Most of us have been in situations where someone comes too close to us that we feel uncomfortable. In other words, someone invading our personal space can make one feel stressed and uneasy.
But what is personal space? And how important is it really?
In short, personal space is an invisible coat we all wear around people depending on our relationship with them. For instance, with those we are comfortable around and have a personal connection with, our personal space tends to decrease in range. Whereas around strangers and those we are not close to, the range of our personal space will increase.
The extent and range of personal space are set and determined by the person himself/herself. When it comes to personal space physical contact, many should become more aware of what is considered appropriate and accepted.
For instance, some people might feel uncomfortable getting physically close to someone unless they are close family or friends. Therefore, it is instrumental that we understand the concept of personal space and how to become more aware about it.
Several factors can play a major role in the distance a person prefers when talking about personal space, such as cultural background, previous experiences, social relationships and the person’s personality. That is why it is crucial that one does not make any assumptions when it comes to someone’s personal space and that we respect how each person might define their personal space. And that is imperative when it comes to all aspects of our lives.
Whether it is our personal or professional lives, it is important to set clear boundaries at home and work. However, in many regions, such as in some Middle Eastern countries, respecting one’s privacy can be a far-fetched concept that not everyone follows.
The idea behind personal space goes far beyond respecting someone’s boundaries and not overstepping. Personal space is very important to our mental and physical health. When someone invades your personal space, you can sometimes feel violated and see it as a sign of aggression.
Furthermore, personal space invasion can sometimes heighten anxiety and stress. According to a study, overstepping someone’s personal space can in fact lead to stress and severe discomfort, which can be damaging to our physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is to be affirmative and when it comes to setting your personal space boundaries. And here are some ways you can do that:
- Step back and create a distance that you feel comfortable with
- Do not bite your tongue! Tell them they are making you feel uncomfortable
Creating your own personal space can also act like a bubble to protect you not only from stress but also from any unwanted distractions. It can help you become more individualized and thus grow your self confidence and be more independent. Also, having some space for yourself means that you can take some time for yourself to breathe and refocus on the things that really matter to you.
Knowing the importance of personal space can make you more aware about the right ways to approach people without making anyone feel uncomfortable. For instance, something that I have always experienced and felt uncomfortable with was when people touched my lower back when passing by. Another example was when people did not respect that I do not like to be in close proximity with anyone I am not close with. Therefore, I have learned to become vocal about personal space and how to set clear boundaries.
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