Standing up for what is right for you is the only way you can live your life. Sure you think what if I hurt people’s feelings, tough, that not your fault. If you are being totally honest about what you need then why would they be hurt by your feelings? Maybe if they were being honest with you then they wouldn’t be so hurt, instead they would be happy that you are being totally honest with them.
You can start by saying, “I am less concerned about you being angry at me than I am concerned at being angry with myself if I am not honest with you.” This way you make it clear that it is you setting your boundaries and this is not an attack on that person. Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean you have to start a fight that didn’t exist nor does it mean you have to end a relationship.
As Monica from Friends once said, “If you give up every time you have a fight with someone, you’d never be with anyone longer than…. Oh!”
It means being totally honest about what you want in your life. If you want to be respected, if you want to have your needs meet, then you have to ask for them clearly and let the other person know this is what is expected from that point forward. You will not be happy if you are bending your values and they are unable to meet your needs.
Fear can prevent people from being honest and then they are left unsatisfied. And they let the fear grow and the powerlessness sinks in deeper. And that’s when people lose hope. They fear spiral into thinking, no one listens, I can’t stop them so why even try, and worse they shut down. They become cold and controlled or unable to trust anyone. And what happens next? They become untrustworthy, they begin to lie, they begin to accuse and finally they betray the other person because they feel like they have the right. This sense of contempt is a trap and it only leads to misery.
I know this is going to scare some people. Some people have the fear of setting boundaries and many more have the fear of hearing them. Their first thought is “Oh no, I’m not able to change and this person expects something from me I cannot be.” And that is just admitting you are afraid, that is natural, but if after that you decide maybe I really don’t want to change and maybe this person would be happier without me then you just turned the boundaries around to yourself and that is healthy. I wouldn’t over react. I would really sit with the issue and ask yourself a few questions:
Can I give what this person wants from me?
Do I want to be the person they want me to be?
Has fear of change been the only thing stopping me?
Is this person’s request is in fact congruent with the way I want to be?
Am I really just comfortable being myself?
Thinking this through and being honest with yourself will allow the fear to go away. But your mind my may come back with anger at the other person, thinking “How dare they try and change me, they should change themselves or just accept me as I am.” This is natural again, but sit with this and really think if the person is asking you to stop doing something harmful like drinking all night or if they are asking you to do something good like be more friendly and start exercising regularly. Don’t let your fear control a bad situation. Holding on to the fear only makes them worse and allows the angry person to not only be defeated in a battle they never fought but to then think “From now on I’m not fighting” which will only defeat themselves.
Setting boundaries is not just putting up walls, it is making clear images to others of what you would like and you gain respect when others know they could cross you at any time but they do not because they understand that would be a violation. All this could be resolved with some honesty. Maybe it’s as easy as saying, “When you say that about me to your friends it hurts my feelings, next time talk to me about those personal issues.” Or as big as, “This isn’t the type of relationship I want, either things change or I am leaving.” But as you become more honest with what feels right for you, then you will be happier and you will attract people that like you for your honesty and like you when you are at your full power. And isn’t that what you really wanted from a relationship to begin with?