Why Does Setting Boundaries Make You Feel Guilty?

Many people like helping others because they find it rewarding. Perhaps a friend asks them to babysit their child. Or their neighbor comes by to borrow spices. But what happens when we don’t set boundaries to the many requests because we feel guilty? Eventually, putting ourselves on the back burner can lead to resentment. So, let’s discuss this subject further.

What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are guidelines that separate and protect us from others concerning our wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. It prevents people from violating our mental and physical space and points out how we want others to treat us. Essentially, we are drawing a line to demonstrate our limits and what we recognise as acceptable behaviour.

Crossing boundaries can be physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, or moral. They may not look the same for everyone, so what seems reasonable to one person may not be another. For example, some people might not like to be touched by others, while others love receiving hugs. Or one person may feel obligated to answer business emails after hours while another stops after a particular hour.

People may cross your boundaries by telling you how to spend your money, not respecting your values or beliefs, and sharing private conversations you had with them.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Everyone has a right to their feelings, do what is best for them, and make decisions without guilt. Therefore, it’s important to understand why you put your feelings aside and dismiss your true emotions.

Questions may include:

  • Why am I afraid to be honest with them?
  • Why do I feel guilty for putting my needs first?
  • Do I necessarily have to trust them to voice my wants and needs?
  • Would I judge others who set boundaries for themselves?

We often discover that setting boundaries causes us more discomfort than guilt. Still, it’s not about pushing others away or creating conflict but about caring for our mental and physical well-being.

Struggling to Set Boundaries

Constantly doing things for others due to discomfort or guilt can eventually drain us and create resentment within relationships. So, to avoid this, we need to figure out what boundaries we struggle to accomplish.

Not setting boundaries is when you:

  • Can’t say no to requests
  • Apologize for things that aren’t your fault
  • Don’t express how you truly feel
  • Take on everyone else’s responsibilities
  • Continue to stay in toxic relationships
  • Avoid disagreements at all costs

Overcoming your struggles and setting boundaries will take proper coping strategies.

How to Develop Coping Skills

Setting boundaries might make you feel uncomfortable or guilty at first. Still, developing coping skills can empower you, increase your self-esteem, and create balance in your relationships.

Coping strategies can include:

Practice self-care. People often think putting themselves first is selfish, but it’s not. You can only say yes to others’ requests so many times without it impacting your health. Therefore, saying no is your way of telling yourself and others that you are important, too.

Don’t own what’s not yours. We can’t control how people might act or react to our boundaries, but we can control our actions and reactions. Therefore, letting go of what’s not yours can be very liberating.

Stay true to yourself. We often attract the wrong people when we aren’t true to ourselves. In other words, you want someone to like you for who you are and not what you do for them. And the sooner you can recognise that, the better you should start to feel about yourself.

Stop trying to please everyone. No matter who you are or how kind you may be, you can’t please everyone, nor can anyone else. Still, just because someone reacts unkindly to your limits doesn’t mean you’re to blame or aren’t enough. Remember that it’s their problem and not yours.

Seek Support. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in struggling to set limits. Therefore, having someone who can relate to your issues and listen without judgment can make all the difference. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative

Letting Go of Guilt

Setting boundaries without feeling guilty may be difficult, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. Don’t forget that you have a right to decide what is best for you and to put your well-being first.

Why Not Try Online Therapy?

Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.

Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty

Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Sandy Glover


Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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