How to Set Emotional Boundaries

Are you the person everyone goes to for advice?

Do others talk your ear off, but forget to ask how you’re doing?

Do they ask you for rides or money, but never offer?

Are you sick and tired of feeling emotionally drained by others?

As a natural helper, healer, people pleaser and/or empath, you may be so used to being there for others that you forget about yourself. You may feel that you don’t have time or bandwidth to care for yourself.

The reality is, it’s impossible to give quality support when you’re also feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to put yourself first sometimes, so that you can fully show up for the people you care about. And of course, because your well-being is just as important as anyone else’s!

So without further ado, here are 3 tips to help you set emotional boundaries with yourself and others.

Tip #1 – Say “no” when you aren’t available!

You may feel as though it’s their obligation to drop everything to be there for loved ones in crisis. Guess what? It isn’t.

Saying no to a request doesn’t make you a bad family member or person. It just means you can’t be available to everyone at all times. It would be totally unreasonable for anyone to expect that of you.

Being unavailable might mean that you have other plans or obligations. But it might also mean that you are emotionally unavailable. It’s okay if you can’t be there for someone because you’re tired, or sick, or just wanting to relax for a little bit.

Ways to say no:

  • “No.”
  • “I’d love to help, but I’m really busy.”
  • “I wish I could, but I have a prior obligation.”
  • “It’s not a good time.”
  • “That doesn’t work for me.”
  • “That’s not in my wheelhouse.”
  • “I can’t right now.”

Ways to set limits without saying no:

  • “I’m not available now, but I could help on (suggest another day / time that works better for you).”
  • “I can give you 15 minutes.”
  • “Even though I can’t help you by (doing exactly what they’re requesting), I can…”
  • “Why don’t you ask (name of someone else who could help)?”

Tip #2 – Do not back down.

When you start setting boundaries, people are probably going to push back. Please? Just this one time? Why can’t you?

Stick to your guns! Use the ‘broken record’ technique – repeat yourself over and over and over until they get give up. Validate that you know they’re disappointed but unfortunately, you still cannot carry out their request.

Do not allow yourself to be swayed by anger, guilt trips, the cold shoulder, or other tactics.

If you back down, you will only encourage them to push back on your boundaries again in the future. On the other hand, if you stay firm, they’ll learn to respect your boundaries.

Tip #3 – Use your “me” time well

Many helpers and healers feel guilty taking time to relax. We may feel as though we should be using the time to help someone or accomplish something.

Making time for self-care is an important boundary to set with ourselves.

Self-care is not just about making the time, but also using it effectively.

If you spend a lot of your “down time” watching distressing or anxiety-provoking T.V. shows, reading the news, getting into arguments with people on the internet, or venting or ruminating, your emotional wellness probably will not be replenished.

Set emotional boundaries with yourself by doing more things that bring you joy and peace. Going for a walk, watching uplifting T.V. shows, thinking about what you’re grateful for, taking a nap, creating art… whatever leaves you feeling better about yourself and the world.

Remember: saying no does not make you selfish.

Saying no makes you a human being with many obligations, yourself being one of them. That is perfectly reasonable and okay. So set emotional boundaries to preserve your own well-being, as well as the health of your relationships.

If you liked this article, please leave a comment or share it with someone who could benefit!

Happy Sunday!


5 Lies Anxiety tells People Pleasers

We all have anxiety sometimes, about some things. Anxiety can distort thoughts. And this is just as true for people pleasers as anyone. In fact, buying into the lies anxiety tells people pleasers is what often keeps them stuck in self-defeating behaviors.

By the way, a people pleaser is someone who tends to go along with what others want, even at the cost of their own well-being.

So without further ado, here are 5 lies anxiety tells people pleasers… and the TRUTH.

Lie #1: People are judging you.

Anxiety: People are judging you and thinking that you’re a terrible person, or that you’re making bad decisions.

Truth: Everyone is too busy thinking about themselves to spend much time on you. And even if they are, who cares? They don’t know you as well as your supportive friends and family, who know you’re a good person.

Lie #2: No one can be mad at you.

Anxiety: You can’t do anything that might make someone mad at you. If someone gets mad at you, they will abandon you.

Truth: You cannot control whether other people get mad at you, no matter how hard you might try. Every relationship has conflict sometimes. Not every relationship works out, but the ones that do are the ones in which both parties are able to talk through inevitable problems.

Lie #3: You’re a doormat.

Anxiety: You don’t stand up for yourself because you’re a doormat.

Truth: Sometimes there are really good reasons why you didn’t confront someone at a particular time. And actually, there have probably been more times than you think when you have stood up for yourself. They may just not be at the forefront of your mind, especially when your already feeling bad about yourself.

Lie #4: You deserve to be treated badly.

