Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Personal Boundaries

I am walking through the shop floor of a Global 100 manufacturing firm. The firm employs over eight hundred associates and has a well-defined and strong Human Resources office. They are involved in the work-place life of each associate and know many of them on a first name basis. I have been working for this firm for over six years and have made many good friends with both hourly and management employees. So it came as know surprise when I heard my name being called out by one of the female sub-assembly line workers. I looked up to see her smiling and waving me over as she reached for another plastic dashboard to which she would connect, depending on her worksheet, a variety of lights and sensors.

This associate had been working for the plant for over fifteen years and was considered a good and reliable worker. Although she had never worked in any of the departments I was responsible for, I had talked with her several times about various job related issues. I had a reputation as someone who might be able to better your work environment, and I was always willing to help if I could. Other than those isolated conversations our contact was nil. I didn’t know anything else about her nor did I care to. It was a relationship based only on the workplace and nothing else.

Although the company had made great strides to reduce the noise on the assembly floor and safety ear plugs where no longer required in this area, it was still loud. Consequently it was necessary to speak considerably louder than you normally would to hold a conversation. As I neared she looked up and yelled out, “Hey Steve, I’m going to get my boobs reduced!”

Over the years I have had many conversations with women. Many times the relationships were of an intimate nature and therefore the subject of discussions had, on occasion, taken on a personal tone. However, since meeting  my wife over twenty years ago, those types of conversation have been restricted to her only. So my reflexes for responding to a sudden burst of what I consider very personal information were dulled, to say the least. I believe I was able to stammer out something like, “Uh gee..uhh…I…uh…wish you…uh…the best.” Then I headed back (quickly) to my office.

Several years ago during a business flight, the gentleman next to me launched into a detailed pornographic description of why he sexually enjoyed obese women. When I tried to stop him with a firm, “I’m sorry sir, this is not the kind of discussion I wish to engage in.” He became upset and asked why I was so uptight.

A couple of days ago I was reading a blog written by young lady and she revealed her bra size.

And it is not just sexuality either. The same can apply to those who provide cut-by-stitch descriptions of their surgeries or every nuance of their latest colonoscopy. I have heard descriptions of bowel movements, vomiting, in-grown toe nails, and, far too much, of almost every other body malfunction.

There are the neighbors who involve you in a blow-by-blow narration of every family squabble they have ever had. Men who detail every aspect of their spousal disputes and acquaintances who reveal personal information about their psychological hang-ups.

So what happen to personal boundaries? Are we all so Oprah/Dr. Phil/Jerry Springer de-sensitized that every subject is open game? Can we discuss any and everything and it is okay?

Call me old fashion, but I’m thinking some boundaries are a good thing.

Why someone I barely know would inform me they are getting a breast reduction is beyond my comprehension. Nor do I understand the gentleman who thought it was perfectly okay to begin to detail his sexual peccadilloes. Why a young lady would reveal her bra size on a post that could be read by anyone in the world with an internet hookup is puzzling…and dangerous.

I will never understand those that want us know all the details of their infirmities. It is enough to know they are infirm and to have a general idea what the issue is, but that is enough. I don’t require all the gory nasty details. Same goes for family and mental issues. I don’t my being made aware there are problems, but let’s hold back on doing the CSI report.

I’m not wanting a return to the dark ages. I don’t want us to go back to the point where everyone is hemmed in and we hold everything inside. But I believe there is balance. Balance is a beautiful thing. Difficult to strike, but wonderful to keep.

Be encouraged!

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41 thoughts on “Personal Boundaries

  1. I hope I wasn’t that young lady, and if I was then I do apologise!

    I’ve always been a very open person, and due to my autism I’m a little *too* open at times! I also used to work as a care assistant, so very little fazes me any more (apart from the spider that just plopped itself next to me on the bed after sneaking down from the ceiling – bad spider).

    I do believe in boundaries though; I don’t want a complete stranger telling me about their great-aunty Bessie’s shingles, for instance, and certainly do not wish to hear the details of somebody else’s sex life!

