setting boundaries for introverts

so here’s the thing: i’m a natural introvert. my first reaction to conflict is to internalize and figure out how i will not allow this to bother me rather than communicate how the conflict can be avoided in the future. it is only after years of self-evaluation and effort that i am better able to tell a friend what i need in order to maintain a healthy relationship–a skill i have not fully perfected.

and because i am human and i’m not perfect, there are times when i will indulge myself in my natural tendencies and go inside myself when faced with trouble. often, this happens when my first attempts at communication has been met with resistance and anger. why bother again, right? it didn’t hit home the first time. the problem with this is that while it allows me to reflect back on the things i’ve done wrong and to accept that there are things i cannot control, boundaries are not being set, allowing for people to take advantage or disrespect my space and person.

by the time i realize that boundaries have been crossed, it is usually too late and the norm for the friendship has been defined. so what am i supposed to do? do i do a complete overhaul and set these much needed boundaries? do i just do away with the friendship altogether because moving forward without the promise of change is no longer an option? writer coral levang recommends the former and suggests that doing so means accepting responsibility for your feelings.

indeed, setting boundaries has less to do with controlling other people’s behaviors and more to do with accepting that you are responsible for how you allow people to behave towards you. granted, these boundaries are acceptable providing they are reasonable. for instance, it is completely within your right not to be called by an undesirable name or to expect a friend not to get too friendly with your significant other. however, it is equally unreasonable for you to expect others to change their plans for you simply because you are uncomfortable with the chosen group activities. in such instances, it is best to take yourself out of the equation and let others be. you have a right to yourself; you do not have a right to dictate the behaviors and actions of others.

establishing clearly defined boundaries is essential to any relationship, especially for introverts. because we live in a society that favors extroverts, our very nature can be seen as insecure or unsure. by being confident in your limits and comfort levels, you are letting people know that being an introvert is not a condition but a choice. you are making a choice to live your life in a way that is enjoyable to you without the fear of being thought strange or being pressured to do otherwise. besides, studies show that introverts are the majority. it’s an introverts’ world; extroverts just live in it.

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