Articles and Other Reading

How to Set Boundaries (and Stop Feeling Guilty About It) By Andrea Bartz, Two Paths Integrative Wellness LLC, Farmington Hills, MI

I’m a textbook people-pleaser, quick to make folks feel comfortable and cared for—even at the expense of my own happiness. You need someone to plan the office party? I got you. You’d prefer a bouncy dance hall over a chill cocktail lounge tonight? Works for me. I’m automatically good at anticipating and meeting other people’s needs. It’s become so knee-jerk that I’ve caught myself catering to people before they even speak: “I know you like sushi (never mind that I prefer my meat cooked), so I looked up some options for us…” I like to blame it on my Midwestern roots, but, when it comes down to it, my people-pleasing stems from my desire to be liked—to be seen as a good friend, a good co-worker, a good everything.

I know I’m not alone in this. In my experience, plenty of people equate being accommodating and agreeable with being good and lovable. But the truth is, you can be “good” and “lovable” while also asking for what you need. In fact, a classic study published in the journal Human Relations found that doing someone a favor makes you like them more. Let me repeat that: If you ask me for a favor and I go ahead and do it, afterward I’ll be left with warm fuzzies for you, the requester. Your coworkers, friends, family members, and even strangers aren’t going to hate you for making requests; in fact, they may wind up liking you more.

You can be “good” and “lovable” while also asking for what you need.

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