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Respecting the Boundaries of Others

Respecting the Boundaries of Others

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Everyone has a personal set of boundaries. These are the personal and professional invisible rules associated with how we decide to rule our interpersonal lives. There is no question that the more evident these boundaries are to others, the more successful we will be in our personal and professional lives.

I have experienced this catharsis first hand after living a life of what seemed like sporadic and unpredictable letdowns and disappointments with other people. But the truth is, these letdowns were energy-consuming and, to be even more candid, almost totally avoidable.

Sure, we all get blindsided. But when you have a mental health condition, we like to blame our illness for our deficits in lack of self-reflection. Sure, some mental health diagnoses make it more difficult to read others’ signals: some even affect the vital speech and its mechanics. I am not referring to these primary defects in pure linguistic expression impacted by organic brain chemistry.

I am instead referring to the possibilities stemming from lessons in interpersonal communication and behavior gone awry and unlearned or ignored at all costs. Sometimes we ignore it because it hurts to feel or think about our erred ways. I assure you, from experience, it catches up quickly, and, before you realize it, you have made your needs the priority over the needs of the relationships you are involved in.

I have experienced the effects of making a living out of forcing myself on others despite their boundaries, however precise. Given the detriment this has had on my own life, I encourage people to be relentless in respecting their own interpersonal choices. Always keep in mind the general status of their relationships and the ebb and flow of their connections.

Indeed, my own illness has complicated my capacity to read interpersonal signals, and your disease may impact you similarly. This shouldn’t be a license to disrespect others or ignore their needs. I am sure many of us diagnosed with a mental health condition have tried to force outcomes, ourselves on to others, the system, and those that have ignored our basic needs.

 

I am not suggesting you stop badgering your case manager or worker but be more mindful of why you are upset with the relationship and your own capacity to make your will a reality regardless of the needs of other people.

When you have a mental health condition, your voice can sometimes be silenced by those around you due to their own stigma and misunderstanding of mental health. Before you become that angry man or woman diagnosed with a mental illness, ask yourself, why am I furious?

This may be due to focusing so much on the supposed limitations of others being able to help you, and the fact that, by resultant action, you have less energy to focus on improving yourself.

Be proactive about respecting others-their choices and their priorities. This may make you feel a certain way, but it shouldn’t be the license to treat others disrespectfully.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand the importance of the lesson I was laying out in this entry.

Ultimately, learning the experience and why its importance needs to be a priority in my own mental health is the greatest lesson.

About the Author

J. Peters

Bold 10 Under 10 award recipient Jacques Peters ’08, MSW ’12 . Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), therapist and disability rights advocate, Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various systems of care, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health or the city’s Department of Corrections. Jacques is the author of University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy, which he published under the pen name J. Peters in 2019, and First Diagnosis, published in 2020. Jacques refers to his stance on recovery in his journal articles as “Too big to fail.” No obstacle too big, no feat out of reach, Jacques let nothing stop him in his path to recovery and healing.
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