Coexistence 101: Respecting Others

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Success 104: How To Persevere

No amount of personal success is actually success without social skills

  • We can’t escape how we need other people and other people need us
    • Even the most independent and autonomous person depends on the rest of the world
      • Anything you own that was made in a factory
      • Anything you ever learned, since it obviously came from someone else
      • Anything you ever thought of, since it was inspired by someone’s work
    • You have to be encouraged and inspired by others to achieve
    • You need opinions from a wide circle of people to round out what you’re trying to do
      • You need to hear views that are the opposite of yours to test their validity
  • If you ever want to do something that goes beyond yourself, then it will have to involve others
    • Your success in life will be determined a lot by how well you get along with coworkers, family, acquaintances and strangers
    • Without proper communication skills, your message will be consistently invalidated by others misunderstanding you
  • Communicating effectively isn’t morally good or bad
    • Every impactful speech effectively uses emotions to convey its point, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Adolf Hitler
    • The ability to communicate is more important for success than intelligence, talent or attractiveness
      • Often, the ability to communicate can actually work to your disadvantage with some people, since that skill is its own success
    • Great conversation is necessary to share good ideas, but having no conversation skills will make the best ideas unappealing

Some people think socializing is only one skill

  • Like any other skill in life, it can be sub-divided into more manageable pieces
    • Social skills are simply skills, meaning all of them can be learned
  • There are many, many social skills
    • Initiating conversations
    • Making small talk
    • Making jokes and being witty
    • The proper context to say and do certain things (i.e. tactfulness/etiquette)
    • Sympathizing and empathizing with others
    • The ability to maintain friendships
    • Knowing when to not speak
    • Ability to detect lies
    • Ability to confront others about genuine feelings
    • Ability to capture others’ attention and keep it
    • Ability to avoid or defuse conflicts
    • Capacity for language and the ability to write
    • Public speaking
    • Special situations like business, leadership roles, formal events, etc.
  • These traits can be difficult to master, so it’s probably wisest to consider learning other successes first
  • The most important social skill that connects to all of the others, however, is setting boundaries

A boundary is emotional and physical space between you and another person

  • This boundary space is absolutely necessary for both you and the other person
    • It is not selfish or disobedient
    • It is the only way to protect yourself and others
    • Good boundaries are set with reasonable and rational thought, and move as the situation changes
    • Every offense, injury or hurtful thing was caused from a boundary failure, including feelings of guilt and shame
    • There is a dangerous relationship called “codependency” that cannot coexist with good boundaries
  • There are many, many good reasons to use boundaries for protection
    • Clarify where you begin and the other person ends, and vice versa
    • Establishing where someone can’t cross because of a perceived negative impact
    • Protecting from over-dependence or becoming too involved
    • Protection from being violated through some kind of abuse
  • By creating limits of well-being that others are meant to honor, this gives everyone more freedom
    • The freedom to think and feel anything
    • The ability to act freely without judgment or condemnation
    • The ability to be genuine to self without peer pressure
  • These boundary limits have to be balanced to allow interdependence (mutual independence)
    • Though it doesn’t sound like it, clarifying these boundaries and being specific gives freedom for creativity and originality
  • There are 4 kinds of failures that exist in boundaries
    • Can’t say NO (Compliant) – can’t set boundaries from feeling guilty/controlled
    • Can’t say YES (Nonresponsive) – sets boundaries that are unwilling to love or connect with others
    • Can’t hear NO (Controller) – violates others’ boundaries with aggression/manipulation
    • Can’t hear YES (Avoidant) – sets boundaries that are unwilling to receive love or connect with others
  • As social creatures, we need to develop who we are in relationship to others before becoming successful with others!

