How To Draw Healthy Boundaries With Friends Who Criticize You
Do you remember how we were taught as children to say “yes” to almost everything, even if the little voice within us isn't so happy about it?
I was the youngest of four (three older brothers), and my culture taught me that since I’m the youngest, I always have to do things for others. I can’t be open about what’s bothering me (even to my friends) because I should care about how others perceive me.
This is something I struggled with for a very long time.
I was told that I’m extremely direct among my family members, but I barely ever dared to do the same within my friendships.
When I was 18, my family went bankrupt, and I lost a lot of friends just because we lost our status. One of my best friends even stole money from my parents, and I kept defending her until I witnessed the act with my own eyes.
At the time, I never really stood up for myself or opened up to my friends about how I was feeling. I was afraid of confronting them and of being left alone — until I gained enough confidence to stand up for myself.
The moment I realized my power, I realized that it’s super awesome to say NO for my own sake, and everyone else’s as well.
Saying a loving NO means you're drawing healthy boundaries in your own dictionary. Sometimes you need to reject and be rejected in order to grow.
For me personally, healthy boundaries happen when I speak my heart fully and with honesty.
That could also mean being direct.
Let’s say, for example, one of your friends (let’s call her Erika) called you a “weirdo” many times and made fun of you for meditating, being into Eastern philosophy, and maybe even for quitting your fancy job and following your dreams (I experienced this a few times).
You never said anything to her in the past because you know you’re just different from each other, but part of you doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.
Drawing healthy boundaries comes into the picture when you open up completely to your friend about how certain situations or behaviors make you feel. That means you have to be vulnerable, and this is the best way to either save or break a friendship.
You only want to be around people who appreciate you, cherish you and help you grow (and vice versa).
After experiencing several situations in which I was taking a hefty helping of criticism from people who were supposed to be my friends, I made a vow to myself: I won't let my loyalty to people turn me into a slave.
I was able to save a friendship by using this exact formula. The person reciprocated with love, and we became even closer than before.
It’s true that we all have bumps we need to work through, but we can also choose the kind of bumps we want to keep around us.
What matters is how you feel about yourself. If a certain person makes you feel like crap, then look within and learn from this experience. Ask yourself why this is happening, and if this is something you want to deal with for years, or maybe even the rest of your life.
We all make mistakes, but we don’t need to absorb people’s negativity over and over again. Maybe Erika is right, and you need to make some changes within yourself and maybe she’s just reflecting her insecurities.
People change and adopt different paths (that’s a good thing). Remember that whether it's with your friend, partner, colleague or a stranger, you always have a choice. You can say YES to everything if it brings you down or to let go of what’s not giving you love and growth.