Discovering and Maintaining Better Boundaries
“A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” Proverbs 25:28 (MSG)
Boundaries are a necessary part of personal growth, well-being, and our ability to love others well. Boundaries are never easy to set and even harder to maintain. When we talk about boundaries I also want to address self-control. Much of what makes boundaries so difficult is our ability to maintain them in the midst of emotional turmoil, pain, and desire. I love this verse out of The Message bible because without boundaries, we are missing the very structures in our life that exist to control the elements. Without windows and doors, structures that purposefully let things in and out, we are simply vulnerable to the outside forces. So to start, let’s define what boundaries are.
- What is me and what is not me – Dr. Henry Cloud (Author of Boundaries)
- What is okay and what is not okay – Brene Brown (Author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong)
- My NO’s and YES’s – Me
My personal (but lengthy) definition of boundaries:
The invisible perimeters around my person that clearly define where I end and where you begin. They are MY preferences on how I would like to be treated, talked to, and touched. They show me what I am responsible for and not responsible for.
Boundaries ultimately are the doors and windows we purposefully place in our house (soul) that keep the good in and the bad out. This is how boundaries make us less nice but more loving. There’s nothing nice about telling someone what they are doing or saying is hurting you and you would like them to stop. There’s nothing nice about having to take a break or even cut off a relationship that is unhealthy. Saying “no” isn’t nice. However, these boundaries will enable us to genuinely LOVE the people around us. Here’s how:
The trick to staying out of resentment is maintaining better boundaries – blaming others less and holding myself more accountable for asking for what I need and want. (Brene Brown)
Resentment is the enemy of love. When we are holding a grudge, dripping in bitterness, and totally disengaged out of fear of being wounded our ability to love those God has placed in our life becomes an exhausting and painful task. We need boundaries.
How to Build, Calibrate, and Maintain Better Boundaries
Disclaimer: This is a difficult process. It does not happen overnight but takes constant practice. Be patient with yourself. Boundaries first and foremost have to start with caring for yourself. So let there be an immense amount of grace in this process.
- Know Yourself:
- What are your values?
- What are your likes/dislikes?
- How do you want to be treated, talked-to, and touched?
- Know Others:
- How are you offended?
- How does other people’s issue affect you?
- How do others depend on you?
- What makes someone a “safe” person for you?
- Believe you have the right to set boundaries
- Establish the boundaries – “This boundary was established in 1998” for example, LOL!
- Boundaries move/adjust as trust is built or trust is broken
- Life experience helps us determine to be more flexible or strengthen boundaries as needed
- Healthy community input may help us adjust boundaries
- Forgiveness and healing is a must in establishing boundaries – remember we want to keep the bad out!
- Clear communication as needed – most boundaries are unspoken UNTIL someone has violated it then clear communication is an absolute
- Clear consequences – You must determine what needs to happen IF and WHEN a boundary is crossed that you have clearly communicated already.
- Be aware and give warning signs as needed – When someone is walking close to your boundaries don’t wait until they violate it, be aware what is happening and communicate a warning as needed.
- Ask for help – If you are having a difficult time defining your boundaries or maintaining them, ask for help from a trusted friend, mentor, or coach.
When we are able to establish and maintain better boundaries our souls are clear of resentment and bitterness. Our houses are clear of unwanted drafts and visitors that keep us from experiencing vulnerability that leads to increased connection and trust. I think Brene Brown says it best:
Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is a mutual and integral part of the trust-building process…The result of this mutually respectful vulnerability is increased connection, trust, and engagement. Vulnerability without boundaries leads to disconnection, distrust, and disengagement.
I would like to help you further with discovering and maintaining better boundaries. Below you will find a Boundaries Assessment worksheet. Please take some time to really assess your current boundaries. If you need extra help with this, schedule a free discovery call with me and we will discover your boundaries together!
BOUNDARIES ASSESSMENT WORKSHEET