Mental Health and Migration

Limits mental health and self-care


By: Dr. José Carlos Palacios Montoya

Coordinator of the degree in psychology

Ibero Tijuana



Setting limits is a recurring theme when talking about interpersonal problems. It should be said that it is not always known what is meant by setting limits. From the point of view of a child’s psychological development, many misunderstandings regarding limits can be clarified, and understand what we are talking about when we talk about limits.



Animal babies, unlike other animals, cannot stand up for many months after their birth. This and other conditions imply for our species a great dependence on the care of others. Very soon we eat, expel food and calm our discomfort for and with others. Parents and caregivers become such important figures for this. With the passing of the years, the dependency that there was on them passed from basic needs to more complicated needs, perhaps the most important being recognition. That’s right, we are raised in such a way that recognition becomes a fundamental part of our psychological development, and like many things in the world, this has a double edge. The search for recognition extends from parents to other human beings in general and although there are opinions that are very important to us, in reality, we are not completely indifferent to opinions, not without effort.



The expression I’m dying of shame is more real than it seems. Many men and women die of illnesses that could have been treated in the early days but did not do so out of shame. Not wanting to be seen as weak, abnormal, or deficient, among other labels is a very strong driver. The recognition that initially guarantees care for the infant later for the adult becomes a difficulty in taking care of oneself. Let us then think about everything we do because others may think badly of us and how dangerous it is when we are already in a situation of vulnerability. So, not putting limits on others and their opinions leads us to do things that are not good for us. But the point of the limits also has to do with the limitations that the caregivers put on the infants, eating what is necessary, covering themselves from the cold, and avoiding harming themselves.



The foregoing leads us to think that the limits that matter are the ones we put on ourselves since we cannot limit the opinions of others, moreover, they are simply thoughts and points of view. For a person who is in a migrant transit, it is vital to recognize when he makes decisions based on what others will say. Leaving the place where I live because others leave, because they earn dollars, because they bring new things, implies giving a lot of weight to the opinions of others. On the other hand, not asking for or giving help for fear of what others will think is also giving great importance to opinions. In moments of relative calm, we even fall into the game of opinions for entertainment, however, in moments of vulnerability, it is even a matter of life or death. The important thing here is that it is not impossible to take a better position regarding the opinions of others, setting limits is limiting our expectation of recognition and approval, it is prioritizing life. This ability certainly can be extended to drug use or other situations that can put us at risk, we can also put limits on the opinion we have of ourselves. Limits can be self-care.

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