In my last post I talked about the importance of boundaries as it related to our health. I wanted to give you 6 more thoughts about boundaries. My life revolves around boundaries and trying to be healthy. I am not always successful, but I am a work in progress.
Here is a few thoughts to further the discussion on having boundaries in your life:
- You will have boundaries with everyone.
You will. It is just a fact. We live in a world were we are trying to fight our baggage from a lifetime of unresolved pain, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. While we are fighting through our own struggles everyone else is fighting through their baggage as well. When my struggle meets your struggle unhealthiness is the most likely production of the intertwining. To prevent this we must have boundaries with everyone. This includes your friends, people you meet, your coworkers, your congregation (for my leaders and pastor friends), your spouse, and your children. The healthier you are the more passionate you are about keeping and maintaining boundaries with everyone in your life.
2. Your boundaries may be different with everyone
Something inside everyone reacts to something in you. The reaction may be positive or negative, but you will experience a reaction of some sort. Some people will bring the best out of you. Some people will bring the worst our in you. Most often the unhealthiness of others brings out the unhealthiness in us. We must guard against that if we are to heal and become healthy.
There is something in everyone that reacts different to something in you. Some people may be codependent and it connects with that people pleasing part of you. Some people may be flirtatious and that connects to your previous addiction to pornography and your struggle with lust. Some people don’t know their boundaries and the part of you that enables people allows them to walk all over you. Some gossip and you join in. Some are critical and judgmental and you find yourself being the same. It is a never ending cycle without boundaries.
You must evaluate yourself. Evaluate how you react to people. When we do this we can start erecting boundaries in that area of our lives. Ask yourself: How do I react to them? What does this person bring out in me? How are my actions different with this person then others?
When we ask these question we can start to find the boundaries that match this particular person. Your boundaries with that person make not mimic or even come close to the boundaries you have with others. Each boundary is there to help you with a specific problem.
Guaranteed that you will have some boundaries that are similar. For example: I don’t like being alone with women who are not my wife. It is a boundary I have with every lady. Then I have boundaries that are different with other people. There are some people I don’t text with. There are some people I only email with. There are some people that I quickly end conversations with because they do not know when to stop certain behaviors. Then there are people that I will only interact with them in certain situation. There are some people I only talk to at church. These are just some of the types of boundaries that I have. They are there so that I do not fall into a place of unhealthiness in my life.
Some boundaries may be stronger then others. Just remember it is not about the strength of the boundary it about the health you are trying to achieve.
3. Always communicate your boundaries with Love
Unhealthy people don’t understand boundaries. They try to do anything and everything they can to bring your boundaries down. You can blame them if you want, but that is an unhealthy engagement of your energy. In reality unhealthy people will always do what unhealthy people do. Act unhealthy. They will continue to act this way until they decide to take the leap to become healthy.
In saying this, you must ALWAYS communicate your boundaries in love. If you are a Christian bringing condemnation or shame and guilt towards a person is a sin. You cannot change how people act. They will always act out their unhealthiness. The greater the unhealthiness in a person the greater they will challenge your journey to become healthy. Don’t hold it against them. Jesus had compassion for people. We need to have compassion for people. However, compassion doesn’t equate to being a doormat. Remember that.
Time and time again your boundaries are going to be challenged. In the most loving way you can explain to them why the boundary is there. Do not focus on their problems or what you think is wrong with them. Focus on how you respond in these particular situations. Focus on how unhealthy you are in the situation. That is loving. Taking ownership for your actions and then doing something about it.
They will be given a choice. Accept your boundaries or not. If they accept it then harmony will ensure. However, many people who are unhealthy will not accept them. They will think that they are dumb or that you are being unfair. Continue to love them anyway. Stay strong in your boundaries. Just because things may seem better doesn’t mean they are. Appearance doesn’t always equate to reality.
If they stay in your life then it is proof that they want to get healthy, but may not know how. Continue to love them through it, but always communicate your boundaries with love.
