A few of my acquaintances have the unnerving habit of sharing much more of their personal life and problems with me than I care to know. They epitomize the phrase “TMI–too much information”. They don’t tell me TMI as a way to manipulate me to reveal my close personal secrets; they talk about their personal lives so much that I can barely get a word in edge-wise.
I’ve often thought to myself, that I should have become a psychotherapist or some sort of mental-health professional because so many people confide very intimate details of their lives with me.
My budding awareness of the importance of boundaries and personal space has resulted in watching a lot of YouTube videos about psychological topics. I especially enjoy the capsulized information provided by certified mental health counselors like Dr. Todd Grande. He is one of the precious few professionals on YouTube who do not focus primarily on narcissism.
Dr. Grande and perhaps one or two others have helped me to better understand issues around personal space and boundaries without demonizing people who suffer from co-dependency, narcissism, and other disorders. His short lectures have helped me better deal with people who regularly share TMI. Grande has also helped me to better understand my own peculiar behaviors.
I believe it’s very important to keep one’s personal life to oneself as much as possible. Confiding embarrassing or intimate details to casual acquaintances is not healthy. Such confessions on social media, like Facebook and Twitter are especially problematic. Sharing such confessions should be limited to people like one’s spouse, a very close friend, a physician, a licensed mental health professional, or a legitimate member of the clergy.
Being mindful of personal boundaries and personal space not only protects one’s sanity, such care can help prevent serious issues like manipulation or emotional blackmail. Also, others have no inherent right to barge into our personal lives, nor do we have the right to pry into other people’s lives.
Even if manipulative people or TMI are not problems in one’s life, there are other aspects about personal space to consider.
Private space can be thought of as food for the soul that is best consumed during introspective moments. As long as a person doesn’t indulge in rumination over the past, claiming personal space and time are very rejuvenating. Being within one’s healthy personal space allows for more mental clarity because of less intrusion by others.
Sometimes, we simply need to use our space in order to ponder the big questions of life. If we’re going through an existential crisis of some sort, respecting personal space is important. Such times in our lives require time for contemplation. Some extra time in a quiet place can help us sort out our thoughts and beliefs without interference by others. We all need such space at some points in time in order to privately delve into deep thoughts.
In relationships such as marriage, family life, or close friendship, it is important to give and to claim personal space to and from each other. Patience and provision of space are ways of showing respect and love for one another. Respect for others is respect for personal space.
One other practical reason to enforce boundaries and personal space is that creativity springs forth from this place. The great philosophers’ and inventors’ most captivating ideas arose during private moments. Even the social act of brainstorming respects personal space. Each participant gets credit for contributing an imaginative idea to discuss with the group.
Basically, it is important to respect our loved ones’, and others’ private space and to assert our own rights to private space. People might have specific reasons for private space or we might simply want to have time and space for ourselves for no particular reason at all.
Sometimes, having personal space just feels good. That’s perfectly OK.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Pakistani writer, spoken word artist, and teacher, Raheel Farooq. “The missing link between humans and apes? It’s certainly those brutes who haven’t yet learned to respect privacy.”