An argument of the shady that thrive on crossing boundaries is that their deeds are our fault because they wouldn’t have done what they did if we hadn’t neglected something, or if we were ‘stronger’, more assertive or whatever. Now, granted, in any given situation, we can learn how to uplevel our boundaries. However, even if we coulda, woulda, shoulda done things differently, that doesn’t make us responsible for someone else’s behaviour.

Let’s say that one day, we leave our front door open. An opportunistic so-and-so spots this and walks in and robs and wrecks the gaff. Does that mean that it’s not theft and destruction of property because we left our front door open? Of course not. Fact of the matter is, plenty of people walk past an open door.

It’s like when we lose our wallet or purse. Some people hand it in straight away and everything’s there. Others help themselves to the contents.

So we can be mindful of not leaving our front door open. We can be careful and ensure that we put our property away. But that doesn’t change the fact that some people have the intent to do good, to respect boundaries, and some people don’t.

We are far too quick in this society to take the over-responsibility we learned in childhood and absorb the blame for other people’s feelings and behaviour. Oh, they have a lack of good intentions? Hmm, OK, I clearly am not good enough.

Let’s not kid (and gaslight) ourselves into the distorted notion that if only we’d taken a firmer rein, said no really loud, not been so nice or naive or whatever that things would have turned out differently. There are plenty of people out there that don’t exploit or abuse others. That wouldn’t see our clear struggle to be assertive or our desire to please others as an opening to hurt us.

We do need to have healthy boundaries and practise self-care so that we do things from a place of having our best interests at heart and valuing the people, things and opportunities that best reflect this. We do need to recognise where, yeah, we’ve neglected ourselves in some way or dropped a ball. These are things that we can learn from, painful as they might be, and create healthier boundaries. But we are not responsible for someone’s character and intentions. And be wary of anyone who tries to convince you otherwise and won’t own their stuff.

You don’t have to take the blame for someone else’s behaviour; take responsibility for your boundaries so that you don’t continue being open to their lack of responsibility.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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