Consider this episode a life course.
And we’re calling this class Boundaries 101:
What are they?
How do I set up boundaries?
Why do I set up boundaries?
What does God think of boundaries?
If they’re so good, why are they so hard to set up?
This topic and conversation is rich with definitions and examples and more. Let’s get started.
Boundaries are more about saying “yes” to our healthy selves than they are about saying “no” to someone else.
Start with the Big Picture
As you begin to consider boundaries, ask yourself: What vision do I have for my life? What kind of person do I envision myself being or do I envision God wants me to be? What would that person do and say and believe about herself? And what would her relationships be like?
Boundaries Step by Step
- Be straightforward and Kind
- Affirm the positive
- Be honest
- Give it to God
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and where someone else begins leading me to a sense of ownership.” -John Townsend
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This Show’s Transcription
We are diving into boundaries. It seems like everyone I know, including myself, like we’re all talking about them, crossing boundaries, setting boundaries, needing boundaries. But before we go any further, we are not going to waste any time we thought it might be a great idea to use this time to define boundaries. Yes. So let’s go
yes. You know, they really are some of the most talked about challenges in relationships comes up all the time in my life, in friends, and definitely with clients. And it’s just really common relational difficulty. So, yeah, let’s talk about what they’re not. Okay, that’s a good idea. They’re not trying to convince somebody of something. They’re not rejecting people. They’re not just putting behavioral practices into place. So those are the three things they’re not. They’re not trying to convince somebody of something that you’re trying to an agenda you have, it’s not rejecting them. And it’s not just like, oh, willy nilly, I’m going to put this boundary in place.
Boundaries are not a bad word, right?
It’s actually a very positive word.
Yes. So setting boundaries is a form then of self care, it helps to create clear guideline rules, limitations for how you want to be treated. Yeah. And that is good. Yeah, they let others know what’s okay, what’s acceptable. We talk a lot about honor here, and boundaries, honor our needs and wants, so that we feel respected and safe. Yeah,
absolutely. And so if we understand that boundaries are meant to provide freedom, with understanding, where are they so hard to set up? You know, if we, if they’re like, Okay, these are this is a good thing. I think lots and lots of reasons.
So even again, then, let’s say what you said at the beginning, that boundaries are more about saying yes, yes, or healthy selves and our true selves than they are about saying no, to someone else.
That is so important. I really, when I first heard that read that I was like, Oh, my gosh, that is just so important. That it’s about saying yes to our healthy cells, rather than saying no to someone else. And so it’s important to talk about how we don’t set boundaries in a vacuum. We don’t casually say, like I said, Oh, I’m going to set a boundary. It comes from understanding our own healing and healthy self. A lot of times, if we have trouble with boundaries, it’s because we’re, we have something we’re healing from.
So I feel like we jumped right in, right? Yeah, real deep, real fast. To hit a lot of points. And this is where we might need to slow down just a second, okay? Because you mentioned healthy self. So this is a great time to take some inventory. We’re telling you, what is not what it is. But now let’s think about you take some inventory of yourself, this is me at my best. What does she look like? What does she sound like? What does she do? And then me at my worst, what does she sound like? What does she do? Who does she interact with? And then after spending some time with her, both good and bad, which do you want front and center in your life?
It’s good, that’s a that’s a really going through that kind of inventory is so valuable, so valuable, it helps us get in touch with that healthy self that we’re referring to. And, you know, the other thing that’s important to talk about is asking God into this process with us, you know, search me God and know my heart, test me know my concerns, see if there’s any offensive way in me, like that kind of self awareness of asking God to help us with self awareness is a really important thing. And so it will, both of those things, the inventory inviting garden will help us be seen and be entered and to see ourselves more clearly. And, you know, once we have a better understanding of ourselves, then we can set up opportunities and places for boundaries for our protection, not for restriction. That’s an important thing to protection versus restriction. Yeah,
it’s almost like we’re reframing boundaries to be a positive thing. Yeah. in how you approach them and how you set them. So let’s move forward now that we have a definition with how to put them into place. Yeah. And as we move through these practical steps, you might need to remember what we just said, getting boundaries, not as something holding you back or holding the other person person away from you, but established In the good that you want in your life,
and in relationships, it’s, you know, it’s often it should actually be true all of the time, that boundaries that are good for you are also ultimately going to be good for someone else. Because it’s healthy. Yeah, right. Yeah.
