Where you end and I begin | INFJ Forum

Where you end and I begin

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by soulareclipse, Feb 28, 2019.

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  1. soulareclipse

    soulareclipse Community Member

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    Okay so maybe not the most original post title, but it sums up the definition of personal boundaries. Simple and concise.

    It's fairly common for INFJs to lack healthy personal boundaries. We tend towards empathy, being self-sacrificing, wanting to help/heal/fix/rescue others, giving people who probably don't deserve it the benefit of the doubt with second, third, and twentieth chances. There are other attributes we have that tend to attract dubious characters, but I think one would get the point. Make no mistake, the above qualities are positive ones, but I think sometimes we don't know where to draw that line where one person ends and we begin, and I know there are waaaay too many shady mofos out there waiting for someone like us to come along and completely erase that line. Or at least willing to move it around for them. It's a natural attraction - takers provide something givers want (someone to give to) and givers provide something takers want (someone to take from). In a perfect world, this would be a fairly innocuous, symbiotic relationship. However, in reality we have too often found ourselves in something more closely resembling victim/abuser-type relationship dynamics. And a lot of those times it's dangerously close. Narcissists and sociopaths are also naturally drawn towards empaths.

    So I thought I'd open this discussion so we can talk about what healthy boundaries are, why so many of us struggle with them, and perhaps most importantly, what to do about it.

    Speaking strictly for me, I remember the first time I started learning about healthy boundaries (relatively recently in fact) and thinking 'Why though?' and 'What even are boundaries?' 'Why is it a bad thing for me to be so giving, caring, loving, compassionate, understanding, tolerant, on and on ad nauseam?' and perhaps more to the point 'I'd feel worse knowing there was something I could've done to help someone, but instead chose to set or assert a "boundary" and be "selfish"'. *gasp* It was a proverbial pearl-clutching moment for me. I mean, that's just crazy talk to an INFJ, right? Yeah, an unhealthy INFJ with unhealthy boundaries at best, but in most cases none at all. I was a co-dependent doormat with a martyr complex. It's okay, though. I've forgiven myself for that. I truly thought my heart was in the right place, but was it? It's perfectly fine to want to help someone, but by continuing to help them when they refuse to help themselves is enabling their behavior. Even the abuser is abused when their abuse is allowed to continue. Maybe my intentions weren't as pure as I had always thought, and when I got really honest with myself, I realized they indeed were not. Enter co-dependency.

    Even though I couldn't admit it to myself for a long, long time, one of the worst possible implications of my not being able to save someone was that my worth as a human being would be rendered questionable, if not non-existent. I depended on my ability to fix other people to determine my self-worth. Why won't they just let me love them? I need them to accept my love so that I can feel like a lovable, worthwhile individual. I depended on others to validate my worth. Hell, I can remember believing that when another disregarded my feelings, it meant that my feelings were invalid. Not in a poor, pitiful me way, but as a matter of fact. Soul death happens one compromise at a time.

    Boundaries are so many things - physical, emotional, psychological - and it would be impossible for me to list them all here as they can change over time or from person-to-person. In essence though, boundaries ensure that our own needs are met. Boundaries teach others how we expect to be treated, what we will and won't accept. It's that simple, really and yet so difficult for so many. I remember asking my therapist how I should go about determining what my boundaries are and she told me that I could find them by asking myself what I need. Without missing a beat and with low affect I looked at her and said, "Who cares?" Her mouth literally dropped open. It took a while for me to be convinced that what I needed should even matter - least of all to myself.

    Today I'm a recovering co-dependent and an active practitioner in self-care, self-love, and self-validation. I listen to my self when I feel hurt with compassion and acceptance now, rather than judgment. I rarely engage in negative self-talk anymore - it's been replaced by my true narrative. If you think about it, all negative self-talk stems from things that others have told us about ourselves (there's that co-dependency again). The times I catch myself doing it now are few and far between, but I nip it in the bud quickly by reminding myself that if it's not something I would say to a friend (or even a stranger for that matter), then I certainly didn't need to say it to myself. Setting and maintaining self-boundaries is a thing too. In fact, often times it's where we need to start.

    Jeez this is long af, but there's so many things that we often leave unaddressed with ourselves and I thought by sharing some of my own struggles with boundaries, it would facilitate a discussion about what others' experiences have been.

    Do you or have you struggled with healthy boundaries? If you feel comfortable doing so, post about your own setbacks or progress. If you don't know much about boundaries or you're part of a questionable relationship (be it with a friend, lover, family member, whatever), what are some things that you feel may help in that regard?

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  2. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    You're fortunate to have come very far.

    When it comes to boundaries I think I can occasionally be over-bearing. For example, I text my friends a lot. Also, when I like someone I consciously have to resist that urge to bombard them with messages.

