A woman draws a circle around her with a stick, setting a boundary, as a man is asking her for something

Setting Boundaries and Saying No

I am a people pleaser. No matter the situation, more than likely, if you ask me for help or to do something as long as it does not harm someone and isn't illegal, odds are, I won't say no. This is something I have been working on for years. I don't know how to set boundaries and say no. Even if it's an awful flare day and I'm having all the symptoms, if I know it is something you need help with and I can help, then I won't turn you down.

Setting boundaries with IBS

This is where most of us tend to make mistakes. Or at least I do. Lately, I have realized how hard this is for me. Setting boundaries is not something I am good at. I just don't know how. Even when I try, I have realized that I have a hard time adjusting to those who are used to me being the people pleaser. Or I am finding those who just take advantage of my willingness to be there and help them whenever they need me. Time will tell.

With the loss of one of my best friends came lots of changes in my life. Things happened that I won't go into detail about, and I had finally decided I needed to set a boundary. I did. I said no to the request, and the person asking did everything to force me to change my answer and help them. I almost caved in and did what they wanted, but my amazing friends rallied behind me, supported me in saying no, and helped me build that boundary.

This experience inspired me. It made me realize that maybe my saying yes and helping everyone is hurting them somehow. On my bad flare days, saying yes put more stress on my body. This causes more flares, worse days, and pain. On the flip side, it is causing them to rely on me for things they could easily do themselves. Causing them to be dependent on others and not take responsibility to get things done that they need to do.

Saying no is OK

Saying no is still something I struggle with daily. Setting boundaries is still a work in progress as well. I am doing better with this every day, but it is not easy. Honestly, it makes me think of when my daughter was small. It is so much easier to just do things yourself instead of taking the time to teach them how and, for instance, tying their shoes. It is something they need to learn to do for themselves but let's be honest. It is so much easier to just do it for them.

That is how I am trying to look at things now, to help keep myself in a better place and teach others to be self-sufficient. This is one of the hardest things I have probably ever done, but I can feel the difference it does make in my health — fewer flares with less stress and worry over trying to help everyone all the time.

Don't forget you are allowed to say no. You can set those boundaries, and you are not a bad person for doing so.

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