Everyone crosses their boundaries from time to time. You allow others to take more from you emotionally or you give more energy than you intended, and that’s fine! You have a buffer that allows you to do that every now and then. If you ensure that you can recharge it sufficiently, you will be able to go beyond your boundaries responsibly. But when this starts to become an unhealthy pattern, something else may be going on.

What are the benefits?

If you overstep your boundaries often, it’s too easy to just say you shouldn’t do that anymore. There’s a reason this behaviour is repeating itself; it has its advantages. You could think of receiving more appreciation at work or maybe it fits your flexible attitude. Maybe it feels good to be helpful or you have a strong urge to prove and improve yourself. Or maybe it’s just a lot more practical and it leaves you with more time on the weekends if you walk the extra mile during the week. In short, overstepping your boundaries can have all sorts of benefits.

What does it cost you?

Because people instinctively tend to be more focused on the short term benefits, we often lose sight of the bigger. Besides that occasionally overstepping your boundaries has its benefits, it also costs you something. That is something we usually don’t realise, until it starts to affect us. Overstepping your boundaries can often lead to feeling like you’re selling yourself short if you don’t do as much. You can experience more pressure, because you’ve created the expectation that you’re always the one that will take that extra step. People can eagerly take advantage of that. But eventually it will cost you your resources and the ongoing effort will lead to both physical and mental fatigue.

Setting boundaries

Setting boundaries is not something you do for the short term; it’s not just taking a step back because you’re tired today. You’re also doing it for the long term. By setting boundaries you give clarity about what you can expect from yourself, but also what others can expect from you. You make realistic and dynamic demands. This means you can expect yourself to do your best every day, while always taking the circumstances into account. For example, if you didn’t sleep well or you’re experiencing some personal difficulties, it’s realistic that you will get less done during the day. But if you’re suddenly highly energetic and you feel great, then of course it’s good to use your energy to walk the extra mile every once in a while! You’re optimizing your achievements, because you balance your efforts and divide them realistically. In the short term it may seem less productive when you sometimes say no to certain tasks or requests, but in the long term the sum of all your activities will be higher. You’re not making anyone feel shortchanged, you’re doing them a favour!

NiceDay

Try examining what it gives you to overstep your bounds. And what does it cost you? What do you need to sufficiently recharge yourself so you can overstep your bounds responsibly? You can track this in the NiceDay app, download it here!

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Wouter Schippers

Hey, I am Wouter. I'm a NiceDay coach and psychologist. I like to play football and to make electronic music.

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