Do you know when your line’s been crossed?
According to psychologists, “boundary anxiety” refers to a condition that inhibits some — often called “people-pleasers” — from setting limits in their daily lives due to fear of upsetting people.
“One important way to manage this anxiety and stress is to think about your personal boundaries and learn to identify your own needs within different relationships and areas of your life,” Dr. Jillian Doyle, a senior clinical psychologist at the Rotunda National Maternity Hospital in Ireland, told the Daily Mail.
Establishing clear boundaries can help build relationships as well as build more trust, said Doyle.
“Healthy, clear rules allow us to feel safe and respected both physically and emotionally,” she explained. “Reflecting on your own boundaries enables you to understand your limits so that you don’t become overwhelmed and can take better care of yourself.”
Some studies even suggest boundaries have a physical impact on your body, as high stress levels — caused by a lack of advocating for one’s own needs — have also been linked to , , , , and .
To find out if your own boundaries are clearly enforced, the Daily Mail spoke to UK psychologist Margareta James, founder of the Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic, who created a handy quiz to let you know when it’s time to redraw your lines.
There are three possible answers for each question, with the category you answered the most determining where your boundaries lie.
A – rarely
B – sometimes
C – often
1. I find that I cannot say no to things even when I don’t feel like doing it or have the energy for it
2. I feel guilty about saying no to others’ requests
3. I find myself trying to fix other people’s problems even at the detriment of my own needs
4. I get angry / upset when others say no to me
5. I feel I am often ‘used’ because I don’t stand up for my own needs
6. I feel too weak to voice my own needs / I cannot seem to make myself heard and I get frustrated
7. I feel resentment toward people when their requests put too much pressure on me
8. I get angry / anxious about other’s requests that overwhelm me
9. I feel uncomfortable expressing my own needs (including my body, energy, time, resources) without feeling guilty, fearful, anxious or stressed
10. I am uncomfortable with expressing my true feelings and needs without getting stressed
11. I get preoccupied by other people’s problems and spend a lot of my energy trying to help them
12. People can ask – any time, day or night – for my help and I immediately run to their rescue
13. People think of me as very friendly and I tend to allow them into my private space quickly
14. I tend to overshare my personal information and views with others quickly which I may regret later
Mostly A’s: You have firm boundaries
Answering mostly A’s means you know where your boundaries lie and you stick by them.
“You’re in touch with what is good for you emotionally and how to express your own needs,” James noted. “Even if it means you may need to refuse requests from others when they want your time, energy or other resources.”
People that answered mostly A’s are comfortable with making themselves heard and not afraid to be told “no.”
“The only downside is you may go too far the other way and adhere too rigidly to your own life rules. To avoid this, try to push yourself out of your comfort zone every now and again by not immediately saying ‘no’ and trying some new experiences that might enrich your life.”
Mostly B’s: Has difficulty expressing boundaries
Those who answered mainly B’s know they have boundaries they should adhere too, but struggle to always implement them.
“When you feel more confident and in a safe place, you find standing up for yourself easier,” James said. “But other times you allow people to call upon you to solve their problems — even when you’re tired or overwhelmed yourself.”
To overcome this, she recommends reassessing what someone is asking of you.
James asks: “Are you afraid that they may think you’re selfish or mean? If you find yourself exhausted from the demands of your own life as well as others’ requests, you need to re-think your boundaries to protect your energy and resources.”
Mostly C’s: No set boundaries
People that answered mainly C’s have difficulty setting solid boundaries — and are often exhausted because of it.
“You’re a good listener and getting involved in other’s lives probably gets you some ‘thank yous’ in return,” James noted.
To overcome this — and protect your own needs — James said to “get comfortable” with occasional conflict, and stop guilt-tripping over it.
“Doing the right thing sometimes means allowing others to work out a solution for themselves,” she said. “Get comfortable with stepping back from other’s worries and focusing on you — and see your anxiety levels and overall happiness soar.”