    Unfortunately, I have diarrhea of the mouth and mind.
     
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  3. OP
    soulareclipse

    soulareclipse Community Member

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    Same. I know no one would be able to tell by any of my posts :wink:, but I have a tendency to overshare. Baby steps.
     
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    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    Yeah, you're still new.

    Welcome to the forum, btw.
     
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  5. Wyote

    Wyote Con Risa Absoluta
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    Boundaries are super important because they provide a sense of comfort and direction, whereas a lack of boundaries is a life in chaos. Sometimes people find chaos alluring because the unknown is exciting, but chaos has no focused direction so ultimately it's a kind of stagnation. Boundaries then, are actually a highly effective way of progressing, which is a bit counterintuitive.
     
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  6. JennyDaniella

    JennyDaniella Stargazer

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    Yuppers!
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Con Risa Absoluta
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    The best way to "defeat" them is to become stupidly silly
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. RonjaRaeubertochter

    RonjaRaeubertochter Community Member

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    Your title very much resonates with me.

    Sometimes I'm not even sure, why I am feeling this or that way. Is it my own emotion or am I taking up somebody else's? I tend to people please. Yet, the irony is, as I discovered, this behaviour usually pleases nobody. Instead it comes across as very inauthentic. People might even feel betrayed or lied to, because there is no security with you. Your word never quite counts. Once somebody else talks to you, you change your mind again. All you are is a leaf in the wind when you have no boundaries. It's like what @Wyote said


    Co-dependency is a problem with me as well.
     
  9. Jonah Caan

    Jonah Caan Regular Poster

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    @soulareclipse, I found wisdom within your post; thank you.

    I'm in my early 30's and only now am I learning the importance of boundaries.

    I always strive to have the deepest, most-honest relationships with the few people I choose to be close with in life. As a result, I always saw boundaries as barriers against authentic relationships. I guess I learnt that this is certainly not the case in the hardest way possible; by having my heart broken a couple of times [cue the violins, haha].

    I guess I was only listening to and catering to the needs of my heart and soul, which are able to love unconditionally. I was ignoring my body. It's only when I actually felt like my body was giving up on life that I realised I also need to respect the needs of it too.

    The thing that matters most to me in life is still having the best of relationships. But whereas before this was focused on my relationship with others, I now actively work on the relationship with myself too. I'm still finding that balance though.

    I wish you further spiritual growth and happiness.
     
  10. Fidicen

    Fidicen Community Member

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    This does resonate with me, but I'll have to think about how much I'm willing to share in public, since I'm also aware of my tendency to share too much. Or more like there's a cork in the bottle and if I remove it, everything comes out at once.

    Some time ago I read a book called Intimacy and Solitude by Stephanie Dowrick, and before leaving it out for someone else to read I wrote down several passages to reread later. I shouldn't copy big chunks of text here for copyright reasons, but here are some bits I found useful:

    p. 160:

    At the core of loneliness often lies a fear of abandonment, usually experienced as a fear that the loneliness - the feeling of not being wanted by someone, of not being recognised, or understood, or sought after, or appreciated - will go on forever...

    ...And behind the fear of abandonment is something else: a lack of trust in your own self. (Do I exist in any meaningful way? Does my existence matter?)

    p. 189:

    *You develop the capacity to be alone when you feel safe in the company of someone else (usually your mother)
    *You develop the capacity to feel safe with someone else, and to be your own self in someone else's presence, when you also have the capacity to be alone without undue anxiety.
    *Through good contact with someone else, you come increasingly to know yourself.

    p. 229:

    Being intimate means, I think, being true to yourself in the presence of someone else and accepting the other person being their own self in your presence.

    Being intimate does not mean:
    *behaving as though you were one person
    *dictating how the other person should behave
    *expecting the other person to take care of your needs
    *denigrating the other person because you believe they have no choice but to take it.

    That kind of pseudo-intimacy is often horribly damaging, not least because it erodes the sense of personal power which is crucial to a comfortable relationship with others, and with yourself.

    In pseudo-intimacy several things are likely to happen:
    *your sense of I diminishes rather than grows
    *you feel increasingly dependent upon 'your other half'
    *your sense of who is in charge of your life becomes muddled
    *your sense of the larger world shrinks.

    p. 230:

    Most of us know whether or not we have a sense of 'boundary' in our relationships with other people:
    *Your boundaries allow you to sense where you end and where I begin.
    *Your boundaries allow you to feel for me when I hurt, to share my hurt, but to know that it is my hurt - and not yours.
    *Your boundaries allow you to understand that when I am angry it is not necessarily because of something you have done, and to know that when I am depressed it is not necessarily your responsibilty to 'cheer me up'.
    *Your boundaries allow you to know that when you are angry or depressed or anxious that it is not my fault, and that the effects your anger or depression or anxiety should not be laid at my feet or poured over my head.
    (p. 231)
    In other words, if you and I are in a relationship together we can, with our boundaries in place, feel a great deal for each other, while also acknowledging that neither of us is responsible for the emotional happiness of the other.

