This is something I grapple with occasionally with no solution in sight, maybe someone can shed some light here.
How do we know that we???ve reached the boundary of our limit? How we do know that our life is as full as it can be, that our choices have taken us to the places we should be at, that we really have explored who we are as fully as we can, to be who we ought to be?
What do I mean here? Let???s take sleep as an example. There have been numerous studies about the importance of sleep, especially for young children. Yet, routinely and regularly, there are slices of parental culture, where it is accepted that children go to bed late. They are allowed to watch tv, you can see them out at shopping malls running around or just out and about. These parents, I assume, believe that while sleep is important, the deprivation of sleep by a few hours every night on a regular basis, is however fine and that there is no long-term damage.
If you have done this for years, and your child appears normal and unaffected by any means, is able to perform at school adequately well, communicates fine and for all general purposes, appears to be ok, why would you think that anything is wrong anyway? Yet, there are studies that show that there is long-term damage to children as a result of the sustained sleep deprivation.
The problem lies in how we can put this message across, how much airspace we get and the extent to which these assertions can be proved. But how does this work really? If you hear something that interests or excites your senses, you go out looking for more information on it, more to help you gain further knowledge or perhaps even, more to help confirm what you suspect. Likewise, if you think otherwise, you find further information to help confirm what you indeed do believe. There are so many studies out there. For every study proving one thing, there is probably another that disproves it. Studies and research can also be twisted to serve a purpose. At some point, you have to rely on your own intuition and make a call on what you believe in, don???t you?
I guess the problem really lies in being able to see the evidence of risk. Taking the example above, if you were to believe that sleep deprivation, for a short while, however regularly it???s done, is ok, what would happen if the evidence of any ill-effect be such that it took years, if not decades, to prove? It would mean that you would have to rely on your own intuition and to some extent, what you see others doing as well, as a guide. The sleep topic is a pet topic for me ever since I had my first child six years ago. In my quest for improved parenting skills, I stumbled on a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. This is when I was first introduced to the importance of sleep not just for children but for adults and how sustained sleep deprivation affects us all in the long run.
The sleep issue here is just to help me illustrate the point above about seeing the truth of assertions. The main point I want to make here is that we don???t really know where we stand in terms of our capacity and who we are capable of being. Richard Mitchell who wrote the Bear Truth in the book, Kids Who Start Ahead, Stay Ahead, put it eloquently,
???…But where are the boundaries of the fullness of being a person? When we can read and cipher pretty well, when we can write a letter that makes some sense, when we can fill out the forms, when we can make a living at some sort of work, when we can eat a balanced diet and purchase prudently, where, exactly, do we stand in relation to all that we could do? Does anyone ever stand at the farthest limit, beyond which there is no going? This is a great dilemma of human life, from which the bears are excused: We can not suppose ourselves infinite, but neither can we know our limits…???
We do not know where we stand in relation to ourselves. How are we to call on where the boundaries of who we are lie? All that we see around us shows us that some have pushed the boundaries we believe exist at certain points, and pushed it beyond our dreams, to greater heights. If they are able to do it, then so are we. It is possible that we can be more than we who are.
What do you think this means for us
… in terms of the relationships we treasure
… in terms of the work we do
… in terms of the expectations we hold of ourselves and our peers
… in terms of the dreams we have for ourselves
… in terms of the problems we face with people, projects and our internal demons?
Are you aware of the artificial limits you???ve set?
Do you believe them to be artificial or real ??? can they be overcome?