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Boundaries (part 2)

In her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace, Nedra Glover Tawwab identifies several possible outcomes that could result from not setting healthy boundaries.

1. Burnout: Tawaab says, “Burnout happens when people become emotionally, mentally, or physically exhausted” (p. 29). Burnout can lead to a person neglecting their duties, moodiness, or chronic frustration. Burnout can be caused by:

a. Not knowing when to say no

b. Not knowing how to say no

c. People-pleasing

d. Not being appreciated for what you do

“No” can be hard to say, especially when you want to do it all. No one can do it all. Begin to get comfortable saying no, or at the very least, learn to ask for help. If you’re not being appreciated for what you do, tell people what you need. If you need positive feedback and affirmation, communicate this to your boss, your friends, or your family.

2. Mental health issues can be exacerbated. While mental health issues are not the cause of an inability to say no or advocate for ourselves, they can certainly make it more difficult to set boundaries. “Anxiety is often triggered by setting unrealistic boundaries, the inability to say no, people pleasing, and the inability to be assertive” (p. 35).

People who struggle with anxiety, often have a hard time saying no. This, in turn, creates more anxiety around getting everything done and doing it correctly. Sometimes unrealistic expectations of ourselves also trigger anxiety. Ask yourself, “Whose standard am I trying to meet?” or “Do I have time to commit to this?” Nedra offers these affirmations for people who struggle with anxiety (p. 36):

a. “I’m entitled to have expectations.”

b. “In healthy relationships, my desires will be acknowledged and accepted.”

c. “I can set limits even through my discomfort.”

Communicating our boundaries isn’t easy, but without it, we set ourselves up for long-term suffering. Tawwab says, “We simply can’t have a healthy relationship with another person without communicating what’s acceptable and unacceptable to us” (p. 39). Boundaries must be spoken out loud. We can’t assume a person knows our boundaries or expect our boundaries to be honored if we haven’t actually communicated them.

Tawwab, Nedra Glover. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself. New York. Penguin Random House, 2021.

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