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Setting boundaries, Empathy And Self-Centeredness

Imagine 2 countries that are setting down plans for their foreign policy act. One is going to take an extreme stand on liberalism and going to allow absolutely anyone to pop in or out the boarders at will, any time they want. No papers required, no questions asked. The other one is going to set an allowance plan based on their calculation on what is the ultimate conjunction point between openness and welfare, whatever that may be and set concrete rules based on that. Independently of the politics of this topic, as this is not to the purpose of this article, what would be the country you would respect the most and would be more keen of being part of, assuming ceteris paribus and given the choice?

There is a very fine line between setting boundaries and selfishness, and many times these lines are blurry and fluctuate based on the eye of the beholder. It wouldn’t be unanticipated if people were judgmental of someone that has overly explicit boundaries of what he wants and expects. Most probably they would see that as an inconsiderate action of someone that is thinking only of himself and has no concern for others. Or maybe it would be a sign of someone too unadaptable and stiff, one unable to allow things to flow as they come and needs to have everything in order to make sense of his environment. And if you think about it who would be inclined to be overly defensive this way if not the person that has failed previously from letting everything in luck to unfold as it may.

Now before we delve into the nuts and bolts of it, let’s pose the question of what could be the origin or mentality if you will, of those two countries that influenced their decision on this matter? What can we tell about their state of mind and history even?

In the case of open boundaries, the answer is quite simple. Someone would never absolve something he owns unless he was considering it low value for attaining his purposes. It’s the total act of depreciation and discredit. Of course this evaluation of worth belongs to the objective criteria but nonetheless it does give us a clue on where they think it stands from their point of view. People never dissolve things they appreciate unless it is for the purposes of attaining something of higher value. And to paraphrase a Nietzschean idea, even the simple act of sharing a secret denotes that you don’t love it strong enough to hold it for yourself.

In the case of strict boundaries, things are quite the opposite. How would you react in case you found something precious for your standards like money. Would you keep it out in the open to be attainable by anybody or would you protect anyway you can. Most probably you would safe keep it somewhere or put it in the bank. Basically y ou would summon every process at your disposal to make sure that you keep it somewhere where nobody can touch them. It’s how humans operate and conduct their lives since all along.

As always the case with the emotional brain you can always revert the cause and effect order, to manipulate a certain state of mind. The mere act of protecting something is passing the message to your unconscious brain that it is something of value. Simple things like making your bed, taking care of yourself, spending money for your education or recreation is equivalent to empowering yourself in a strong way. Same thing goes for your beliefs and ideas. There is nothing worse for your inner respect that avoiding conflict and surrendering your inner beliefs socially for not rocking the boat.

Having a Bigger Purpose

There are many interpretations on what a “bigger purpose” means and many questions on its definition. A nice way to understand it would be to think of it as anything that surpasses the realm of the individual self and reaches external things. Doing things that influence other people or that contribute to the advancement of the living conditions one way or the other. This kind of contribution can help you pinpoint where you stand in the bigger scheme of things and change the viewpoint to see yourself as an important contributing part of a massive system instead of an irrelevant one.

This viewpoint change can have a massive influence on the respect you feel for yourself. Endorsing your ideas and belief system, accentuates the underlying mindset of fighting for something bigger than you, and can magically vanish any signs of contempt and triviality. Standing your ground in a disagreement, setting your standards and fighting for them can have an impact not only on others but to yourself as well.

Boundaries vs self-obsession and self-centeredness

After understanding the implications of self worth and the role it plays to setting boundaries, let’s see how boundaries play out with self-obsession and self-centeredness.

In the surface self-obsession depicts a person that only cares about himself, has little or no awareness for other people, zero empathy levels and maximised appetite to point everything at himself and making it all about him. It’s a theater stage where beside what is going on in the scene and what actors are playing in it, the lights follow always one person. Now would you say a person like that has strong boundaries? Nothing is more certain than a self-obsessed person declaring his needs. There is no need to worry about passive-aggressive behavior here as for him the world always revolves around him. But the fallacy a person like that falls into is a different one and we need to see the origins to understand where it is coming from.

Self-Obsession as Self-Defense

Self-obsession is nothing more than a defense mechanism for situations there was no easy way around to handle them. It was created as a reaction to a world that seemed chaotic, unloving and hostile, the kind where you need to gasp from whatever seems more surviving prosperous. Imagine people around you caring only about themselves, disregarding you in the worst possible way, people unaware of your feelings and dreams, some times maybe even hurtful and dangerous, acting only for their own sake and fulfilling nothing but their needs. What is the picture of the world coming from an environment like that? Everybody is for themselves. There is no common purpose and there are no aspirations. The world is an arena for people to fight each other for who comes on top. No such thing as togetherness and connectivity. The easiest thing to do is to get any chance you see to make something for yourself. You learn to absorb the maximum value you can and redirect it all back to you to the maximum of your capacities. It’s the last surviving resource amidst the hardest of the conditions.

Even though self-centered people do know how to set boundaries, the place it is coming from is not the one of self-worth but one of need. The path they need to walk to find fulfillment is different than the person that has low self esteem, but still they need to change that viewpoint of the world first if they are to come to their full potential.

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