We all have in built boundaries; so ingrained in us that we don’t even know they are there for most or all of the time and they hold back just about every body at some point or other. What are they?
Well, think about your attitude when you go to the doctor’s surgery, speak to a lawyer, a policeman or even just somebody with an accent that is commonly perceived as “posher” than your’s is.
There are invisible boundaries that many of us have been brought up to respect at all costs. Here is an example:
About ten years ago I had cause to visit the doctor with a symptom that really had me worried about my health, a major health scare (for me anyway) rather than just a mild ailment that could be treated with pills or potions. Of course, worried as I was, and being a man as I am, I did the obvious thing and spent two weeks looking on the internet for reassurance first before bothering the doctor with my troubles.
Cut a long story short, she carried out the tests I was expecting from my research and to give her credit she talked to me in a very sympathetic and straight to the point manner. The results came back from the tests, I visited the doctor again, we had another discussion about my symptoms and she reassured me that I didn’t have anything to worry about, my symptoms were quite common for a man my age (you are all guessing now) and that any potentially sinister cause had been all but ruled out by the tests.
Then she did an unusual thing; she said “so what do you want to do now?” she gave me the choice of how we should proceed. Would it be watch, wait and see, or did I want a referral up the line to a specialist for further reassurance (and more invasive testing with possible side effects)?
This doctor’s actions were remarkable in my view; she had broken down a barrier, crossed a boundary and she had done it on my behalf. She instinctively knew, from experience, that people, regardless of how sick they are or even how sick with worry about their continued existence they are, will not cross the boundary and question the doctor’s advice…so she did it for me…I was impressed.
In most areas of life we stay on our side of the boundary because we fear the consequences of doing otherwise. Regardless of how silly this might seem to you, just watch yourself the next time you are pulled over by the police, or when you meet your lawyer or your landlord.
Less obvious boundaries exist in almost everything we do. I caused a visible shock and a palpable silence when I once walked up to the bar at my then local pub and ordered a large Gin and Tonic in a tall glass with lots of ice instead of a pint of real ale. It was a hot summer day and the G&T was just what I felt like having, but I had stuck my head above some parapet or other and should have been embarrassed by the reactions of those around me but I chose to just be amused.
When driving my jeep on the track to my house I deliberately veered off into a fallow field and drove through it as a shortcut to my house. I encountered the local farmer on the way and he was visibly annoyed that I had dared to do this. I concluded that I had subconsciously committed this social faux pas to break down this boundary. This was also a physical boundary which made it all the more pertinent I think. He knew I wasn’t an idiot and that I wouldn’t damage crops or anything and it triggered, I think a new kind of acknowledgement from him that we were equals and that neither was superior to the other. I assumed that he felt superior because he was a land owner and I wasn’t. I think I was right and I think my little off road excursion sorted it.
One last example is one where I was the project manager for a large land based project and the owner of the project was an ex public school boy complete with feigned accent, over the top, false eccentricity and frequent name dropping from his extensive “network”. So much so that even although in this instance I was the expert with all of the knowledge on how to complete the project, he felt justified in treating me (subconsciously I think) like some sort of peasant from the local village; continually patting me on the back and explaining things very slowly and loudly to me, always followed up by a little reward like “there’s a pint in this for you mate”.
Why thank you kind sir and privileged I am to be breathing the very air that you are so recently finished with sir! That particular boundary never existed in my head, I saw the comedy in it from the very first meeting, but there was no way in a month of Sundays to dislodge it from his!
So, here is a major hurdle for anybody who wants to live a different life. Much greater than any financial problem, knowledge shortfall, lack of ideas or educational barrier; the self imposed boundaries of the carefully constructed class system.
These boundaries can last a life time and usually do, to the extent that the majority of dreams are never realised, life saving inventions never invented, world changing ideas never aired and human stars, much brighter than any we’ve seen yet, suppressed and their light hidden from view to the detriment of the planet and all that live on it.
Recognising these invisible boundaries within ourselves is the first stage in turning this thing around. We need to look deep; impermeable barriers can exist in the seemingly mundane aspects of our lives or in the most life central of relationships we have with others on a daily basis. They exist in the “woo!, listen to you” from our friends when we order the 2004 Rioja instead of house red or green tea instead of our usual white coffee. In fact the perfect guide on where to look for the millions of boundaries we’ve created for ourselves is that very word, “usual”. What’s your “usual” in any particular situation on any particular day of the week?
When the policeman pulls us over, we must remember that he is a public servant and we are the public; he’s also a human being equal to, but not better, superior or inferior for that matter.
When a tweed-jacketed gentleman with wildly out of control eyebrows falsely stutters and stammers to us in feigned eccentricity we should just say “can you spit it out mate? just tell me how I can help you”
When the doctor says “your 4 minutes are up”, we need to ask if he or she can explain exactly what they think is wrong, what the treatment options are and how soon can we get it sorted.
When the lawyer speaks legalese we must come right out with it and say, just tell me straight if you can handle this, how long will it take and how much is it going to cost? Oh yes and call him by his first name!
We should drive through fields, park in reserved spaces, order what we really want and not take any shit from anyone; but we also shouldn’t treat anyone like shit either…we are all equals.
Easy isn’t it?
Well, no, it absolutely isn’t; just watch the comedy ensue when someone turns back in horror even after they have successfully crossed the threshold of the out door at B&Q on the way in; this is deeply ingrained stuff, but I found that it held the key to changing my life for the better and allowing me to live the life I want and not the one that was already set out for me by Big Brother.
Starting right away is important as is being able to implement our ideas successfully and I’m going to look at that in more detail as we go on.
Good luck in smashing down your boundaries.
Photo Credit: bradleypjohnson via Compfight cc
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