Do You Have Personal Boundaries?

The healtier boundaries, the more satisfactory relationships.

Have you ever said “I’ve given them everything of mine, but they don’t realize the worth of it!”? There are many who have said this. Their common feature is that they consume their own resources while sacrificing themselves for others.

Just like the boundaries which indicate the property ownerships, there are crucial invisible boundaries that separate us and others. If these boundaries are not known or learned wrongly, it can lead to exhaustion and deterioration of relationships over time.

Some of the thoughts like “If I set boundaries against others, wouldn’t I get upset with them?” or “will I be lonely at last?” may confuse. Yet actually, boundaries are not the thick walls in which we lock ourselves; rather they are like a fence that shows where ourselves and others begin and end. Thus, it also helps to maintain healthy relationships.

Let’s assume an employee named Sally. Her colleague John is lazy and really bad at time management. He requests Sally that most of his task to complete because Sally is quite a disciplined and responsible woman, as well as being so ‘soft’ to others so as not to offend them. John had also requested someone to do his works once, but they said him that they already had their own works. Then he has ‘discovered’ Sally. Because when every single time he comes to tell her that if he can’t complete the tasks in time, then he can be fired; Sally’s conscience becomes uncomfortable with this situation and whispers that “you have to help him”.

Somehow, Sally arranges her time and finishes both her own and his tasks in stress due to extra burden. After this tired and long work day, she goes home and wants to spend time with her family. But suddenly she notices that one part of her task is overlooked and she has to work at home now. Her husband and children reproach but they are already accustomed to this.

In this example, there are more than one sufferer. The first one is Sally, because she cannot say ‘no’ to others and undertakes their burden. So, she even forgets her own issues so as to ‘help’ others. Unconsciously she gets angry with them because they don’t take responsibility. Also curiously enough, some of her friends take her for granted with the thought that they can lead her by the nose. The second is Sally’s family. Her husband gets into difficulty to communicate with her because she ‘s generally either tired or busy. He misses her even in a same house. Her children can’t take necessary care from her for the same reason. And the last one is John. Don’t be suprised. He seems relax because transfers most of his works to her, but actually as long as Sally helps him, he’ll have difficulty in learning time management and taking responsibility.

If we don’t want our good intention to have such an outcome, we must learn to say simply ‘no’. As we do this and sustain our determination, others will get used to it and respect us.

“Boundaries not only show what we are responsible for, but also define what is not on our property and what we are not responsible for. For example, we are not responsible for others. We are never told to control others, but we spend most of our time and energy doing it!”*

*Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, Boundaries Workbook

Do not Sabotage Yourself Anymore

Do obstacles always come from outside? What if it’s coming from within?

Self-handicapping, by the name in psychology, is described by Berglas ve Jones (1978) as “although a person has the capacity to fulfill a task, doubts of her/himself that s/he can accomplish it and finds excuses to justify her/his failures”. For this, the person may act like postponing the preparation for a necessary task or finding other “important” jobs to do instead. Ultimately, when the target mission ends up a failure, the responsible of it would not be the person her/himself but excuses, such as ”having other things to do’ or ‘not having enough time’ etc.

Considering that “why does a person do this to her/himself?”, there are some reasons for it.

The first of these is to protect the ego from the disappointment that will result from a possible failure. This possibility frightens so much, for example, that one willingly “misses” the application date of the school s/he wants so much.

The second reason may be that the person does not feel ready for the situation to be achieved. Because this will bring some changes in her life, and this may mean discomfort. Haven’t you ever shuddered when you imagine something that you want so much to come true?

One of the  other reasons for self-handicapping is that the person believes that s/he does not deserve the result because s/he does not consider her/himself valuable enough. And if a person does not consider her/himself worthy of success, what is the need for all that effort, isn’t it?

Leaving self-handicapping is possible once we aware of doing that. If you are in doubt about your own worth, don’t hesitate to get professional help to improve your well-being.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

We almost all know what the prophecy is. So how does prophecy fulfill itself?

Albeit it brings to mind the future and unknown, it actually is about completely ourselves. But how? The answer is  ‘our thoughts’ substantially.

Not surprisingly while our negative thoughts creating our beliefs, our behaviors are being led by those beliefs unconsciously.  We also influence other people’s behaviors to us by behaving in those ways. And finally, it becomes a vicious cycle -until we recognize that and decide to change. This is one of the reasons for one’s fears come true.  To give an example, when someone, who is afraid of being abandoned, clings more to his/her partner and tries to control him/her, the partner would feel suffocated from this manner. In this case, s/he made her own fears come true by acting in a particular manner. His/her only purpose was to avoid being abandoned, though.

Let’s have a look at Gandhi’s famous quote: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

It should also be kept in mind that we can utilize the self-fulfilling prophecy advantageously. According to an article in Psychology Today, if we keep our thoughts and beliefs in a positive framework towards our goals, we would help the result to be the way we want.

So I hope that we use our prophecies to our benefit.

Forgive: Set Yourself Free

Not to forgive is to convict oneself with the intention of punishing the other person.

I can hear you saying: “I will never forgive him/her! What has s/he done to me?!”

With the intention of protecting oneself from negative behaviors, that is, not to encounter the same negations, one can develop some psychological defense mechanisms, like keeping some distance from those people or expanding personal boundaries. Other than that, one may also prefer methods that do not help much such as to bear a grudge, to the pursuit of revenge, or to desire the evil of those people. Let’s look into that second type of technics really serve to protect one or not?

Our beliefs about what forgiveness is very important. If we believe that forgiveness is doing a favor to someone, compromising oneself, or lowering one’s own worth, it is not easy to forgive. Let’s try to look at it from a different angle; isn’t it heavy to take responsibility for another person’s negative behavior and live with it all the time? It is actually a moral burden to wait a lifetime so that the person realizes what s/he has done, regrets it, and apologizes (it’d be nice if they do). Indeed, these expectations hurt mostly the person him/herself. When negative emotions and thoughts are prolonged, they tire both the mind and the body. To give some examples, long-term anger affects the liver, sadness affects the lungs, and hatred affects the heart in a bad way. Moreover, while all these things happening, the other person may not even be aware of their annoying behavior.

If you’d say “s/he does not deserve to be forgiven”, it is worth remembering that forgiveness and reconciliation are different things. Nobody has to like and accept everyone. While reconciliation requires reaching a consensus, forgiveness can also be done unilaterally and is a favor that one does to oneself rather than the other person deserves. Therefore, a more peaceful life may be possible by leaving the responsibility of his/her actions to them and by keeping the necessary boundaries to avoid similar problems.

Dr. Bradley Nelson* says: “Those who hurt you may not be aware of how you are feeling, but the way they feel is entirely up to them. Choosing to suffer by keeping the past alive does not mean that they will suffer with you. You could decide to forgive them by setting yourself free of all the negativity associated with that problem.”

To conclude up, in a way, forgiveness is to free yourself from the burden of other people’s actions. 

Let’s forgive, Let’s be forgiven then!

*From his book named ‘The Emotion Code’

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