Who do you love more — yourself or others (Part 3)

I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.

(Fritz Perls)

How do you like this quote?

At my communication training workshops I usually ask participants to talk about people within their social sphere who can and who can’t build boundaries. I literally ask to give me names. Afterwards, the discussion typically shifts into a talk about indifference, selfishness and personal boundaries.

If could summarize all the comments, there would be a picture of two polar opposites. One opinion usually includes the following statements: (1) you need to love and appreciate yourself; (2) it’s only when love yourself that you can love others and build healthy relationships; (3) if you don’t love yourself then nobody will. The second opinion includes such phrases as: (1) nobody loves narcissists; (2) people who love themselves are selfish; (3) egoists are incapable of loving others; (4) the egoist lives only for their self.

These are two diametrically opposed opinions which constantly surround us, and it’s no wonder why so many people get frustrated when speaking about boundaries. The roots of these opinions were formed in our childhood when some of us were taught that loving ourselves is bad, it’s egoistic, and we should give what’s best for others, suppressing our own needs and desires. Others, on the contrary, were persuaded that their own exclusivity was good; they received everything from others, and believed the meaning of love is satisfying their needs without regard for others.

The truth as always lies somewhere in the middle. People who are capable of loving themselves are in fact mature. They don’t need to prove their value at the expense of others, nor do they need to look for love because they already have it, inside. Such people usually take care of their spiritual and physical condition and put high value in appreciating ​​their needs and resources. At the same time, these people are capable of giving, without invading and imposing. They “touch” the boundaries of others, but do not violate them. They are capable of compassion, but still maintain some flexibility. They are able to navigate the boundaries between themselves and other people. Just like the geographic boundaries between countries, the personal boundaries for such people determine the limits of their responsibility.

At my communication skills training program, I work with people who have distorted personal boundaries yet still spend a huge amount of energy trying to foster good relationships. During their transformation process they develop a harmony between inner and outer boundaries, practice how to be successful in communication, and learn to expand their strength and energy on growth and success.

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