    This does not mean that I cannot make you unhappy, or that you cannot brighten my day immeasurably. Of course that can happen. Two or more people who relate closely to each other will have continuous and often dramatic effects on each other's feelings: and part of intimacy is being aware of and respectful of that.

    What is not intimacy is the feeling that my happiness is dependent on you; or that because we live side by side you have the right to make me unhappy.
     
  11. Wyote

    Wyote Con Risa Absoluta
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    Great stuff
     
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    soulareclipse

    soulareclipse Community Member

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    All very valid points. I don't think we're cognizant of the possibility that we may come across as inauthentic to others. I certainly wasn't, but I can see how some may have perceived me that way in the past. It's important to forgive oneself for these inadvertent transgressions, immediately followed by going on a people-pleasing diet. :relaxed:

    Yes, same here. For most of my life I'd tried to force my then-skewed definition of love onto others while silently beseeching them to love me the way I needed to be loved. I went through a period where I renounced my aux-Fe and instead turned to my ter-Ti for guidance with such things. What was the point of loving unconditionally if there was no one with whom to share it? I began to regard it as a weakness in myself; that relying on my feelings/heart/love to guide me always seemed to ultimately lead me to really dark places. While it wasn't the healthiest approach toward developing my Ti, it's just as well since I would spend the next couple of years honing my Ti function and addressing these issues from a more objective and rational standpoint. This eventually led me to my current understanding that my ability to love unconditionally wasn't a weakness or something to be ashamed of, but rather it was something I needed to give to myself first. I owed myself the love that I so freely gave to others.

    Thank you for your encouraging words.

    2.jpg
     
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  13. Hostarius

    Hostarius Apostate INFJ

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    Great thread, @soulareclipse.

    There's lots to think about and say here, but I'll just put in one aspect of my experience with this.

    I think the majority of people probably have issues with boundaries, but a lot of the time those issues are very hard to perceive, especially if you have supposedly 'good boundaries' in other ways.

    For example, while I have no problem with actually saying 'no' when I don't want to do something, I do struggle with oversharing.

    I realised that it was linked to my sense of self worth: if I don't tell you my weaknesses and the things I've done that made me feel ashamed (don't worry, nothing bad) then I'll feel like I'm being inauthentic; that I'm 'lying' to you and that I'm presenting a false front. If I don't share these things, and you seem to like me, I might feel that the 'real me' doesn't deserve to be liked, and so the oversharing is to preempt that feeling. It's to say: here I am in all my shittiness... do you still like me?

    I used to think that I was just solidly honest when I did this and therefore absolutely unashamed of who I was, but actually there's an insecurity which drives behaviour like this: a irrational fear that 'if you knew me, then you would hate me'.
     
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  14. Wyote

    Wyote Con Risa Absoluta
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    It's funny because my struggle and self perception is along the lines of "if only you knew me, you wouldn't hate me"
     
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  15. Fidicen

    Fidicen Community Member

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    I'm not sure if I understood you correctly, but you seem to say that both oversharing and being reticent are signs that you're inauthentic, which implies that true authenticity is somewhere in the middle. And you base this on the experience you have of yourself. But surely that cannot be the only reason, your subjective experience of authenticity that has been different in the past and may yet change again?

    You didn't make it explicit, but I'm guessing that you mean that if there are motives you aren't aware of, a person cannot be authentic to others. That's sort of implied in saying that there's insecurity behind it all. However, I believe that not one of us is fully conscious of our motives. Does it mean we're all inauthentic? Then the whole concept of authenticity would lose its meaning. You may not agree with me on my assumption of incomplete awareness, but you need more than the experience you have of yourself to refute it. Unless you're a solipsist of course :p.

    Personally I feel that whether I'm being too quiet or oversharing, both are expressions of my true self, assuming I have no intention of deceiving anyone. I'm simply expressing myself differently with different people. I don't believe it's insecurity that would by necessity drive the tendency to overshare. Could be just the need to find a human connection. And the longer you've been without an adequate connection, the more eager you are to share who you are, sometimes to the point of seeming weird. Perhaps even 'oversharing' is not a good word. It just means that you have so much to say that you forget what is customary. It doesn't always mean that you have weak boundaries. I've even felt that I've overshared because I've been so confident of my boundaries, and the confidence has made me forget that others keep their boundaries closer to their selves, and that they're not comfortable even knowing about my stuff, let alone sharing their own. Every relationship is a sort of dance and a negotiation around these issues, because our boundaries are never quite in the same place.

