I have been thinking a lot lately about boundaries, rules, and ways in which we decide what is right and wrong for us. In our society, there are rules, laws, and structures that are in place that guide the way that we drive; make money; raise our children; and take care of our property. In our workplace, the policies and procedures that exist let us know what is okay, in the eyes of our employer, and what is not. If we go to church or follow some religious affiliation or practice, there are definite expectations of what is allowed, and what is forbidden.
However, we all have lines that we draw also in our internal world. They exist for us around food, drugs, alcohol, weight, and appearance. They dictate within ourselves whether we want to have that cheesecake, or do those extra 100 sit ups. Our internal lines let us know when we are in sync with where we most want to be and when we are falling out of step with what we expect from ourselves.
And, my thoughts around these lines that we draw within ourselves is that they can create real conflict for us. For example, when I stopped drinking alcohol for two years, living a sober life seemed like the right choice for me. The line in my mind was that alcohol, and other drugs, were not for me, because they created chaos in my life and I didn’t need them. When I made a conscious decision one year ago to have a drink, and many times since then, I often wondered where my new line would be. Would I restrict my drinking to only once a week? Only one glass at any given time? Would I limit it to wine, or would I allow myself liquor also? Does that mean that marijuana was okay now?
The conflict was not in establishing a new line; as human beings, we all are able to change our minds and we all have the capacity for change. However, the need for me to create that line gives me permission to judge myself when I fall short. So, if I have that second glass of wine, I am a bad person that can’t handle her liquor. That is what my first instinct is to tell myself, anyway. And, if I am willing to judge myself about the lines that I have drawn for myself, you can be darned sure that I am giving myself permission to judge others as well.
The truth is, there are rules, regulations and structures in place for a reason in our society, to keep us and those that we love and live in community with safe and sound. However, when it comes to the lines that we draw within ourselves, they are often an opportunity to judge and berate ourselves for just being human, just being in the presence of living our lives. And, when we draw those lines, we most likely not only keep ourselves inside of them, we keep other people OUT as well. We distinguish ourselves from those around us as if we are on this journey all on our own. Or, as if our needs, fears, and insecurities are unique only to us.
So, the best that I can do on any given day, is to make choices in the moment, that feel most loving and in sync within myself, and that enable me to continue to connect with my world and those around me. I want to continue to build a life that is free of regret, guilt, and shame, simply for being the flawed, unique, and beautiful human being that I am.