Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another Kind of "Border Security"

Here I wish for fewer walls and a warmer welcome, but...
To the extent that we see other people as our problem, that's the problem.
- paraphrase of Steven Covey

We hear a lot these days about the need for better border control in order to keep fellow human beings south of us from entering the U.S. from Mexico. That could become the topic of another post, but here I'd like to reflect on a different kind of "border security".

As noted in an earlier piece, each of us represents a kind of personal "kingdom" over which we need to exercise sovereign control. With God's help we can, and must, maintain internal "law and order" and a reign of peace and well being in the realm within our our own skin and our own skull, the latter being the throne room of the "kingdom of oneself".

All too often, we allow other people's misbehaviors to invade our inner space and rob us of our inner peace. I'm not advocating shutting others out of our lives, but each of us needs to define our boundaries and guard against others occupying emotional space in our heads without their having "gone through customs".

To illustrate, if I were employed at some mental health facility like Western State Hospital and were in a unit where a lot of residents said all kinds of irrational and hurtful things to me, I would need to have some way to avoid having their statements or actions get under my skin, while welcoming connections and relationships with each resident in whatever ways can be healthy and helpful. But I couldn't afford to take everything personally in a way that would only make things worse for me and render me less able to be of help to them.

Moral of the story: Instead of blaming other people for making us feel terrible and ruining our day, let's focus on maintaining more adequate border security. Then focus on maintaining good diplomatic relationships with our neighboring "kingdoms" while respecting their boundaries.
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