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How respecting your personal space is a form of loving yourself
Have you ever experienced a situation where you feel unexplainably uncomfortable? Maybe it’s because of someone talking loudly beside you or someone standing too close for your liking. Here’s the good news. That kind of reaction doesn’t mean you are being a prickly, over-sensitive person. These are examples of your personal space being challenged and you simply reacting to it.
Personal space is not something that first comes to mind when we think of our well-being. To be completely honest, it’s not even a concept that everyone easily and fully understands! Basically, your personal space refers to your “comfort zone”. It can be used to define your physical environment–like your home–or your own psychological space.
Unbeknownst to many of us, taking care of our personal space does a lot for our spiritual health and wellness. There’s actually a science behind it! A report from the Journal of Neuroscience explains that a neural network is triggered within us whenever someone endangers our comfort zone. This reaction causes the feelings of irritability, anxiety, and discomfort whenever someone invades our personal space and boundaries.
While the definition of personal space differs from person to person, respecting and understanding it is important for everyone. Professionals agree that there is a direct connection between our capability to protect our personal space and our understanding of our needs. According to them, we tend to feel more confident with ourselves and our capability of setting up our personal boundaries if we are in touch with this concept.
So how do you exactly take care of your comfort zone? Since the concept may be too out there for the majority of us, we listed a few real-life things that can put it into better perspective.
1. Identify your personal boundary.
Understanding your personal space is the first step to taking care of it. We all have different responses to stimuli around us based on our own preferences. Say you live in an apartment-type building and you have an upstairs neighbor who keeps on making loud noises that disturb you. That is a good example of your personal space being disrupted, especially if you no longer feel comfortable in your own home. Some people may reason out that the noise comes with your living setup, but it doesn’t make you wrong for wanting peace in a space where you are supposed to be comfortable.
Acknowledging your needs in relation to the bigger picture helps, as long as you are rational about it. Maybe the floors are too thin and your neighbor is not aware of how much noise they are creating by running around. Talk to them politely and explain the situation. Best case scenario, they’ll try their best to moderate their movements the next time.
2. Respect your emotional boundaries.
Have you ever experienced feeling fatigued after a long night of talking to your friend about her latest breakup drama? This isn’t you being a bad, unsupportive friend, it’s the situation being an energy vampire. It’s a common reaction for most of us to feel drained after giving emotional support to anyone because we are giving out empathy–in other words, we invest our emotional energy on them. This isn’t wrong, but you need to learn to respect your personal emotional boundaries, or at the very least, learn to protect it. The next time you listen to the problems of someone, make sure to keep from absorbing the weight of their dilemmas. This way, you can also give them better, unbiased advice without weighing yourself down.
3. Understand what you want to say yes to.
Here’s the thing, it is human nature for us to automatically think that other people always understand what we mean and want. It is the reason for many relationship arguments–and unfortunately, breakups. In reality, there are people who cannot grasp us unless we tell them things straight to their face. This applies to a lot of things, including personal space in relationships. Try to practice telling people what you want–for example, you are alright with your partner going out with friends but draw the line on him mingling with groups that include an ex. Respecting your personal space, whether in relationships or not, means you need to make them understand where you’re coming from so they can act on it.
4. Stop the guilt.
Many of us tend to disregard our personal space out of fear of being seen as selfish, self-centered, and unkind. To take care of your personal space–and your spiritual health and wellness–means you need to respect your comfort zone. It doesn’t make you selfish for wanting to set boundaries, it simply means you are in touch with what you want. Think about it this way, speaking up about the way you want your space to be respected and approached can also be considered as you doing others a favor. If they know what to do and what not to do around you, you are saving them from the guilt of crossing your personal line! And if they don’t listen? Then it’s time to be firm. The way others respect you is reflective of the way you respect yourself. Remember, you are your own personal space protector and you need to start with YOU.
Even if you have defined your personal space and boundaries, it is important that you remember to practice understanding the comfort zone of others as well. It is self-respecting to stand by your preferences, so practice the same with others, too. In case you meet someone whose definition of personal space clashes with yours, talk it through! Maybe you can compromise so that you don’t step on each other’s toes. If you can’t, then walk away. It doesn’t make you a bad person for wanting to be comfortable with yourself!