Setting limits is an act of love, care and self-respect

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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The term "limits" is itself negative. The world around us tells us that we don't have to set limits. That the limits are found only in our mind, and that we can achieve anything we want.

However, this discourse has two weaknesses. Firstly, the limits are not exclusively in our mind and, secondly, from time to time it is important to set limits, to protect ourselves. If we do not, we risk suffering the fatigue of the "I" referred to by the philosopher Byung-Chul Han.



Excessive effort causes a heart attack of the soul

Limits are nothing more than a set of rules or guidelines by which we commit ourselves to not go beyond what would be reasonable or convenient. The main risk of not setting limits in a society that constantly pushes us to go further is to become a victim and executioner of ourselves.

"In this society of obligations, everyone brings their own forced labor camp with them," writes Han, referring to our tendency to ask ourselves more and more, in search of maximum productivity and success, while silence and rest they become luxuries that we reject by immersing ourselves in feverish activity.

But "what hurts is not the excess of responsibility and initiative, it is the imperative of performance", explains the philosopher. Wanting to improve and aspiring to thrive is good. The problem arises when we push ourselves further and further without giving ourselves respite, without setting ourselves healthy limits, forcing us to always take a step further, even if we do not have a clear reason for the effort. The problem is not knowing how to distinguish between excess and excessive demand.

This situation leads us to a "fundamental tiredness", which is not simple physical exhaustion but a tiredness of the soul. This nervous breakdown, the "not being able to do it anymore" ends up generating frustration often leading to destructive self-criticism. We feel like a failure. Consequently, the lack of limits that, in theory, should help us grow, ends up condemning us to a vital dissatisfaction.



Limits as an expression of love and respect for oneself

Healthy limits, on the other hand, will prevent us from demanding too much of ourselves by making us collapse under the weight of obligations and commitments that we cannot fulfill. They will prevent work from taking over our life. They allow us to take responsibility and say "no" when we don't want something and "yes" when we want or need it. Saying 'we have arrived' because we do not need or do not want to go further. Healthy boundaries are ultimately an act of empowerment.

Nietzsche explained that the power of not doing, in terms of saying "no", differs from mere helplessness or inability to do something because it is a personal, conscious and thoughtful decision that arises from self-knowledge. It is not a "not being able", it is a "not wanting".

These limits allow us to give a more balanced, healthy and satisfying structure to our life. Therefore, they become a kind of protective barrier that indicates the boundary between what is good for us and what is not. These limits allow us to be clear on the line that we must not cross.

These kinds of limits that we set ourselves are not negative, on the contrary, they are an act of love and respect. They indicate that we must not run after any social imperative because we are clear about our goals. These boundaries, therefore, keep us safer and healthier and can even allow us to enjoy life more by taking a more relaxed and aware attitude.


The 3 steps to set limits

1. Identify the areas of our life that need more structure or limitations. Usually these are areas of conflict that have expanded so much that they don't leave much room for other important areas of our life. They can also be areas that have become a constant source of problems, conflicts and tensions. Work, a relationship, our physical and / or emotional health or even the use of a mobile phone.



2. Set boundaries that reflect our goals and values. Limits should help us live better and more fully, so they must be in tune with our values ​​and the goals we want to achieve. Limits are one more tool to keep us on the path we want to follow by preventing social forces from deviating from the path.

3. Apply compassionate responsibility. It is counterproductive to expect perfection or to punish ourselves whenever we do not respect a limit that we have set ourselves. The goal of these types of boundaries is to feel better and take care of ourselves, so we need to remember to be kind to ourselves. Being too harsh or unrealistic will only lead to frustration, guilt and despair. If we exceed one of our limits, we must try to understand why and make a plan to improve or perhaps readjust that limit.


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