We learn about boundaries when we are very young, our parents do this by setting boundaries with us, and expect us to set our own boundaries with others. When our parents don’t set these boundaries, or fail to enforce them, we walk all over them. The same thing happens when we don’t set boundaries with others, they walk over us.
So, you can correct this by realizing a few things:
1) You should set boundaries, they are very important for your mental health and for your relationship with others.
2) You set the rules for how you want to be treated and the dynamics of your relationship with them.
3) You can correct broken boundaries, by setting small boundaries with those who are taking advantage of you or making you do things that you don’t want to do.
For example: If one of your family members always expects you to be home for the holidays, and you go because you know they are expecting you and you don’t want to disappoint them. This is not ok, you chose where you spend your holidays. If you are married, and your family is pressing you to be home for the holidays, setting a corrective boundary would be to tell them that this year you are spending the holidays with your spouse’s family. If you do this and encounter more pressure and even anger on their part, it is a sign that they don’t respect your desires and they are trying to force their will onto you. Tell them the decision has been made, and it’s not up for discussion. If you are worried that the person with get angry, don’t be. Let them get angry. It will pass.
4) Don’t feel guilty for setting boundaries.
Realize that boundaries are healthy for you, they are a sign of self respect, so don’t be afraid of the other person’s reaction. Take this example, If someone is constantly borrowing money and never pays you back, try this next time: tell them that you can’t lend him/her any more money because you’re saving cash for [insert reason], and you are expecting a payment for past loans. Are they constantly asking for your help? Tell them that you’re busy with personal things. Well, you get the idea.
5) Expect a push back
Some will push back and some will understand where you’re coming from. Those who will push you harder are those who have been walking all over you for a long time, and expect to keep on doing it. They are used to using you, so when you set a boundary, they will react negatively.
6) Learn to identify push back techniques.
How is this person pushing back? Are they playing the sympathy card? Are they making you feel guilty for not doing them the favor? Favors are just favors, you have 100% of the choice, and you decide whether they get your favor or not. If you don’t know what to say at first, tell them you’ll get back to them. You’ll have time think and later decline their request.
7) Repeat the process
If you analyze each one of your relationships at work and start setting one boundary per person, soon you’ll get their respect back, and also what’s more important, your self-respect.
This will take time, but it is definitely possible and good for you.
Work on yourself, it’s the best project you could ever have.