Roads without lines

There is a cultural shift in the United States. It is as if people are driving down the road ignoring the lines that form a boundary of where your car should be, only it isn’t cars, it’s in the communication.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote a terrific book called “Boundaries”. Maybe it is a true cultural shift or maybe I am just getting older, but it seems to me that more and more people have given up what we used to call “common courtesies” and adapted an attitude of “out of my way, I’m coming through.” That so many people are adapting this attitude puts us in constant conflict with those people.

You can actually see it when you walk through a parking lot. Cars that are crowding or crossed over the line usually have drivers that have no problem crowding or crossing over the line when they are dealing with other people. In many cases, you could walk into the store and find the driver with no other identification. They are the ones with their carts in the middle of the aisle who ignore you as you come down the aisle. They have shopping to do, and if they are in your way, tough.

From the book, “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading … to a sense of ownership.” Further, “We are responsible to others and for ourselves.” “Problems arise when people act as if their ‘boulders’ are daily loads, and refuse help, or as if their ‘daily loads’ are boulders they shouldn’t have to carry. The results of these two instances are either perpetual pain or irresponsibility.”

“Miss Manners” visits the preschool daily because 3 and 4 year olds are just learning their limits. It’s amazing how the modeling at home plays through and becomes the behavior at preschool. Parents who get in the face of the teacher to tell them their child is not reading as well as their sister’s kid, the school needs to step up its program, but have no problem that their child is biting, kicking or scratching other children.

It’s a difficult road to travel. The lines aren’t well defined. What one person sees as a boundary, another person sees as part of their territory. Those who respect boundaries are in conflict with those who refuse to acknowledge them, or worse, manipulate them. Appreciate your own boundaries and those of others.

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