Here's a question to ask yourself the next time you feel really stressed about something you think you have to do: Do you actually have to do it, or are you just afraid of potential negative consequences, especially making someone else unhappy?
As I've learned to recognize and correct codependent tendencies in myself, I've realized that when I start to feel really intense about something, about 90% of the time it's because, as a former therapist once told me, I'm acting like I don't have a choice when I actually do. I used to think that anyone else being unhappy trumped any personal costs to me, especially if the “costs” involved were just preferences and not true needs. But, because I'm not a robot, my mind and body weren't happy about it, and so I would feel anxious, despairing, or stoically resigned to my fate. I never chose myself, and when you abandon yourself, as my new therapist has told me, you get depressed.
The really sad part about not having boundaries like this is that 1) most of the time people won't be as unhappy with you as you think they'll be, and 2) even if they would be upset, your anger about doing something you don't actually want to do will tend to leech out and taint the experience, so it won't feel safe or good to the person you're trying to make happy anyway. (Parenting expert Janet Lansbury talks about this when she encourages parents not to play with their kids if they don't want to.)
Sometimes it's less about making other people unhappy and more about making yourself unhappy if you're a perfectionist with ridiculous standards. I've so often procrastinated grocery shopping because I feel like if I'm going to do it, I have to do it “right” and stop at all three stores I regularly go to so I can get everything, but I really don't want to go to all three stores that day. If I just accept that I all I'm up for that day is picking up essentials at one place, though, I'll actually do it. It's amazing how self-defeating perfectionism is and how we sometimes need to set boundaries with our own expectations.
I'm not saying there aren't times when we have to do things we really don't want to do, but there are a lot fewer of them then I thought there were. And ultimately, as this quote from Brené Brown’s Rising Strong says, having good boundaries makes us us more compassionate: “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They're compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”