When you were growing up, were you aware of clear boundaries and consequences? Or free to do as you pleased? What has this meant for you now?
What are boundaries?
Why are boundaries important?
Beyond our personal identity, boundaries define what is acceptable regarding the use of our time, possessions and property, minds and bodies. Other people make demands of us all through the day and we continually faces choices as to what boundaries we will follow, set by others, and what boundaries we will enforce, set by ourselves.
Of course, there are times when someone sets boundaries, rules or laws that aren't actually helpful or even seem pointless. This is often the case when the desire to control is driven by fear. Boundaries set by fear help nobody but positive boundaries are actually very liberating.
Healthy boundaries are liberating
Life without boundaries
To neglect boundaries is equally damaging as it marks a refusal to take responsibility over the things placed into your care.
We very often fail to set boundaries because we FEAR the consequences. But, however spiritual you think you’re acting by giving in all the time, being nice out of fear isn’t going to work. It robs you of your sense of personal value, your self-esteem and brigns into question who you really are.
Do you fear the consequence of not giving in to the demands and expectations of others? What’s interesting to note is that the fears we recognise are actually not the biggest issues for us, it’s the unconscious bowing down to our unrecognised fears that really limit us.
- So, here are a few questions well worth asking yourself:
- What would happen if you simply, lovingly, said ‘no’?
- Is your serving of others really motivated by LOVE or, if you were honest, by FEAR?
- Has ‘helping’ that constantly needy person actually helped them? What would they have to do if they didn’t always rely on *you*?
Who is responsible for setting our boundaries?
We need to acknowledge the vital difference between being responsible FOR (which covers THEIR behaviour) and responsible TO (which covers YOUR behaviour).
The Teacher Jesus, wisely said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Here he’s highlighting the critical need for you to set boundaries with what you have – and the consequences of crossing a boundary, even if you do so with noble intentions.
This, then, is crucial:
If we consistently guard and enforce our own boundaries we ‘train’ those around us and set their expectations of us.