In every home there is usually some sort of do’s and do not’s lain down for the children. Don’t run in the street, don’t touch the stove fire, take the garbage out, make your bed, don’t hit your sister/brother. Each child is taught what they should and should not do.
But what about healthy boundaries? What is a boundary? It is a line drawn in the sand, so to speak, that another can not cross. “You will not hit my sister, you will not use bad language in my presence, you will not break the vows of our marriage.” These are just a few of what is called healthy boundaries.
When a family has abuse; be it physical, emotional, or sexual within a family, boundaries are ignored. Its okay for Dad to sneak into his daughters room at night, its okay for Mom to get beat up by dad, its okay for brother to watch sister take a bath. Healthy boundaries are ignored and never set in place leaving the child to never learn what is okay and what is not. There are no healthy examples for him/her to follow.
Self respect, low self-esteem, and loss of dignity can be some of the results of having never learned what healthy boundaries are. In order to survive many will turn to trying to please everyone so they will feel loved and accepted. Susie will pretend to be the perfectly sweet girlfriend and shrug off the insults her boyfriend slings at her. She’ll try very hard to be what Mom, Dad, or whoever wants her to be leaving self behind to suffer quietly. Tommy will be okay with hitting his girlfriend or demeaning her to his buddies.
It is imperative that we all learn what healthy boundaries are and how to put them in place. In my own case, my Dad controlled me. There was mind control, manipulation, secrecy, and abuse. For years I never knew I could say, “No” to anything. It took a psychiatrist, in my later years, to teach me that I did not have to listen to the insults and demeaning and accusatory remarks that my Dad would make to me. I had to learn to say, “You will speak to me with respect or I will hang up this phone!” And I did. I set a boundary and adhered to it by hanging up the phone when he began his rants. In time, he learned I meant what I said and began to speak to me in a more respectful manner. Believe me, it is a very powerful feeling of victory when we see positive results from setting a boundary and having it honored.
That is what we must do to overcome a life without boundaries. We start small. We can’t make a legal pad length list of boundaries and expect to be victorious. Those boundaries we set are going to be fought against by some people; friends and family members that have ignored your requests are not going to like having to adhere to the new you. Stay strong in your conviction.
Once we have stated the healthy boundary we must adhere to it! If, for example, we tell someone they are not to open the bedroom door without knocking or just “drop by” without calling, then stick to it! State the consequence of the inappropriate action and stick to it. Otherwise you’re wasting your breath.
God did not create us to be door mats or to be talked down to, disrespected, ignored, or made to feel less than. Neither did He create us to be like someone else. So stop trying to please everyone else! It’s exhausting and a waste of time. He created us in His image. That means we are to be loved, respected, honored, and listened to as a child of God. If you tell someone, “No” and they ignore your no, they are trying to control and/or manipulate you. Your yes means yes and your no means no. And you don’t have to explain it!
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend authored a book titled, “Boundaries.” They also authored a workbook to go with it, “Boundaries Workbook.” These can be found on Amazon.com and I highly recommend getting both and go to work becoming all that God created you to be.
Another book I recommend to help in overcoming the “people pleasing” issues, which greatly are tied to the issues of boundaries, is a book by Joyce Meyer called “Approval Addiction.” Also found on Amazon.com
We deserve to be respected. We cannot, and never will be able to please everyone. God created you and threw the mold away. You are one of a kind, special and loved by Almighty God. Be who you are and don’t allow others to dictate who they want you to be or to treat you less than you deserve to be treated.
Blessings to you as you step into freedom.
If you have helpful suggestions or books that have helped you to overcome, please feel free to comment in the “leave a reply” box. Thank you.