Part 11: Dealing With People Who Resist Your Boundaries
People will resist and test your boundaries (you will even resist your boundaries occasionally). The important thing isn’t knowing that your boundaries will be tested, but how to protect them in firm yet polite and courteous ways.
Prepare for Resistance
Simply knowing and acknowledging that people will resist your boundaries is only half of the job. The other half is educating yourself about the common ways people will actually try to resist your boundaries. Here are some common ones.
People Who Control
Don’t be surprised if someone tries to control either you or the situation. This can come in various forms. They might try to control you physically, or the thoughts and perceptions of others. They might even try to control or manipulate you emotionally. Control comes in many forms.
In some cases, a Controller might become angry and aggressive towards you. You must remove yourself from this dangerous situation immediately for your health and safety.
People Who Intimidate
A person who relies on intimidation to get what they want will try to intimidate you until the point where you actually feel like you’re causing the problem – that you’re being unreasonable with your boundaries. They’ll use every tactic at their disposal to get you to do what they want: arguing, shaming, diminishing, gaslighting to get you to think you’re in the wrong and that your boundaries aren’t worth being honored.
People Who Use Guilt
This is an all-time favorite. It can be pretty subtle too. People who use guilt do their best to make you feel you’re being selfish. People probably use guilt more than anything else to resist boundaries that they don’t like or feel are inappropriate.
What You Need To Do
It’s not “if” you’ll meet these kinds of people it’s “when.” So here’s what you need to keep in mind to stick to your boundaries and get the respect you deserve when facing resistance instead of succumbing to these various forms of bullying.
1. Remember, the angry person who doesn’t like your boundary is the one with the problem, not you. You’re not responsible for their anger. So, if you know you’re being reasonable, don’t let their frustration, irritation or anger become your issue or let it upset you.
2. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for valuing your needs. Your wants and needs are every bit as important as anyone else’s. You matter. Your life matters. And so does your happiness. Your boundaries are important because they matter to you and how you’ve decided to live your life. Don’t ever feel guilty for setting realistic, reasonable boundaries.
3. Here’s what most people don’t realize about guilt: Guilt is nothing more than anger and insecurity masquerading in disguise. Anyone who tries to make you feel guilty is someone who is angry (even if they don’t look like it) or being manipulative. If someone is trying to guilt you, they are probably just angry and manipulative. However, if you feel guilty about one of your boundaries, it could be a sign of insecurity somewhere within yourself that you might need to deal with
When you meet people who resist your boundaries, don’t become their doormat and let them walk all over you. Even if you don’t want to stand up to them, stand your ground.
Share kindly but firmly why you set the boundary. Perhaps they’re not fully aware of the situation. Let them ask questions so they can know why this is so important to you. Sometimes this is all it takes to remedy misunderstandings.
Know there’ll be times when a person keeps resisting your boundaries regardless of what you do or say. So, remember that the issue is with the angry, frustrated person, not you; do not allow yourself to feel guilty for prioritizing and protecting your needs; remind yourself that guilt is just another form of insecurity expressing itself. Stay focused on your boundaries, intentions and goals. Don’t let the other person or their resistance be the focus of your attention. This really isn’t about you; it’s about them.
People who resist your boundaries would love nothing more than to wear you down. Don’t give in just because you’re tired or it’s easier. If you don’t respect your boundaries, no one else will, either. Don’t bend, budge or break. Remain confident, courteous, and assertive.
Sometimes, the person resisting you will have legitimate reasons. Hear them out. Discuss their concerns. Perhaps a compromise would be a win-win. Boundaries don’t have to be stubbornly inflexible. Perhaps you can strike a compromise that is productive for both parties. Strive for a win-win if/when appropriate.
Whenever you set boundaries, expect pushback usually in the form of controlling, intimidating, or guilt. But don’t be bullied into surrendering your boundaries. Instead, when faced with this situation, restate your boundary and search for neutral ground. But, don’t back down. Your feelings and decisions are equally important to the one who is resisting you and trying to force you to change your mind.