These space invaders have no idea what personal boundaries are all about! But here are a few ways you can deal with them.
We’ve all been there. We all know at least one person who doesn’t have any respect for personal space – or the people who set boundaries. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Why do people not respect personal boundaries?
There are many psychological studies on the idea of personal space. How close is too close? When is too much, just too much? The underlying truth is that, unfortunately, people with manipulative and narcissistic tendencies are more likely to be repeat offenders in violating other people’s personal space.
In a recent study by the University of Western Ontario, there could actually be evidence that suggests a difference in special awareness and how it varies from person to person. In other words, those who believe they are too close could be too far for someone else!
Space invading is a real thing
The research team from the University looked at behavioral patterns of fruit flies – which actually have a very similar genetic makeup to humans. The findings show that the levels of dopamine can determine how much space the insects need.
When too little dopamine was released by neurons, the insects wanted to get away from each other. The opposite came about on the release of too much dopamine. The study has proved crucial in explaining certain social cues for people within the autism spectrum and people with schizophrenia.
The problem is, setting personal boundaries can often be a problem in itself. We expect others to respect those boundaries, but when they don’t, what can we do about it?
Psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote a book called Boundaries. In that book, they outline behavioural research that results from those who are unable to enforce boundaries. It can lead to resentment and the breakdown of friendships – even if the other person has no idea they have broken any personal boundaries.
Particularly, we are at risk of breaking those friendships when we feel powerless to express our anger and feel like we’ll never be able to change anything. And the most difficult thing here is to find ways to handle someone who repeatedly violates your boundaries.
Here are a few ways you can deal with them:
1. Be strong
It’s easier said than done, and many of you may think that you have already tried. But, before you do anything else, make sure you continue to set clear boundaries consistently. After all, it’s the only thing that is truly up to you as you can’t control the behaviors of those around you. Whether they choose to respect them or not is up to them.
Then you need to make sure you are recording how successful you are at setting those boundaries. If you start to notice any areas that are faltering, make sure you are honest with yourself and clear about what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable for you – as there may be a need for a compromise somewhere.
However, again, this will rely on you to be strong. The problem with many people is that they have a clear picture of what their personal boundaries are in their minds but can’t preserve them in real life. If this is you, then you will need to learn to say no and stand your ground.
2. Agree to disagree
This one is extremely difficult, but it is also one of the most important things in setting personal boundaries. You need to accept the fact that certain people are never going to respect your personal space.
You may think that you can conquer anyone and when you can’t, you have to accept the difficult decision of defeat. This is even worse when the person not respecting your personal boundaries is a close friend or colleague.
But the truth is that you are not responsible for other people’s behavior nor can you change it. So you basically have to options here – to accept it or to detach from the outcome – in other words, move on with your life!
3. Don’t be a people pleaser
What happens if you live with the person who is violating your personal boundaries? Maybe they are a relative or friend who is giving you unwanted attention, but you cannot afford to move out, or it is not practical to live elsewhere.
Imagine an even more difficult situation: what if a person who repeatedly violates your personal space is in a position of authority, say, is your boss? In this case, you may feel the need to tolerate this and bottle up your emotions in order to keep your job. However, this is remarkably unhealthy and can have long-term effects on your mental health.
You may even find that not all your colleagues or family members will offer support, but choosing to be a people-pleaser is not going to lead you anywhere. Tolerating someone’s toxic behavior to make sure everyone else – but you – stays happy is the worst thing you could do to yourself. Remember, setting clear personal boundaries is about self-love and self-worth. And you know what happens when you don’t acknowledge your worth? Those around you won’t either.
4. Be true to yourself
Handling a repeat boundary violator is about knowing what you accept and what you don’t. It’s also about getting others to respect you. Yes, it can be tough, especially if you are used to saying yes and pushing back. Setting healthy boundaries between you and other people can often leave them misunderstanding your decision and feeling offended. However, sometimes cutting certain people out of your life once and for all is actually good for you.
You need to learn to set clear boundaries and preserve your personal space, no matter how other people are treating you. It’s particularly crucial when you deal with those who lack respect for you, such as a narcissistic colleague or a toxic boss. The key is to be assertive and to stand your ground when it comes to setting and maintaining your boundaries.
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