The Freedom of Limitations

The Freedom of Limitations

As we embrace the 21st century, riding high on the edge of the Information Age, we find ourselves in an era of unlimited possibilities. We have access to more information than at any other time in history. We receive daily communications from all over the world, many of them contradictory. We receive offers on radio, television and the internet, in the mail and in the mall, most of them unrealistic.

We are exhorted to purchase, to consume, to give, to join. We are offered beauty, status, riches and pleasure. We are told that with the right toothpaste, designer suits and cellular phones, we will acquire power, success, and love. The message is, whatever we can imagine, we can have .  .  . somehow.

In my years as a professional organizer, I have observed that human beings are not well suited to unlimited possibilities. Living without boundaries on a daily basis produces anxiety, insecurity and frustration. Without a clear definition of how we choose to spend our time, we fall prey to every interesting outside stimulus, and are easily caught in the ‘webb’ and flow of the urgent but not important. We are spread too thinly, often practicing crisis management, and everything never gets done.

Recreation becomes another thing to do and is quickly set aside when deadlines demand. We get to rest if we get the flu. And spending time doing nothing is often viewed as suspicious if not downright immoral. Even when we manage to steal a few hours for ourselves, we are pursued by anxiety and guilt. When all options are constantly available, little can be accomplished in depth or with a sense of well being, and over a period of time depression and exhaustion can result.

When I sit with clients as they look over their lists and schedules, struggling to select their priorities, I realize that our choices are no longer between good and bad, want and don’t want, or even better and best. Most of the things we want are the best, but are simply too much and too many for a single lifetime.

I believe that we can derive satisfaction and contentment from our lives only if we set limits for ourselves. If they are natural and comfortable, compassionate and realistic, they will produce results and will be easy to endure. If they arise from a value system which honors those things which fulfill us in the deepest sense of our being, they will inspire us and bring us joy.

The paradox is that by choosing limits, we can experience a measure of freedom not possible when all possibilities are constantly available.

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Image: Renate Gellings-Reese

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