Boundaries: Don’t Be Someone Else’s Escape Route
I’ve talked about escape routes before, and how depending on them can inhibit our own independence, but that’s not the only way escape routes can prevent us from living our fullest, most authentic life. By not having clear boundaries, we allow ourselves to be other people’s escape routes. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a compassionate and helpful person, making yourself constantly open and available to other people can turn into something toxic for both of you.
People Pleasers Drive The Escape Route Getaway Car
There are two types of people in the world: the type who answer the phone when work calls on their day off and the kind who don’t. I will always and forever be the first kind. And while this is arguably a good trait and makes me a very likable employee, when this tendency of mine starts to carry over into other relationships in my life it can start to cause problems.
Saying “no” is not something that comes naturally to me (although my mom, circa my toddler years, might have a different opinion). I like saying yes to people. I like being able to help them. I like making myself feel useful and not disappointing others. I am always ready to be someone else’s escape route. Sometimes it feels like I’ve constantly got one hand on my keys, ready to drive the getaway car for anyone who needs an escape route.
But, a lot of times, I say ‘yes’ before I’ve even thought through if I’m the right person for the job or if helping is within my capabilities. Being a people pleaser means saying yes to someone else’s happiness before saying yes to your own. Living a life without escape routes isn’t just about respecting other people’s boundaries, but about respecting your own.
Other People’s Happiness Is Not Your Responsibility
Boundaries are the definite line where your responsibility stops and someone else’s begins. Trying to manage your own happiness is already a big enough responsibility.
You can tell people no. People will be ok if you say ‘no’. I promise. (Let me repeat that one more time as I reminder for myself…) Saying ‘no’ isn’t telling someone else what to do, it’s saying what you need. Don’t say ‘yes’ to someone else’s happiness if it means saying ‘no’ to your own.
And before you say ‘yes’, before you rush to be someone’s escape route, think “what’s your intention?” Are you selflessly helping someone out because you have the time, energy, and ability to? Or are you doing it to get something out of it, whether that’s positive affirmation, a self-esteem boost, or to escape something in your own life?
And what will the other person get out of it? Will they really be better off for your help, or will you, on some level, be enabling them and preventing them from learning how to be in control and responsible for themselves.
But most importantly, you need to balance the energy you’re sending out into the world with the energy that’s coming back into you. The surefire way to burn yourself out and become totally disconnected, stressed, and anxious is to spend so much energy on the people around that you don’t have any left for yourself.
Where Is Your Energy Going?
firmer boundaries). I made a worksheet to share with you based off a journaling exercise I’ve done to help visual where my energy is going and how balanced my life is at the moment. You can download it here.
Are you a people pleaser? What areas in your life do you struggle with boundaries the most