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It’s time people realise what they are comfortable with

The importance of maintaining personal boundaries


Nepalnews
2021 Mar 03, 17:13, Kathmandu
Photo: Binju Neupane

Personal boundaries are referred to as ‘protection’.

It is a life skill that saves us from burn out and frustration, and also helps save our identity.

It includes physical, mental, psychological, spiritual and materialistic boundaries that involve beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem.

It's a limitation we draw – what we are fine with and what we aren't.

It's not just important for our wellbeing but our relationship with others as well. Communicating our boundaries to our family and friends saves a lot of emotional burnout. It's not just saying yes or no to things. It is the right way of communicating your feelings, emotions, needs, values and wants.

Boundaries are often misinterpreted as selfishness. There is a subtle difference between being selfish and respecting oneself.

Psychotherapist Hashana Shrestha of Samatha Psychosocial Care, says, “Selfishness comes with the intention of harming others or when you have no concern of the other person but when it comes to boundaries it comes with self-care and protecting ourselves. One does not have to be meanwhile communicating their needs or wants.

But how can we realise what we are ok with and what we are not ok with if we are not aware of our own needs and wants?

Cognitive behavioural therapist, Chham Gurung of Samatha Psychosocial Care, says, “The first step to drawing boundaries is to know what our values and limitations are. We have to be aware of our actions and most importantly where they come from?”

Knowing the reason behind having flexible or rigid boundaries is equally important to bring about change. Knowing the intention behind our action – is it coming from genuine care or to please another – is equally necessary.

While looking at mental health issues it comes down to the environment during our childhood.

Shrestha adds, “Our dominant culture of respecting elders does not allow a child to maintain their boundaries. We never try to find out what that child is fine with.” She adds that it is not just mental boundaries but physical boundaries too that are equally important for all in the family.

She shares, “I have seen it in my female patients that they spend so much time caring for the family they don't know how to think about themselves. They actually do not know what they want?” Shrestha further states that when one does not have a good environment at home it becomes difficult to bond with other people. Either one becomes too pleasing or too rigid.

Gurung clarifies, “If our parents had a bullying nature or were not good with boundaries then we learn that behaviour.” Self-worth and self-esteem are strongly connected with boundaries and not having strong boundaries can lead to self-loathing and losing our identity, she mentions.

Helping people to feel worthy, and this vicious cycle of feeling needed is a typical example. It comes down to people's pleasing behaviour. People are afraid of offending friends and when one does something they didn't want to in the first place then they are basically disrespecting themselves, according to Gurung.

“When this becomes a routine it leaves you exhausted,” she states.

As per reports, if one has loose boundaries people will take advantage. At the same time if the boundaries are rigid and impermeable, one will miss out on the meaning and playfulness in life. Not having personal boundaries can lead to personality disorder, losing one’s identity, burn out and fatigue.  It creates a black and white mind-set in a person's mind.

Gurung adds, “It can lead to a person feeling frustrated or annoyed with oneself, which affects your other relationships as well.” While pleasing others you are actually pushing away your close ones by not respecting yourself, she mentions. “How can you take care of others when you are the one who is in need of help?”

Shrestha says that the trick is ‘balance’. “Finding this balance is a lifelong practice. Staying open and supporting without forging yourself in the world is not an easy task.” It is important to check oneself and find how certain situations make you feel, she adds, “Communicating with yourself about your needs and wants and your close circle is vital.”

She informs that one needs to look after oneself before providing support to others and people also need to ask for help if needed. “Seeking help is an important life skill.”

However, creating boundaries is not an easy task. It might be uncomfortable stepping out of our old ways.

Gurung says, “Starting to communicate your needs might be a scary journey. It might not feel empowering at first. Anxiety can fill you and it can be terrifying.” People might not take it as easily as you think, however, it slowly saves relationships and gradually we will adapt to it and it becomes a habit, she adds.  

Creating boundaries also comes with respecting other’s boundaries.

As social being we need support. Asking for help is labelled as weak, but it takes a lot of strength and an open mind.


As for being support, how are you going to help your circle, if you are not in a good frame of mind yourself?

Mental Health Personal Boundaries Communication
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