    Overall I've found answering your posts a bit difficult, because even when you give advice with good intentions, it looks like you often assume that everybody is like you. The bit I quoted is an example of that. You think you've found insecurity in yourself, and now you assume that everyone is driven by the same motives. I've seen you exhibit the same kind of attitude when advising people to be more courageous when dating. But not everyone is like you, and what may seem like a small obstacle to you is not so small to others. So even though you started the post here by saying you'll share a personal experience, you ended up claiming it's universal. After a statement like that it's hard to continue, because I'm reluctant to have a debate with someone who takes such a position of authority. But staying quiet is not being inauthentic, nor is it fear. It just means that the way you present things makes me feel that I'd only end up in a pointless argument with someone who thinks he's already figured out how things stand.

    And why do I get this impression? Because you said: "actually there's an insecurity" instead of "there may be an insecurity". The latter formulation would give room for other opinions, the first one just announces a truth that the reader may or may not accept, but it doesn't give the impression that you'd be willing to discuss it.
     
  16. Hostarius

    Hostarius Apostate INFJ

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    Damn, looks like I forgot to click 'Reply' and hit 'Submit for Peer Review' instead :tearsofjoy:

    I'm walking rn, but I'll try to clarify thoughts later on.
     
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  17. Fidicen

    Fidicen Community Member

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    Okay :). I don't mean to criticise all the things you stand for. I do believe you have good intentions, but I pay a lot of attention to how things are said, which verb forms are used, are people being considerate etc., and so it happens that if someone chooses a word that doesn't quite reflect what they intend, I may start digging for what's behind it all, what's the real message. And that may turn into a little essay :D
     
  18. Hostarius

    Hostarius Apostate INFJ

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    No, no, man, it's great that you do that! :smiley: Funnily enough, though, there was a hidden motive behind my post, and so I wonder if that's what you picked up in my lack of coherence.

    Essentially the only reason I contributed to this thread was because 'boundaries' is an issue that's important to my girlfriend @Puzzlenuzzle, and so I'm interested in it, too, and wish to support the people that are having issues with it. However, I can't really come into a thread and start talking about her feelings on the subject, because it's not my truth to tell, and she's a member of the forum herself. In addition, I think it's sometimes a bit lame just to post 'I SUPORT YOO GUYZ!!!' without contributing to the discussion, and so my post was just a way of showing support, really, by promoting the flow of discussion (and to keep the thread bumped), while engaging with an aspect of it that I could empathise with (because others had said that they overshared, too) and had some personal experience of.

    Don't worry, I spoke to Nuzzles and she said it was OK that I mention this, but yeah it's interesting that you seemed to pick up on the ulterior motives that way. In her case, she has a hard time stopping and asking 'what do I need', in addition to 'what do I want' and 'how do I feel'.

    In my case, the common thread was the concept of 'boundaries' and how we each might overstep them, fail to enforce them or otherwise interact with them based upon deeper insecurities which we might not even be aware of (as @soulareclipse pointed out in her 'Who cares?' anecdote), so that's how they are linked conceptually in my mind.

    I do overshare, and so I contraposed my usual narrative about why I 'overshare' - which was 'I am completely unashamed of who I am and I'd like you to know the real me' - with a narrative that hinted at some deeper insecurity which could be equally true - about a fear of being liked only for my persona and not my 'true self', and things related to that. In fact, now that I write that down, this could have contributed to my struggles over type - that even though I might come across as 'rational', I wanted to be understood for what I feel is my 'true self', which is my feely heart.
     
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  19. Fidicen

    Fidicen Community Member

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    Yeah INTJs are big softies really:kissingclosed::kissingclosed:. Most of my friends in middle/high school, and thus my oldest friends now, have been INTJs (at least one officially tested), and they don't really fit the internet stereotype of chess masters planning for world domination. But I haven't really seen them at work, maybe that's where the chess master comes out.
     
  20. OP
    soulareclipse

    soulareclipse Community Member

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    I think I may understand what @Hostarius is saying here because I have often felt similarly. When first getting to know someone I have also felt compelled to expose more of myself (figuratively) than is probably necessary in an effort to make sure I'm putting my full/true self out there. If I only bring up my positive qualities/experiences, while knowingly leaving out the icky stuff then I feel like I'm misrepresenting myself, and it's just a matter of time until they begin seeing my less-than-savory aspects and decide that I've been fraudulent all along. Because I'm an authentic person, the last thing I want someone to take me for is a fraud (because that isn't me). So the 'oversharing' serves as a sort of disclaimer that says "Hey, this is all of me - no surprises, no lies by omission, I'm not hiding behind a pretense". Something like that. @Hostarius, correct me if I missed the mark.

    Which is amazing, really. It's this type of questioning that creates the opportunity to clarify these things so as to engage in an even more accurate and authentic discourse. Well done, good sir.
     
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