Much as we would like to, we cannot control everything that happens in our life and this is one of the issues that give us most of the instability and fear we experience. While reckoning that some happenings are beyond our control, others are within our responsibility and choice even though we might not be aware of it.
Take health for example. Although we cannot help having some chronic diseases imprinted in our genetic code like diabetes, hypertension or depression, it is definitely within our control and responsibility to take care of our health by eating well, excercising regularly and avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, excessive alcohol drinking or drug abuse. Likewise, even if death is an inevitable outcome of life, we can protect and take care of ourselves by reducing risks and avoiding the avoidable.
The same applies for our psychological/emotional health and wellbeing. We cannot control certain traumas in life, like the loss of a parent, abuse in our childhood or being betrayed by a friend or family member. However, although many times unaware of it, we can be in control both of what we allow to enter our lives and how we map out our lives in the face of certain life events.
Sociologist Kurt Lewin describes how a person’s behaviour is affected by two factors, that is the different emotions or needs happening within him and by the environment or lifespace around him. For example, if I am in an important meeting and I feel the need to use the bathroom, there are two opposing forces within me, one compelling me to leave the room and another to stay; in this case, my behaviour would depend on which force I would respond to. Likewise, our behaviour in many circumstances in our lives, depends on the choices we make from the different options offered to us. Lewin also postulates that in turn our behaviour affects the dynamics of the environment around us, both on a core and also on a global level.
There are instances in our lives however when we are not aware on what criteria we make our choices and many a time we are caught in an ever revolving cycle of ‘mistakes’, ‘bad choices’ and ‘failures’ while struggling to understand and to avoid these catastrophic events from repeating themselves only to fall into the trap again at our next attempt.
The power to decide for ourselves thus depends on how aware we are of what is happening within and outside us and how we use that existential information to make our choices. The choices we make in turn determine who we become and thus what we allow in our lives that is the boundaries we create for ourselves. Likewise, when we are not aware, our boundaries become permeable and can allow toxic experiences in our lifespace like abuse, disease and even evil.
Therapy supports us to increase our awareness of how we function and thus of the choices we make and what we allow in our lifespace. Likewise we are supported to see the whole option of choices available to us and to use our past and present experience to decide in a more enlightened way what to take in and what to keep out of our lives. Such boundaries thus also support us to protect ourselves and be more in control of our lives.