...are constantly engaged in relationships, personal or professional relationships. Within these relationships, we display certain behaviors, innate or learned behaviors. The beliefs we have about life, and by which we guide our lives, whether or not they are helping us, are often the result of our own behavior or others' behavior that we have witnessed.
Recently I have turned my attention to the behaviors...
...of those around us, which are in contradiction with our beliefs, and which influence our lives, and even more, which influence our lives in a negative way. Understanding that a certain behavior influences our lives stems from discernment, which is a state of affairs that is appreciated from person to person, depending on his ability and psycho-intellectual power to appreciate and distinguish between good and evil, lawful and illicit, moral and immoral.
Thus, the behaviors of those around us, which are in contradiction with our beliefs, and which negatively influence our lives, are perceived to be physical and / or mental constraints, practically a restriction of our personal freedom.
...that we may experience as a reaction in such circumstances can be anger, indignation, hate, fear, disappointment, and the list can go on.
• Anger is the emotion that is telling us that, from our point of view, an injustice has taken place, one of our values or beliefs has been violated, and our reaction is to want to punish the source of injustice, in order to correct the injustice created;
• Indignation is the emotion that is telling us that one of our limits has been violated, and the reaction is to protect and restore our limits, in order to take care of ourselves to maintain self-esteem;
• Hate is the emotion that is telling us that we can't stand being around a certain person, and our reaction is to avoid that person, and the scope is to distinguish the people we don't want close to us or from what circumstances we don't want to be part of;
• Fear is the emotion that is telling us that something or someone specific can hurt us, and our reaction is to try to avoid the perceived danger, in order to keep us safe;
• Disappointment is the emotion that is telling us that we did not expect something specific to happen, and our reaction is to try to disconnect from the people or situation that caused us disappointment, and the scope is to realign our expectations to reality.
What can we do in a situation like this?
The behavior that negatively influences our lives is there, the restriction of our personal freedom is there, the emotions are there. None of this can be wiped off with a sponge, nor will it disappear if we refuse to look back in that direction.
From personal experience I can say that it helps to stop, to take a deep breath and to make a reality check.
Every emotion causes an immediate reaction or impulse.
That impulse may or may not be the most effective action we can take in the given circumstances. An emotional skill we can develop is the intentional choice to respond rather than react to a particular emotion. The key ingredient here is time, the time we give ourselves to understand our emotions, to understand their message, to stay with them as long as we need to, and to understand what we have to do next.
The restriction of personal freedom...
...often occurs due to the lack of healthy interpersonal boundaries. Interpersonal boundaries exist in any type of relationship, whether personal or professional. Healthy boundaries can bring balance in relationships and communication, and are an important factor in defining autonomy, personal identity, maintaining physical and mental health, and developing and maintaining a state of well-being.
Healthy interpersonal boundaries...
...help us protect ourselves and make ourselves understood through our needs that differentiate us from other people. Boundaries can be physical – which refer to personal space and our body; material – which refer to our possessions; cognitive – which involve our intellectual abilities to process information and transmit it; spiritual – which define our beliefs and values; emotional – which helps us maintain our inner balance; and time boundaries – which relate to the management of our activities.
How do we determine what our healthy boundaries are?
Setting boundaries begins by identifying the emotions experienced when the behaviors of those around us have negatively influenced our lives, and by identifying the basic psychological needs that have been violated.
Setting healthy boundaries means knowing our needs and being able to communicate them to others, assuming we don't compromise our values and beliefs, assuming we can say "no" when we don't agree to do something, and assuming existence and communication of the consequences if the transmitted boundaries are not respected.
If we can rationally understand the benefits of setting healthy boundaries, then why is it often so difficult for us to do so?
Maybe because we experience fear, fear of being rejected, fear of disappointing people around us, or maybe we experience shame or guilt. Fear and disappointment, as emotions, are presented above.
• Shame is the emotion that is telling us that we consider ourselves to have behaved in a way that is not aligned with the values and expectations of the community we belong to, and the reaction is to withdraw so as not to be judged or punished, and the purpose of the emotion is to notify us when we feel we have violated community norms and standards;
• Guilt is the emotion that is telling us that we consider ourselves to have behaved in a way that is not aligned with our own values and beliefs, and the reaction is to punish ourselves, and the purpose of the emotion is to take care of our own identity.
When we set and communicate our healthy boundaries, we must not feel fear, shame, or guilt, because it is our primary responsibility to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally.
If we set healthy boundaries...
...and others before us have not, even if they have been in similar situations, we should not feel guilty or ashamed of it, because we are different and we have different needs. On the contrary, congratulations, setting healthy boundaries where others have never done so, we have just set a precedent.
When people, in the relationship with which we want to draw healthy boundaries, do not understand our boundaries or do not want to respect them, we must not convince them of anything, neither the legitimacy of our boundaries, nor their existence at other people.
There is no need to get to the point where we "can't anymore"...
...to put healthy boundaries in relationships. It is enough to "no longer want". And even if those around us have become accustomed to us without having healthy boundaries, it is never too late to set them. It is our right to become aware of our needs, and to decide on the things and behaviors we want or do not want in our lives.
If the healthy boundaries we have communicated are constantly not respected, then it most likely means that we are not in the right place, in the right relationships, or that the people are not prepared to accept other people's healthy boundaries. Failure to respect our boundaries, which we have previously communicated, must not be taken personally, because someone who does not respect someone's boundaries certainly does not respect anyone's.
The fact that someone does not respect the healthy boundaries that have been communicated to them, says absolutely nothing about us, but everything about them.
Drawing healthy boundaries is not an act of selfishness, it is an act of courage...
...courage to take our own lives into our own hands and not let others dictate our path. Drawing healthy boundaries is about respecting the most important person in our lives, it's about respecting ourselves, it's about honoring ourselves as human being, that have only one life to live.
Understanding and managing emotions, and setting healthy boundaries can be a challenge for anyone, and it is always advisable to seek specialized help.