Oh, you just want everyone to be happy, sunny, and bright. And you will do whatever they ask of you to make sure that there’s a happy ending – for everyone but you. They must never think you’re selfish or thoughtless. Never. Yes, I know what it’s like to need to be needed, but do you always say “Yes” to doing that favor, even though it may be unreasonable, not to mention that you truly do not want to do it?

How are you at setting limits or boundaries with others? It may be high time to learn how to say “No.” Get a Sharpie, draw them boundaries, and take back your self-sovereignty, sweet friends. I understand that you wish to honor other peoples’ worth, but what about your own?

Sad to say, but very kindhearted people are more vulnerable to being used, abused, and taken advantage of by even well-meaning family members and friends. Then again, there are those who are more mean-spirited and will just use you as a doormat to wipe their dirty shoes on – if you let them. To them, quote Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 3, Line 87: NO.

Letting yourself be walked over, while relinquishing and renouncing your self-respect? Why? May I be the first to inform you that you have a right to have your needs and wants met, as well? If someone speaks to you in a rude or insulting way, it is okay for you to acknowledge that, instead of just feeling inwardly devastated. If you put an end to relationships with friends who are not loyal or dependable, just think how much time you will have to devote to yourself and to your emotional and spiritual needs. And whatever you do, I beg of you: Please do not compromise or imperil your values for anyone’s approval or acceptance.

How to put the brakes on it all? The next time someone asks you for a favor, take a breath. Stop and think about it before shouting, “Of course.” No need to feel pressured and stressed because you may not have the time or even the inclination to meet her needs every single time she asks.

Come up with a catch phrase or buzz word you can say to yourself when you’re on the verge of people-pleasing, despite the stress it is causing you. You remind me of a “No, thanks.” Tell them you were just diagnosed with “NCD”: No Can Do. And please do not defend yourself or explain for 20 minutes why you can’t watch her five kids again, or drive him to the station in the treacherous snowstorm. “No” is a complete sentence. It does not require justification, sweet friends. And please don’t let “I’m sorry” become your favorite response.

Perhaps you simply cannot. Or maybe you are being taken advantage of. Not a good shade on you. Maybe Mr. Rogers didn’t adequately prepare you for some of the people in your neighborhood. Kindness is not being used, imposed upon, or hoodwinked. Do not allow others to convince you to do things for them simply because you are “available,” or so it seems. You may be working harder on his problems and his life than he is. Sometimes you cripple people who are capable of walking because you choose to carry them.

Givers need to set limits, because takers rarely do. The more you get to know certain people, the more you understand why Noah only let animals board the ark. Lol. And don’t you wish people came with a 30-second trailer so you could see what you’re getting into? Perhaps you cannot be there for someone right now, because you are going through your own storm. Imagine if you treated some people exactly the way they treated you. And please don’t ever stop being a good person because of bad people. Unfortunately, some folks are like a coin: Valuable? No, two-faced. Don’t waste your precious time trying to get people to love you. Spend time with those who already do.

Do not convince yourself that your broken finger doesn’t hurt because other people have broken arms. It is easy to become resentful when others do not realize just how much we sacrifice for them. It is high time to bring joy to your own mind and spirit. Your friends are not your “caseload.” No need to be emotionally action-packed all of the time. There’s a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough.

If you always avoid conflict to “keep the peace,” you may be starting a war within yourself.

And remember this: You don’t let go of a bad relationship because you stopped caring about them. You let go because you finally started caring about yourself.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.