I went to Church one Sunday, and the Pastor immediately started with what felt like a personal attack (lol, that’s just how close to home thee sermon was that day). And it was not until a couple weeks later, just a day or two ago, that I really understood what he meant and why it his so close to home. He spoke about the 4 Personal Relationship Spaces!
To put it plainly, there are 4 categories in which every single person in your life, that you have interacted with, can fall. They are Public, Social, Personal, and Private. Now, I will go into what each of these are in a moment, but the point here is that, we often get confused on where people go and end up with people in the wrong space. For example, I have a bad habit of casting a wide freidnship net. I can make friends with anyone (social and sometimes, too often, personal space). But then, I realize that I do not actually like that person or want them as close to me as I thought. Then I get all bent out of shape because someone that I allowed in my personal space, my friendship space, is not acting accordingly, or how I expect someone in that space to act. Then I want to start cutting people off and saying they aren’t a good friend and blah blah blah. We all have done it or are doing it now.
In all reality, I have just placed people in the wrong space in my life. The person described above, should have been in a social space, if not public space, instead of my personal space. But, let me explain what these are, for more context.
1. Public Space
Public Space is where you keep people that you encounter on a regular and irregular basis in a public, quick setting. These people may include someone you see on the commute to work, people in the grocery store, gas station. Sometimes your neighbors can be considered people in your public space. All people in your public space you may see daily or weekly, but may not have alot of deep conversations with or really anything other than the standard “Hi, how are ya? Okay, have a nice day”.
2. Social Space
Social Space and Personal space are the two that get most intertwined and twisted for a lot of people, including myself. SOCIAL SPACE people are those that you interact with on a more regular basis, but that you do not necessarily have personal conversations with. Or if the conversations are personal, they are surface level (emotions, kid talk, relationship banter, etc.). People in this space are usually coworkers, friends of friends that you may see at parties and gatherings, small group members, or fellow church members. These are folks you can hang around, have a conversation and exchange small time advice, and even network with. BUT, people in this space are the people who you typically still don’t need to know your real business. You keep the conversation within the realm of how you know that person (church goers get standard church conversation, coworkers get need to know work info and conversation, etc.). Your social space bubble is typically the largest group and dynamic group of people you talk to and engage with.
3. Personal Space
Similarly to Social Space, you hang around and can often be seen in the same types of places with people in your personal space. Parties, bars, hangouts. You may even work with a few people in your personal space. But UNLIKE Social space, the people in your personal space get a lot more of the tea. These are people you go to for advice, deep conversations. These are people that you know and that know you fairly well. You might tell someone in your social space that you are just having a bad day at work, but you would tell someone in your personal space that you’d been crying all night because you and your partner had a fight. Your personal space bubble is a lot smaller than your social space bubble because the relationships and conversations are more intimate.
4. Private Space
This space is the smallest bubble and, well, the most private. This space should be reserved from 2, maybe three people. This could be your partner, your very best friend, God (duh), a parent or close relative. This is where those people go that “know you better than you know yourself”. This is where those select few individuals are, that you tell everything to. Those that you would drop everything and go for, and they’d do the same for you. This is that unconditional love space. That space that you hold dear to yourself, where you allow yourself to be truly unapologetic and vulnerable with the few people you share it with. This space is the most sacred and the easiest to violate if the wrong people are in it.
Now, like I said before, the feelings get hurt and the questioning of whether to cut people off and why they are a bad friend and all that, comes from having people in the wrong spaces at the wrong times. Not every body that you work with is your friend, even if you see them every day or do tasks with them daily. They do not need to know you personal business, unless you have built that relationship with them, and them with you. You do not have to take advice from the lady at the grocery store. She is in your public space; she doesn’t know you! And that good friend in your personal space, still may not be the person you talk to about your deepest traumas and fears, that you might talk to your partner about. Ya know?
Romans 14: Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
And of course, just because a person is in one space, does not mean they have to stay there. We often think that because so and so is our best friend or because we grew up together, that so and so needs to stay in our personal space. People in your social space can grow and move into your personal space if you establish that relationship and those boundaries. Just as a person in your personal space can slide right down to that social space if they do not abide by your personal boundaries. Our space bubbles are constantly changing with every internal and external interaction and need.
So, think about who you have around you. Think about if they are in the right space. You don’t always need to cut someone off, you just set boundaries and place them in different parts of your life where they may need to be, and remove them from spaces where they no longer belong. It easier said than done, and it takes work, but its worth it.
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Positivity, growth, and all the things,