6 PRACTICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT BOUNDARIES

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:

  1. 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.

My Heart: 

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!

Some Resources: 

http://www.cloudtownsend.com/scoop-on-boundaries/

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454

https://bible.org/seriespage/1-boundary-basics

http://thewellpsl.com/media.php?pageID=78

Be Blessed!!!!

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Creating Healthy Boundaries

Health. That is the goal. To be healthy and whole in our minds and emotions. We work so hard to have our physical bodies look good while our souls and minds are deteriorating from lack a lifetime of pain and trauma that has never been dealt with.

What you don’t deal with will effect you. Think about it through this illustration. Someone places a bomb in the middle of your living room. It is siting there counting down the time until it explodes. You know it is there. Many others know it is there. Yet you do nothing about it. It just sits there day in and day out waiting to explode. In your heart you know that you have to do something about it. In your head you have convinced yourself that it really won’t hurt you. All the while the bomb is still sitting there waiting to go off.  Then one day the countdown ends and the bomb explodes. Effectively hurting you and everyone within it’s radius.

There is a bomb in your soul. It is sitting there waiting to go off. You are given the choice to deal with it or not. You know it is there. You have lived a painful life and realized that it created this bomb. You have tried to convince yourself that it won’t hurt you or anyone. All the while it is ticking down to the next incident before it explodes and many people get hurt. With this thought it is time to do something about it. It is time to get healthy.

One of the greatest ways to get healthy it to erect boundaries in our lives. Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards him or her and how they will respond when someone steps past those limits (Psychological today definition).

The healthiest people in the world are those who have boundaries. Boundaries are not limitations, but things that show the limits of what a healthy person is willing to engage in. This doesn’t mean you put people into prison! No! This means you are giving them freedom. They know where the line is, and how to operate within your boundaries.

Do you know the most important thing about a boundary? Is that you are putting limits on yourself and others so you can have the opportunity to heal. Think of it this way. I own a home. Around my home is a property line. That is a physical boundary that I can enforce. If I do not want people on my property then they are not allowed on my property. On my property I can do whatever I want (within legal rights).

You are saying the same things to others. This is my line that people cannot cross. This is not to punish people, but a declaration that says I am wanting to get healthy in this area. You may ask about their feelings. Honestly, some people will applaud you, but most will challenge you. It is not about what the feel. It is about what you are willing to do in order to become the healthiest you that you can be.

  1. You need boundaries to get healthy 

This isn’t an option. If you do no have clearly defined boundaries then people will continue to walk all over you.  If people continue to walk all over you then you will never have the space that you desire to finally find healing.

2. Don’t allow anyone else unhealthiness impede your desire to be healthy. 

The world is full of emotionally unhealthy people. Never allow them to rule your life and limit your potential. People will try to violate your boundaries, make you feel bad about your boundaries, and drawing the attention to the importance of themselves over your health.

3.  Defining boundaries will be a challenge. 

Sometimes we really don’t know what we need. One of the greatest challenges will be to evaluate yourself in an honest and objective way. think of it this way. You are not as good as you think you are. Also, you are not as bad as you think you are. Most people fall in the middle of the two extremes. However, there are a very rare few who are extreme in their feelings. Those particular people may need extra help obtain through a professional. I encourage everyone to see a professional at some point in your life.

4.  You are not alone in this. 

We feel lost. We feel alone. We feel like we are not good enough. All of those emotions are false.  There are people around you who are willing to help and be there for you. There are people who are further a long on the journey of health and can give you their wisdom. All you have to do is have the courage to ask.

5.  It will be awkward and hard enforcing your boundaries.

People do not like to be told what to do. Face it. However, do not let that detract you from your mission. Your mission is personal health. In the journey to health you will make people mad. You will make people feel awkward. You will make them want to stop being friends with you. That is ok. If they really cared about you, as they say they do, then their heart will be that you become healthy. Friends who are willing to enter the journey with you will be friends for life. They will always be friends who will try to be healthy themselves. Remember, an unhealthy friend plus a healthy friend still equals an unhealthy relationship.

6.  Have the courage to stay the course.

Enforcing boundaries will be hard. There will be days that you will want to give up. There will be days that you will be stronger then others. You must stay the course. You are creating a lifestyle change. It will take time, but in the end it will become part of who you are. Don’t be afraid. You may lose some friends. That is ok. In the end you will find joy and peace.

My Boundaries:

I have had to work hard over the years to define my boundaries. In fact, I am still working on defining them and redefining them. Let me give you an example of two of the type of boundaries that you may want to have in your life.

Example 1: Throwing in the pillow

My wife and I have a boundary that we created a long time ago in our marriage. Yes you will need boundaries in our marriage. Remember a boundary isn’t bad thing. They are lines in the sand that declare you are ready to be healthy.

