Far too often are we found pushing ourselves as close to the edge as possible. We tend to think that we have things under control and find ourselves crossing over the guardrails that we set to keep ourselves safe.
It can be so easy to overwhelm ourselves. Adding too many tasks and responsibilities onto our plate, thinking we can handle it, only to find out that we cannot. The same is true for areas in our lives where we should set up guardrails -- from something as serious as alcoholics thinking that they can handle "one drink" to something as minor as checking Facebook "really quick" while in the middle of studying.
The same way that physical guardrails protect cars from hazardous areas to the side of the road, it is important to set up emotional guardrails in our lives to help remind us to not get too close to the things that can be hazardous to us on the other side of the road. It can be easy to say, "I will be fine," "Just one will not hurt" and "It is not really that bad." Humans have a funny way of justifying and minimizing the things around us. In an attempt to make ourselves feel better in the moment, we hurt ourselves in the long run, slowly making exceptions and changing our views and morals little by little until it is too late, and we find ourselves off the side of the road in the same hazardous area that we tried to keep ourselves out of.
Guardrails, like the rules that our parents set for us when we were young, are not the most fun thing. Many times, it is just easier and more enjoyable in the moment to cross the line, give in to temptation and see how close to the edge we can get without falling off.
You would not want to drive on a narrow road with a steep cliff drop-off and nothing in between. So why do we choose that for our lives? Why do we choose the dangerous risk of falling over the side, rather being responsible for ourselves? Once you set up these guardrails in your life, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that you are more easily able to continue down our roads without fear of the edge. This is not to say that you need to stay four lanes over, but simply that it is important to set boundaries. As important as it is for a parent to set boundaries for their children (such as being home before dark, never talking to strangers or always letting someone know where you are going), it is important to create rules for ourselves, to offer the same protection to ourselves as we would to those we love who are close to us.
It is easy to think that as we grow older, we are in control. How easy it is to say, "I am not a child anymore; I know what I am doing." When we think this way, we are, in fact, only being childish and fooling ourselves. Instead of this blind confidence, we must instead be wise and open-minded enough to know where to set boundaries for ourselves to help us stay away from the temptations that haunt and harm us the most. Guardrails, both physical and mental, are useful tools; let's not allow our arrogance to cause us to forget this.