Anxiety: If someone treats you poorly or talks negatively about you, it’s because you did something wrong, or there’s something wrong with you.

Truth: Nobody deserves to be treated badly, no matter what they have or haven’t done. The way other people treat you does not reflect on who you are as a person, or even your behaviors. It is out of your control and sometimes totally unrelated. Sometimes people are projecting or responding to their own baggage.

Lie #5: You have to be what others expect.

Anxiety: If you disagree with someone or express your real opinions, no one will like you. So you can’t be your true self – you have to go along with others.

Truth: Believe it or not, people actually like people who disagree with them. It shows that they are trustworthy. You can absolutely be yourself and have people like you. Try it and see the results!

What lies would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!


Find out if you’re a people pleaser.

Learn about the link between perfectionism and procrastination.

Cost-Effective Tips to Sleep Better and Boost your Mental Health

Hi folks!

This week I’m featuring a guest writer… mental health blogger Cheryl Conklin! Enjoy her fantastic post on free or low-cost tips to sleep better. And if you’d like to see more content from her, visit her website.


Have you been struggling to get enough sleep? If you’re struggling with sleeplessness or insomnia, you’re more at risk of developing a mental health concern, and if you suffer from depression or anxiety, lack of sleep will make your condition even worse. Improve your sleep habits and boost your mental health with these money-saving options for better sleep.

Sleep and Mental Health

If you’ve been sleeping poorly, then you’re likely to experience low energy, reduced productivity, and increased irritability and moodiness. You may start to notice fluctuations in your weight, and have difficulty remembering details. Sleep and mental health are closely linked and sleeping poorly will negatively impact your mental health.

Finding your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and sticking with it will help you sleep better; if you naturally feel sleepy at 10 pm, give yourself permission to go to sleep early and wake up early. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend any money to develop a healthy sleep routine.

Reducing Stress

Reducing stress is extremely important when it comes to managing your mental health. At the end of each night, give yourself an hour to wind down. Turn off your TV, put your phone away, and dim the lighting as you focus on managing your overall stress levels. You can practice relaxation or deep breathing techniques, take a warm bath, or listen to an audiobook — there are plenty of free options available online.

Practice reducing stress during the day by focusing on one task at a time, avoiding incessantly checking your phone, and taking a break from multitasking. In the evening you’ll be able to relax more easily, and enjoy a peaceful night. If you have trouble putting the phone down, there are free smartphone apps that help your mind unwind.

Make your Room the Perfect Place to Sleep

You may think you can sleep anywhere, but taking the time to make your room the perfect place for deep sleep will improve your sleep and help you maintain your mental health.

Start by turning down the temperature. Not only will this help you sleep, but it will also save you money! It can be difficult to sleep if the room is too warm, and the ideal sleeping temperature is around 65 degrees.

Next, make sure your bed is comfortable with a firm mattress, soft sheets, and a pillow that’s designed for your sleeping position. If you’re in the market for some new bedclothes, has a list of affordable retailers that can help keep those costs down.

Devices that Can Help you Sleep

If you’ve been struggling to sleep, and it’s causing more stress and anxiety in your life, you can find some helpful devices to sleep better. A white noise machine can help you sleep soundly through the night, make it easier to fall asleep, and lowering your chances of waking during the night. Check your local Kohls or shop online with Kohls coupons and promo codes for the best
money-saving options on devices that will help you sleep.

Other items that can help you sleep include weighted blankets, a quality memory foam pillow, a light alarm clock that will wake you peacefully without the loud alarm, and a sleep tracker to give you accurate information about your sleep patterns.

Natural Remedies to Sleep Better

If you want some natural remedies to help you sleep better, try melatonin for natural sleep. Melatonin is the hormone your body produces in the evening, and taking a melatonin supplement will encourage your body to sleep. Valerian root is another popular natural remedy and this plant also treats anxiety and depression.

Essential oils such as sweet marjoram or roman chamomile can be used as an effective sleep supplement. Lavender has a soothing aroma that encourages deep sleep, and a scented pillow or essential oil diffuser can help you sleep. Using natural remedies is a cost-effective, safe, and healthy way to sleep better.

Are you tired of tossing and turning all night? Follow these tips for better sleep, and boost your mental health. Find ways to reduce your stress during the day and the night, make your room cozy, and find the natural remedies that will help you sleep soundly.

Am I in a Toxic Relationship?

Trigger warning: Verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are referenced in this post and specific examples are given.

Cutting ‘toxic’ people out of our lives seems to be the talk of the town these days. But what does it actually mean?

Toxic relationships can be with a significant other, but they can also occur within friendships, family relationships… even work relationships, like between a boss and employee.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 signs that a relationship you’re in may be toxic.

