I awaken each day and I’m not yet ready to become engaged in the world. This state of mind lasts a minute or two until the mind urges me to get up and begin the day. I feel the constraints of the physical body. I automatically reformulate the concepts of clock time and calendar time when I glance at the smartwatch I use to monitor quality and duration of sleep. The little chart delineates when it detected restless sleep, light sleep, and motionless sleep. The device’s “Goodnight” app has been designed to determine parameters to define the wearer’s sleep.
The end of the sleep cycles accurately displays the boundary between my sleeping world and my awakened world–if I press the correct button upon awakening. So, when I ponder the act of ending the “Goodnight” app on the Galaxy Watch, it seems somewhat personally profound.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a “people pleaser”. I did not know this was an unhelpful attribute until it was pointed out by a former acquaintance. She is a self-professed “expert” on psychopaths and enjoys explaining popular definitions of “negative personality traits”. She is on board with the current popular fascination with narcissists.
Being that I’m also quite curious, I began watching YouTube videos produced by narcissism experts. Eventually, I eliminated videos from non-professionals and “life coaches”. I now only watch videos from licensed therapists. They verify that my “go along to get along” attitude is unhelpful. Where were all of these experts when I was much younger and needed to establish personal boundaries?
Instead, I was instructed to focus on the needs of parental figures like teachers and bosses. My needs were secondary to those of authority figures. My religious upbringing stressed that we are to be submissive to the teachings of the clergy. There are to be no impediments between me and the religious concept of eternity. All my thoughts, desires, and actions were judged to determine whether I’m a good person or a bad person. To wall off my inner life from the religious institution was regarded as placing roadblocks between myself and the divine. Such teachings reinforced my earlier socialization from parents and school. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that it’s perfectly OK to just say “no” to authority when I deemed it necessary.
Certainly there is the need for basic societal rules. It’s easy to understand that it is wrong to disobey traffic signals, to steal other people’s stuff, or to murder. However, many of us do not receive teachings about manipulators and being doormats. We learn about such activity the hard way, through personal experience. Such instruction in school would be as helpful as teaching home economics and shop class. Learning how and when to set personal boundaries is an essential life skill that should be taught early on.
Thanks to that self-styled expert “psychopathy expert” acquaintance, and the Internet, I finally figured out what personal boundaries are. I wish this information would have been freely available years ago, when I really needed it more. When preparing children for higher education and life, it’s important to teach them the importance of independence and knowing how to set appropriate boundaries. There are times when we must have the courage to respect ourselves at the risk of disappointing others. When we learn this early, our lives can be more fulfilling.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author and psychologist, Adam Grant. “Being a nice person is about courtesy: you’re friendly, polite, agreeable, and accommodating. When people believe they have to be nice in order to give, they fail to set boundaries, rarely say no, and become pushovers, letting others walk all over them.”