Twice this week people asked me what to do when someone in their life said, “It’s not all about you!”

Now, you may think I’m writing this in relation to narcissistic people.  That would be a valid assumption.  However, I’m writing this for people-pleasers, codependents, or others’ who’ve learned to put everyone else’s needs above their own.

When we start setting boundaries, the people in our lives often react.  They are so used to being put unequivocally first, that these reasonable boundaries can feel selfish to them.  These boundaries can also feel selfish to those of us who set them because we’ve learned that it’s ok for others to have needs and ask for them to be met, but not for us.

When someone tells you, “it’s not all about you,” they are often wanting or needing something – your attention, assistance, approval – that may or may not be your job to provide.  In these situations, this statement is intended (often unconsciously) to manipulate the people-pleaser to revert back to his/her/their old way of being – which is why many boundaries are difficult to hold!

When someone asks me what to do upon hearing this accusation, I often share that even though they have trained (usually inadvertently) the people in their lives to expect them to drop everything, these comments are NOT all about them!  

In other words, I suggest that they try not to take the resistance and lashing out personally, as hard as that may be.  The reactions of your loved ones come from their discomfort, years of successfully utilizing this strategy (control, manipulation, unconscious or conscious shaming, etc.), and projection onto you of the situations and people from whom they learned them.

The caveat here is that as you start setting boundaries where you never used to have them, things will get messy.  You will feel uncomfortable, righteous, indignant, guilty, and more.  You will second-guess yourself.  

Sometimes you will feel selfish, but are not necessarily being selfish.  Sometimes you will feel justified in your behavior, but later realize that you were being a little too rigid.  Sometimes you will accommodate the request and feel guilty or bad.  At other times, the accommodation will feel right or appropriate.  And on and on and on!

Regardless of your response, remember that being human is messy!  It can be helpful to call a good friend or have a session with your therapist or coach and get a reality check.  It’s difficult to see ourselves clearly especially when we are trying to change habitual behaviors and thought patterns.  

What if it’s not all about you?!

Next Bite: It’s All About Me 🙂