4. Always stand by your boundaries
The hardest thing that I have ever had to do is stand by my boundaries. My heart is so forgiving that I often forget what unhealthy action was committed. I also have the tendency to downplay the situation. This simply means I tend to think the situation isn’t as serious as people make it out to be. That there is always a silver lining or brighter side to it.
Knowing this about myself I must be vigilant in my boundaries. To drop my boundaries is allow into my life the very things I erected those boundaries to prevent.
Life isn’t always black and white. There are so many shades of gray. Your boundaries are the black and white answers to the gray you cannot decipher. It may hurt your heart or others, but remember the goal and mission is to be as healthy as you can.
5. People will cheer your boundaries with others and criticize the boundaries you have for them
I have come across this more times then I can count. Here is how it usually goes. You make the decision to be healthy in your life. People encourage you. People applaud you. They are so excited to hear that you are making so many positive life changes. Then you start sharing your plan. You tell people of the boundaries that you are erecting to help you be healthy. You detail each boundary and why. People will sit there and listen. They will become excited. They will agree with you. They will say yes so and so is like that and that is wise of you to have that boundary. Then the conversation will turn to them. You share your boundaries with them. All of a sudden they are no longer happy. They begin to disagree with you. Feelings get hurt. And relationships are strained.
The truth is that people do not like to be confronted with the fact that something about them makes you act in an unhealthy way. People also do not like to be confronted with the fact that there may be something about them that is unhealthy. Most people have built up this self image that denies any problems and promotes only good image building things.
It will happen to you. Trust me. When it does happen just realize that they are acting out of hurt. Hurt will pass. People will either get over it, hold it against you, or they will leave you. Let them make that decision. You are putting boundaries in your life for reasons. Stick to your reasons. As long as they are Biblical reasons to promote health then don’t be ashamed of them.
6. People who violate your boundaries are people that don’t truly respect you
You will have people in your life that will try to violate your boundaries. Some will find any way to do it. Some will manipulate the situation to violate your boundaries and pass it off as a joke. These people are playing out their unhealthiness. They are very selfish and do not understand the ramifications of what they are doing or how it makes them look. They see what they want and they go for it regardless of how it makes others feel.
Remember, that they are playing out their unhealthiness. They don’t respect your boundaries because they don’t respect themselves. I know many will try to convince you otherwise. Actions speak louder then words though. When someone is so into what they want, what they feel, and will stop at nothing to get pass your boundaries then it is a representations of the dysfunction and hurt in their own soul. They do not truly respect your boundaries, or you, because they do not have much respect for themselves. A lifestyle of boundaries is a lifestyle of respect.
Love them through it. Your journey to health will make others feel awkward, left out, and hurt. That is not really your problem. I know that sounds harsh, but you cannot take the problems of the world on you. How they respond is up to them. Their response should not determine your direction.
A healthy relationship depends on the emotional space provided by personal boundaries. Be vigilant in creating that space!!
A word of encouragement for my friends who have co-dependent personalities. You will have difficulties in setting such limits. However, defining and protecting boundaries efficiently will be a vital part of regaining your mental and emotional health.
As I type these words I cannot help but feel a sense of conviction. In my life I have worked hard to maintain boundaries. I have worked hard to stay healthy. However, I have come to realize that recently there as been situations that have challenged my emotional health. The situation has started to drag me back to a place of unhealthy.
Realizing this I have had to get before God. In my prayer time I have come to a simple conclusion. I am going to have to make some hard choices about some of my relationships and then find the courage to follow through with them. Honestly, this scares me. I know it will be awkward, hurtful, and possibly confusing. However, I cannot help but thing of the cost if I do not redefine a couple of my relationships.
I said that to say this: It is not easy, but it is always right to create and maintain boundaries. Create them with grace and love. Share them with grace and love. Live in them with boldness. Never give up the fight!