Psychology: How mentally ill people set limits for themselves

Everyone pulls at you, everyone wants something from you and inside you just shout: “No!” Before you know it, the others will have used up all your energy. To prevent that from happening, you have to set limits for yourself. We’ll explain how to do it.

Your girlfriend calls, wants to know your opinion, to pour her heart out to you – for the second time this week. The conversation is all about her. A question about how are you? Nothing. Something is wrong here. The balance of interpersonal relationships can quickly change. Other people withdraw energy from you without giving anything back and without realizing it.

You have to protect yourself from that, otherwise you will be empty inside at some point. Mentally ill people face a particular challenge here. You have to use more strength than others every day in order to be psychologically stable and to stay that way. Otherwise, there is a risk that your mental health will fall by the wayside and deteriorate.

Psychology: taking responsibility for your mental health

One approach are social boundaries – that is, social boundaries – that you have to set yourself. The effect: Your battery is not completely used up, but can be recharged in peace. The authors Gary Lundberg and Joy Lundberg describe this approach in their book “I don’t have to do everything better” as follows:

“As an individual, you define personal boundaries. They are statements about what you do or don’t want to do […]how close someone can get to you or how close you will get to another person. You are your value system in action. ”

To say no is to protect yourself

And what is the goal of setting boundaries for yourself and saying no? The top priority is your health and well-being. Setting boundaries is healthy and protects you. The specially created value system must therefore come first. It shows you that you have choices and that you take responsibility for your “thoughts, beliefs, and actions,” according to Gary and Joy Lundberg.

Psychology: 6 tips on how to set your limits - and why it is important


But how do you make it clear to your friend that she cannot burden you with her worries and problems several times a week without hurting her? Because taking responsibility for your actions and enforcing limits is not that easy and can quickly offend others. The following six tips for setting limits, which the psychotherapist Diane Barth developed and published on the US specialist online portal “Psychology Today”, will help you.

1. Determine what you do not want for yourself

What do you really want and what is beyond your limits? The one-sided phone calls with your girlfriend are just exhausting you? Your colleague at work gives you too many tasks? Your mother interferes in your family planning? In the first step, write down all the things that make you feel bad.

2. Communication is king

Once you’ve set clear and realistic boundaries for yourself, tell them about it. Communicate your wishes lovingly, respectfully but firmly. Keep your goal in mind: Set social boundaries to protect your mental health. Your opponent can understand and understand your actions better. You are also putting responsibility on yourself and not making the other person feel guilty.

If the next conversation with your girlfriend is one-sided again, make her aware of it during or afterwards. If it continues, draw your own conclusions, set boundaries and reduce contact, but also explain to your friend the reason for your reaction.

3. Be realistic

Chances are, your girlfriend will continue to ask you for advice, and conversations that are one-sided will continue to exist. Don’t expect your boundaries to completely change other behaviors. But you can realistically assume that your girlfriend will understand when you withdraw, try to withdraw and begin to respect your limits – step by step.

4. Be consistent

Probably one of the biggest problems with setting boundaries is sticking to them, no matter how much misunderstanding you encounter. Hence, it is important to send clear messages, clearly state your needs and the reasons for the person concerned. And be consistent.

If your friend needs to talk but you don’t have the capacity at the moment, make that clear to her. If you still run into a lack of understanding, it has to be endured. You are not responsible for the problems and well-being of others, only for yourself.

5. Be respectful

Borders don’t work when used to punish another person. So if you are annoyed by the one-sided conversations and problems your girlfriend has, it is wrong to withdraw without a word and not take calls anymore.

This is how you package your limits as criticism that hurts your girlfriend and whoever is hurt no longer listens to the other person. Your needs are left unspoken and your girlfriend is upset. This leads to nothing. Do not act out of the affect, but announce your limits – at best in a respectful conversation.

6. Stand up for your needs

Realize how important your social boundaries are to you and your mental health – over and over again. Take responsibility for your actions. It’s your life, only you can decide whether to listen to your girlfriend’s problems and for how long.

If your week has been difficult, you are worn out and have no strength left to meet up with others on Friday evening: Say no and tell the truth. Take the time to recharge yourself and be available at another point with full strength – because that is your right.

Sources used: Gary Lundberg and Joy Lundberg: “I don’t have to do everything better,”,