If you’re anything like me, then you are the type of person who is there for everyone. You’re the backbone, the support system, the confidant, the go-to person for those you care about. It’s a role that you play with great honor. It is also a role that can exhaust you if you don’t take the proper steps to create boundaries around your giving. Here are two valuable lessons I’ve learned about boundaries.
The was the importance of self-care. The first step to self-care is showing up for yourself the same way you do others. You need to be heard, you need to be considered, your feelings need to matter. You need a “you” in your life, and the best person for the job is yourself. Stop and listen to your inner self and needs and tend to them. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to need space, it’s okay to spend some time with yourself. Just as you’d do for anyone else, just as you’d sit with them through silences and counsel them through trials, honor your own self in that same way. By doing this, you can better teach others how to treat you. The more you know about yourself, the more transparent you can be with what you need. It’s not always easy to share with others how you need them to support you, but it’s a vital part of creating healthy boundaries around the way your relationship with them functions. In doing this, sometimes people will make you feel bad for doing so, especially if they’ve been accustomed to treat you a certain way. However, anyone who won’t honor your boundaries is not someone you need in your space. No matter the relationship, anyone who loves you will understand. You are allowed to evolve and grow and decide that you want different. Your needs are allowed to change as you learn more about yourself, and as your experiences inform the way you desire to live life.
The second was that I have to honor the boundaries I’ve set. So if you know someone is taking advantage of you even if they don’t necessarily mean to do it intentionally, as much as you want to help, it’s okay to not be available. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take out days where you want to stick to a plan that is in your best interest and to stick to it no matter what comes up. Once you’ve decided that you are changing the dynamic in your relationship with someone, sticking to it is the most crucial part. If you are no longer able to lend financial, emotional, or even physical support to someone, you have to keep your position. Everyone has a sob story, and it’s always extreme, but you have to trust that the same God that has your back will have theirs. And as adults, we all have an equal responsibility to do the necessary work to be able to get to the other side of the issue. You are not responsible for everyone. When you go back on your word, you send a message that empowers them to continue to take advantage. If they know that you will soften or bend, then there is no reason for them to respect the boundary you’ve set. Hold firm in whatever that looks like. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions or particular circumstances, etc. but it means that the bottom line of whatever your stance must be maintained at all cost. You’ll be surprised how quickly people figure things out when you set a firm line on how much you can give.
““We have no obligation to endure or enable certain types of certain toxic relationships. The Christian ethic muddies these waters because we attach the concept of long-suffering to these damaging connections. We prioritize proximity over health, neglecting good boundaries and adopting a Savior role for which we are ill-equipped.
You are not responsible for the spiritual health of everyone around you. Nor must you weather the recalcitrant behavior of others. It is neither kind nor gracious to enable. We do no favors for an unhealthy friend by silently enduring forever. Watching someone create chaos without accountability is not noble. You won’t answer for the destructive habits of an unsafe person. You have a limited amount of time and energy and must steward it well. There is a time to stay the course and a time to walk away.” -Jen Hatmaker
In a lot of ways, we want to be heroes and saviors, and well, we just aren’t really qualified. Not because we don’t have the skillset, wisdom, or even resources but because whatever anyone is going through is usually not a quick fix. While it may seem like so on the surface level, the truth is no matter the issue, it is often something more profound happening that is going to require a level of attention and understanding that you probably don’t have. You putting a bandaid on a broken arm isn’t a solution, it’s just a way for you to feel about being there for someone in need even if you didn’t actually fix the problem. It’s okay to stand in the gaps for our loved ones as best as we can and to understand that that doesn’t include enabling their own ability to problem-solve or choose to dig deeper to attack the actual problem. The boundary is necessary not only for yourself but for them as well. It’s the whole “I can give you fish, and you’ll be fed for the day, or I can teach you to fish, and you’ll never go hungry” theory. Also, understanding that being “loyal” or loving someone doesn’t mean you have to remain subject to their abuse or unhealthy dynamics. We’ve been taught love is unconditional, but there should definitely be conditions around what we are willing to allow within the confines of the relationship. I can love you wholeheartedly and still require that you respect my time, space, heart, energy, etc. Quite frankly, to love you effectively, it’s almost a must that I set boundaries. By doing so, we both are free to operate authentically as who we are that best honors ourselves and others around us. I’m a better lover if I understand your love language and respect your boundaries and do my best to honor your needs and Vise Versa.
Ultimately, our love for others is rooted in our love for self. There better we are to ourselves, the better equipped we are to be useful for those around us. Boundaries are a necessary component in all of that. So decide what that looks like, be clear, and walk confidently in your truth. Happy Friday!!!