When my wife and I were first married we use to argue a lot. We decided that when things got heated that we needed something to allow us to walk away without offending the other person. So we decided to use a pillow. When you throw the pillow into the middle of a heated discussion it signifies that the person who threw the pillow needs to walk away. The response of the other person is to let them walk away. It doesn’t means we won’t ignore the issue. It means we simply need time to regroup, gain peace, and approach it when we are not so combative.

Example 2: Lack of Reply

Over the years I have developed a boundary that helped me in a major way become healthy.  I don’t engage people in unhealthy chatter, negativity, passive aggressive shots, or the persons incessant need to tear everyone else down. I also tend not to give my full attention to who think they are right and have a hard time seeing any point but their own.

When I engage a person through texts, emails, or calls I am always cognizant of the conversational direction. If a person is making unhealthy statements, is overly negative, or passive aggressive I will either end the conversation abruptly or completely ignore the statement.  If a person asks why I will tell them. I tell them the truth in love.

You may think that is hash, but I promise you when people know that you do that it can do a couple things. First, the person contacting you may stop engaging in those behaviors around you. Second, the person may stop contacting you all together. It is ok if a person is unhealthy and doesn’t want to be in your life. That means that you are weeding our people who will either sabotage your healthy or hold you back from being healthy. Finally, it could inspire them to be healthy. Option 3 doesn’t happen often, but it is wonderful when it does.

Closing thoughts:

The types of boundaries are endless. You will have to go through your heart and determine what makes you unhealthy. Then strategize what you will need in order to stop the behavior. Let your driving question be, “What can I do with this person that will all me to be healthy?”

One of the hardest parts of this journey is recognizing that you and I are unhealthy. We have to admit that about ourselves. We also have to recognize how others make us unhealthy as well. Recently, God has shown me in my own life how certain individuals draw out the unhealthy parts of my soul. It was very hard for me to admit. Now I am in prayer to determine what to do about it. Could it hurt the other peopler? Yes. However, my health is my  primary goal. I do not like or want to hurt peoples feelings, but I am desperate to be healthy.

No one will take charge of your personal health but you. Today, get before God and ask Him to give you the courage and direction you need to become healthy.

In my next post I am going to give you a few practical thoughts about boundaries. I will also recommend some good resources that may be able to help you start your journey.

I encourage you to follow me on social media! Also, I encourage you to sign up for email updates, and follow this blog!

Be Blessed!

7 Marks of unhealthy people

Unhealthiness is in us and all around us. Engaging in unhealthy behaviors and leaves us empty. We become devoid of encouragement. We face the danger of being plunged into a life that models despair more then hope.

Knowing the state of your emotional health is paramount to knowing how to become more healthy in your life.

The following are what I call “marks” of emotional unhealthiness. These are signs that you could be emotionally unhealthy. Use them as a reflective tool to determine if you or the person you are engaging with are unhealthy. By no means is this an exuse to judge people, but to help people come to the realization that we need help! We need to find healing.

In my lifetime I can say I have exhibited the following things more times then I like to count. It has only been in recent years where I finally feel like I am gaining victory in my life over the unhealthiness that I have allowed to grow in my soul.

1.  How people talk about other’s to you is how they will talk about you to others.

Listen up! People will share with you their hearts. They may think that they are being guarded and not really telling you anything, but the signs are all there for those who observe.

If a person is trash talking a “type” of person or a “specific” person then they are unhealthy. healthy people do not trash talk others. Healthy people state facts, engage in prayer, and seek ways to become healthy in the midst of an unhealthy situation.

Listen not only to what is being said but how it is being said. If a person is brought up in conversation and the other person only has negative things to say then there is a high level on unhealthiness there.

Now for the hard truth. If a person is very free in how they talk about people to you they will be just as free in talking to others about you. Don’t let the person fool you. They will say I am only telling you this, but in reality they are telling whoever will listen to them.

I have seen this so many times both in my own life and in the lives of others.

For example, even though I saw this sign in someone I trusted them with my heart. You know what happened? Many of those same people are now actively trash talking about me to others. Unhealthiness breads unhealthiness. Listen to how people talk about people. Listen to how you talk about others.

Hear me out. healthy people can be trusted to both listen to and talk about the actions of others. However, healthy people will not tear another person down. They may talk about how things went or how things could be different, but they refuse to engage in diminishing of another person.

If you want to know if you are someone like this then ask someone who will answer you honestly. However, don’t put them in an awkawd position. Seek truth not justification of your actions. A spouse will be the best choice for this question. That is provided that they are healthy individuals.

