The problem for most people is not setting healthy boundaries—but having the courage and confidence 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 your fears 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.
You sincerely want to be a good person and a faithful Christian so you rationalize that you must always be nice, kind, friendly, and never upset others or make them unhappy. That you must do anything and everything they want at whatever cost to you. So you become a doormat and allow others to determine your self-worth, goodness, value, and even your holiness.
But this is not our Christian faith. Even Jesus:
- 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 (even 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.
Bad news: You will get exactly what you will tolerate; no more and no less.
Good news! You no longer have to feel angry, resentful, disrespected, used, powerless, and depressed. 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.
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