There are major risks to boundaries being crossed

  • Without boundary limits, very bad things can happen to someone
    • Loss of personal identity
    • Over-conformity, to the point of avoiding feeling or thinking genuinely
    • Distanced autonomy that alienates others
    • Tendency to be taken in and become overly trusting of others’ promises
    • Inability to understand human behavior
  • If people keep crossing your boundaries, you will become completely powerless
    • Lack of privacy
      • Feeling that nothing thought, felt or done is personal business
      • Expectation of reporting to others all the details and content of feelings, reactions, opinions, relationships and outside activities
      • Nothing appears to be private exclusively to self
    • Invisibility
      • Withdrawing or overcontrolling behavior to conceal feelings from everyone, including self
      • Goal of never being seen or heard to prevent boundaries from being violated
    • Disassociation
      • “Blanking out” during stressful events
      • Feelings of being violated physically or emotionally
      • Self-talk saying “it’s no use”
      • Out-of-touch feelings about what happened and selective amnesia
  • Often as a counter-measure to others violating your boundaries, you might overcompensate
    • Cold and distant
      • Building up walls or barriers to ensure that others don’t invade/push into personal space
      • Drawing a line that is unreasonably enforced
    • Excessive detachment
      • Everyone completely independent of everyone else, no affiliation of feelings among each other
      • No common purpose, goal, identity or rationale that brings anyone together
      • Apparent lack of desire for members to draw together
    • Chip on the shoulder
      • Anger over past violations of boundaries that bleed over
      • Feeling validated in ignoring others’ rights
      • Seems to “dare” others to come close
    • Aloofness or shyness
      • Insecurity from feeling ignored, invalidated or rejected in the past
      • Including others in personal space feels like a violation of boundaries
      • Defensive attitude of rejecting others before being rejected as soon as a small rejection comes
    • Victimhood or martyrdom
      • Sees self as a violated victim, overly defensive to fight off further violation
      • Alternately, keeps being knowingly victimized and then promotes being a martyr for it
  • By combining several people who can’t respect boundaries, strange relationships with others start to arise
    • Smothering
      • Overly interested in another’s needs and interests
      • Crosses boundaries to the point of making people feel strangled, smothered and a prisoner
      • Typically makes others feel violated, used and overwhelmed
    • Over-enmeshment
      • Doing everything together, nobody allowed to deviate from norms
      • Feeling/acting/thinking the same way, creativity is shunned

If you know how to set boundaries, everyone will benefit

  • There is a specific attitude that creates good boundaries
    • Everyone is responsible for their own feelings and thoughts
    • Everyone should receive the consequences for their own actions, good and bad
      • Personal accomplishments/status should not be compared to others’ to measure success
    • Everyone should be respected enough to make their own decisions
      • Motives should be out of freedom, not constraints
    • Each person always has the power over their failings to:
      1. Confess their inability, failings and wrongdoing
      2. Submit their failures to God
      3. Turn from their bad behaviors
      4. Ask others for help
      5. Make amends to others
    • Responsibility for others and the effects of setting boundaries need to be regularly evaluated
    • There is never a place for being reactive, and being proactive needs to take its place
      • Proactivity comes from working through reactive feelings
    • Boundaries need to be made visible to others and communicated through a relationship
  • How to establish healthy boundaries
    1. Identify the symptoms of the past or present violated or ignored boundaries
      • Identify which boundary symptoms have arisen in the past
      • Write down in a journal details about the stimulus for the behaviors
      • Give details for how those symptoms affect your current life
      • Describe how you feel about this symptom’s effect on your life
    2. Understand the irrational or unhealthy thinking and beliefs that permitted the boundaries to be ignored or violated
    3. Understand new and more reasonable/healthier thinking, affirmations and beliefs
      • These should encourage changing personal behaviors to build healthy boundaries with others
  • By setting good boundaries, you will naturally find new behaviors that are worth adding
    • Accepting personal responsibility and developing self-control
    • Tempering survivalist thinking
    • Being a risk-taker and overcoming fears
    • Handling insecurity and fear of rejection
    • Being vulnerable and building trust
    • Creating a healing environment and establishing intimacy
    • Eliminating manipulation, abuse of power and obsession with control
    • Getting rid of overdependency and the role of victim or martyr
    • Improving assertive behavior and removing passive-aggressiveness
    • Setting goals in relationships with others
    • Handling conflict/confrontation
    • Forgiving and forgetting
    • Removing guilt and shame
  • Long-term boundary setting always shows success the same way
    1. Resentment, frustration or anger at the various recurring violations in your life
    2. Finding role models for new life behaviors you want to model
    3. Socializing with others who also love good boundaries
    4. Learning to love self and be grateful for blessings
    5. Learning to say “no” in small ways in a loving environment
    6. Developing happy feelings about former “guilty” feelings as they are regularly bypassed
    7. Saying “no” on a larger scale against difficult people or when there’s a legitimate risk
    8. Realigning conscience to the new standard
    9. Respect of others’ views and boundaries as much as self-established boundaries
    10. Instinctively saying “no” when unsure and “yes” when it’s called for
    11. Exercising boundaries in a healthy environment, where goals become the driving force over feelings
  • Boundaries are a framework that drive all conversations with others
Next: Coexistence 102: Making Conversations