It is vitally necessary for you to set limits when dealing with a person whose treatment of you is unacceptable. This applies to your children, spouse, friends, associates, strangers. Say the other person is standing too close for comfort. They are uncomfortably in your space. You have to move away and if they come to close again, ask for breathing room. Say the other person wants you to give them something you would rather keep. You have to say no to their request. Say the other person wants to have sex with you and you do not desire it. Especially for women, no means no. And in fraternity parties, do not drink yourself insensible. For strangers met in bars, be careful of substances put in your drink. You are not looking for date rape. You can think of an endless number of instances where the other person’s need and intention is not your own. What are you to do about it?
Some people think that saying no is the easiest thing in the world. They have good self-esteem. They think that what they feel counts. They take a position from within the self, not in response to the clamoring of their tribe or even to just met strangers. They know and accept that they must set boundaries.
You can tell that your setting boundaries is reasonable if you can handle the other person’s reaction to your saying no. If you are overly worried about their disappointment or reactive rage, your boundary setting is compromised and especially if you are too afraid to do it. People who are outer-directed are controlled by their fear of the other’s reaction. They will honor the other’s behavior and dismiss themselves. They are run by the other’s expected reaction without testing.
Mario Martinez, an expert in the mind-body interaction and student of centenarians (people living to 100 plus), finds that the inability to say no is associated with a poorly functioning immune system. Mind and body are one. The way the mind reacts to external invasion is the same way the T-cell count responds to internal infection. People who are assertive about their rights, have a far better T-cell count and are less likely to succumb to invasive microbes. For example, their body rejects the spread of the Aids virus longer than those who cannot set limits. They are healthier and live longer.
Imagine that. You have to be able to stick up for your rights with friend or foe to do the same internally. You need to recognize when a person is invasive and not excuse it with compulsive humbleness probably learned from having invasive parents. If you are able to do this as an adult, as a child, your parents considered your feelings and considered that you have rights in their treatment of you. You learned to listen to your feelings and to analyze the situation before coming to a conclusion. You are not reacting on automatic pilot. If you did not learn this as a child, you have to practice. This is the way self-esteem grows.
To be able to set limits is good for the environment and good for you. Self and environment are one. You can’t injure one without injuring the other. This includes injuring the invasive person who needs to be stopped by giving in. Health is pervasive and continuous. Sickness is the same.