Personal space: myth or reality?

personal space

Each of us has his own personal space. This is not just a myth from psychologists, but quite a real phenomenon. Agree, you will be uncomfortable at the thought that now someone else is in your house, eating from your dishes, sleeping in your bed. Any of these events is regarded by us as an invasion and triggers protective reactions in order to restore comfort and safety. In all this our psychological space manifests itself.

What it is?

Its territory is not only in humans, but also in animals. Most of them “tag” it, and feel calm and safe walking within its space. In many respects our behavior is similar to the behavior of the animal: we “mark” the territory of our house with things and design, put a strong door at the entrance to the apartment and put the ring on the finger of the husband.

In fact, the personal space of a person is all those things and events that we single out from the whole wealth of life, as significant for us. It includes its body, things “territory”, relationships with other people and time. All this is filled with a special and only your personal meaning. For example, a pen given to you at work can be just a pen, or maybe YOUR pen – an object in which you invest a certain meaning and are attached to it. Let’s talk in more detail about the components of the psychological space.

  • Our body is the basis for all other fragments of the personal space. It is with him that begins the understanding of his “I” – my hand, foot, etc. … Through him we establish contact with the world, attach ourselves to people, determine our territory and begin to carry out some kind of activity. Our body relates to our own appearance: we either accept it or reject it.
  • “Its territory” first appears in the picture of the world of the baby at the moment when it begins to crawl and move from one room to another – it begins to delimit personal space from the impersonal. The child understands that there are other people. “Our territory” plays an important role in our life: we control the intensity of communication, the intensity of information that comes to us, protect ourselves from everything superfluous, we can restore our forces and create something. Very often, “our territory” is embodied in our house.
  • Personal things appear in the person at the moment when he learns to interact with them. They are an allegorical message about who we really are – what are our features of characters, inclinations and interests. Thanks to some subjects we can learn, work and create. Other things tell us about our roles and status in society, help us to define our borders.
  • The personal space in the relationship is how we develop and maintain relationships. Each of us determines the circle of close people, as well as those whose opinion is important to her. We can establish relationships of varying degrees of intimacy, up to intimate ones. Personal time also manifests itself in relationships – sometimes we want to be alone, and sometimes – with someone, and we decide when these moments come.

boundaries of personal space

Boundaries of the psychological space

The psychological space of man has its limits. They are guarded by us from invasion attempts, help us to separate from all that makes up our natural life background. So we maintain our own security, freedom and independence. The boundaries of the personal space define our attitude towards society and other people.

They can be rigid and flexible. Strict boundaries are practically impenetrable for other people – such a person practically does not let anyone into his life, therefore, it is very difficult to establish close and trustful relations with him. At the same time, he himself does not “climb” to anyone. Blurred boundaries are quite the opposite. Such a person is open to everyone and is able to tell all the intimate details of his life to a new acquaintance without feeling any discomfort. Often, he behaves intrusively with others, demanding from them the same level of closeness and openness, so it can be very difficult to communicate with him.

Of course, there is also the “golden mean”. Such a person changes the closeness of his borders depending on the situation. With friends and relatives it is open. Loves the guests, but in moderation. Is able to withstand the distance with formal communication. In general, he is friendly towards other people, he feels himself to be a part of society. Such flexibility is very good in life, because situations are different, and to them all need to be adjusted.

But your psychological space is not only your things, your home and your friends, it’s also certain distances that you allow different people to come to, without any particular discomfort. Personal space is a territory where others should not penetrate without your permission, and each person has his own level of tolerance. In psychology, it is customary to single out 4 zones of psychological space:

  1. Intimate – the area of ​​the outstretched arm – 40-60 centimeters from the human body. In this zone, without feeling uncomfortable, only the people closest to us can enter – friends, relatives and friends.
  2. Personal – from 45 to 150 centimeters from the human body. Within this zone, business and formal relations are usually established. It is within this space that the teacher and pupil prefer to be in training.
  3. Social – from 150 to 400 centimeters. Within this zone, we play for other people those or other roles: the role of the seller, the buyer, the driver, etc. …
  4. Public – from 400 centimeters. It has no upper limit, therefore it is the most free. Healthy people practically do not feel any discomfort when they invade it (otherwise we would all have died long ago, using public transport!).

In conclusion, I would like to say that the need for personal space is as important as the need for food, sleep, security and comfort. Without them, we are turning into sick and twitching creatures, incapable of any productive action. Therefore, keep your space safe and sound and do not hesitate to indicate its boundaries when communicating with other people. But do not forget to treat seriously and with respect to the personal space of other people, and they will respect you too.

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