31 Days of Soul Searching – Day 23 {Boundaries}

Day 23

Hello and welcome to Day 23 of our journey! 

All of this soul searching has made us more vulnerable, more tolerant, and more forgiving. These are good things… great things! But I am beginning to wonder if being more of these things will end up hurting me in the long run.

If I am more vulnerable, will people take advantage of that?

If I am more tolerant, will I end up just letting everything go?

If I am more forgiving, will I become an easy target for offenders?

Today we are going to focus on a way to deal with all of those questions.  {Boundaries}!

Setting boundaries for ourselves in relationships is a necessary way to get the most joy from our lives. If we let people walk on us, they will. We need to keep our hearts safe from the potentially well-meaning people who may come along and suck the life right out of us. That is not being selfish, that is being healthy. And smart!

Think of the relationship situations in your life that cause you the greatest stress.  This may be coming from people you love and people that you want to have a long-lasting connection to. They are often those closest to us, honestly, and they may not even realize they are hurting us.

We already know that we cannot control other people or events or circumstances, but we most certainly can control how we choose to handle all of those things.

I find in my most challenging relationships there is a commonality… I allow them to treat me in ways that make me uncomfortable. Oh sure, they are doing it, but I am letting it happen as if I am completely helpless.

It was many years ago that I recognized my deficiency with setting boundaries. My parents had always had a rocky relationship, to say the least. As they were going their separate ways, my Dad kept asking me to go to my Mom’s house to retrieve his belongings. I helped a few times, but afterwards always felt emotionally drained. I was an adult, in my early 20’s, but it was hard on me. Each of them were angry at the other for things that I didn’t want to discuss. I wanted out of the middle and was sick of the uncomfortable tug-a-war, especially since I was feeling like the rope.

The push and pull of the situation caused something in me to click. Finally. It was not my job to do any of that for them! Of course, I wanted to be helpful, but my helpful nature had gone way over the edge and I needed it to stop. My heart needed it to stop. That was the first time that I exerted my ability to set boundaries in my life. I calmly explained that, as much as I wanted to help, I could no longer be the middle man in their relationship and would not be able to gather anymore of my Dad’s things. He didn’t speak to me for over a year.

Yep, you read that right. This man can hold a grudge like nobody I have ever met, and over a year passed before we reconnected. When we finally got back on speaking terms, I have to say that the relationship improved and I was better equipped to declare my limitations and move forward in a healthy way. Personal victory, despite the lost time.

I learned from that situation, that just because someone I love is asking me to do something, I don’t have to say yes. If it makes me uncomfortable or hurts my heart, I have the right and the ability to say no. And I can do it in a gentle way, even though I cannot control how they may respond. But overall, I know that my boundaries will protect me from unneccessary pain and stress.

Setting boundaries is not easy, but it is ever so necessary to sustaining a healthy state of mind. Even if you have not set boundaries in your relationships before, you can start now. When you are feeling anxious or worried during interactions with loved ones, there may be a boundary issue at play. When you find yourself constantly giving in and feeling frustrated by the outcome, you may need to set some boundaries. And if people in your life are taking advantage of you, by all means, make the choice to create some healthy boundaries for yourself.

I am not an expert on this, far from it. But I have found a few good resources that you may enjoy. I read a helpful and succinct article called “10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries” that may help. And one of my favorite online sermon series from Elevation Church called “How to Hug a Vampire” highlights how we all suck the life out of others to some degree and shares some good ways on how to deal with the “vampires” in our lives.

I would love to hear how you have successfully created boundaries in your life! And if you have resources that helped you in that process, please feel free to share. I think we would all welcome more guidance in this challenging area of our lives.

 

protect your heart

*This is the 23rd post in a 31 day series on Soul Searching. To follow the series from the beginning, simply click here and you will be directed to the introductory post which contains links to each day’s topic.

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2 thoughts on “31 Days of Soul Searching – Day 23 {Boundaries}

  1. Anne October 25, 2013 at 6:36 am Reply

    I can so relate. I didn’t have good boundaries for much of my life. Consequently I spent much time in anger for feeling used. Mainly by my mother. Thirteen years ago I moved within 30 min. of her and had to start facing this boundary stuff head on. Counseling helped tremendously. Then three years ago I confronted her and asked her to not contact me for several months while I worked on things. Then invited her to counseling with me. Although we are not close, there is now peace in this relationship. Praise God. Thanks for a much needed post!

    • trisbendickson October 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm Reply

      Oh Anne, I think we have so much in common! Mending relationships that have hurt us is a painful process. Kudos to you for protecting your heart and setting those much needed boundaries. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

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