Setting Your Limits

Sometimes it’s hard to learn to care for ourselves as much as we care for others. And if we tend to view other people’s needs as more important than our own, it can be doubly hard. This exercise will help you identify some areas in which you might be short-changing yourself.

List a few of the demands on your life that absolutely must be done. Include the needs and demands from your work, spouse, children, relatives, church, other organizations, etc.:

  • Now think about your own needs.
  • Do you wish for any of the following?
  • More free time
  • Space to do work
  • More time with spouse, kids, etc.
  • Help with household chores
  • Someone to talk to
  • More help with the kids

Setting limits is a way of making sure you have time and energy to take care of yourself. The “pies” below represent your life. Divide the first pie to show how your life is divided today between your needs and those of others. How big a piece are you getting?


My Life As I Want It

Divide up the second pie to show how your time would be divided if you were taking better care of yourself.

What limits can you set to guarantee that you will get your share of the pie? What are you willing to stop doing for others so that you can meet your needs?

It takes practice to be firm about your limits. When you allow others to step over your limits, what is the most common reason?

  • I feel uncomfortable saying “no”.
  • I’m afraid of losing someone or something (my friend my job, my spouse, my children’s love).
  • I feel guilty if I don’t.
  • Their needs seem more important than mine at the time.

When you allow time for your own needs to balance out the time you spend doing for others you’ll probably be surprised at how much more you accomplish all around.


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