2.  People will crucify other’s for actions that they will excuse in themselves

Guilty. When I have been hurt I have looked at people and began to pick them apart. I would crucify them in my head. They were the individuals who did this. They were the individuals who sinned. How dare they! All the while I was excusing the same issues in my own life.

It is not easy to admit, but we all do it. When something is done against us it is a huge thing. When we do something against someone else it is no big deal. What hypocrisy.

This is a sign of unhealthiness that many will not see. Why? Because this is one that is covert and often in hiding. This is the one were we think it, but rarely ever speak it. Just because you don’t say it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be dealt with.

3.  Misery loves company

When people are miserable they do not want people with them who are going to cheer them up. When people are miserable they do not want people with them who will be truthful with them. They want people with them who will agree with them and make them feel better in their misery.

The trustiest sign of this is when we are offended. We do not want people around us who will help us see the truth of our own actions. We want people around us that will agree with our justification. It makes us feel better. It gives us a safe place to hide in the midst of our unhealthiness.

4. Easily Offended

If you are easily offended then you are a prime suspect for someone with an unhealthy soul. Offense will happen to us all. There is no doubt about that. What differentiates someone from health and unhealthiness is the ease by which an individual is offended.

Health individuals do not give into emotionalism. They are not led by it. They are lead by what is right. They are lead by the principal of the situation. Unhealthy people are controlled by their feelings. They are lead by what they perceived to be right and fair.  This can be dangerous because what we feel to be “right” and “fair” can come from a damaged soul. My advice is to listen to what the Bible says about what is right. The Bible is never swayed by emotionalism.

If someone takes something very personally, easily and often, then it is a sign of unhealthiness. An offense is an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles (dictionary.com). It revolves around what is perceived. If I am someone who has a lot of unhealed hurts then my perception will revolve around that. I will see my world through the eyes of hurt. Thus, opening myself up to easier and greater resentment against others.

5.  Healthy people don’t have time for drama while unhealthy people live in it

Unhealthy people seem to be drama magnets. It may be because misery loves company or it may be that they cause it themselves. Either way unhealthy people seem to continually be at the center of drama.

Drama can be defined as a way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events. Typically “drama” is used by people who are chronically bored or those who seek attention (urbandiction.com). I would also include those who are emotionally and mentally unhealthy as well.

People who engage in “drama” will usually attempt to drag other people into their dramatic state, as a way of gaining attention, acting out their brokenness, or making their own lives more exciting.

6.  Unhealthy people believe themselves to be healthy and will often refuse to admit that they need help 

There is a lot that we do to convince ourselves that we are healthier then we really are. We try to live in some sort of reality that allows us to believe that we are right and everyone around us is wrong. This can be a challenge especially when we are confronted with something that we do no want to hear. Many times we ignore it, ignore the person, or leave the situation in hopes that it will just vanish.

Then we debate with ourselves and others about the level of our health. We tell others that we are very healthy. We tell ourselves that we are very healthy. The entire time was we are really doing is trying to convince ourselves of this instead of facing the issue and dealing with the problem.

What if an unhealthy person is a person full of pride. Now you have a person who is either in true denial of their plight or they are so sure that their unhealthiness isn’t an issue and that everyone around them is the problem. Either way it is a challenge and a true mark of an unhealthy individual.

We think, “so what if we have unhealthy tendencies.” The only time they become an issue is when we are not actively admitting them, taking ownership of them, and actively doing doing to try to change them. One of the saddest sights is someone who is clearly unhealthy, and everyone around them knows it, but they refuse to acknowledge it or even do anything to change it. One of the other saddest things to me is someone who acknowledges their unhealthiness, wants to get help, but never actually does anything further then just acknowledge it.

7.  People would rather talk about people then engage or confront them 

This my friends is called passive aggressiveness. I am going to do a whole post about passive aggressive behavior, but I want to make you aware that this is another mark of unhealthiness.

You have people that are talking to everyone else about the issue. Everyone but you. They will talk and talk about this person, their issues, their wrongs, and their ways. They will go so far as to ensure that they themselves are not talked about even though they have no problem talking about another person. Then in the midst of all this mess they never actually talk to the person about the issue.

In the midst of this mark nothing is ever solved or resolved. All that is accomplished is the knowledge that there are many people who are too scared to actually deal with the real issues.

Maturity and health tell us that if I have a problem with a person I go to the person and talk about it to them. Unhealthiness tells us that if I have a problem with a person then I can talk about them and hope the issue is handled by someone else, but never actually deal with the issue.

These marks are by no means the only marks, but they are prominent ones. Read them. Pray about them. Confront them. Don’t blame others for them. Absorb them. Then continue your journey towards health!

Be Blessed!!!