I just bowled in, highlight that one. Everybody. pause, rewind just a second and do that again. Yeah, yeah.
So let’s start with the big picture. And this relates to the inventory. One question that I like to ask myself and ask clients, as we begin to talk about boundaries is, What vision do you have for your life? What kind of person? Do you envision yourself being? Or do you envision that God wants you to be? What would that person do? And say and believe about herself? And what would her relationships be? Like? We don’t really do that very often, no, really take the time to say, what’s the vision? For my life? God? What’s your vision for my life? What does it look like? What do I look like? What’s that true self? Really? And what are those healthy relationships look like? So that starting with the big picture, I think, is really helpful. Yeah.
Because when you’re understanding yourself, you’re understanding the boundaries you need.
Exactly. So here’s a great example, I had a client who had a very difficult relationship with her mother and her mother was very controlling, very judgmental, and at times, verbally abusive. And, you know, when my client began to understand more about her own healing, and her desire for health, she realized these conversations with her mother work very toxic. And so she would kindly and firmly begin to express to her mom, I want to have different kinds of conversations. But time and time again, her mom wouldn’t accept it. So after we talked through this and prayed about this, my client put some boundaries on how often she would talk to her mom, what time of day, these conversations would take place, and how long they would last, super practical, super practical. And if her mom would cross the line in terms of like verbal abuse, my client would say, I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to continue this conversation, if we don’t change where we’re going here. Oh, and you know, you could say that threateningly okay, we’re not? Well, you could say I’m sorry. But we’re not going to be able to continue this conversation, calmly, peacefully. And that’s, again, why that prerequisite work is so important. So you’re getting in touch with that healthy self. So eventually, the conversations didn’t happen as often, they got much healthier. They weren’t perfect. But my client had a much better view of herself. Like her experience. Now with these conversations didn’t leave her dying in a pile, you know, she had a better view of herself. She felt strength and empowerment, much more than she did before she set the boundary. So that was a great, great experience for her I
would say so. And it’s not simple, but it is simple.
Simple, but not simplistic. Ya know, like, it’s, of course, is full of all kinds of complexities, but it can be a simple practical process at the same time. Yeah.
So don’t overthink it. Mm hmm. Yeah. What does God say about boundaries?
Yeah. You know, I think that’s a really, because he tells us to be self sacrificing, and to love each other. So I think the answer is yes. And
not about that. But uh, yes, I
got a different version. Because as to be loving, of course, I mean, that’s a huge, you know, desire for him. And yes, he calls us to, at the same time, he calls us to freedom and responsibility for ourselves. And so from the beginning, God gave us freedom. And he invited us to use it responsibly. I think that’s so important to remember. Yeah. We’re free and invited to be responsible for our life, and for our relationships, and boundaries are a part of that. We don’t set them up to punish people, again, to punish them, hurt them, reject them. But again, to live in that healthy self and in that freedom that God’s given us that he wants for us.
Wow. I love that from the beginning. Yeah, yeah. From the beginning in creation when he separated light from darkness when he separated sky from land. They’re separate. There’s a boundary there, but they’re still good. Yeah. So woof. So let’s assume that we’ve come to terms with this permission and encouragement from God with these boundaries, and that we have to do some work on our own healing. Mm. And our true selves and this vision for ourselves. Those are all. That’s big.
Yeah. Those are all beautiful things that we get to do with clients.
Yes, yeah. Yes. But what is the process of setting a boundary then like we can come up with it after we’ve done this work after we come up with the vision, and simple but simplistic ways? And how do we then set a boundary?
Yeah, I think it’s really important talk about the practicals. In the process, how do you go about setting these up. And it’s important to clarify that how it would set up a boundary with someone who has a lot of dysfunction. It like if it’s an abusive relationship, and the person involved wouldn’t respond in a healthy way, there would have to be very clear, very firm and direct boundaries. Now, for our purposes, today, let’s assume there’s a pretty healthy person that we’re wanting to set a boundary with, because that happens, right? We’re not, we’re setting boundaries with people. Often, it’s not because they’re like, incredibly abusive, and we are almost ready to end them. It’s like, we know that there are good ways to interact with people and not good ways to interact people, codependent ways. So first, important, we want to pray about it, just like everything, God, I want you to be with me in this, I want you to be with me in this. And then plan with God in prayer, what you want to say, not as a script to be like, really cold and impersonal. But to really be clear of what you want to say. And to be concise. And again, we do this together with clients all the time you can do with a therapist or spiritual companion. So number one, be straightforward, and kind. So be straightforward. And kind, the words you use are going to be important, not inflammatory, and also the tone, you know, not accusatory, so be straightforward, and kind, affirm the positive when you can, when you really can affirm genuinely the positive, that’s always a good thing. And at the same time, be honest, don’t spin it. Be clear. And then this is important at the end, once you’ve done all that to the best that you can, then give it to God, because you’re not in charge of the outcome. Or the you’ve done what you can do and how he’s guided you. And then you need to let it go, which of course it’s very hard, but it’s an important part of the process.