    • Nah it wasn’t you…being an open person is good, I would count myself as one…but I think the boundaries should still be there…like you said, no need to hear the details of other’s medical conditions or sex lives.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment…I appreciate it.

      Be encouraged!

  2. AgrippingLife on said:

    I wish they had a “love” button instead of just “like.” This was perfect! Nothing makes me cringe like a person with poor boundaries. The other variety is the person who is nosy and asks too many questions- UGH! GO AWAY!
    It’s such an obvious indication that the individual has grown up in a dysfunctional environment. That lack of respect and level of inappropriateness is usually learned. (unless you have a genetic reason that would cause social confusion; autism, Asperger’s, tourettes, etc.)
    If you get a chance there’s a book that really explains open and closed family systems so clearly. I love it and I know you will too. It’s called “Facing Shame; families in recovery.” Lots of good info to the point that it’s my primary tool for therapy/counseling.
    I suspect the guy on the plane also had a secondary gain in making you feel uncomfortable, his way of passively feeling powerful and in control. GROSS.

    • I’m telling you, the guy on the plane was VERY WEIRD. There is a lot I left out in the interests of boundaries, but I ended up moving and taking a seat at the rear of the plane, just to get away.

      I’m ordering the book…thanks for the referral…you know how much I love a good book…probably see some “Facing Shame” related posts in the next few weeks.

      As always, thanks for taking the time to comment…I value your opinion. I hope you and yours are facing an awesome weekend.

      Be encouraged!

  3. Stephen, brilliant post – as always! I totally agree with you, we need more boundaries. I sometimes hide behind the flowers in my local foodstore when I see some of my neighbours, friends of friends, ex co-workers etc. We are not friends, and I don’t want to know every detail about their surgeries, unfaithful spouses, drinking habits, depression or their financial situation. Being blonde, and Swedish I’ve had to put up with awful sexual remarks since the age of 12. Boundaries, yes please!

    • Wow…blonde and Swedish…the only thing missing is for you to become an airline stewardess…Gee, Marianne talk about your stereotype…lol.

      When I hear about women who have had to endure sexual innuendos for decades, not because of anything they have done, but solely based on how they look, I never know exactly what to say. As a man it deeply upsets me. I have known men who say no one had better talk about their daughters such and such a way, then they turn right around and make comments about the next woman who walks by. I am astounded. Every time I have brought to their attention I hear the same thing…”well this is different.” Kindly pointing out that it is not “different” at all seems to only irritate them. I have yet to have a single man say, “You know you are right Steve. I really shouldn’t be doing that.”

      I don’t know what the answer is, yet I refuse to give up or be quiet. Most of my friends now turn down their comments, because they don’t want to hear my lecture. Now if I can only get then to understand the reason logic of the lecture.

      I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but thanks for taking the time to write…I always enjoy hearing from you.

      Be encouraged!

      • Stephen, the world need more men like you! 🙂 The double standard is sometimes astonishing, both among men and women. Please, tell me you got my email, I sent it yesterday… Not tall enough, not young enough and not beautiful enough to be a stewardess, :).

  4. Pixels By Susiee on said:

    Working within the public sector and seeing the same customers frequently, seems to give certain “fixed” rights for people to share pretty much whatever is happening at the moment in their life. Some, I realize, are truly lonely for human interaction. Sometimes what they share is really, really sad, sometimes extremely private. Maybe they feel safe since I do not know the people they know. No longer am I shocked about shared topics.

    Boundaries are definitely lower. Maybe with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, etc., people feel free to share intimate details of their life with total strangers. Since the world is more connected with all the electronic gadgets and the Internet, I still see the ache of really connecting with another human paramount. With all our “connecting” we are a still “unconnected” on a person-to-person, true friend-to-friend level. Everyone seems in a hurry so they text rather than talk, e-mail rather than write.

    • Amazing how people think they “know” you after seeing you a few times in public. The same thing happens here in the blog world. Connections are made…sort of. I would actually like to have a bloggers convention…everyone would get together and talk face to face, share their writing tips and ideas, and actually make a “connection.” I think it would be fun and it would give us a chance to remove some more walls in our lives.

