Know the Line. Be the Line.

Know the Line. Be the Line.

This blog topic was hard to articulate well as it sounded like a “duh, of course” kind of topic. It’s about “the line”, as in “knowing where the line is” and “not crossing the line”. The line is not just one thing but is an idea that saturates our lives. Everything has a line. In any activity, there needs to be the point of how far to go or how much to do in order to be healthy and safe. Some lines are pretty clear like speed limits and other well known laws. Other lines are harder to define because they are more individualized or situational. Either way, it’s important to know where the line is in order to stay on the correct side of it. In my work, I often deal with the consequences of people not doing so.

Some readers are already turned off because they want life to be about freedom and spontaneity. I don’t disagree but if you think back and find a fairly large number of times in which you probably did too much or too little of something and regretted it, maybe being spontaneous is not your best thing.

Here are some examples. Going out and having too much to drink which led to getting into a situational mishap or feeling like you were hit by a truck the following morning. Thanksgiving dinner and eating so much you feel like a bag of rocks was dropped into your gut and you feel miserable. Out on a date and freaked out the following day because you’re now worried about an STD or taking a pregnancy test.

Here’s my point. In all these situations, you were not really planning on crossing the line but your mistake was that you believed you could trust yourself in the moment. Take the drinking for example. You had one and feel fine. You had two and still fine. Number three and still manageable. Number four gone and, oops, you’re impaired. There are blue lights in your mirror. In this case, the line was not known until it was crossed but after it’s crossed there’s no way back.

How about something like this? When I go out with friends, I decide in advance that I am going to have no more than three drinks in no less than three hours (you need to adjust this number for yourself and your history with alcohol but be advised; the only safe adjustment to the number of drinks is DOWN!). For Thanksgiving, I decide on the way to Grandma’s house that I’m going to eat slower and only go back for more one time. Before I go out on the date, I decide on the exact level of intimacy I’ll allow prior to my hormones starting to rage. In short, if I have a history of making impulsive decisions that are not healthy, the task is not just to become less impulsive but to be more prepared before situations kick my impulsivity in.

I know. It doesn’t sound like much fun but if you think about the consequences mentioned above, they were even less so. A few less drinks, a few less helpings of turkey, and a little more sexual boundary making tonight might just make for a much better day tomorrow.