Sometimes, our active lives make us feel like we have to say yes to everything or help everyone. Saying no might make us feel guilty, like we’re letting people down, or worry that we’re missing out. However, being able to define boundaries is a very useful tool for good mental health, and even good relationships. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to help or don’t care about the person – it just means you need to take some time for yourself. Here are some tips on how to set boundaries with compassion.
- Identify how a request makes you feel. Are you happy to attend the event, or do you feel like you have to put in an appearance so you don’t disappoint your friends? If it makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed or stressed, it’s something to pay attention to.
- Focus on your own needs and feelings. If you turn down a request with language that focuses on you, it’s less likely to seem hurtful or personal to the other person. For example, you can say, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been so busy and I really just want a quiet night at home today.
- Be direct, but caring. It’s important to clearly state what your boundary is in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation, but also to consider the other person. For example, don’t offer to attend the event for a few minutes if you really don’t want to. Instead, you can offer to have some friends over for coffee the next day and catch up on what you missed.
Setting boundaries with compassion will help you protect your mental health while ensuring that your friends and family know you still care about them.