Personal Limits Important to Emotional and Mental Health
Just about everything we do in the daily routine involves some sort of relationship. We must relate with our co-workers from 9 to 5; we must relate to our spouses and children on evenings and weekends. Then we must engage in additional relationships every time we go down to the local coffee shop for a latte, visit our favorite restaurant, go to the grocery store, and see the doctor. Our existence is truly centered around the relationships. That’s why personal limits are so important to emotional and mental health.
No relationship exists without some limits in place. Less healthy relationships tend to have fewer limits, but all relationships are governed by them. What we must understand is that the personal limits we put in place to govern our relationships have a profound impact on the level of emotional and mental health we enjoy.
Different Kinds of Limits
Relationships are complicated things, to say the least. As such, there are different kinds of limits that must be placed on them if they are to remain healthy. Consider the following kinds of limits often discussed by therapists and psychologists:
Emotional – Investing in relationships does require a certain amount of emotional investment. How emotionally involved we get with others plays a significant role in determining how we view ourselves.
Material – Each of us has a measure of material wealth that we can use to meet our needs and/or the needs of others. We naturally limit the ways in which that material wealth is used.
Physical – Every relationship obviously has physical limits outside of the sexual arena. The fact that most of us need a certain amount of personal space in public settings is evidence of that.
Psychological – Relationships are as much about thought as they are action and emotion. How we think determines how we perceive the world; how we allow others to affect our thoughts can completely change perceptions.
Sexual – In the case of individuals whose relationship is more intimate, there are limits to sexual behavior. These limits protect us from what we perceive to be damaging sexual activity.
Spiritual – There is a spiritual side to the human experience that cannot be denied, regardless of one’s belief system. Therefore, spiritual limits are put in place to protect who we are in this regard.
We need limits in all six categories in order to govern how we will live our lives. When limits are lacking, a very profound problem emerges: the individual is not able to measure right or wrong within the scope of relationships. This leads to confusion, anxiety, depression, and inappropriate behavior.
Limits give us very clear boundaries as to what is and is not acceptable. Within those boundaries, there is freedom to be who we are as individuals. When those boundaries either don’t exist or change continuously, we do not know where we stand in our relationships and, as a result, the freedom to be
who we are is replaced by the bondage of trying to be someone we think others want us to be.
As a doctor of naturopathy, I know the importance of emotional and mental health for overall well-being. When a person is emotionally and mentally healthy, he or she is also more likely to be physically and spiritually healthy as well. This is why I firmly believe in personal limits. Each of us must develop a set of core limits that govern our relationships if we hope to maintain good mental and emotional health.