#1. Feeling like you’re constantly walking on eggshells

When you’re around the person in question, do you choose your words painstakingly carefully? And even then, sometimes one little thing you say turns into a blowout argument, or the silent treatment?

In a healthy relationship, both parties can express themselves openly and disagree. If you don’t feel emotionally safe to do so, it could be a sign that the relationship is toxic.

#2. Put-downs and insults

“You’re so dumb.” “Why do you dress like a slut?” “Hey a**hole! Answer your phone!”

These words and phrases may be played off as “just a joke,” or dismissed – “You know I didn’t mean it.”

But put-downs hurt, and they erode self-esteem over time. Put-downs and insults constitute verbal and emotional abuse, and are a sign of toxicity.

#3. Lying

Sometimes, it can be really hard to tell if someone is lying. Especially if you have a history of relationships with people who lied and cheated. You may be very attuned to behaviors or reactions that may not actually indicate dishonesty.

That said, most people who lie are in the habit of doing so. Sooner or later, they will be caught.

Honesty and trust are necessary to create a foundation for a healthy relationship. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to establish a healthy dynamic.

#4. Minimizing feelings and accomplishments

One of the most common ways that people minimize feelings is accusing someone of being “too sensitive” or “overreacting.”

If something hurts your feelings, it hurts your feelings! Period, end of story. You have every right to feel angry, sad, disappointed, or whatever else.

In a healthy relationship, each person understands and takes ownership for how they’ve hurt the other, even if it was unintentional.

In a toxic relationship, career choices or hobbies (in addition to feelings) could be dismissed as being silly or outlandish, or not acknowledged at all. A healthier dynamic occurs when each person supports one another and their dreams.

#5. Power struggles and ultimatums

A power struggle occurs when both parties in a relationship are refusing to budge, waiting for the other person to give in to what they want or how they see things. The problem with power struggles is that they don’t get anyone anywhere, except feeling angrier and more resentful than when they began.

An ultimatum is the biggest power struggle of all. There may be rare occasions when ultimatums are an effective choice. When people use ultimatums frequently or ineffectively, it’s not a good sign.

#6. Emotional withholding

… also known as “the silent treatment” or “the cold shoulder.” Emotional withholding is a lack of physical affection or praise and positive feedback (There’s a great post on emotional withholding here). Often, one person will emotionally withhold when the other has done something they dislike; this manipulates the other person into doing what they want more often.

In healthy relationships, both parties are able to provide the other with physical and verbal affection, and talk to each other about their emotions.

#7. Gaslighting

If you aren’t familiar with the term gaslighting, it means slowly making someone feel ‘crazy.’ People gaslight people by dismissing their experiences, telling them they aren’t remembering things correctly, or that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation meant to chip away at the target’s self-esteem. It’s a common sign of relationship toxicity.

#8. Mismatched effort

In toxic relationships, one person may invest significantly more effort than the other. For example, one person works, parents, cooks, cleans, works on themselves, tries to understand the other person… and the other person? They… don’t do much. Perhaps in a friendship, this would look like one person making plans all the time, giving rides or lending money, while the other doesn’t reciprocate.

There are times in every relationship when one person might get sick or have financial problems, and need more help than the other for a while. But if this dynamic persists over months or years, or is extremely pronounced, it may be a sign of a toxic relationship.

#9. Lack of privacy

If one or both people in the relationship read one another’s texts and e-mails, keep tabs on the other’s whereabouts, and/or don’t do anything without the other, this indicates a lack of privacy. We want to be open and honest in relationships, but at the same time, some space and time apart is good. Space indicates trust and establishes each of you as individuals.

#10. Physical or sexual abuse

When most of us think of physical abuse, we picture someone with a black eye. And certainly, punching and hitting constitute physical abuse. But physical abuse can also look like physical intimidation by cornering someone or blocking a doorway. Physical abuse can be grabbing someone’s shoulders or arms. Destroying someone’s property is also physical abuse. And sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact (not limited to penetration), including kissing, oral sex, and so on.

I know this is a lot of detail to go into, but it’s important for people to know so they can recognize the signs. Be aware that what may start out as small infractions can escalate quickly.

I think I might be in a toxic relationship. Now what?

Common sense would say that the best thing to do is leave the relationship right away.

I want to be very clear: that is NOT a one-size-fits-all solution.

Many people in toxic relationships are dependent on the other person for money, housing and so on, or are afraid that if they leave, the other person may try to find them and retaliate. Sound like you? You may want to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

If you might be in a toxic relationship, I highly recommend seeing a clinical therapist such as myself or someone in your area. Individual, family therapy, or both may help. Even if your concerns don’t feel ‘severe,’ you may benefit from talking to someone about them.

Remember: My blog posts are intended to provide general information, and do not constitute therapy.

Learn more about teletherapy.

Find out more about anger and forgiveness.