Why People Pleasers Avoid Setting Boundaries


anton-repponen-99617photo: Anton Repponen

Is your self-esteem low?

How would you know?

A good barometer is whether or not you set boundaries in your life. Especially in relationships.

“Relationships need boundaries,” says Sharon Martin, LCSW. “A boundary delineates where I end, and where you begin. It says: ‘This is how you can treat me.'”

If you avoid setting rules for your own wellbeing, you may be a people pleaser. Being a people pleaser may be the way you learned to receive love and approval from others.

I get it. This is not judgment.

I learned early that there were repercussions when I asserted my innermost needs and set my own rules to protect myself. As a result, ‘people pleasing’ took over.

No longer.


But Setting Boundaries Can Be Scary!

If I set some rules, this might happen:

  • I may hurt someone’s feelings.
  • I will face confrontation and backlash.
  • My family and friends will be angry with me.

These are red flag rationalizations.

For some reason (which I urge you to explore with a reputable therapist or doctor) you feel beholden to everyone but yourself. 

How did this happen?


This is Why Setting Boundaries Is Essential

They “are a measure of self-esteem,” says Jane Collingwood.

Boundaries establish who you are and what you stand for.

They show strength.

As in:

I am my OWN person. Boundaries separate you in a healthy way from others, says Sharon Martin. They allow you to freely express your own feelings and decisions. They allow you to know and ask for what you want.


I Expect Proper Treatment and Behaviour From Others. You set clear expectations about what behaviours will be tolerated (and not) from other people. You make clear that there will be consequences should your boundaries be disrespected.


I Make My Own Decisions. Indecisive people find it painful to make decisions because they falsely believe that they need to please everyone else but themselves. As a result, others often make decisions for them. When the importance of boundaries is finally understood, however, there is an epiphany: I am an adult. I make my own choices.


I Say ‘NO.’ If someone wants you to do something, and that ‘something’ does not align with your needs or personal standards, you are able to say NO to that request with conviction. More, here.


I Will Feel Safe and Secure. Setting parameters for what you will and will not tolerate from others means peace of mind, safety and stability. Self-compassion comes first.


I Am Insulated From Drama. You will protect yourself from situations that are harmful. If someone else’s behaviour turns nasty, for example, you will be ready with measures to address the situation.


Not Everyone Will Like Me. You will set fair boundaries. Whether or not others like them (or not) is their problem. Whether they still like you (or not) is their problem too.

A Cautionary Note

Many people set weak boundaries, believing that loose boundaries are better than none at all.


Many people will test your boundaries. Cross the line. Win.

“Too often we leave room for interpretation [of boundaries],” says Alison Ellison. “We “soft serve’ the message in the hopes that they will ‘get it.’

They may not get it.

Especially true of manipulative people who wear us down.

As such, Ellison recommends practicing your boundary messages until they are clear in your mind. Especially so if you expect push back from others.

The alternative “says Rachel Eddins, is to feel “powerless, imposed upon, and resentful.”

The very situation you must now correct.


Suffering: Optional

Suffering is guaranteed for those who don’t set (or stick to) protective boundaries. I know this from my own experience. There is a deep need NOT to upset, ruffle or inflame others. But, wait: you are willing to let yourself down. This is a toxic mix.

You can change this.

Please remember the following: people who are healthy in mind and spirit, who love and care about you, expect you to set boundaries. They know that boundaries are a solid expression of one’s self-esteem. If they love you, they will not try to control you.

You are nobody’s puppet.

No matter what anyone else says, you are entitled to healthy boundaries for yourself.


Upcoming: How To Set boundaries, And Stick To Them.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 29th, 2017 at 12:34 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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