Reclaiming your time, energy, and ability to stand up for yourself can be an arduous process for those recovering from people-pleasing and codependency. It can feel wrong to say no or to choose yourself over the feelings and approval of others. The truth is, most of our relationships, both intimate and otherwise, depend on our lack of boundaries to get us to be hyper-performative in our everyday lives to their benefit. When we start to correct this behavior, it can cause strong illicit feelings from those closest to us. Relationships may shift or even end as a result of your growth. So, how can you be sure you're honoring your boundaries even when things start to seem uncomfortable?
Here are a few ways to test out your newfound confidence.
Determine whether the discomfort is coming from internal or external sources.
Suppose you've decided to stand up for yourself by not accepting certain behaviors, being firm about your non-negotiables, and voicing your feelings to those around you. In that case, you can bet you will meet some resistance. This doesn't mean, however, that you're doing anything wrong. Take some time to assess whether the person(s) you're feeling resistance from is just simply not used to the empowered you or if there is room for further communication of your new boundaries to help the relationship progress peacefully. When it comes to setting boundaries, here's the golden rule: if it feels uncomfortable, you're probably doing it right. No one likes to disappoint or unintentionally hurt those they love but disappointing yourself for the sake of others is not the move.
Take note of your energy in all environments.
Usually, when we are feeling depleted, it's because we've extended past our boundaries. If you're feeling drained after leaving a friend, family member, or partner, it may be time to take a closer look at the relationship. The same goes for jobs and other social settings. When we decide to change the way we approach life, we can't always remain in the same environments without feeling the desire to revert to our old ways. The goal is to keep moving forward. Be willing to venture into new spaces to make that happen.
Keep a journal to track your wins.
It's not always going to be a walk in the park when you're trying on this new strength, but one way to motivate yourself is to keep track of all the moments you successfully enforce a boundary and stick to it. In writing it down, you get the chance to not only honor yourself but work through any feelings that may have come up as a result. This way, if you're faced with this same hurdle, you can remember that you've done it before, and you can most certainly do it again.
Share your new boundaries with someone you trust to hold you accountable.
This can be a therapist or just a trusted friend. But having someone to hold space for you when things get sticky is always helpful. Not everyone will be able to fill this role, but if you have someone in your life who can recruit their help -ask them to step in with reminders when your resolve is tested or when you start to feel bad about a response to your boundaries. They will be there to set you back on your path and reassure you that the people who care about you won't see an issue with you prioritizing your happiness.