What’s the problem?
The problem for most people is not setting healthy boundaries—but having the courage, confidence, and calm to ENFORCE them.
- You told your kids they could not go out and play until they cleaned their rooms. But then it was just too much, you didn’t want them to be unhappy or hear them whine, so you let them go out and you tidied their rooms yourself. You just trained them to disrespect and ignore your boundaries.
- You told your husband that he could not talk to you that way. But the next time he did, you just sat there and took it again. You just gave him permission to continue to hurt you.
- You told your friend you could not attend the meeting, you had too much going on. But he/she begged and insisted that you needed to be there, so you gave in and added one more event to your already overscheduled life. You just heaped stress and exhaustion on yourself.
What’s wrong with you?
The same thing that is wrong with so many of us: you are allowing the parts of you that are reacting to fear, and not your core self, to drive the bus.
- Fear of conflict and loss of peace
- Fear of shaming, criticism, or attack
- Fear of being judged
- Fear of being labeled intolerant, uptight, arrogant, or demanding
- Fear of loss of affection, attention, or loyalty
- Fear of loss of the relationship altogether
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of loss of income or livelihood
- Fear of hard work (it’s easier to ignore the conflict)
- Fear of being considered unChristian or unloving
- Fear of failing God in that we should suck up abuse, offer it up, and let ourselves be ground into the dust. So you trade your dignity and self-worth for a temporary pay-off.
A part of you sincerely wants to be a good person and a faithful Christian, and another part of you (usually one who wants to avoid conflict, pushback, or rejection) defines that as always being nice, kind, friendly, and never upsetting others.
Further, to be self-sacrificing (a true virtue), you believe you must do anything and everything they want at whatever cost to you. But that is not always virtuous, may be self-violating, and often is not good for them. Becoming a doormat to keep the peace or gain approval is a form of bondage.
This is not our Christian faith.
- Let some unhappily reject and walk away from him
- Told people quite clearly what they needed to start and stop doing
- Stopped healing and helping to get some much-needed personal space and rest
- Got angry and made a scene to stop the abuse
- Called people out on their sinfulness (sometimes publicly!)
- Admonished even his closest friends
- Left town when others were trying to hurt him
For Our Lord, there was a specific time and place—and greater reason—to remain silent, suffer abuse, and go to the cross as our saving Victim. We also need to better discern the time to speak up and the time to remain silent.
Here is the good news!
You no longer have to tolerate bad behavior. You no longer have to feel angry, resentful, disrespected, used, powerless, and depressed. Are you ready for change? If you want to set and enforce healthy boundaries in your relationships, and still remain loving and appropriately self-sacrificing, schedule a coaching session with me.
I’d love to guide you.