Whether we like to admit it or not, people take advantage of other people. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. Instead, it’s just human nature.
The fact is, our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance. And since so much of life requires us to get things done with other people, often the path of least resistance goes through someone else.
Even “nice” people can be quite exploitative if it’s the easiest and most convenient path to take.
The trouble is that when others take advantage of our kindness, it leads to resentment and lowered self-esteem.
The solution is to set boundaries. However, as first responders, we’re often asked to work harder, longer and sacrifice more than the average person.
Which is exactly why we need to learn to set boundaries when and where we can.
Your boundaries can be anything you choose. A few examples include:
- You don’t loan money to anyone.
- You don’t allow people to yell at you.
- You don’t spend time with people that are drunk.
- You don’t miss your daily workout.
- You don’t allow pop-over guests.
You can have boundaries regarding your own behavior too, such as:
- You don’t eat meat.
- You don’t curse.
- You refuse to ride on the back of a motorcycle.
When you set boundaries, you'll notice all kinds of benefits. Some of these benefits include…
You’ll have less stress in your life. When you have boundaries, others stop taking advantage of your good nature. When they understand there are limits, they tend to obey and respect them. A good set of boundaries reduces the amount of stress you experience in your life.
You’ll receive more respect. We all know the person that will loan you $100 and then take the bus at their expense to care for your pets, because you’ve borrowed their car for a 2,000-mile road trip. They won’t even care if you bring their car back with a cracked windshield and an empty tank. Those people aren’t respected.
When you respect yourself and your time by setting boundaries, others will respect you, too.
You’ll be less annoyed with others.When fewer people are making demands of your time, you won’t be so annoyed with them. When you have less stress and more respect, you’ll also be less annoyed.
You get to practice being assertive. Setting boundaries is a way to be assertive. The people that need to set boundaries are often the people who need the most practice being assertive.
You develop more respect for the boundaries of others. You become more aware of the boundaries of others when you set boundaries. You’re more respectful when you receive respect.
You learn how to say “no” to others.Saying “no” is a valuable skill. It’s not easy to deny the requests of others, but it’s important. You can’t accommodate everyone at every moment. There are times that a refusal is the only reasonable response.
You’ll have more free time. Fewer people making demands on your time means having more time available to spend as you please. What would you do with more time?
Your life improves overall. If you’re less stressed, more respected, less annoyed, more assertive, and have more free time, your life is bound to be better overall. It’s amazing what a few boundaries can do!
More self-respect and self-esteem. When you stick up for yourself and fewer people are taking advantage of you, you’ll experience more self-respect and self-esteem. It’s easier to like yourself when you treat yourself well.
You have the right to determine what you will and will not accept in your life. You can require others to comply with your boundaries if they want to continue being part of your life. It’s your time, life, and attention. You can allocate them any way you please.
Start by making a list of boundaries that you’d like to apply to your life and the people around you. Expect resistance at first but be firm. The important people in your life will comply in time.