Where to draw the hard lines?

     This is a short article about the importance of maintaining discipline in the often-invisible battles of self-control and knowing how to healthfully be with others.  What we are referring to is the LINES that we DRAW when operating our lives.  These may be physical lines, mental lines, emotional; even spiritual.  PHYSICAL lines are sometimes easier to pay attention to and observe; such as parking spaces to choose.  There are literal lines for us to follow.  Other times it is not so easy to figure out.  Since we are talking within the aspects of health and wellness, what do we mean? 

     These LINES are often invisible; but they exist nonetheless.  They are the lines we place on what types and how much food we eat, how little exercise is too little, how much sleep we need, etc.  Most of us make these decisions daily and sometimes go through phases of feeling better or less well depending on our choices.  Let’s talk a little about things that can affect where our lines are placed.

RELATIONSHIPS and SOCIAL CONNECTIONS can dramatically affect where we place our lines.  It is very easy to cut corners and let our good choices fall down when coming up with others that are making less healthful choices.  This can include eating, drinking alcohol, and hobbies that may be too sedentary.

OUR BELEIFS can radically affect where we place our lines.  Sometimes we believe that something is “GOOD ENOUGH,” or “NORMAL” and this is enough to let go of our good judgement and let our lines slip down.

What are some examples of lines?  Of course we are staying primarily within the framework of physical health and fitness, but here are some examples.

  • Types of Foods and amounts of food that you willingly consume
  • Types and amounts of exercise that you require
  • How much time you take for self-care and stress-relief?
  • How much criticism do you take without standing up for yourself?
  • How much do you compromise in relationships or “follow the crowd?”
  • The things you let yourself spend money on.

These are just some basic questions; but the primary issue of LINE DRAWING extends to most areas of a persons life.  Many people have issues figuring out where and how to draw healthy lines.  What are some answers?

  1.  The first principle is to draw FIRM LINES.  Have enough self-respect to protect yourself from what is not in your greatest good.  If we cannot draw firm lines; we will be subject to “the crowd,” or often societies lines; which we know are not always the best.
  2. Allow yourself time to grow in most situations.  Sometimes drawing new lines is a process.  Things like changing our diet, quitting smoking, or forming new boundaries at work will most likely take some time.  As long as you honestly see change happening, let it be a healthy process.
  3. RECOGNIZE when you are being influenced.  We have people all around us that influence us.  Friends, family, significant others, co-workers, and more.  Ideally, these people will support you to be healthy and grow, but often this is not what happens.  The ability to say NO is a powerful thing.  Also remember, that if a person constantly tries to break your lines KNOWINGLY; you may want to reconsider that relationship.  Unfortunately healthy decisions are often attacked for various reasons.
  4. KEEP NOTES OR A LOG.  This is especially helpful for problem habits that we need help staying accountable for.  When writing down things such as food or exercise tracking, or journaling about how certain people make us feel; this can help to uncover what is really going on.  It provides evidence to us about the effectiveness or weakness of our LINES.  It also can point out areas to work on.

I cannot overstate the importance of note-keeping and documentation.  As most of these lines are INVISIBLE; it is best to find some way of tracking progress.  Having attainable and progressive goals is valuable as well.  Make small, healthy changes over time.  Of course it is also good to have a backup plan if you fall off the wagon!  If you find yourself compromising on your values and habits; just become aware and keep working on the superior habits.

Overall, knowing where and how to draw our lines is something all people have to work with.  It is very important to have strong convictions so you do not get sucked into “crowd mentality.”  It is also important to keep track of progress, as well as giving yourself time and patience to change hard-stuck habits.  Have the wisdom to understand which habits are hurting you the most, and which can hang around a while longer without doing much damage.  Do not put up with “haters,” who try to coerce, embarrass, or trick you into breaking your healthy lines.  SELF RESPECT is a KEY to drawing great lines.  When we respect our self highly, we tend to make respectful choices.


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