Yes – I am talking about Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory”. I know what you’re thinking, “is she really trying to give us personal development advice using Sheldon as an example?”
Most people who watch “The Big Bang Theory” probably see Sheldon as pretty unstable. He is the ultimate in socially awkward, and while his friends may be able to stand him, it’s hard to picture a real person like Sheldon Cooper functioning well in the real world. He’s compulsive, demanding, narcissistic and let’s face it, a little off his rocker.
But as much of a caricature as Sheldon Cooper is, some of his behaviors actually represent very good rules to live by when it comes to setting and sticking with personal boundaries. You see, one of the biggest sources of conflict between others, and often even internal conflict, is never setting and maintaining boundaries.
We go through life compromising ourselves for the needs and expectations of others. But when we do this we ignore our own emotional needs and we’re setting ourselves up for misery and in time, we will lose our identity. Without ever trying, we make sure our personal desires are never met in our relationships because we have never established those needs with ourselves or others in the first place.
If there’s one thing Sheldon knows, and maybe just a little too well, it is how to set and maintain boundaries. Let’s see what he has to share with us.
#1 He knows what his limits are and he’s not afraid to set them with others
It’s no secret that Sheldon has a list of demands when it comes to interacting with him in any way. Leonard gets the worst of it, constantly hearing about the “roommate agreement” he so tragically signed before the two moved in together.
Are you expected to have a signed contract for every relationship, friendship or business partnership you have in life? Of course not, but there absolutely times you should protect yourself. Unfortunately, not everyone works well on the honor system. Once bitten, twice shy. Boundaries are an agreement mostly verbal yet still binding. For other scenarios boundaries are set in the form of pre and post-nuptials and business contracts and/or letters of intent.
Sheldon does show us the value of setting and agreeing to your boundaries right from the very beginning of any relationship with others. By doing so, he stays emotionally and physically comfortable and avoids most conflict with Leonard and others. You should talk about personal boundaries in a relationship and have a clear understanding and agreement. It is important that both parties agree that if the boundary is crossed there will be consequences. It is like a contract. And Sheldon is definitely a pro at setting a boundary!
#2 He sticks to his own guns and by his own word
When Sheldon decides something for himself, there is virtually nothing that will stop him from sticking to his decision. Take, for example, his decision that the left side of the living room couch is his and only his to sit in. Sheldon set that boundary in his mind, he knew it was what he wanted, and he stands down for nothing to make sure he keeps that promise to himself.
When you make a promise to yourself because you know setting that boundary or requirement will improve your life, remember Sheldon’s tenaciousness in keeping his seat on the couch. It’s actually pretty inspiring if you don’t think about it too much.
#3 He’s not afraid to make limits in relationships understood
One of the places where we do our most compromising is in our romantic relationships. We get caught up in the mood, and suddenly, all the promises we have made go out the window.
Sheldon and Amy finally “got intimate” in a recent episode, but we all remember the hilarious lack of sex in that super-awkward relationship. That was the case because Sheldon knew how to set boundaries in relationships, made it clear to Amy and stuck with it until he was absolutely ready. That is what I like to call leading by example when it comes to communication in a relationship!
#4 He’s true to his emotional needs
When something is bothering Sheldon – typically when Amy or Leonard have done something to betray his sensibilities – Sheldon is always quick to voice his emotional needs.
…Typically knocking on her door as Penny tries to sleep or have a little time for herself.
It’s very important to remember not to bottle up what’s bothering you when someone in your life has crossed a boundary. Often, people do not even realize they have crossed your boundary, so the only way you can take care of yourself in the situation is to voice your concern.
Take it from Sheldon, the best thing to do is to talk with someone, preferably the person who has hurt you, about your problem. If you do, and you’re open and honest about it, something is bound to improve.
#5 He knows how to be himself and he makes everyone else adapt to it
There’s no doubt that Sheldon is his very own unique individual whom no one can match. That shows a serious sign of character and understanding of oneself.
Being in touch with ones own self is a huge part of setting boundaries. It’s impossible to know what your boundaries are without knowing who you are first. Once you let go of others’ expectations and fully live as the person you are, you’ll find the people in your life will begin to adapt and work with you.
You do not have to compromise your personality, your hobbies or your traits just because they don’t fit into the belief of the people around you. You will be most comfortable in your life when you can carve your own space. By setting clear boundaries and not only discussing them with others, but understand them yourself and live up to them. Don’t expect someone to respect your boundaries if you are not keeping true to them yourself. Every time you allow someone to cross a boundary and do not follow through with the consequence you have given them permission to keep doing it.