Healthy boundaries are not walls, they are the gates and fences that help you enjoy the beauty of your own garden – anonymous.
Boundaries define us. They define what is you and what is not you. A boundary shows where you end and where someone else begins. With a general understanding of landed property, knowing where your yard begins and ends not only gives you a sense of ownership, allows you freedom within your space but also makes you aware when you are being encroached on. Many times, people around us have burdens which they do not have enough strength, resources, or knowledge to carry, and they need help. Denying ourselves to do for others what they cannot do for themselves is sacrificial love but as we grow older, we must learn not only to take ownership and responsibility of some loads in certain aspects of our lives but we must let others do so for themselves.
How can we draw healthy boundaries?
Attitude and Beliefs: The stance you take towards something or someone and what you accept to be true for you determines your comfort and peace and how much respect you can command. We must be responsible for our attitudes and convictions because they fall within our property line. We are the ones who feel the effects of what we believe and stand for, and the only ones who can change them.
Say it. Communicating our feelings, intentions, likes, and dislikes is a way of defining the property line for people. It is difficult for people to know where you stand when you do not use clear words to say them. God does this when he says, “I like this and I hate that.” Or, “I will do this, and I will not do that.” You can do same too. Communicating where you stand gives everyone a sense of the edges that help identify you. For example, saying “I don’t like it when you yell at me!” gives people a clear message about how you’d love to be talked to.
Truth. There is always safety in the truth, whether it be knowing God’s truth or knowing the truth about ourselves. Many people live scattered and tumultuous lives trying to live outside of their own boundaries, not accepting and expressing the truth of who they are. Honesty about who you are makes you less of a people pleaser, keeps you at peace and boosts your confidence in how you deal with yourself and others.
Geographical and Emotional Distance. Sometimes physically removing yourself from a situation will help maintain boundaries. You can do this to replenish yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually after you have given to your limit. When a relationship is abusive, many times the only way to finally show the other person that your boundaries are real is to create space until they are ready to deal with the problem. People who have been in abusive relationships need to find a safe place to begin to thaw out emotionally. Sometimes in abusive marriages, the abused spouse needs to keep emotional distance until the abusive partner begins to face his or her problems and become trustworthy. You should not continue to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment. If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should wait until it is safe and until real patterns of change have been demonstrated before you go back. Many people are too quick to trust someone in the name of forgiveness and not make sure that the other is producing “fruit consistent with repentance”. To continue to open yourself up emotionally to an abusive or addicted person without seeing true change is foolish. Forgive, but guard your heart until you see sustained change (p.33-35).
Other People. You need help. We all do. When you open yourself up for support from others, you will find that the abusive person/people in your life is/are not the only source of love in the world and that you can find the strength through their help and support system to set the limits you need. Boundaries are not built in a vacuum, you might need a support network and friends.
Be firm. We would want to find you still loving and respecting your boundaries tomorrow so be consistent. The fear of losing a loved one may come, but whoever leaves you because of your healthy boundaries maybe shouldn’t be there at all.
You can take a chance on yourself today, to determine how your relationships is conducted and stipulate the rules of your yard.
Do not wait till later. Start now. A time may come when you will become irritated, and you will snap at the kids and yell at your employees and scream at your spouse and breakdown to tears and health-wise so start now. It will take some time, but you will get there.
Some excerpts from Boundaries- When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
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