Setting Boundaries Part I: Self-Disclosure
I have received quite a few requests on limit and boundary setting. This is such a HUGE and important topic that I’m going to break it up into sections. So if I don’t get to your specific issue in this post, don’t worry, I’m getting there =)
In the therapeutic setting we often talk about the need for individuals to establish ‘limits’ or ‘boundaries’ to prevent them from repeatedly being hurt by others. Limits and boundaries are really nothing more than personally predetermined levels of behaviors we are willing accept from other people before we’ve had enough. However, choosing these specific boundaries can be increasingly difficult and might vary based on the individuals involved, meaning its ok be more lenient with certain behaviors from certain people depended on who they are and what role they plan in your life.
However, it seems that it has become more complicated than ever to set healthy limits and boundaries with others.
Society’s technological advances have been both a blessing and curse when it comes to setting boundaries and limits. Now, it can be all to easy to feel a duty or need to disclose far more personal information to people of less influence (or importance) in our lives. We, as a culture are inundated with reality TV, Internet and Instagram ‘celebrities’, which lead to culture of not just ‘More is More’ but ‘More is Expected’.
I may be dating myself here (haha), but I grew up in a time before social media, before reality TV, before everyone knew everything about everyone, and definitely before everyone was expected to know everything about everyone. It was a time where social groups had pretty clear established boundaries. I remember entering the work force as a teenager and already knowing that personal life was to be ‘left at the door’. When you were at work you were there to work and not to make personal friends. Friends were made in outside settings like school and social clubs. This did not mean that you couldn’t or shouldn’t be friendly with coworkers and colleagues (of course you should!) but it meant that it was perfectly ok to not share the personal details of your life with your workmates. It was a time when if you were quieter than usual on a particular day, it was ok to say, “it’s personal” and leave it at that. People understood that we all had lives outside of work and it was respected when you did not talk about these things at work.
Today, it seems these lines are blurred and it is as if it is no longer ok to have delineation between your close inner circle (usually family and/or few close ‘best’ friends), general friends and acquaintances, workmates and supervisors. There seems, today, to be a sense of pressure to divulge everything, others are entitled to know your personal information, and if you don’t give in, then you are doing something wrong.
There seems to be a sense of entitlement from others that they should be automatically invited into your personal life or that you are doing something wrong if you don’t engage, “OMG what do you mean you don’t have Facebook/Periscope/Snapchat??” etc). Now, this isn’t to say that some individuals aren’t perfectly comfortable with everyone knowing everything, and that’s great, but this post is geared more towards those who feel social media or that nosey neighbor or co-worker is intrusively trying to violate your sense of privacy.
So how do we get back to a place of personal comfort? A place where saying “no” is ok, where saying “it’s none of your business” or “I prefer not to talk about it” are perfectly acceptable responses?
When it comes to self-disclosure, it’s actually simpler that we are lead to believe.
Boundary Development: Personal Disclosure
Step 1: Core Values – Learning your level of comfort
- What do you feel comfortable with sharing about yourself online or in person?
- What topics?
- Maybe you feel fine with sharing recipes or ideas about current events online or with neighbors and workmates, but not your religious ideals, political views, or intimate relationship details. This is ok!
- Not sure what your core values are?? A helpful guide can be learning what makes **you** feel uncomfortable about topics **others** divulge. If you find yourself thinking “I don’t he/she should be talking about that here” or “I don’t think she/he should have posted such a racy photo online” (yes thinking, not saying, we aren’t judging anyone here!!). These are your own core values speaking to you, so listen up!
Step 2: Stand Your Ground
- Once you have developed your core values, stand by them. Know that it is COMPLETELY ok to not give in to the pressures of society. You can still be actively engaged in social media and daily ‘water cooler’ conversation while still maintaining your own feelings of comfort and privacy.
Step 3: NO ONE can MAKE **you** FEEL anything you don’t allow!
- Stick around long enough and you will see this step repeated over and over and OVER again. No one can ever make you feel anything that you do not allow yourself to feel. You have the power to have 100% control over how you feel in any situation. This is something that has gotten lost over the years – the amount of power we actually have over ourselves. It may take quite a white and lots of practice to learn (and this will be a separate post all of its own – PROMISE!) But for now just know this… Its ok to say ‘no’ and if people judge you for it (and let’s be honest…people will) its ok, because their opinions of you do not actually effect you unless **You** let it.
Love & Luxespired Wellness to you all.