Good mental and physical health requires RESPECT, LOVE, COMPASSION, and BOUNDARIES. How you define these terms will differ based on your lived experience.
If you have never explicitly thought about what these terms mean to you, maybe today’s post will help. If you have thought this through before then today’s post may be a reminder – either way, clarity of thought brings clarity of action.
For most people respect includes elements of verbal and non-verbal communication from others indicating that the individual is seen, heard and treated like they matter. For some this means that people they interact with use manners, do not interrupt, make eye contact (in our culture), ask for opinions, listen to their answer, acknowledge when they enter the room or speak, or follow the boundaries they set. It includes all the small and big ways we communicate to each other that the other person matters.
For many, feeling loved includes experiencing acts of caring, nurturance, and attentiveness from others. A sense that the individual is a priority in the eyes the of other. It usually carries positive feelings, however there are often also painful emotions because it impossible to go through life without being upset by the ones we love, and that hurts. Love is investing in a relationship. It is choosing to keep loving even when we are hurt, disagree, are tired, annoyed, disappointed, as well as when we are excited, happy, curious and joyous. Some research says that infatuation and even social connection is a neurobiological process, while love is the choice to keep flaming that fire. Now having said that, it takes two to keep investing in each other and themselves in order to make it a healthy loving relationship, and sometimes we need to accept that the other person is not willing or ready to do so and we need to keep investing in ourselves in order to be healthy. In other words, sometimes we need to love people at a distance or in small doses.
Compassion is connected to caring, understanding, being non-judgmental and accepting. It is most often described in the context of feeling emotions triggered by what is emotionally happening for others, however it is again a CHOICE to be WILLING to relate and empathize with others or ourselves. Compassion can be confused with carrying relationships or fixing them, with compassion fatigue or burnout.
Compassion is feeling WITH someone, not FOR someone. If we are more impacted by something than the person it is happening to, that is our stuff to process and is not the same as compassion. Compassion is when we are sharing an emotional experience with another person or with ourselves, it is an emotional connection, a sense of emotional reliability and affiliation with another or ourselves.
It is what is ok and what is not ok. It is limits based on our values and they connect to safety for us and others. Ideally they are flexible as they can change depending on the situation, the person and what is healthiest for us at any particular time. Boundaries are a way we show respect for ourselves and others, and how we recognize what is ok and what is not ok for ourselves and others. It is also how we know what to take responsibility for that is ours vs others.
Watch this 5 min video on boundaries, love, compassion and empathy.
10 things that happen when we set boundaries
(From Huffington Post)
- You are more self aware
- You become a better friend and partner
- You take better care of yourself
- You are less stressed
- You are a better communicator
- You start trusting people more
- You are less angry
- You learn to say no
- You end up doing things and activities you WANT to do
- You become a more understanding person
If you want to explore this more, try our CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS WORKSHEET.
So it turns out, BOUNDARIES are really important. Without them we cannot be well. Sounds simple right?
Here is the catch, we don’t give ourselves permission to set boundaries unless we are committed to treating ourselves as if we matter. When we do, we naturally set boundaries, share our opinions, validate our own thoughts and feelings, and stand up for ourselves. Unfortunately, simple is not always easy.
Good luck living from a place of I matter!