Thursday, August 16, 2007

by Joyce Blazek

God gave each of us the precious gift of life. As we grow spiritually, we can honor this gift by choosing healthier boundaries. A boundary can be a line drawn between what is acceptable and what isn’t, boundaries of our own personal behavior, or boundaries of how we’ll allow another to treat us.

The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. We not only have the right but the duty to protect and defend ourselves and the responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.

A boundary can also be a box that limits us. Rosa Parks is a wonderful and strong example of breaking boundaries set by others. She got a wake-up call, reached that point where one says enough is enough is enough. She then bravely changed the rules. She didn’t know what the outcome would be, but she knew deep within that she couldn’t take such treatment any more. If we are setting boundaries and not trying to manipulate others, we will always let go of outcome.

Our values and our boundaries go hand in hand. Boundaries should be well-defined and reflect our values and character, setting limits on ourselves and others at the appropriate times. Each of us chooses what kind of person we are and what our values are. Yes, our family and upbringing have influenced us, but as adults we are responsible for who we are and how we behave.

Sometimes we can be in denial and say, "I don’t remember making that decision," but the truth is that we choose each moment how to be and how to act. The secret is to be conscious about who you are and stand up for what you believe in, rather than making excuses.

Each of needs to take an honest look at ourselves and decide just what our values are.

Am I honest or do I sometimes lie?
Am I kind to others? Or mean-spirited?
Am I a doormat or do I stand up for myself?
Do I sometimes set boundaries but then not follow through on them?

It's much easier to set a boundary with someone you are starting a new friendship with or with a toddler, rather than to change your boundaries in the middle of a marriage or with a teenager. It is confusing for the other person if you suddenly change. But it can still be done. Just know that in an adult relationship making changes can jeopardize the friendship or marriage.

We’d all have easier lives if we had firm boundaries from childhood on if we never drank, ate too much, lied, stole, yelled…if we never let others use us in harmful ways. If we don’t have clear boundaries, we can drift into situations that we really don’t want -- and certainly alcohol and drugs erase our values and boundaries.

But we can only go on from where we are at the present time. We can’t change the past or even the present moment, but we can change our future. It is for your own good and everyone else’s for you to set clear boundaries.

Let people know what you can and cannot do. What you will and will not do. What you will and will not let others do to you. Be clear, be honest, be fair, but be yourself.

Don’t let others make your life chaotic.

Others may not like all this, and that’s okay. They’ll get over it and adjust if they love you. If they don’t, then consider if you want them in your life. You deserve to be loved, respected and have peace. You might ask yourself...

Are you clear what your values in life are?
Have you set boundaries for yourself? For others?
Are your boundaries too strict, and you limit yourself from new things?
Are they too lenient, where you don’t value yourself and others?
Do you value other people’s boundaries?
Have you changed some boundaries as you’ve grown in your spiritual life?

This exercise can help you identify your boundaries or those you want to set. Give several examples each:

I have a right to ask for –

To protect my time and energy, it is okay to –

People may not –

This spoke to me today when I read on on this blog Zena Moon


Angela Marie said...

This is wonderful! I love this and understand it.

SusieJ said...

Lovely, lovely picture that describes your thoughts perfectly. Nice to meet you.

Shelby said...

wonderful post.

Tammy said...

I've found you and added you to my bloglines so I don't lose track of you!

Very wise post and the subject is one I must deal with at least twice a week. Adult children don't think boundries apply to them...argh!

Glad I found you!