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Boundaries

 

By Cynthia Bailey-Rug

 

 

  When you say the word “boundaries,” many people automatically think of words like “restrictions, selfishness, no fun.”  But boundaries are anything but those things!  Boundaries encourage love, respect and freedom.

  Boundaries define where you and your responsibilities end, and other people’s begin.  Think of them like a fence surrounding your yard.  Things that are your responsibility are your emotions, beliefs, and actions.  This also means that you are not responsible for the emotions, beliefs and actions of other people.  In other words, if they feel, believe or do things that are contrary to what you would do, it isn’t your place to judge, criticize or try to change them.  The Bible says we are to speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15), so we may speak to someone about their hurtful, dangerous, or self destructive behavior.  However, trying to manipulate someone into changing to suit your ideals is wrong.  Manipulation is witchcraft, which the Bible speaks against.

  Many people have distorted boundaries.  We learn boundaries as children, and certain behaviors from our parents may distort normal boundary development.  For example, a controlling parent may raise a child who has no clear boundaries as an adult.  I was one of those adults.  Also, children raised by lax parents often grow into adults who are controlling, doing their best to make others responsible for them.

  Learning to set healthy boundaries can be very difficult at first, but is well worth all effort!  People can’t control someone with a healthy sense of boundaries, and someone with that healthy sense of boundaries will not be controlling.  These people also take full responsibility for themselves, and encourage others to do so as well.  This encourages people to be the best they can be.   

  To develop your new boundaries, I find it is very important to have safe, supportive, helpful people in your life.  People who will encourage you, and are safe for you to set boundaries with.   Safe people will not try to discourage you, or tell you that you are being selfish walking this new path.  Safe people are important to have in your life period, but especially at this stage, when you are walking in unfamiliar territory.  They will help you to build confidence to set boundaries with others, including unsafe people.

  I won’t lie to you- when you first start setting boundaries, some people in your life may not like it.  They may call you selfish, unreasonable and more because you are now not willing to bend to their whims, or rescue them from their own messes.  That is okay!  In time, most reasonable people learn to accept and respect your boundaries, and often even learn to set their own by following your example.  And as for those who don't?  Well, it may be time to rethink the relationship.  I had to cut some people out of my life, once I learned about boundaries.  It took a lot of prayer, asking for guidance and wisdom, but God showed me who to sever ties with, and how to do it.

  Our Heavenly Father wants us to live happy lives.  Setting healthy, reasonable boundaries is one way to help us do just that.  So be encouraged today.  Learning what I have told you changed my life for the better.  It can do the same for you!

 
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