why do we feel this guilt?
We can feel the guilt when we set boundaries because we can think we are being selfish or mean. But this is not the case at all. Other people may not agree or might resist your boundaries, but it doesn’t mean what you have done is selfish or wrong. It is just their thoughts on the matter, not a fact. It can also make us feel guilty because people have taken advantage of us for so long, that it can feel uncomfortable to push back and do something that makes you happy.
If you want to set boundaries for yourself, and want to do this without feeling guilty, then first thing is first, you need to remember that setting boundaries is not selfish. When you set boundaries you can make relationships stronger, whether that is with parents, a spouse, friendships, colleagues, and even children.
You should also think about setting boundaries as doing something that is good for you, so why should you feel guilty? Just as you might exercise and eat healthy food to take care of yourself (and not feel guilty for doing so), you should see setting boundaries as something that is good for you.
Setting boundaries is something that can take time to learn how to do, especially when you’re learning to do so without guilt. Just be kind to yourself and you will get there eventually.