Lately I've been thinking about how boundaries set us free. In particular, I've been thinking about how this concept relates to good health.
I'm a person who tends to feel a bit suffocated by strict schedules, plans, and rules. My personality thrives on freedom and spontaneity. But sometimes freedom and spontaneity get me into trouble. I'll give you an example:
Planning is not my strength. I struggle with doing things like:
- Setting out clothes the night before (I tell myself, "I don't know what I'll feel like wearing tomorrow.")
- Preparing lunches the night before ("I'll just make the lunches tomorrow morning. I'm sure I won't be rushing around or anything.")
- Preparing for a trip ahead of time. ("I have plenty of time. I don't need to pack or figure out the details yet.")
I can make up all kinds of excuses, but the fact is that I repeatedly rebel from these structure-enhancing activities, which I know I should do. Because these activities feel confining to me, and because I simply don't want to do them, I put them off, and choose to do something else instead. The result is always the same -- things become more rushed, hectic, and frantic than they need to be. Then I find myself thinking (once again), "When will I learn?"
An article I read by Amanda Kirkner, LCSW, explains that although freedom from boundaries and limitations is appealing, this freedom can create "addiction to behaviors that leave us feeling dissatisfied, lonely, and out of control." She goes on to say that when we set healthy boundaries and follow healthy guidelines, the outcomes are powerfully liberating.
I find this concept very interesting. It is relevant to so many areas of our lives. For example:
- I don't have to be organized or plan things in advance. But when I do, I enjoy the liberating feeling of being unhurried, relaxed, and prepared. (I'm working on it... I really am. :)
- I don't have to follow a budget or spend my money wisely. But when I do, I gain financial freedom, allowing me to truly enjoy the things I purchase without experiencing worry or guilt.
- I don't have to treat others with honesty, respect, patience, and kindness. But when I do, I enjoy closer, more meaningful relationships.
- I don't have to make healthy dietary choices, get regular exercise, or get plenty of rest. But when I do, I enjoy increased energy and vitality.
What are some healthy activities that you find restrictive? Do you choose the path of freedom and rebellion, only to find yourself in chains? How might some healthy boundaries set you free?
This post was originally published on June 20, 2016.