Break on through to the other side!
Our life is filled with borders—those lines, both tangible and symbolic, that delineate our lives. Some of these are real, while others are imagined. Some are immovable; others are flexible. Some are imposed upon us, while others are self-imposed. How we behave in relation to these borders can have a great impact on what kind of lives we lead and how successful we are in achieving our goals.
The most obvious borders in our lives are our physical borders. These include those that we have by design—the walls in our houses, fences we put up in our yards, the frames of our cars. These are all borders we establish for convenience, security, or comfort. We may also have physical borders that we didn’t establish and may be inconvenient or otherwise harmful. Long lines or traffic jams can be borders between where we are and where we’re going.
While most of our physical borders have a purpose and are beneficial, some may actually be keeping us from experiencing something interesting, healthy, or with potential for growth. It’s possible to retreat behind our physical borders and avoid everything unknown, uncomfortable, or different, so we have to be sure that we’re not allowing our physical borders to limit our growth or experiences.
Some of the borders in our lives are social. There are many examples of lines we can’t or won’t cross because “people like us” aren’t allowed or wanted. Or maybe we’re on the other side of that border: maybe we establish social borders to keep certain other people away from us. Some social borders are related to socioeconomic factors—we might do things that others can’t do because they don’t have the means. We might go certain places or engage in certain activities that exclude many people.
Other social borders might not be as obvious. Think of the people you interact with—are they almost exclusively your friends or others whom you feel very comfortable around? How often do you interact with new people or people who think differently or are otherwise different from you?
Our social borders may be less obvious to us, making them easier to ignore. However, like physical borders, they can limit our experiences and prevent us from interacting with different kinds of people. Maybe you’re doing this on purpose. If that’s the case, you should ask yourself, “Why? Why do I want to limit myself? Why don’t I want to expand my horizons?” It may be fear, it may be discomfort with new people or ideas, but whatever the reason is, you should be aware of it and understand it. Insights into these borders may lead you to make positive changes. You may not even be aware that you’re limiting yourself with your social borders. Think about the patterns of people and places in your life and why your life follows these patterns. Think about how your life might be different if you allowed for more flexibility in these patterns. You may find whole new worlds that you didn’t know existed.
We can also face symbolic borders related to what we can or can’t accomplish in our lives. Some of these are created by other people or by society as a whole. The glass ceiling that exists for women in the workplace is one example of the limitations that establish a border between what we are capable of achieving and what we can actually achieve. Borders of this type can also be self-imposed: we may feel that we are not talented enough to go far in life, or that people with our background aren’t able to achieve what we hope to in life.
An awareness of the kinds of borders that prevent us from reaching our potential can help us more effectively break down these borders. A personal perspective on how these borders affect our ability to achieve our goals can provide the insights necessary to overcome these challenges, if possible, or to adjust our course. If these borders are self-imposed—if we think we can’t achieve our goals for some reason—we should examine our reasons for these thoughts to see if they’re valid. Our reasons may be valid, in which case we should consider other goals, but it may also be that these borders aren’t real and that we can achieve our goals after all. Regardless of the nature of these borders, we should examine them closely and try to understand what they are and why they exist.
Tossing Out the Bad Borders.
We should be aware of all the borders in our lives and what’s on the other side. All of our borders separate us from something else. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes we’re missing out on things that might be meaningful. Sometimes, our borders are real; other times, they’re imagined or self-imposed. Therefore, we should recognize the borders in our lives and what they are keeping us from: the grass just might be greener after all.
What’s on the other side of your borders?