Ready, Set….Enforce Your Boundaries
So you’ve decided that it’s time for a change in your chaotic life and you are ready to establish some boundaries. If you think every one is going to be very happy that you have made these changes…think again. If you are expecting that all will applaud you, as well as instantly get on board by respecting your new boundaries immediately…get ready for some tough challenges.
Reality Check: Boundaries are a change taking place in your life. You can not expect other people to change. When you set boundaries, you are making clear communication about what you are willing to accept as part of having healthy relationships with others. Those who also desire a healthy relationship with you, will respect those changes and the motivations behind them. They will make efforts towards cooperation and healthy discussion. They will become part of the thriving, growing healthy relationships that will enrich your current life and future.
For those who do not want to accept your boundaries, however, expect conflict and an escalation perhaps, in verbal and emotional abuse as they try to return the unhealthy relationship to status quo. You are going to have to take additional steps in trying to establish new terms for your relationships with these people, and you will have to follow through with enforcing your boundaries.
Here is a compilation of some steps/ suggestions I found that I thought simplified the process:
1. Set your boundaries based on the values you have established are God’s priorities for you.
2. Start with easy changes and communications to others and then work up to the more complicated or challenging ones.
3. If complicated, consider involving a third party, such as a friend, or maybe even a professional counselor.
4. Communicate clearly what your boundary is, but with respect.
5. Consider using statements, such as When you _____________, it makes me feel ________________. I want/need you to ______________.
6. Try not to be reactive, but rather firm in the decisions you have made. Provide a consequence if the boundary is not respected. If you continue to ___________________, then _______________. Or When you_______________, I will ___________________.
7. Don’t waste time justifying your boundaries. Just be simple, clear, direct and firm.
8. Don’t set consequences that you can not or are not willing to follow through on.
9. Be reasonable. Set boundaries that any one would be expected to follow in your life. Reserve more strict boundaries for those who have a history of being difficult or who bulldoze over your boundaries regardless.
10. Do not harbor bitterness or resentment in your boundary setting or in the enforcement of your boundaries. If you have had to take the difficult, last resort step of separating yourself from a relationship, continue to hope and pray for resolution. Always be willing to allow a person to resume relationship with you once they are willing to respect your boundaries.
Setting and enforcing boundaries is a vital step, but not an easy one. If you have never taken such steps of self-respect before, you will likely have guilt and uneasiness at first. If feeling guilty, review in your mind the motives behind your actions. If you can reaffirm to yourself that your motives are for healthy relationships, and you are trying to take positive steps you believe God would want you to take to make your relationships more healthy, then push that guilt aside and prayerfully move forward.
Prayer For You: May you seek God’s direction in your life as you take the difficult, but rewarding steps of setting healthy boundaries. May God guide your words and decisions so that you are respectful, yet stand firm, and you do not harbor bitterness or resentment toward those who choose not to respect your boundaries. May you find a future that is more peaceful, and enjoy relationships that are more rewarding.
Setting Healthy Boundaries: http://serenityonlinetherapy.com/healthyboundaries.htm
Setting Healthy Boundaries with Difficult People: http://www.ipfw.edu/affiliates/assistance/selfhelp/relationship-settingboundaries.html
Ten Examples of Clear Boundaries: http://www.tgcoy.com/addiction/parenting-tips/1393.html
Image Above: Copyright: cienpies / 123RF Stock Photo