What exactly are your limits? The limits of an individual have an absolutely physical, sensory and concrete basis and it is an absolutely concrete fact that the absence of precise limits can lead to conflicts. Many attempts to adapt and courageous efforts to succeed fail because one cannot perceive exactly what one is and what is possible for you. By ignoring this and striving to exceed your limits, you sacrifice the perception of yourself.
However, sooner or later, these limitations come back to be felt in an overwhelming way, often only when it is too late. Those who do not perceive themselves cannot take care of themselves. Those who are not present to themselves are not aware of their own value. This condition usually leads to unnecessary waste of energy in contact with the outside world. Those who perceive consciously, are centered and know their limits, have even more energy.
Limits are not an end in themselves
Your limits and boundaries serve to protect a territory, an area that belongs to you, that you want to dispose of freely and for which you take responsibility. Demarcation is not fundamentally a question of boundaries, but of territory to be defended. Boundaries in the concrete sense (from the territorial borders of a state to the garden hedge) represent the passage from one’s territory to another’s (or to a free zone). Just as it happens with borders in the concrete sense, so it is with borders in the figurative sense: they also mark the passage from our personal space to that of another individual or to the outside world.
This is why borders also determine your relationship with others, with the world in general and also with yourself. Tensions and conflicts always arise along the boundary lines. Those who know their own boundaries, perceive them, respect them and have the courage and strength to mark and defend them can guarantee a harmonious and peaceful existence with others and with themselves. Perceiving and respecting your limits and boundaries saves you from asking too much of yourself and, at the same time, allows you to develop your possibilities to the fullest, to evolve and to secure the space to which you are entitled in your existence.
The idea of being limited does not arouse much enthusiasm, even less so in an age where we confuse the delimitation of ourselves with the limitation of our own potential, an age dominated by the idea of unlimited possibilities and all the consequences it generates: a constant feeling of dissatisfaction, a tendency to get into debt, excessive demands on oneself and others, never being in the here and now To the ideology of unlimitedness also belongs the illusion that you can achieve any goal if you only want to. And if you can’t get maximum results, it simply means that you haven’t tried hard enough…
The ideology of “no limits” serves mainly to justify the strong and the powerful. Even hypersensitive people can decide to adopt it. Often, in fact, you adopt it with the result that you exacerbate the difficulties you already have with your own limits and those of others. But where exactly do you find “those limits of yours”?
Many hypersensitive people, unable to perceive themselves and whose attention is always turned outward, are completely unaware of their own limits and, as a result, are not able to respect or defend them against others. In doing so, they often demand too much or too little of themselves, perceive others as invaders of their own territory or, in turn, invade others’ space without realizing it.
A hypersensitive person who has progressively given up perceiving himself and his body in order to adapt to the surrounding environment, also ends up losing contact with his own limits. And everywhere and nowhere, never in his own body. He only becomes aware of this when it is too late, when he has demanded too much of himself, he has once again exceeded the limits. In this case, his body makes itself felt through pain and symptoms, which does not reinforce his enthusiasm to perceive himself.
However, body perception can help you to know yourself and your limits, and to respect and protect them. Many hypersensitive people are driven by a kind of inner ambition. Your desire for perfection and harmony often leads you to go beyond and exhaust your strength before you even realize what you are doing. This excessive demand is not without consequences: pain, symptoms or even just general malaise suddenly appear.
At this point, you are forced to limit your strength, because you feel weak and without energy. Everything costs too much effort. You close yourself off from the world and its excessive demands: you withdraw into yourself, well within the limits you had previously set yourself, and you give up on the goal you had set for yourself, because under these conditions you can no longer do much.
To resolve this conflict, it is certainly not enough to spare yourself, to be too condescending towards yourself and to lock yourself in an ivory tower sheltered from the injustices of the outside world. It is even less helpful to ignore one’s own limitations and try to overcome them at every turn. The solution can only be to learn to control yourself consciously and responsibly, and this cannot be done without being aware of your physical state, the energies and resources you actually have at your disposal and, therefore, your own limits. Only by being aware of yourself can you remain strong, capable and effective.
Limits are not random
After reading a few textbooks on the subject, one might deduce that limits are something random, that you can make fun of moving at will. In reality, boundaries are something extremely real. Your limits reflect exactly your possibilities, your strengths: how far can I go? To what extent does this allow me to work more efficiently? At what point will I realize that I have stretched the rope too far?
If you set yourself too tight limits, you only weaken yourself. You limit yourself, you do far less than your possibilities allow. You get bored. Your energies have no way to flow and you can’t grow.
If you set too wide a limit for yourself, you ask too much of yourself, you stretch the bow too far, and in doing so, you weaken yourself, forcing you to stay within the limits of your possibilities. So the area just before your limits is the best. This is the area of your complete form, the condition that allows you to give the best of yourself. Only from here can you push your limits and grow to the best of your ability. Along your limits you can grow, and it is precisely there that phenomena such as “flow” occur, which allow you to progress and make progress.
The body knows the limits
The head can imagine whatever it wants about its limits, it can theorize the line along which they should or could be drawn, but it doesn’t really know where they are. On the contrary: it is often you, with your theories and thoughts, who pushes you to go beyond them once again, when you had promised yourself not to do so.
All those phrases containing “I should” and exhortations like “you can do even better; you’ve made it this far” or comparisons with others (“they can do it”) are part of mental patterns designed to sabotage our personal limits.
Even your heart, with its emotions, is no help in recognizing and respecting limits. On the contrary: it is precisely the heart that drives them forward, that builds bridges to others, that allows transcendence, that makes you feel empathy and that makes you selfless in the best possible way. This is why some people go too far and sacrifice when they only listen to the heart, whether it is a justified and heroic sacrifice or a pointless and absurd one, desired or not required.
The only one who truly knows your limits is the body or, better yet, your belly. It is the one that informs you in a concrete way of how much more you can carry and when you start to hurt yourself. And it is the belly that lets you know afterwards how many bites you feel full and you can stop eating, how many times you can sit down at the computer and when you need to take a break if you want to continue to feel good and be effective.
All this as long as you perceive your body in time and not only after you have gone further, when you are already sick, your eyes are burning and your back hurts. To recognize your limits, respect them