      Be encouraged!

  5. Brilliant comes to mind when I read this post.
    You are correct Stephen, there needs to be boundaries, in the wake of social media which I love by the way when it is used correctly, such as keeping friends and family updated with “hey I just got a promotion at work”, that’s what it was meant for, keeping in touch. It was not meant as a means to help treat depression which a lot of people do in my opinion, which is dangerous to say the leas., I am sure you have seen it yourself “oh my wife just left me” yup, that suck,s but it should be kept between the couple, not put out for the world to read.
    In person boundaries need to be kept too, I love talking to people face to face even people I just met. What I don’t like is when they stand so close we might as well be dancing.
    It does seem that everything is fair game these days and nothing is taboo, which is not something we should be teaching our kids, it is a recipe for disaster.
    I have a strict policy for online activity for myself as well as my 12 year old, if you would not say it to someones face don’t put it online.
    The girl who posted her bra size, a mistake by a lot of bloggers I feel, just to much personal info out of the gate to try and make a name for themselves and boost rankings and page views, which usually will come back to bite them when they try to transition to a niche when they figure out they need one.

    • Thanks Jim for taking the time to comment…As I’ve said before…I always look forward to your thoughts.

      “Nothing is taboo…” is an accurate description of what I see. Each nuance and detail of every aspect of life is now open game. The part which amazes me is how people respond when you gently let them know you are not interested in their subject matter. Suddenly it gets twisted to mean you don’t accept them for who they are. This is something I am always quick to challenge head on. When I wrote my first post about Virtues (Virtue #1–Acceptance) I kind of hinted at this issue. Somehow, over the years, it has gotten turned around. If we do not completely accept (in every way) the actions/ideas/thoughts/lifestyle of an individual then some how it is a complete rejection of them as a person. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. I have many friends that I do not share all their beliefs, but remain very close to.

      This is just one of the many concepts in our society I would like to see more discussion about.

      Thanks again Jim for writing…wishing you and your family a lovely weekend together.

      Be encouraged!

  6. You’ll get no arguments from me! Thanks for spreading this concept, Steve. 🙂

  7. LOL, you are funny! You are definitely right… People are revealing too much!

  8. All I can say about this post is Amen.

  9. There is a time and place for openness and honesty, especially about how God works through the realities of life. However, you are right. The balance has gone far away from honest testimony of what God does to blatant self-exposure.

  10. I agree because I’m generally a very private person anyway but sometimes a person just feels the need to say okay world here I am in all the bloody detail, so take me as I am or leave me…Also, sometimes people just need to vent, just need someone to talk to about all those gory little details for whatever reason…scared maybe or maybe just jubilant and wanting to share, like the gal who was so excited about her “boob job”…Humans naturally gravitate towards approachable people I guess, and maybe they think the good listeners are also open-minded and not going to judge them…That still doesn’t mean that you want to be “graced” with someone’s personal habits, sexual preferences or underwear sizes, right??!!

    • I completely agree with you about sometimes feeling the need to vent…but vent to whom? That may be the question. Vent to supportive spouse, parents, siblings, exceedingly close friend, etc, I’m okay…but vent to someone you only know at work, or happen to be sitting next to on a plane, or by happenstance waiting in line at Wal-Mart in front of their cart, I’m thinking not so much.

      You are also right about people gravitating to approachable people…don’t we all? And good listeners are open minded and non-judgmental, or they wouldn’t be good listeners. And I’m with you completely on not having an abiding interest in folks personal/sexual/underwear size…yuckie. 🙂

      Hey BTW…thanks for taking the time not only to read this post, but also comment. I appreciate what you have to say…always feel free to write, when moved.

      Be encouraged

  11. So here’s the opinion of a person who just recently blogged about how she loves being naked, lol.

    I agree that there is definitely such a thing as too much information. However, I don’t think there is anything wrong with revealing your bra size, talking about your relationship/family issues, sexual likes, etc. Of course, there is a limit to that. Personally I would prefer not to talk about highly disgusting bodily functions.

