Commentary: Your personal space may be holding you back

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While this instinct is there for a reason, it doesn't need to be listened to all the time

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Commentary: Your personal space may be holding you back

Gazette/GBT.org/staff photo

Gazette/GBT.org/staff photo

Gazette/GBT.org/staff photo

  Personal space is an important defense mechanism used subconsciously to steer us away from danger – but is also a flexible and not always dependable tool.

  Your brain programs a zone around your body, like a second skin. When this space is invaded, you will never fail to notice. That feeling in the pit of your stomach or the instinctual pulse of fear you get in tense situations isn’t meant to be ignored.

  It keeps away the creeps, while also letting you subtly know who you can trust.

  We learn what socially acceptable behavior looks like from a young age, but the personal space of your friend naturally is not the same as yours.

   Nevertheless, we must respect everyone’s preferences and realize that there is such a broad spectrum of what people are comfortable with.

  Growing up with a closer-knit family increases the chance of your personal space bubble being smaller than those of a family who are distant with each other.

Growing up with a closer-knit family increases the chance of your personal space bubble being smaller than those of a family who are distant with each other.”

  Having two sisters, for example, has made me become fond of touch and someone who, depending on the situation, likes contact rather than seclusion a majority of the time.

  I have always believed that physical connection with even just one person has major health benefits. It makes you feel happier, understood, more trusting, loved.

  Interestingly, there are people who have never cared for human contact, and they are simply born that way. Others are all for it, but then some take a while to warm up to it.

     Knowing boundaries is an underrated way to understand more about yourself and others around you. It helps us know what to say and how to act toward another person.

  This is why communication in relationships is so important. Using your words to tell your significant other what is and what isn’t OK is not lame – it is smart and necessary.

  And they, in turn, should tell you how they feel about certain actions and discuss your preferences.

  The flexibility of your space bubble is actually astonishing. It can be completely expanded when talking to a stranger, but then comfortably retracted with a close friend or family member.

  It is not equal in all directions, either. In some parts the force field is toxic, whereas in other areas it is barely there, so close to the skin.

  Now yes, this self-defense tool is used to keep us safe. But, in non-life threatening situations, it is holding so many of us back.

  There are innumerable times when it is just too compelling to keep a gap between you and someone you could be close to. We don’t like letting others in. We want to be private – because it means we are safe.

  A majority of the time, when we shy away from others it is because there is a feeling of doubt toward them with no explanation as to why it surfaced. We want to make it easy for ourselves by saying we should trust our gut, but that is not always the best thinking.

  Being scared is not necessarily a bad thing, being uncomfortable is not the worst, being unsure is not the end of the world. It’s all part of the process.

  While it can backfire, pushing yourself to have less personal space will have so many positive impacts on your life. You will feel full, present, more complete, experienced.

  And while your personal bubble  should never pop, it also shouldn’t be large enough to float you up up and away from your friends and family.

  Put yourself out there. Keep it small by going big.

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