We all know at least one person who seems incapable of taking “No” for an answer. Despite your best efforts to set boundaries with them, they just keep crossing the line. That person might be a co-worker, a friend, or a family member. Whatever role they play in your life, they’re just plain driving you crazy. I’m going to tell you how to stop the madness, but buckle up because the ride might get a little bumpy.
Own the problem
In the past, you’ve likely viewed the other person as the problem. After all, they’re pushy, self-centered, and in your mind they might even have a “personality disorder.” However, all of that is irrelevant. Allowing others to cross your boundaries is not just something someone does to you—it’s something you allow them to do, and even enable them to do. If you want to fix this problem, you have to own the problem.
Admit to your fear
The problem is you’ve been afraid of them and they know it. That fear has kept you from being clear. For instance, you say “Bill, I wish you wouldn’t interrupt me” instead of saying, “Bill, enough! It’s time for you to listen and for me to talk now.” Your fear has likely also kept you from providing strong enough consequences to get the other person’s attention. If someone repeatedly ignores your boundaries, you have to address your fear and do what is needed to stop the unwanted behavior.
Define the real issue
The real problem has to do with how you see yourself. How confident are you? How do you deserve to be treated and are you worth standing up for yourself? Growing self-confidence doesn’t happen overnight—it’s a process you have to commit to. To do that you need to have adequate motivation. How would growing your self-confidence and sense of self-worth change your relationships and your entire life?
Here are three other things to consider…
You’re afraid—they’re not
You’ve been afraid of conflict and possibly upsetting the other person. It’s time for you to realize they’re not afraid of upsetting you. With that in mind, why should you be afraid of upsetting them? Why should you be afraid of losing the relationship if they don’t value you enough to change their behavior?
You have the power—they don’t
It might seem like the person stepping across the line has the power, but they don’t. They only have the power you’ve given them. It’s time you took it back. Choose now to become more assertive and to take some risks in the relationship.
You can get help—you don’t have to do it all by yourself
The first step in solving your problem might be to admit you need help. That doesn’t mean you’re weak; it means you’re smart enough to ask for help. Talk with a trusted friend who can help you identify stronger consequences the next time your lines are crossed. Role playing with that person will help you practice standing up for yourself. Also consider getting help from a therapist or a coach to develop more confidence. Do whatever it takes to own your problem and change it.
Maybe you’re not “toxic,” but here’s a checklist of behaviors that may be pushing people away.
- You love to talk about yourself.
- Compromise isn’t a strength—it’s either your way or no way.
- Jealousy distracts you from staying focused.
- You often think, “What can they do for me?” rather than “What can I do for them?”