    Of course, everyone has different tolerances of personal information, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where the boundary is. My old roommates in college would hear me talk about my adventures in the bedroom and we would give each other detailed sex advice. While I have friends who would get mad at me and think it’s too much information when I say “can we find a bathroom? I really have to pee.”

    I think it’s fair to stop sharing if someone told me “sorry, I don’t feel comfortable talking about this.” I am perfectly okay with that. But I think it’s best to keep in mind that there are more open people and from time to time you will hear more info than you’d like. As long as it’s not personally hurtful, just ignore it and move on.

    • You make several interesting points…maybe revealing your bra size isn’t offensive in certain settings, but I would worry about doing so on the internet in the context of talking about how big your breasts are, when you are relatively easy to track. While I grew up in the 60’s with an “anything goes” type of environment as I have gotten older I’ve discovered maybe it is better to pick and choose when I decide to let everything go.

      I truly appreciate you taking the time to comment…my whole idea in blogging is to provoke thought and conversation.

      Be encouraged!

  12. Somehow it seems as though when the whole issue of denial and keeping secrets became big and people were supposed to “air” their stuff people felt that they have to air any time and any place to any one. Personally I think one of the big issues for people dealing with issues is learning who to trust and I would place revealing personal information of that nature in the realm of things you should reveal only to those you trust–and know well enough to know they won’t mind hearing it. Blogging takes this question into an interesting and tough realm since they’re by nature personal yet open to being read by anyone. Which includes future employers, journalists who might one day be digging for dirt to use on your campaign, etc…

    • You raise some interesting points. I understand I now occupy space in a world much different not only from what I grew up in, but even from what existed ten years ago. As I’ve gotten older I have had the luxury of watching how drastically many aspects of our existence have changed. In many ways this has benefited society. In other circumstances not so much.

      On the one hand when we see people become more open and transparent we are encouraged. We see men begin to take a greater role (and responsibility) in the rearing of their children. We see a greater and greater number of woman become business owners. We have seen the glass ceiling, if not shattered, at least cracked.

      Yet we have seen a steady decline in many areas of personal interaction. Human trafficking is a horrendous on-going issue that spans the globe and involves more souls than ever before. We still see wars of mass destruction and the loss of countless millions of lives. A casual walk down almost any street in America will still reveal men leering at woman as they pass by. Sexism seems as entrenched as ever.

      The bottom line is I refuse to give up. I am but one small voice, but I’m persistence. I will not yield, nor will I compromise. What is right, is right and nothing can, should, or will change that. Injustice will always be injustice, until it is defeated. Though I may not live to see it, I certainly want future generations to know and understand we loudly declared a better, more peaceful, humane way of existence for them.

      Well as usual I have droned on the way old men do, please forgive me.

      Be encouraged!

  13. Amen!! Amen!!! Amen!!!!

  14. I am all for boundaries. It has to do with respect for self and others.

  15. I think it is often people with little self-esteem or self-confidence who let the world take part in all what’s going on in their lives. Back home in Germany it always annoys me that I have to listen to things I am not interested in on train rides where you are surrounded by a whole “armada” of people with cell phones “entertaining” the other passengers with their love life, break-ups, affairs, diseases and work related trouble. And, of course, they speak so loud that everyone can hear them. I wish there would be cell phone free compartments on trains, just like there used to be smoker and non-smoker compartments. I often wonder what those people did before cell phones were invented.

    • Cornelia, I am completely in agreement with you. What did these people do before there were cell phones? How did they occupy their time. And about that decibel level when they are talking on the phone…what is up with that? Do people really believe we are interested in their lives? hahaha.

      Any way enjoy the holidays.

      Be encouraged!

  16. Yesterday, my I-phone crashed, and I had to drive for 3 hours to get home, with no phone. Really an eye-opener! Good grief, I cannot believe how I’ve been programmed into feeling/thinking I must be in contact all the time! The three hours was absolutely strange — no one to talk to, but myself! Yikes!! And now I realize that is how it always used to be, but it seemed so foreign to me yesterday. By the time the three hours was up, I was mentally exhausted! 🙂

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