It seems that the source of depression and anxiety for many of the client’s I work with has to do with personal boundaries. (This is not the only cause/source of depression and anxiety). When one gives so much of themselves and doesn’t know how to limit the energy they give out, they become emotionally drained, anxious, resentful, depressed and often resort to isolation as a means to protect themselves. There is a specific skill set missing in addition to a misunderstanding/belief that deters people from asserting themselves. The skill set needed is called “interpersonal effectiveness” and “assertiveness skills.” There is often a misunderstanding is that one has to be ‘mean,’ ‘offensive,’ or ‘agressive’ to assert themselves with others. They also often believe that other’s should be able to “see” or “know” what they are thinking or feeling and as a result don’t do or say what is needed to take care of their discomforts. My belief is that no one will ever take as good care of your emotional needs as YOU.
No one can know what you are thinking or feeling, even if you think it may be obvious. And even if (you think) it is obvious, no other person would take accountability for it unless you speak up and let them know how their behavior is affecting you. The responsibility to get your needs met and establish safe and healthy boundaries is YOURS. But this is not an easy thing to do especially when you may not have the skill set or practice needed to assert yourself effectively. Another dynamic occurring at the same time that has to do with you modeling a behavior of self-deprication, which people naturally learn to reciprocate. When you model to others that your comfort and feelings don’t matter in the face of their needs, they learn to do the same. People, whether consciously or unconsciously, reciprocate what you demonstrate. If you sacrifice yourself, others will see no problem sacrificing your needs either. However, if you practice taking care of, and identifying, your emotional needs in the company of others, they will do the same.
They learn where the boundaries of what is comfortable and uncomfortable for you lie when you point them out. I believe it is up to each one of us to teach others how to respect and care for ourselves. (This is my personal doctrine that I live by). That belief requires one to be very specific and clear about where the boundaries lie/where the comforts and discomforts lie. This is an ongoing process and does not happen with one conversation or commentary. I believe we all can relate to challenges in maintaining boundaries and dealing with others offending/hurting us in some way… We all have different levels of this skill set and getting better is an ongoing “work in progress.” So take a look at your relationships, take a look at how you respond when hurt by a friend, a lover, a co-worker… Are you ever resentful? Do you feel you are being taken advantage of?
Do you avoid interactions sometimes because it’s too hard or too painful?… How effective are you at maintaining and expressing your boundaries, comforts and discomforts with those that you work with, live with, and interact with? Seeing a therapists is one way to get help and get better… This is one of the many things I do…