Compartmentalizing is different than focusing.
Compartmentalizing is building walls to separate portions of our lives—perhaps a work portion, friend portion, family portion or even several family compartments depending on relationships. Sometimes spiritual portions are compartmentalized. We can look at some details of our beliefs about many things, compared to our everyday actions, and find evidence of our compartments because of the discrepancies. For example, in one situation or with certain people, we emphasize something we’re doing (or not doing) and that seems different in another context.
And many believe this compartmentalization to be healthy, necessary. We rationalize, “How can I possibly get anything done if I don’t box it up?” And in that context, of course, we can’t handle all things at all times. But compartmentalizing allows discrepancies and deception to grow, and we might not notice them. Worse, we might notice them but rationalize they are okay because of the particular situation. I have heard many people who will adamantly refute situational ethics, yet simultaneously reveal their lives as an example of situational ethics because of their practical application of compartmentalizing. Those walls we build to organize can end up disguising and hiding what we need to see.
Even if we wanted to know every detail in every corner, we wouldn’t be able to manage that scope of awareness. But that doesn’t mean we should be content to build those walls and live only within the immediate surroundings of where we currently stand. There are better tools than compartmentalizing. There are healthier options. They might not be easy options, but the easy way often isn’t the healthiest.
Steadily and determinedly dismantle the walls.