Hey there! I hope this article finds you well. I wanted to have a real talk with you about something near and dear to my heart: setting healthy boundaries in our relationships.
“You’re not a dog begging for scraps. You’re a goddess deserving of the feast. Remove their empty plate – you just forgot your worth.”
Let me start by asking – do you consider yourself a natural giver? Someone who is always there for others, even if it means depleting yourself? If so, you’re not alone. So many of us derive self-worth from being needed and taking care of people. We want to help, support, nurture and be there for those we care about. And make no mistake – those are beautiful, compassionate qualities. But today, I want to explore the flip side, which is when being a giver turns toxic. This happens when it becomes completely one-sided and we end up drained, resentful, or taken advantage of.
I have a dear friend named Miranda who knows this pattern all too well. Miranda is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met. For years, she poured her heart and soul into a troubled marriage, desperately trying to make her partner happy and save the relationship. In the end, it crumbled anyway. Miranda was left financially and emotionally devastated, feeling like a hollow version of her old self.
I’ve also watched Miranda get taken advantage of by friends who never reciprocated. She would drop everything to be there for them, but could never rely on them in return. Over time, these one-sided relationships depleted Miranda entirely. They left her hurt, used up, and cynical.
Perhaps Miranda’s story sounds painfully familiar. This dynamic plays out all the time for those of us who struggle with boundaries. We seek validation, self-worth and love from other people like drugs. We chase after crumbs of approval, thinking if we just do enough, the person will finally appreciate us.
This creates an unhealthy dependency. Our sense of self becomes enmeshed with how others treat us. Instead of looking inward, we look outward for esteem. When people don’t reciprocate, we’re utterly devastated, because it feels like a referendum on our worth. We go hunting for our next hit of external validation, unable to provide it for ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: the ONLY person responsible for your happiness, fulfillment and self-worth is YOU. Other people’s actions do not determine your value. You, my friend, are inherently worthy – with or without anyone else.
I want you to repeat this mantra with me: “My worth comes from within. I do not need others’ validation.” Let this be your creed whenever you feel that desperate ache for external approval. Affirm to yourself: “I am already whole. My esteem comes from me.” Can you feel that truth resonating through you?
Now, I know this is much easier said than done. Old habits die hard. Today I want to share practical strategies for setting boundaries and stopping the chase, so you can develop healthy, reciprocal relationships.
Start By Paying Attention
Get curious about your relationship dynamics. Who initiates contact most of the time? Who puts in more effort? Do you feel depleted after interacting with certain people? Are you giving to get? Observe without judgement and start taking notes. Increased awareness is the first step toward change.
Communicate Your Needs
Have a gentle, honest dialogue, especially with those you care about. You might say something like “I value our connection, but I’ve noticed it feels one-sided. I can’t be the only one initiating all the time. I need to see equal effort from you.” Gauge their reaction carefully. If they validate your experience and make changes, amazing! If they get defensive or don’t follow through, you have your answer.
Learn To Say No
Start turning down non-reciprocal folks’ requests sometimes. Say no to things that deplete you. See if the person still sticks around or disappears when you stop doing favours. This tells you everything. Protect your energy!
Limit Time With Energy Vampires
Personally I think it’s important to avoid all vampires, but particularly ones that feed on your energy! Reduce contact with people who leave you drained. Instead, spend more time with uplifting friends who reciprocate. Nurture relationships that help you feel replenished.
Visualize Your Ideal
Get clear on what healthy relationships look and feel like to you. What are the exact qualities you desire? Hold this vision close and use it as your benchmark. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
Require Mutual Vulnerability
True connection requires both people to be real, exposed and intimate with each other. Make sure those close to you are willing to drop their walls, be vulnerable and share their authentic selves.
Let Go Of What’s Not Serving You
As painful as it is, sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away altogether and cut ties. Although this may feel lonely or scary in the short term, freeing yourself from one-sided relationships makes space for the right people to finally enter. Remind yourself: anything is better than staying stuck in an unhealthy dynamic that’s depleting your spirit.
On that note, I want to share a quote that still gives me chills: “Sometimes you have to be alone to realize you’ve been lonely for a long time.” Oof. That one cuts deep, because it’s so true for those of us caught in non-reciprocal bonds. We cling to the little crumbs of fulfillment, terrified of having nothing at all. But in the process, we remain drained and isolated. Leaving frees you up for the connections your soul craves.
Believe me when I say: I know how hard this is. Setting boundaries requires courage and emotional fortitude. Your people-pleasing instincts will scream at you. You’ll worry about disappointing others. But anyone trying to make you feel guilty for having basic needs and boundaries was never on your team to begin with. Truly caring people will respect your limits. The only “selfish” act is tolerating the intolerable.
I also want to emphasize that everything we’ve talked about today applies to the business realm as well. It’s not just our personal relationships that require boundaries – our professional ones do too.
How many of us chase money, running ourselves ragged trying to land any and every client or customer? We undervalue our worth and undercharge. We say yes to every request, even unreasonable ones. We kill ourselves trying to please nasty clients who are never satisfied.
It’s time to stop this toxic hustle and get selective about who we do business with. Nurture relationships with clients who respect you and recognize your value. Avoid energy vampires who exploit your expertise without fair compensation. Don’t let them dominate your schedule either. Institute policies and limits.
Increase your lifetime value per client by providing incredible service to ideal customers only. Stop chasing every small deal. Set your rates based on your worth. And be willing to fire abusive clients and walk away from bad business relationships. Protect your peace of mind. Business should uplift you too!
To summarize, here are 3 mantras for you to repeat anytime you need strength:
- I will not abandon myself for others.
- I lovingly set boundaries to honour my needs.
- True connections uplift; they don’t deplete.
Trust me, friend – you deserve relationships that make you feel replenished, not drained. Repeat these words until you believe them. Then go forth and manifest the healthy, fulfilling bonds your spirit longs for. I’m cheering you on!
Wishing you so much self-compassion and inner peace on this journey. You’ve got this.