So what are some examples of that? What does that look like?
Yeah, well, you’ll want to make these your own, of course, but here’s some ideas that can encourage our listeners, if you’re hesitating and feeling anxious, which is perfectly normal, which a lot of our listeners might be right. I know I have totally been anxious about this in my life. And many clients. I don’t know anybody who’s been just like, no problem. I got this. Usually there’s some anxiety. So many of us have friends. Or maybe we’ve been that friend that asked for more than what we think is a healthy thing. And so could we say something like, I want to help you when you need it. And I’m also finding my schedule is really full these days. Can we sit down and look at the calendar together and set up some times that work? Well, for both of us. Oh, I like that. Yeah, I’ve actually heard that and said that.
So did it hurt you when you heard it? You
know, I think it probably made me go Oh, but then I realized it was coming from a healthy place. So it wasn’t like this is a personal affront. This was like oh, okay, we’re trying to be mature here. We’re trying to be loving and fair here. and healthy. That’s good.
Oh, it’s also not a push back. It’s inviting the other person in on your on good terms for both of you. There’s no isolation here. Right? It’s inviting your friend to care for you the way you should be cared for.
Yeah. And you to them, you know that it goes both ways to okay, I liked
that one. Yeah.
I’m sure there are very few of us that have not dealt with a difficult family member. And many that some can be toxic. And so sometimes the boundary is to leave the room. Sometimes you can say something like, you know, I’m not going to continue this conversation. If you’re going to continue to say these things. I’m not going to receive them and I will leave the room. Now as an adult, sometimes we struggle with a parent where there’s some emotional enmeshment and I think a good The thing that I’ve talked this over with clients a good thing that they’ve come up with is I’m comfortable making this decision on my own. If I need counsel, I’ll let you know. And I’ll ask for help. I think I’ve actually, I think my children have said that to me, in different in different ways in different occasions. Yeah.
Like part of me really wants my my oldest to say that to me. And the other part is like, Oh,
absolutely. Like, what, wait a minute, are you shutting me out? Yeah. And yet, it’s it is really, like, it’s appropriate for adult child differentiation. Exactly. There it is, again, that differentiation is so important, and respecting that, its ends up being good for them and good for you. And it took me a while, you know, to accommodate to that, but then I was like, oh, okay, that’s gonna be good for both of us. John Townsend is the author of the very, very, very wildly respected book boundaries. And he writes boundaries define us, they define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. i So affirm that. And I agree that it not only brings honor and dignity to ourselves, again, it brings honor and dignity that to that other person. And that’s differentiation. And differentiation is good for everyone.
We, oh, there are so many ways that this could go this conversation. Yeah, so many different scenarios of how we could talk about boundaries. Right. And I think we need to
Yeah, you know, we really wanted today to kind of be boundaries, one on one, yes. Like, what is it? And how do we think about it? And how do we begin to do it, and some general kinds of examples, and then, you know, in the future, we’ll think about some other ways to be more specific.
So listeners, your homework, is to go through taking this inventory, inviting the Lord in and then imagining envisioning what your life could be. And then we promise our homework on the other side of this is to come up with the other ways and places that boundaries can be put into play.
Great, let’s do it.
Thank you, kid. You want to bring
me we can we can say, do it or not do it right. You can do it or not? Let me just say a prayer. Because I think that this could, you know, bring up some stuff for people. So, God, we thank you that you are with us and with every woman who’s listening, and I just pray for this. The thing that’s come to me God is that I pray for this idea of a vision for a woman’s life. So every woman who’s listening, could you help them even now begin to think about a vision for their life, vision of this healthy person that they want to become? And how then that would define relationships and potential boundaries. So Lord, I just pray that listeners could open their hearts to you saying yeah, Lord, show me. You can to show me a vision for who I am. Thank you, God. Amen. Amen.