I believe that now, more than ever, we should draw deeper lines in the sand. Set our boundaries more effectively. Put up chain link fences with little holes, that keep most things out. I say most things because there’s always something that, for a specific reason, ends up being too good to pass up.
One of the resounding psychological traits I see in many people today is the inability to make decisions. We want abundance and endless choice, all the time. All the while, secretly hoping that most people will like us.
Add instant gratification on top of that, constantly delivered by our phones and computers and the software we create, and you have a fairly messy recipe for successful human beings.
In short, we get nowhere.
Once we set up semipermeable standards, we can get somewhere.
Like the membrane keeping the salt out of the right side of beaker, our cells have a semipermeable membranes. These boundaries allow certain nutrients and proteins to enter into the cell while keeping unnecessary items and toxins out out that can’t fit through the specially-shaped openings.
Our brains and our time should work like this too.
Here’s the thing: our brains love boundaries! When we have boundaries, we’re forced to get creative inside of those boundaries.
Our standards should have exceptions too. The world is more grey than it is black and white, after all. Like the holes in a cell’s wall, if a particle approaches at the right angle with the right shape, it can squeak through an opening. Events in every day life are much the same.
As an example, I don’t tolerate flakiness in people. If we make plans, I want to hang out with you. I understand that things come up that we can’t avoid and I’m open to that. If you show a pattern of something always coming up at the last minute, right when we’re going to hang out, I’m going make much less of an effort to spend time with you than I would have before.
Maybe we missed our first meeting because of something that came up last minute and maybe this time, you had a family emergency that you had to fly home for. Totally understandable. If you just forgot and didn’t show up, that’s much different.
But that’s the line I’ve drawn: I don’t do flaky. I’ve had some hard conversations with friends telling them that it both disappoints me and wastes my time when I plan to spend time with them and they don’t show up. For the most part, people are pretty responsive.
As a result, I’m not meant to be friends with certain people. You know what? That’s okay.
We teach other people how to treat us. How someone treats you in the long term is all about the semipermeable standards that you set and live by.
If you don’t want something, say so. If something doesn’t feel right to you, say no.
I encourage you think deeply about what you like and don’t like. Also think about what you vocalize and portray for others.
Do you act on the parameters you have in your head?
Do you let most things slide by because you’re scared of what or who you might miss?
Do you feel stuck sometimes? Mad at yourself for doing something that you don’t really want to do, only because you don’t want to upset other people?
At the end of the day, all we can control are ourselves.
Instead of being reactive to the world around you, establish some semipermeable boundaries around what you’re willing to tolerate.
Be proactive and let world reform around what you’re willing to tolerate.
Your personal happiness and focus will be worth the effort.