The Important Mental Boundary that Separates You and Me
Can worries be easily broken into halves like chocolate and cookies?
At that time, I comforted him by saying, "When things get tough, let's share the pain."
It was very painful to see him in pain. I didn't know what to do.
I had a very strong desire to help him somehow, so I thought a lot about it.
"If the pain is halved and each of us bears the burden, he will be relieved."
But things got complicated, and we ended up hurting each other.
If I could give a piece of advice to myself back then, I would say the following things.
Sharing pain is not so simple
Regularly check the mental “possessions” of yourself and others, such as thoughts and feelings
There’s a difference between compassion and sympathy.
Compassion is the ability to recognize and care for the feelings and thoughts of another person. On the other hand, when people empathize, they stand in another person's position and experience their psychological function with their own bodies.
When you empathize with someone's pain, it's common to feel pain yourself.
As human beings, we naturally have the ability to empathize with others. Empathy is one of the important human abilities. By empathizing, the person who consults may feel relieved. So empathy is not necessarily a bad thing.
However, if you can no longer distinguish the pain you feel inside yourself from the pain of another person, you may end up hurting both yourself and the other person without realizing it.
It takes a lot of energy to feel someone else's pain and emotions with equal impact.
When the other person sees that you’re tired of empathizing, they may feel sad that they’ve caused you trouble.
We never want to hurt each other, but rather want to help each other.
How can I be there for others without hurting myself or the other person?
Try to establish a mental boundary between yourself and the other person.
Setting boundaries doesn’t necessarily mean pushing the other side away. It’s the ability to “distinguish” between your own and others’ feelings and thoughts.
Since the other person's feelings are happening inside them, we can’t invade and do something with it, or take it away and make it our own. I think it's quite difficult to draw boundaries, but let's learn little by little with experience.
For example, when I listen to someone's concerns, I pay attention to what they say and think about what kind of help they might need. What if I sympathize with them too much and it becomes painful, or if I can't see their problems objectively? I take a step back to think of concrete solutions. Before I step away from them, I tell them that I care about them and that I need some time to work out a solution with them.
This is my method, so I think everyone has their own way of dealing with it.
Regarding mental care for those who people rely on, I’d like you to read the article, "What about mental care for those who people rely on?" This article is a collaboration between Blossom the Media editor-in-chief Emiru and an online media MOREDOOR. A "to-do list that you can start today" is also posted, and I think it’ll be very helpful for the mental healthcare of those who people rely on.
By setting boundaries, you may worry that you are hurting the other person. At that time, please understand that you have to think about your health in the same way that the other person is consulting you while considering their health. It's sometimes necessary to set mental boundaries to separate your troubles from those of others. On the one hand, I believe there’s no perfect mental boundary that separates us from each other. Because we all influence or be influenced by others in some way.
When peeling off two pieces of paper that have been glued together, they always leave a trace.
When you interact with people, you get something from them and you give something too.
The elements of the mentality are invisible to each other. Other people's worries may unconsciously mix with your own in your head. At times like these, let's check the belongings of your mentality, such as your emotions and thoughts. And if you draw boundaries and visualize them, you may be able to consult others more easily than now.
And above all, I think the most important thing in asking for others’ advice is to give warmth to the other person.
People who are there for others tend to think desperately about what they can do for the other person. However, what the other person is looking for most may be your warmth.
You've already done enough just by listening, just by being there.
Translated by Rio Ishida
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Satomi Shikano